Whenever I announce or talk about a landscape photography workshop I’m doing, I inevitably see messages that knock workshops like that. They talk about how they’re just a bunch of people lined up to take the same exact photo. They go on to say there’s no creativity, and that you just pay people to basically get you to the right place and set up your tripod in the right spot to grab a good photo, and that’s it. Now, I’m not bit on feeding internet trolls, but I’ve also seen people who I think would benefit from a workshop like this, get turned of by it because of what they read. So I wanted to write about some reasons I think landscape (and even photo workshops in general) can really help. As you read below, #3 is really the big one to me.
Side Note: Now, you may think this is a ploy of mine to set you up to attend one of my landscape workshops. I wish it was 🙂 I’m only scheduled to teach one this year and it’s full already, so this really is more about the value I see in workshops like this. I’ve seen so many people grow at workshops, that I think it’s important (if you’re on the fence) to consider some ways they can really help you.
3 Reasons Why I Think Workshops Can Be Awesome for People
1) Friends & Camaraderie
I’ve met some awesome friends on landscape workshops. You have to imagine that you’re with these people for 3-4 days straight. You wake up at ungodly hours, go shooting, eat together, keep each other awake while you’re driving to locations, etc… It’s a great way to really get to know people and I know many lifelong friendships that have come out of landscape photography workshops.
2) Safety in Numbers
Many of you reading this have no problem getting up early, driving in the dark to a location to shoot. Hiking/walking (in the dark again) to that location, alone, and shooting. Or shooting sunset and walking back in the dark, alone to your car. Maybe you know the area, maybe you don’t, but you feel comfortable enough to do that on your own. If you’re one of those people, awesome! Just understand that a vast majority of the people that want to enjoy landscape photography aren’t. They may not know the area, they may not be great with a map, or they may not feel safe being alone at some of these places. Take my mom as an example. Her newfound interest in photography at the age of 70 is great. However, I wouldn’t feel right telling her to go off on her own at some of the places that I’ve ventured off on my own to. There’s safety in numbers, and there’s something to be said for having a guide when you’re in a new place to show you around.
This is probably the biggest one to me. The best way I can explain this is to compare it to some one learning guitar (I played for many years). When people learn the guitar the first thing they want to do is imitate their favorite song. For me it was Ozzy Osbourne’s Crazy Train (the Randy Rhoads Tribute edition back in 1987). That’s the song that got me wanting to play the guitar in the first place. Well, when we learn to play, we learn songs and imitate them. The better we get, the more songs we learn and the better we can play them. And when this takes place… when we learn these songs… we gain confidence. The confidence to conquer maybe a harder song than we ever thought ourselves capable of. Each time we’re successful we gain more confidence. And when we’re more confident about our skills in something, we tend to improve at a faster rate because we spend less time worrying if we’re really doing it right, and more time on just doing it.
Learning landscape photography is similar to me. And that’s why I love getting people out to workshops. Because they get themselves in front of great places, and with a little instruction, they’re able to take great looking photos. Now, did they find the spot, and are they the first person to take some of these photos? Probably not. But that’s not the point. By finding out that we can take a great photo, we gain confidence.
So that’s why I think landscape photo workshops are great for people. I love seeing people get excited about their photos. And a setting like that is probably one of the safest, easiest and most affordable ways to do it.
As I mentioned in the beginning, the only workshop I’m teaching at this year is sold out, so I’m not really even pitching anything. I do have a friend, Jeff Schultz from Alaska Photo Treks, who’s putting on a workshop in Denali that looks freakin’ amazing (Jeff is supposed to be THE guy for Denali). I’m thinking of joining him this year or next year, so if you’re interested (like ready to commit interested, because these fill up really quick), leave me a comment and we’ll see if we can make the schedules work.
Have a good one!
I agree with all that you say, but Insimply can not afford the money for these workshops. More the pity!
I live in the Vancouver, BC area. I’m willing to go as far down as Oregon or over to Montana. How do I find a good workshop with a reputable instructor.
Can anyone give me a name or two to look at.
And why Matt are you doing only one class????
Matt, you are so correct about the value of the workshop for the reasons you stated. My first experience in one came in 2008 with Art Wolfe on the Olympic Peninsula and the value he brought to the classroom side flowed right into our field work. The following year I started the first of several through Arizona Highways and was hooked! Importantly, several things happened. My photography got better when I exchanged ideas with fellow photographers and began applying some of those concepts, both in the field and in post. Since Kerrick James led that first workshop on Ghost Towns in 2009, we have continued the photographic relationship and friendship to this day. So lasting friendships are indeed made! Finally, small workshops allow for the participant to not have to worry about accomodations, transportation,lack of personal instruction, and having to procure all the necessary permits to the locations to be visited. That last one is really important if you plan to photograph The Wave, for example…always a tough permit to get.
Keep up the great tutorials and Newsletter.
