Investing in a landscape photography workshop
A photography workshop is a significant investment for most photographers.
While photographers gladly spend a lot of money on camera and camera gear, the same photographers are more reluctant to spend money on improving their own photography skills.
Education and learning are expected to come at no cost.
Why is that?
A lot of this has to do with psychology and how our brain works.
Short term benefit
The human brain is wired in such a way it wants instant gratifications, the brain and you want to see results now.
When you spend money on a new camera, you can hold the camera in your hands immediately. You get immediate gratification and pleasure of being the owner of a new camera.
It's a small win which not necessarily will make your photos look any better, the ultimate goal for most photographers.
You post a photo of your new camera on Facebook and Instagram. Comments and likes from your envious friends make you feel even better.
A new camera can help boost your motivation and inspire you to go out and take more photos, for a short while.
Buying a new camera is not a long term investment. The joy of a new camera for the sake of owning this particular camera doesn’t last long.
A camera quickly loses its value as new models are soon released.
Long term benefit
A landscape photography workshop or course is different.
In addition to the experience of being part of a group during a workshop, you invest in yourself, for the future. You improve your photography skills, but you don’t necessarily see tremendous results immediately.
Building your photography skills is a long term project where you take one small step at a time.
The odds of selling your old camera and get your money back are pretty low.
The possibilities of making a little money because of the photography skills you have acquired are much higher. You can teach and charge for your skills and you can sell prints.
None of these are because of your camera.
However, for most people attending workshops it’s not for possible future profit, but solely for the joy of meeting other photographers, discuss photography, learn and to take great images.
And it’s to get a break from your daily routines and work and to focus all your energy on photography for a few days.
Learn new skills
No matter the experience level, you never stop learning.
Experienced photographers attend landscape photography workshops to get inspiration and to take some time off, away from clients and work.
For less experienced photographers a workshop is a great way to see more experienced photographers at work and how they approach a scene.
The possibilities to ask questions to the group when you struggle, and the fact that you get immediate feedback, is another advantage of being part of a workshop. Instant feedback is extremely valuable as you can correct your mistakes.
When I attended my first landscape photography workshop in Iceland, I regarded myself as an intermediate and decent landscape photographer.
During this workshop, I learned one important tip about seascape photography. When I photographed waves using long shutter speed to capture the movement, I always took the photo when the wave came rolling in.
The workshop leader saw this and suggested I should try to take the photo when the waves where on their way out instead. I took his advice, and my long exposure seascape photos significantly improved.
A small little thing that had a huge impact on my seascape photos from this day on.
Visit a new photo destination
More and more people travel to get away from daily routines and to experience new destinations somewhere in the world. The travel industry is growing rapidly.
Photographers are no different, they travel a lot. They like to add photos from new places to their portfolio.
Landscape photography workshops take place at the best, and most photogenic destinations the world has to offer.
When you travel for vacation on a group tour, or you travel with your family, you’re rarely at the best spot at the right times. Organized tours are often arriving at the locations midday when the light is not optimal for photography.
In addition, you can expect crowds of people being there snapping their souvenir photos.
These tours are not organized with the photographers need in mind. And you are rarely at the place for more than a couple of hours at best.
A photography workshop, however, is planned and timed so you will arrive at the best spots when the light conditions are optimal, usually in the morning and afternoon.
In landscape photography, the weather plays an important rule. The more days you have at the same place then better change you have to experience good weather and light conditions.
Photography workshops usually run over several days, typically a week but sometimes longer.
Motivation and inspiration
Landscape photographers are often on their own when they photograph. Being all on your own can be challenging at times. Few people enjoy being alone in areas they are not familiar with.
When you want to photograph at night, it’s more challenging to find the motivation to go out when you’re alone.
As a workshop participant, you have other photographers that motivate you. With someone pushing you to wake up early for a sunrise shoot, it’s less likely you will stay in bed.
Another important consideration is security. In a group, you’re safer if something unforeseen or an accident should happen.
When you have photographed everything in your local area, and you lack inspiration, traveling to a new place is a boost to get you back on track.
Learn by doing
In the Internet era, we tend to spend a lot of time watching and reading about photography. But it's easy to get lost in all the information.
We tend to believe we know a lot about photography because we have watched tutorials and read books. It's not until you go out with the camera you really understand what you can do and not do with your camera.
Like me in Iceland. I thought I knew how to photograph long exposure waves, but I didn’t.
Learning without practicing doesn't make you a better photographer. Reading books and watching tutorial will at best increase your knowledge.
But does it improve your photography skills?
On a landscape photography workshop, the goal is to develop your skills and fill in the gaps as much as possible.
It’s been said that we retain approximately…..
- 10% of what we read
- 20% of what we hear
- 30% of what we see
- 50% of what we see and hear
- 70% of what we discuss
- 80% of what we experience
- 95% of what we teach others
According to this theory, a photography workshop is a good value for your money. When you learn as part of a group you get way more than just information. You learn through discussion, clarification of ideas, and evaluation of other people’s ideas.
Done for you
When you attend a landscape photography workshop everything is done for you.
You will be staying at accommodations near to the best photo locations to minimize the time spent in cars.
Your workshop leader has the local knowledge about the place you’re visiting.
This will ensure you are at the best photography spots at the right times, which in turn will improve your chances of taking great images.
With all the planning done for you, you can relax, enjoy and fully concentrate on photography.
One of the best parts with a photography workshop is you're joining a group where everyone is interested in photography. You don't need permission to talk photography and no one get fed up with photography talk.
You can basically learn about photography the whole time, not only in the field but also while moving between shooting locations and during meals.
Chances are you will build connections and make good friends from the participants. These connections are invaluable, and you never know what these connections can lead to in the future.
I’ve been photographing for quite some years now and the best photography investments I have ever made, are in travel and photography education.
I used to be a gear addict in the early years of my photography journey.
But none of the investments I’ve ever made in gear have paid back and done so much to my photography as the travels and courses I have spent money on.
Many photographers and unfortunately a lot of them beginners, are spending their time discussing which camera, lens, filter, tripod or camera bag they should buy.
I’m pretty sure none of the above will make them better at what matters - making great(er) landscape photos.
Invest in yourself instead - for the future.