To begin, group dynamics interests me. So, it was with some enthusiasm that I began to research the characteristics of successful, effective workshops this week.
I felt that it was very important to get my ideas down on paper before looking at anything being delivered by my contemporaries – I didn’t want my thoughts to be influenced by the things I had read before pulling my own ideas on workshops from the back of my mind.
It was quite reassuring to find that what I thought should be included in a food photography workshop was actually very close to anything being offered by my contemporaries. Also reassuring was that any differences were in my favour (or the clients – depending upon how you look at it), for example, some things which I thought should be included as a fairly basic offering weren’t in fact offered by other photographers.
How do I feel about workshops? Or more pertinently, how did I feel about workshops at the start of the week? And how has this changed, if at all, by the end of the week?
I’m a fan of workshops. And I have been in a position to provide training to both individuals and small groups in a workshop type manner on several occasions. In my view success comes down to two basic things: knowing your subject, and preparation. That might be stating the obvious, but I have also been a participant in many workshops, in a number of settings, and quite frankly a lot of these workshops have been found lacking, being far from a positive experience.
From a participant’s perspective, there is an equally simple expectation (at least in my view) – to have more knowledge and experience at the finish than at the beginning, but not having really been aware at any time that you were being taught.
In essence, good teachers effectively impart knowledge without the learning process being a chore.
So, after a week of research and preparation, I have delivered my first workshop covering the basics of the photographic process. I feel it was successful, and those that participated also expressed positive thoughts. There were no problems at any time during the workshop, and at no time did I realise any mistakes requiring correction (there’s nothing quite like a live audience for highlighting technical errors). Of course, there will always be opportunities for improvement.
As seems to be the way at the moment, the exercise generated as many questions as it provided answers.
Which of my contemporaries runs workshops, and how are these set up?
What other offerings do contemporaries have?
What are the advantages? What are the disadvantages?
There are almost as many food photography workshops as there are food photographers. So, the question becomes, how can I differentiate myself from the competition in this area?
Looking to the future, I envisage workshops being both an extremely valuable resource and important revenue stream.
So, a positive experience? Yes, unquestionably.