Matt, thanks for the article. I agree and feel that workshops are an investment in my photography education. In the future I hope to go into photography full time but I still need skills and training. I am excited to be going to your Yosemite workshop this May. I am looking forward to learning how to get beautiful shots of the beautiful scenery at Yosemite. My friend said that I could find a cheaper workshop but to me it is about the quality of the workshop more so than the cost. So no pressure here for you regarding this workshop LOL. I am even willing to get up way too early to photograph the morning sun coming up over Half Dome. I can’t wait.
Attending my first one workshop in Canada in September. Figured that the next significant investment in 2015 should be in education.
Matt, you are so right about the great value of landscape photography workshops – totally changed my life. Seriously. When I went on the His Light Workshop with Bill Fortney to Monument Valley, Bryce, Zion, & Antelope Canyon, I learned so much about photography. And more than that, the friendships that developed through that journey continue to this day. Thing is – my photography today would not be what it is without the experience of that one workshop. So glad you wrote this post. And I’ll never forget having you show me the Lee Filters at Bryce Canyon for the sunrise photoshoot in freezing cold weather and shooting the sunrise with RC and others at Horseshoe Bend during the same Landscape Workshop. Just an amazing, amazing time. Blessings to you, Catherine
Great article. Let us do some of your landscape workshops here in San Diego. If you need local partnership, just let me know.
For me, photography is more like intimate, and
I would rather stay in solitude surrounded by beautiful scenery,
or take a private lesson with Pros if I can afford.
I don’t feel comfortable taking photos surrounded by people.
Watch this (-_-;
Matt– If you are doing a future list of attendees, please add my name. Living in the mountains of Colorado, I have great shooting any time of day, frequently out my back door. I get spoiled, and forget the value of these workshops.
I have another reason for attending a workshop this year: to learn to see things differently. I’ve been shooting as an amateur for years. I have no aspirations of becoming a pro but I see I need to do things differently to grow as a photographer. Sometimes new gear is an inspiration for a few weeks or months. Going out with others and seeing how they see the same world as you at the same time can provide inspiration to stretch in what you see and in how you get that shot. You get an opportunity to unlearn bad habits and learn good habits. The instructor(s) and workshop participants can push you to really think about what makes an image better.
Great article and I agree.
I believe that in order to excel at anything (and grow) you need to take classes. With this in mind, I am planning on taking at least two photography workshops or classes this year. I am also a database and software developer and will do the same program to increase those skills.
I would love to attend one of your Workshops!!! Please put me on your contact list!!! I agree with everything you mentioned in the post. I remember going off by myself in Telluride, CO to take a picture of Bear Creek Falls. Coming back down, I slipped and fell rolling almost off a cliff. I don’t do that anymore. 🙂
Matt, I took a workshop with Jeff last summer and it was awesome! You should totally join him for the Denali one! I wish I was closer by so I could go there again…. 🙂
If you ever do have an Oregon workshop, let me know too. It would be a privilege to spend a couple days learning to improve my landscape skills with you and others. I learn a lot from your blogs and your NAPP courses (especially liked the long exposure one).
I also think you should think about maybe having one in Iceland….I have been lucky enough to go there a couple times, it is a landscape shooters heaven. I’ll take that one in too if you ever do one!
Hi Matt. I will be moving to Bigfork, MT this summer and tried to register for your Glacier Park workshop but it was sold out before I typed in my name. Will you be coming back? Is this the first workshop here? I hope you know its a good couple of hours from the airport to the east side of the park. It’s the only way to get there.
Last year I went to my first workshop with Bill Fortney. I met some of the greatest people and learned not only from Bill but from others in the workshop. Leaders have scouted the areas and know when to get the best lighting and therefore the best pictures. I have five of them framed in my conference room as a reminder of the great time. I hope others that are willing to learn take advantage of workshops.
Crazy Train rang out in ALL the guitar stores of 1987. The real poseurs misplayed Smoke On The Water, and the guys playing guitar simply to get girls focused on the fingerpicking progressions of Stairway.
I had a mullet back then, did you Matt?
Oh yeah man. My mullet was as bad as you can imagine 🙂
Please, if you schedule a workshop in the Pacific NW, please put me on your next list…if you are making one.
I live in Salem Oregon…have a Canon 5D Mark lll…I sell lots of images in local summer art festivals. Lots of large metal prints from a local vendor in Vancouver Wash.. Sold 23 large metal prints to the new state hospital in Junction City, Oregon.
Been to Europe shooting especially with lots of close up architecture. Plan to go again in May…with my wife.
I struggle some with camera settings especially with coastal shots and some low lighting here in Oregon. Confidence and practice is a key need. Mornings and evenings are my preferred shooting times!
I appreciate you natural vision and teaching skill from NAPP. I approve of your career switch, and most of all, your connecting to the NW.
Yes…hope you will have a future workshop list for guys like me.
You got it Ron. I’ll let ya know!