Although deeply personal and intuitive, photography relies on the creative use of theory as much as, say, luck or an inherent sense of art, and there’s no better opportunity to practice new ideas than photography workshops.
Whether you wish to learn how to manage a photography business or you’re aiming to switch from urban photography to wildlife photography, there’s bound to be a workshop out there that’s perfect for you.
Ultimately, attending a workshop is an opportunity to grow as an artist by learning how to perceive things from another standpoint. But not only that, it’s also a great way to make new friends and professional contacts, all the while learning new skills and adding to your list of strengths.
All that’s left is choosing the photography workshops that suit you best. To help you decide on your next experience, today we’ll talk about what to look for in a photography workshop and show you a list of some of the best and most popular photography workshops around.
Are photography workshops useful?
If you’re not sure how photography workshops could benefit you, consider the last time you observed someone doing something amazing and you thought to yourself, “Hmm, why didn’t I think of that?”
Photography workshops are meant to increase both your theoretical knowledge and technical skills, and will often include lessons on advanced or innovative techniques that you won’t find in a textbook or user manual.
Workshops can include both lectures and class exercises on photographing models and scenes, which is an opportunity to improve your eye and learn new perspectives.
Moreover, with some workshops that double as photo tours, you are able to practice what you learn right in the moment — perhaps even in the middle of a dramatic wildlife scene.
During photography workshops, you are given practical indications on what to do in certain scenarios for the best effect (e.g. in lighting or composition), which allows you to go beyond your comfort zone in photography and focus on improving your art beyond the basics.
Photo workshops are always built around certain goals that force the participants to try something new and the learning experience can be invaluable for even the most seasoned photographers.
It is recommended to choose workshops that are far from your main preferences. For instance, if you are a fan of landscape photography, try a different category like portraits or wildlife, to expand your area of expertise and widen your boundaries.
How to pick the right photography workshops to attend
Photography workshops can incur quite some cost depending on the prestige of the event, so you should take your time to get informed about all events of this kind happening in your area.
Workshops also typically last quite a while, and you can’t risk participating in a photo workshop that doesn’t fit your interests. Workshop offerings usually provide ample details related to the itinerary, the speakers, the activities, and so on, so do your homework beforehand.
The first step in choosing photography workshops has to do with the host photographer. You’ll need to research his or her background and see whether their style and approach are aligned with what you would like to learn.
Another critical aspect is where the workshop is held. If you are planning to travel for a photo workshop, you will also need to take into account the size of the group accepted during the event. You wouldn’t want to be turned away after buying your plane ticket!
A smaller workshop is always preferred because the host can offer individual attention to each member, while bigger groups are more difficult to manage, and the members don’t always receive adequate instruction from the host.
Recognizing good photography workshops
But how do you recognize the photography workshops that are worthy of investing in? First of all, decide what you want. The clearer your purpose, the easier it will be to find a photo workshop that helps you grow. Showing up at a workshop that is not aligned to your needs and wants won’t work.
It’s a good idea to learn more about who manages the workshop tours, who chooses the locations, the activities, and so on. If the host photographer is the one handling everything and they have wide expertise in the field, you should have nothing to worry about.
The main purpose of a photography workshop is to encourage creativity and step aside from logistical issues, which should be handled beforehand to leave room for ideas to come about naturally.
For photography professionals that look for new perspectives, the workshops need to be a bit more challenging and place you in the right place at the right moment. Otherwise, you won’t learn anything new about photography and your skills are maybe too advanced for that workshop.
The main purpose of being part of such events is to push your boundaries, which won’t happen if you set your sights too low and opt for a photography workshop that only teaches the basics.
Our choice of photography workshops categorized
National Geographic Photography Expeditions
National Geographic is a name you can’t ignore, and this world-famous brand organizes lots of photography expeditions that involve extensive traveling.
The photos you can capture during National Geographic’s workshops are just breathtaking, and to top it off, you also get instruction from famous photographers that work with the company on a regular basis.
