When you think about photography workshops, it seems like a given that all serious photographers should attend them. After all, these events give you access to all kinds of things — reading materials, instruction at the workshop, the chance to meet the instructor and so forth.
These are all great benefits, but I would argue that these are not the only benefits and perhaps they aren’t even the best benefits. There are lots of little things — intangible benefits, you could say — that add up to something incredibly valuable. Let’s take a moment to discuss some of these unexpected things. By the end of this post, I’ll bet you’ll be searching for a workshop to attend!
The People that You’ll Meet
Wherever you live, there might not be an abundance of photographers to compare notes or fraternize with. When you attend a workshop, you’ll meet photographers from many different areas — perhaps even photographers from all over the world. You’ll be able to see their portfolios and discuss both your work and theirs with them. As you probably know, the ability to both critique artwork and have your own critiqued is a rare and valuable experience.
But exchanging artwork isn’t the only beneficial experience that you’ll get from meeting your fellow photographers. You may also get a chance to make a few new friends, or at the very least, exchange emails with photographers that you admire. Lifelong friendships such as this are not only essential to the human experience, but they will also give you someone that you can always share thoughts and ideas with.
You’ll Want to Impress People
There is no shame in saying it! You’ll definitely want to bring your best work so that you can impress instructors and peers alike. The benefit lies in the things that you’ll need to do in order to bring along an impressive body of work. Something as simple as signing up to attend a workshop can inspire you to work hard at your art in the months leading to the event. As you work to create an amazing new portfolio, you’ll be learning and building on your photographic skills.
You’ll Want to Work Harder After the Workshop, Too
Maybe you saw something that really inspired you at the workshop. Perhaps you made a new friend and you want to share something new and improved with them. Or, perhaps you felt outclassed and overwhelmed by the things that you saw and now you’re determined to make up for the things you found lacking by working harder than ever. Whatever the case may be, once you return, you might find yourself working just as hard if not harder than you were in the months before the workshop.
Forced Exposure to New Things
It doesn’t matter how you look at photographs — online, at the museum or in a book. Whichever way you choose, you’re very likely to fall into the natural tendency to look at only the things that you like. In other words, you’re looking at the work of people whose style you admire. When it comes to styles and techniques that aren’t your favorite, you’re very likely to flip the page dismissively. It’s not even that you’re deliberately disdaining work that doesn’t align with your tastes — the reaction might be more subconscious, like a shrug before you move on.
Workshops don’t give you that option. As you associate with attendees, you’ll be looking at their work, whether it fits your personal preferences or not. Such exposure can make you consider new styles and techniques that you may not have been interested in otherwise.
When we go to workshops, we tend to focus on the basic things — learning everything that we can from the instructor, perfecting new techniques and methods, networking, and creating beautiful imagery. These are certainly all good things to do at a workshop, but some of the more intangible benefits that I’ve listed here can be just as important if not more so. If you choose to attend a workshop, keep all of the things I’ve mentioned in mind so that you get the most from your experience!