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Question for workshop attendees--
  
 
ckhagen
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p.2 #1 · p.2 #1 · Question for workshop attendees--


First of all, Tony nailed it with his descriptors of attendee types.

Second, it's going to come down to the purpose and content of the workshop vs. your expectations. I see a lot of very analytical people attend "inspirational" type workshops where the purpose is not to teach you specific techniques, but rather to watch and pick up on something that can't really be "taught" in traditional terms. If you attend one of these and expect to walk away with some tangible thing to implement at your next shoot, you're probably going to be sorely disappointed. You need to be more the type of person who's very open minded and willing to just take it all in.

There's also the more specific, technical/technique based workshops where you'll learn some things that you can implement in whatever way you choose. It's probably not going to change your life, but if you're the analytical type, you'll probably feel like you got something tangible out of it.

I'd venture to say you probably wouldn't attend a workshop being taught by someone who's work you didn't admire and see something you'd like to draw upon, so the "copying" part is up to you and your current skill level.

I always think it's a great idea to attend something like WPPI ( like Mike mentioned, attend some master classes) and then use that to pin down the type of deeper workshop or speaker you'd like to hear more from. I can say from experience, the two hours for a master class is not enough time for a speaker teaching technical things to really do anything in depth. The 8+ hr version of their workshop is considerably more useful, but you can use that 2hr to decide if you like their teaching style and want to know more.



Jun 19, 2017 at 04:42 PM
BSPhotog
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p.2 #2 · p.2 #2 · Question for workshop attendees--


I've never done a photo workshop, but I do think that there is an angle here that hasn't been addressed.

Good photographers and successful businesses persons aren't necessarily good educators.

I spent 7 years in art school, and the same divide exists there as well. Some are good/successful at their craft, some are good at teaching. There can be overlap, but one is not indicative of the other. In graduate school, I probably learned as much from my peers as from instructors, and perhaps even more while teaching. This is another reason why an informal peer learning situation might be most beneficial to a lot of people--you learn from others and gain clarity for yourself while trying to teach/explain your approach/craft/method. The peer model also eliminates some of the ego elements of having one instructor feeding all of the knowledge to the students down a one-way tube.



Jun 19, 2017 at 07:07 PM
nolaguy
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p.2 #3 · p.2 #3 · Question for workshop attendees--


BSPhotog wrote:
This is another reason why an informal peer learning situation might be most beneficial to a lot of people--you learn from others and gain clarity for yourself while trying to teach/explain your approach/craft/method.


You never learn so well as when you teach.



Jun 19, 2017 at 07:13 PM
MRomine
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p.2 #4 · p.2 #4 · Question for workshop attendees--


BSPhotog wrote:
The peer model also eliminates some of the ego elements of having one instructor feeding all of the knowledge to the students down a one-way tube.


Big amen to that thought!



Jun 19, 2017 at 08:17 PM
bipock
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p.2 #5 · p.2 #5 · Question for workshop attendees--


I did one with a very well known wedding photographer last year, my first in business. I learned a lot and made some great connections.

What I would really like to do is a workshop that helps you see creatively. That's something I really struggle with, especially in the flash world. I don't want something that teaches flash, but something that shows you how to walk into to a room and see things differently then light it using flash. Haven't found it yet, but still looking.



Jun 19, 2017 at 08:37 PM
Tony Hoffer
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p.2 #6 · p.2 #6 · Question for workshop attendees--



bipock wrote:
What I would really like to do is a workshop that helps you see creatively. That's something I really struggle with, especially in the flash world. I don't want something that teaches flash, but something that shows you how to walk into to a room and see things differently then light it using flash. Haven't found it yet, but still looking.


I'm asking this because I'm genuinely curious. It's going to sound like I'm being subversive but I don't mean it that way...

How would you see a workshop like this happening? Let's say you find a super creative person and they offer a workshop. What type of format/teaching do you think could actually communicate this effectively?