A photography workshop that deserves its place in this category, Adventure X combines unique ideas with impressive activities. You will get to brainstorm and discuss openly with the best people in the industry.
Of course, you’ll also get to capture some images that are most likely to become your best work. The good part about Adventure X is that it encourages establishing long-lasting connections with those who attend, giving you access to many opportunities to collaborate.
Interestingly, you won’t be able to find anything about the workshop’s schedule either – everything is secret, and that’s part of the adventure.
Southern China Photo Workshop Adventures
Shanghai and Guilin — two destinations that are highly appreciated by photographers worldwide —are the main targets of the Southern China photo workshop. Southern China is a combination of high-tech areas and picturesque rice fields.
During a workshop like this one that lasts eight full days, you’ll get to discover every photogenic nook and cranny of this part of the world, while also being guided by the hosts on how to visualize each scene.
Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures
Margo and Arnie, the founders of this amazing photo workshop, are already well-known in the industry. They’ve worked with big brands such as Time, Life,and Vogue, just to name a few.
They decided to share their knowledge with the rest of the world, with one condition only —encouraging the participants to seek their own vision instead of being guided towards one. The hosts pick the tour locations, which are nothing alike.
You’ll get to visit places like Belize, Maine, Santa Fe, and others.
Colorado Western Ranches Photography Workshops
This is one of those photography workshops where you spend three full days in nature, capturing the western scenes in Colorado. Doesn’t that sound nice?
You’ll get the chance to admire wild horses running around, superb mountain backdrops, and old barns resting on the hills. Nothing can be compared to the look of authentic nature.
Kamchatka Photography Tour
The team behind 56th Parallel are specialists in traveling, which means that this photography tour is exceptional in terms of locations. It takes place in major locations of interest in Russia and it covers destinations that feed the imagination of landscape photographers.
Kamchatka can be called a wild destination because very few people visit it, despite its stunning beauty. It is a volcanically active area located in the Pacific rim of fire.
Toehold Photo Travel
Photography workshops like Toehold that take place in exotic locations like the lush green part of India, filled with rivers and interesting wildlife are quite rare. That’s why you should take advantage of this event with hand-picked itineraries and enjoy the natural paradise in Bharatpur and Ranthambhore.
Susie Reed Sedona Photography Tours
Susie Reed’s photography tour is suitable for photographers of all types. If you just want to learn the basics of photography or you’re a seasoned professional looking for new experiences, Susan’s photo workshop will be appropriate for you.
If you don’t know much about Sedona, you’ll be amazed by the red rock landscapes and the immensity of the place you are going to visit. You will work closely with the host photographers and other people in the group and you will receive personalized instruction with your work.
Chobe Photo Safari
Have you ever been to a Safari? If not, you can now combine that experience with taking stunning photos. The Chobe Photo Safari takes you to the Chobe National Park, located in Botswana.
This is one of the best locations for safaris and you’ll get to discover it through the lens of your camera. It is one of the most affordable wildlife photography workshops too.
Photosafaris’ Ultimate Galápagos
This photo workshop is a one-time opportunity to capture a few of the rarest living species on the planet. The Galápagos Islands are the host of the theory of evolution that Darwin put together years back.
Wildlife photographers can admire and capture the creatures roaming free on a land that marks the history of the world. It is arguably the best photography workshop in the wildlife category.
Creative Photo Academy Africa Safari
Creative Photo Academy is not your basic photo workshop. In fact, it’s a pioneering event in photography education, offering participants everything they would need from this type of activity.
The range of activities they handle is very wide, going from photo walks to workshops and multi-day adventures. Their workshop is an award-winning event, giving participants a chance to work with top photographers.
SuziEszterhas’s photography tour includes very bold wildlife locations, including the Monterey Bay, several parts of California, and more. She only accepts small groups so that she can focus on each person’s work and give proper advice to each participant.
