Attend a Photography Workshop or Buy Some More Equipment?
I think from the above that you can probably guess what my opinion is, and that’s being as impartial as I can as a provider of photography workshops.
I’ve often said to many photographer who attend my photography workshops, workshops found me, as opposed me putting myself forward in providing photography workshops. What I mean by that is, over a good number of years I seemed to lean heavily towards the technicalities of flash in photography, and ultimately reached a near saturation point. Subsequently over a period of time as I produced several images created using flash, I became increasingly asked how the flash was used. This progressed to taking a few fellow photographers/friends (mainly natural light photographers) out for a few hours to explain how flash worked in photography. What happened after that took me completely by surprise. I quickly realised there was a sizeable quantity of photographers who were either natural light only and curious about flash, or people who were at the start of their journey with flash in their photography. So, back to the start of this paragraph where I said workshops found me as opposed to me setting myself up offering them.
Now back to the title question. Is it better to attend a photography workshop or buy some more equipment?
Recently when reading a Facebook group post on workshops I was frustrated by one poster who replied repeatedly, “why pay to attend some workshop when you could use the money towards a new lens”. My view on this is very simple. Using golf as the analogy, if I was able to somehow borrow Rory McIlroy’s golf clubs and head to my local golf course, would I all of a sudden become the much better golfer? Of course I wouldnt. The only way I would become a better golfer would be to practice over many days, weeks and months, or even better would be to attend some lessons by the golf club pro. Only then would I really begin to think about investing in better equipment which would then finesse my newly gained skills.
For far too many years I too fell into the trap of thinking “if only I had this particular camera body, or that particular lens I would become a much better photographer. Going to the NEC in early March each year to the ‘Focus on Imaging’ photography show, I would always come back having spent a fortune on the latest ‘must have’ photography gismos. I should add most of these gismos are now either sold off in eBay or gathering dust in a box somewhere and forgotten about.
It was in 2009 that I can wholeheartedly say my photography took a massive and single leap forward, and thankfully I’m even able to pinpoint it to a single day in 2009 and the exact reason too. After much deliberating I booked to attend a one to one workshop with Bristol based photographer Damien Lovegrove. Around a year earlier I first came on Damien’s photography work, and I loved his style in both natural light, studio and off-camera flash photography. At the time I remember questioning the expense of the day, but remember much more vividly recognising immediately during the workshop day and days thereafter that it was the best money I’d ever spent in photography terms. That single days training with Damien Lovegrove not only corrected shortcomings in my photography, but set me out in a whole new creative style in my photography.
Photography is something a lot of people come into as a hobbyist, and some later move on to earn a living from it. Either way I think we are all equally passionate about photography and we’re all quick to take credit for a great photograph. Did the camera make that great picture any more than a typewriter made a great novel? A camera is a tool of the trade, and in the hands of a creative and knowledgeable photographer can become skilfully used to achieve some magical results.