I've found that lots of folks want to 'learn' creativity, but creative types have a very tough time expressing their creativity because, well, it's theirs. What we realized is that we were a lot more effective when we stopped trying to explain our own creative tendencies and starting trying to identify and challenge the specific creative tendencies of the students. I'm just curious about what you'd be looking for.



Jun 19, 2017 at 10:20 PM
CoLmes
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p.2 #7 · p.2 #7 · Question for workshop attendees--


The right workshops are worth every penny - you just have to wade through all of the BS ones that are being held to find the good ones. I got lucky with being able to attend Tony's, especially as a local - but it's also made me very picky on the next one that I end up doing because the hoffshop was so individualized and wasn't a "this is how I shoot now copy it" approach that I see a majority of the other workshops being held tend to be.

For myself - I feel like I went into Tony's workshop trying to shoot like Tony and came out with more or less the understanding of who I am by having a knowledge of my strengths and weaknesses.

Also, they had awesome snacks.



Jun 19, 2017 at 10:52 PM
bipock
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p.2 #8 · p.2 #8 · Question for workshop attendees--


Tony Hoffer wrote:
I'm asking this because I'm genuinely curious. It's going to sound like I'm being subversive but I don't mean it that way...

How would you see a workshop like this happening? Let's say you find a super creative person and they offer a workshop. What type of format/teaching do you think could actually communicate this effectively?

I've found that lots of folks want to 'learn' creativity, but creative types have a very tough time expressing their creativity because, well, it's theirs. What we realized is that we were a lot more effective when we stopped trying to explain our own creative
...Show more

Tony, in the class I attended, we went to a big swanky hotel with huge ballrooms and master suites the size of small houses. Those are setup for big meetings, huge weddings and as bridal retreats. They are meant to host huge weddings with large budgets.

I'd be more interested in seeing you into a much more moderate room and seeing how they would maximize the potential in that room. How would they shoot in a church that hasn't been updated since 1950 with windows but no coverings and old (as in not antique, just ugly) furniture? How would this photographer handle a trashed and cramped room at the Hampton Inn with 3-4 bridesmaids, a bride and hair and make up going on? How would you light a nice reception held at a much lower end country club? How do you take an ordinary, run-of-the-mill location and make it LOOK like a million dollar wedding in some way?

I don't know if that really answers your question, but that's the picture in my head. Anyone can shoot in some of these glamorous homes and huge hotels, but for those of us who don't get to shoot locations and venues like that (not yet anyway), I, personally, would find it interesting to watch someone come in and break down a everyday location into how they would see it and what they could create in it. I think I'm looking more for the mentality that you see rather than a lot of nuts and bolts. I don't want "my settings are...", which is what everyone seems to want to know. I'm looking more for "Hey here's a mirror, here's what 90% of people would shoot - nothing wrong with that. But what if we put this flash, that flash there and take it up a notch?". This is where I struggle - being able to see the possibilities given the locations I often find myself in. I know they are there, but I can't quite put the picture in head to bring it all together.

I think the biggest thing is change the venue that teachers are using. Make it more about creating something out of nothing, or at least very little, rather than having a super location that you'd have to be a moron to mess up.

Hope that helps you a little. I'd be more than glad to talk with you more if so.

Edited to add this is really from a flash standpoint. I can shoot natural light, but I would be more interested in something geared towards flash. Think more along the lines of a class that took your MM video and broke down how you created some of that - what you saw, what triggered your thoughts, how you pieced it together.



Jun 20, 2017 at 03:25 AM
armor281
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p.2 #9 · p.2 #9 · Question for workshop attendees--


I recently went to a workshop of a well known photographer who is also a really cool person as well. Although the workshop wasn't a complete waste of time, it also didn't do much to either teach a 'how too' on copying their style or something critical enough to identify your weaknesses and how to correct them. I was paying alot of money to learn how to improve but felt as if I just received a refresher course in the basics that I was already familiar with. I don't want to shoot like somebody else but I do want to learn how to utilize the techniques that they do(togs who I like their style or compositional) and how use them the way I want to use them.

If I can make it to a Foundations Workshop at some point that will be the ultimate goal and a very close number 2 is a local tog who I have heard consistently fantastic reviews.

As has been stated in the above comments, the ultimate goal is to improve composition, learn techniques that you can use to transform bad locations into great photos, and to identify technical mistakes and correct them. It is unfortunate that, at least apparently, well known togs are making money off of their name without really delivering on the goods.



Jun 21, 2017 at 03:10 PM
 

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LeeSimms
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p.2 #10 · p.2 #10 · Question for workshop attendees--


FWIW, I enjoyed Robert Valenzuala's posing workshop so much I'd take another one of his. It's very hands on, and he jumps in FRONT of your camera trying to mess you up — testing what you've learned.

I'm interested to do his lighting class (on the off season) and I'm trying to get my associates to go to his posing class. Heck, I'd do it again — the workshop/problem solving portion is gold and would be different with every class/location/model.

The other two workshops I've done I can't recommend with that sort of urgency. I don't regret them but the take away wasn't as great.



Jun 21, 2017 at 04:15 PM
MRomine
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p.2 #11 · p.2 #11 · Question for workshop attendees--


armor281 wrote:
I was paying alot of money to learn how to improve but felt as if I just received a refresher course in the basics that I was already familiar with.


This is what I was saying earlier, above. The longer you have been working in this industry and the more experience that you gain, the harder it will be to find a workshop that will raise your skill set by very much. You can always learn little pointers here and there but is that worth paying $2-5K just to get some little tid-bits? Early in your career it is much easier to get a good ROI when you know little.



Jun 21, 2017 at 07:19 PM
armor281
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p.2 #12 · p.2 #12 · Question for workshop attendees--


MRomine wrote:
Early in your career it is much easier to get a good ROI when you know little.


I agree with you on that. Have you attended any workshops that actually gave you an ROI at that point of your career?



Jun 21, 2017 at 11:59 PM
level1photog
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p.2 #13 · p.2 #13 · Question for workshop attendees--


I'd love to learn from one or two international wedding photographers mostly for their processing techniques, but it's also because they don't offer video tutorial yet.

I can't justify the cost going to an actual workshop because there are so many good paid video tutorial at an affordable price for almost every type of genre and topics. Learning from video make it easier and affordable for me to master techniques by rewinding it. I can't imagine paying alot and missed key points being distracted/mentally fatigue/etc.



Jun 22, 2017 at 01:18 AM
MRomine
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p.2 #14 · p.2 #14 · Question for workshop attendees--


armor281 wrote:
I agree with you on that. Have you attended any workshops that actually gave you an ROI at that point of your career?


I have but they were all 15-20 years ago when I was very new to the industry. In recent years, the last 5-10, I'm doing good to get a few points that are helpful. In some cases I find myself completely disagreeing with the mindset, methods and what is being taught by some of today's presenters. I walked out on one class that was teaching PhotoShop things that were just plain wrong.

It's been close to five years now since I have been to any workshop or class. I've stopped trying to find anything that I might enjoy. Most are ridiculously overpriced and the pricing is more of a statement of ego than anything. All being presented under the guise of the idea that we want to help all to be better and that we truly care about our peers and want to raise the overall level of the photography community.



Jun 22, 2017 at 01:43 AM
FrancisK7
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p.2 #15 · p.2 #15 · Question for workshop attendees--


Last year I attended two "small format" multi-day workshops, Tony's Hoffshop and another one hosted by equally talented photographers who are local to me but shoot internationally. Both were considerable investments.

Tony's workshop was an enlightening experience. It gave me real focus, a method and a direction. It was transformative in a way that pushed my limits as I felt I had plateau'd. I came back home more confident and with a focused purpose. Both Jess and I. Three intensive days, we shot we our models on two of those days, getting critiqued by our peers, and other stuff I don't want to spoil... we felt very vulnerable, it wasn't always a pleasant experience as it often is when you exit your comfort zone, but it was completely worth it, almost necessary.

However, the best part, as it often is with these workshops or conferences, were the people. We made real friends there. We have kept in touch with several of our co-attendees and even had dinner with another couple when they visited Montreal for their anniversary last Winter. Then we had them over for brunch at our house two days later. Both Jess and I will keep very fond memories of our time down there because of the moments we spent with these people (and the burritos). The close format really helps bring people together. Both on a personal and professional level, the experience was worth every single penny.

The second workshop I did a few months later was not very good. Tony had expressed to us it was important to him that we felt we got what was promised and that it wasn't a cash grab. I wasn't sure what he meant, as his workshop was my first ever. I understood what he meant after that second workshop. While I did learn and made some awesome new friends, very little effort was put into it and I got the disappointment vibe. It was only several months later that I discussed with other colleagues who shared they had also taken the same workshop and felt the same disappointment of time and money wasted.

Very difficult to calculate the ROI a workshop can offer. I'd say the Hoffshop has helped me generate more word of mouth through the epiphany of focusing on the client. Maybe it's obvious to some but our ultra personalized boutique approach really helps us stand apart in a very saturated market. The skills I acquired that make me a better photographer may not generate more sales or bookings initially but if they help elevate the quality of my work and brand slowly over time it will certainly have been worth it.

As for the ROI on the second workshop, I won't even try to rationalize it.

This Fall I am doing another very expensive workshop but I have it on good authority this workshop is worth every penny as well, so I am very much looking forward to it. Basically, do your research and homework.

After that 3rd workshop though I think it will be it for me. I'll focus on conferences like WPPI instead (which I attended with LeeSims this year and was awesome), the one in Hawaii or London and use them as excuses to travel. Networking with people in awesome locations is really the best part and if you learn a thing or two on top that's icing on the cake. Sometimes all it takes is a little time off and a bit of inspiration to get back on track refreshed.



Jun 25, 2017 at 01:18 AM
DannyBostwick
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p.2 #16 · p.2 #16 · Question for workshop attendees--


Excellent conversation, guys. I really appreciate everyones input here and the experiences you've shared.

I think I got my answer and will proceed accordingly. I've had my eye on a few, and I think I will proceed with one and throw the others to the curb. My whole goal here is to make efforts to improve, that's been my goal since I started this shin dig is to be the best that I can be as a photographer and conversations like this make dramatic impacts on my decision making. Thank you again, folks.



Jun 26, 2017 at 02:37 PM
chrisfphotog
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p.2 #17 · p.2 #17 · Question for workshop attendees--


bipock wrote:
Tony, in the class I attended, we went to a big swanky hotel with huge ballrooms and master suites the size of small houses. Those are setup for big meetings, huge weddings and as bridal retreats. They are meant to host huge weddings with large budgets.

I'd be more interested in seeing you into a much more moderate room and seeing how they would maximize the potential in that room. How would they shoot in a church that hasn't been updated since 1950 with windows but no coverings and old (as in not antique, just ugly) furniture? How would this photographer
...Show more


I think I understand where both you and Tony are coming from. It is hard to describe to someone how to be creative, especially when it is difficult to be in someone else's head to explain to them how to do it better in a way they'll be able to digest.

I think what creative people do, and this is something I've found myself trying to work on, is walk into a room/scene/location/whatever and try and find what makes that spot unique and interesting. You have to train yourself to identify: light, shapes, repetition, colors and complimenting colors, interesting shadows, areas of harsh light you can manipulate, texture, etc.

You then use these elements to build a creative shot. Maybe you break up repetition with your subject, maybe you use some shapes and shadows creatively. These variables are both inherent to every scene and also independent of any scene as they can exist anywhere but don't always. This also allows you to make unique shots in the same location time and time again as the light and other variables will be different each day. When you're able to dissect a scene for what makes it interesting and unique then you can build creative images. Otherwise it's just a bride in a room or a couple against a wall.

Maybe that was helpful?



Jun 30, 2017 at 01:13 PM
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