Princeton Photo Workshop
This is actually more than a photo workshop. It is a series of three different workshops that treat topics like the basics of portrait photography, moving toward practicing the new concepts, and then polishing your work.
By going through each step progressively, the workshop can host photographers with various experience levels.
Andrew French (Extra) Ordinary Portraits Workshops
Andrew French organized his own workshop in New York, which is full of photography-worthy locations, like Loew’s Jersey Theatre. If you are passionate about urban portraits, this is one workshop you’ll want to attend for sure.
Andrew’s photography experiences last one day and include all the professional models you need for learning more about portraits.
Santa Fe Photographic Workshops
During this photo workshop, you can learn more about both street and iconic portraits. The workshop will cover theoretical topics about fashion, faces, figures, and more. Many of the workshops had as destinations Cuba and New Orleans.
Other things included in this workshop refer to regular photography basics, landscape photography, travel photography, and architecture photography tips.
This is one of the many photography workshops in Manhattan addressed to photographers who want to learn more about wedding photography. The workshop teaches the participants more about location preparation and the photography process itself, as well as aspects related to the photography business.
Topics such as what equipment should be used and what shooting styles to adopt are also discussed. The photo workshop is held in three different sessions, each lasting four hours and containing condensed information and practice activities.
Twig and Olive Photography
Twig and Olive is a US-based company that specializes in offering workshops to help photographers get better at family portraits, wedding photography, and newborn sessions.
The workshops are separated into multiple types and each focuses on a certain topic. They also arrange collaborations with models and choose specific locations.
Julie Paisley organizes workshops in her cottage in Nashville Tennessee. She focuses on wedding photography, covering topics such as photography marketing, styling, bridal posing, and more. Her website contains all the needed details about her workshops and schedules.
Photography workshops give you real experience
After attending a workshop, make sure to use those photographs wisely in the future. They are not just simple practice photos, but an actual experience that you can include in your portfolios.
Photography workshops get you to stunning destinations and push you to leave your comfort zone, which means that you will observe a slight change in how your work looks forever after.
Get your photos ready for showcasing and start putting together a category in your photography portfolio that contains only photos that you’ve captured during workshops.
You should look into building your portfolio online, to avoid wasting paper or having your printed versions lost or damaged.
If you don’t know where to start, you can create a professional website using WordPress. Some plugins also help with creating specific page layouts, like the one you would need when adding a special section to your site for your portfolio gallery.
One example would be Visual Composer, our super-easy WordPress website builder with a drag and drop interface, which comes with all you would ever need to create an amazing photography portfolio.
The way your website looks will impact your career as a photographer, in the sense that people will either choose your services or not based on the pictures you include here. The overall feel of your online portfolio is also of great importance, so take pride in making it look amazing.
Ending thoughts on these photography workshops
All photography workshops are meant to help you learn other techniques and send you in new directions. While participating in a photography workshop, you need to make sure that you’re able to accept constructive criticism and apply the pieces of advice you receive during the event.
After all, the goal is to listen to the experts and let them show you new perspectives that you can adopt in the long run. If you don’t agree with some of their advice, that’s fine(maybe it’s time to start your own workshop soon!), because no one will force you to use it.
Don’t hesitate to ask questions during photography workshops. Even though you might be tempted to listen and assimilate as much information as you can, it’s important to understand what you are assimilating, and you can’t do that without properly communicating.
If you have any questions, the experts and host photographers that are part of the workshop will surely help you with a complex answer. Just make sure to let them know you want more details on a specific topic.
Keep in mind that the photography workshops we listed here represent just a small part of the ones you can attend, and you don’t need to travel half of the world to participate in a photography workshop.
You can do it in your hometown or somewhere in your country, without spending a fortune on it. If you have any big trip planned in the future, inform yourself about all the photography workshops happening in the area while you’re there and take the opportunity.
If you enjoyed reading this article about photography workshops, you should read these as well: