The Harsh Truth of Photography Workshops

Sep 02, 2021
Denise Birdsong Boudoir Photographer Online Photography Workshop

When I was just starting out I was really struggling to stand out and I desperately wanted to get bookings, be an amazing artist and have a successful business. 

When I was beginning my journey as a photographer, I did what I thought all smart photographers do. I booked myself into a ton of workshops. I recognized the talent of incredibly successful photographers who are creating beautiful work. I booked all of the workshops that I could find. 

I was so excited and so hopeful that this was the thing that was going to give me the skills that I needed to get my work to the next level. I believed that workshops were going to be the thing  that taught me how to create beautiful work and deliver amazing experiences and build that wonderful business that I dreamed of building. I just wanted to soak up as much as I possibly could.

I took a lot of workshops and even though they brought me some value. I really started to see a pattern in them. I started to see this unspoken truth about education and workshops. 

I remember this one workshop in particular. I was so excited to be attending, I was bringing one of my best girlfriends with me. We were both just so incredibly excited. It was an editorial workshop and we were excited to learn how to break into the editorial side of the business and learn all the ins and outs of everything. At the very end we would have the opportunity to shoot a beautifully styled session, in order to create gorgeous portfolio work.

The workshop started out ok, the theory portion brought us some value and the portion on continuous lighting was great.  Then we moved into practical application and that's where things really started falling apart. 

The class was actually broken into two and we had two beautiful models on either side of the room. We had to line up so that we could cycle through shooting the models as they were modeling for us. We were told that we were given three minutes each to shoot.

I raised my hand and I asked the instructor, if people are going to be shooting while I'm shooting? Or is this my dedicated time? She responded by asking me if, if I cared. And I said, well, of course I care. I would like to shoot and not have other people shooting around me. 

I have been to so many workshops at this point and I knew what it was like. Everyone is just trying to get their shot and in the end everybody gets the same shots. 

So the instructor said, okay, fine, everybody get your three minutes, when one photographer is shooting, everyone else, keep your cameras down. So my friend and I decided since we were together and we had six minutes, right? So we had a game plan. We were ready to go. We were determined to get beautiful portfolio work that we knew we were creating with the models. 

So we're standing in line and everything seems to be going fine. People are being respectful and not shooting while other photographers are shooting and then it gets to our turn. 

We get up there and we start coaching and directing, we were creating work that no one else was getting and wouldn't you know it, that's when we start to hear cameras going off and people start elbowing and the tripping starts happening and everyone starts coming in to get a shot of what we created. 

I asked the instructor to please do something about it. But unfortunately they were unwilling to. So I found myself in the same kind of situation that I had been in at every workshop. I was left feeling really empty and unfulfilled because I wasn't given the opportunity to create that beautiful portfolio work that was going to make me stand out. 

I felt defeated. And I knew that everyone was coming out of this experience with the same stuff. And there was no connection and there wasn't any kind of intimacy. And, even though I was going to create beautifully, emotive images, everybody else was going to have the same stuff. 

I realized at shootouts and workshops, everyone is getting the same images. Models are modeling. People are directing, other people are shooting. There is no growth happening. There is no standing out. Everyone is  just falling in line, which is exactly what we don't want to do.

It really was the experience of the moment that just cemented in my mind, that something wasn't right with workshops and photography education at the time and we really could do a lot better. 

The takeaway of this story is if you are looking at a workshop, do your research. Talk to students who have been to previous workshops, find out what their experiences were like, find out if they grew, find out what they learned, and most importantly, make sure that it's going to fit your needs, your wants, and your desires. 

Because of all of these experiences, I knew I had to create a better learning environment.  During my stripped down workshops, all of the emphasis is placed on learning and creating a safe environment where everyone gets to learn, stretch, grow, get uncomfortable, push through, have breakthroughs, learn new things and create authentic art that is theirs and theirs alone. 

We create little support pods, where we take the entire class and we break it down into very small groups. And then we take our client models and we put them at stations. And each one of the stations is manned by a stripped down master student. Who's there to make sure that everything goes properly and that the environment facilitates growth.  So if you get stuck or you need help or not quite sure what to do, um, that stripped down master's student is there to help guide you through your growth journey and the learning process.

You cycle through each model station until you get to the part where you get to shoot with me and one of our client models one-on-one, and we do this multiple times throughout the workshop so that we are able to have, wardrobe changes, location changes, all of the great steps that you really can hone your skills, practice all of the coaching and directing really work on creating emotive images, and come away with images that are uniquely yours, which is so incredibly important.

I've seen our students who have learned how to create emotive images really start to stand out and become valued for the unparalleled work that they have created. They begin to become recognized and celebrated for their beautiful emotive work. 

When you come to one of my stripped down workshops you won't be going to shoot a bunch of models and create work that you can't come back to your studio. You will have gone through a growth journey and a process, where you come out on the other side and you can go back to your clients and you can recreate these beautiful images that will make you stand out. 

I've seen it time and time again, the transformations that happen at my workshops allow the students to be amazing artists and create incredibly impactful work and deliver far more connected and meaningful experiences for their clients and ultimately lead them to be incredible artists. 

If you feel like you're unseen or you're not quite certain how to create a repeatable process where you're building emotive, beautiful images and creating amazing experiences for your clients. I want you to know that it is actually possible. There's a scientifically proven methodology that I've created that will get you there. And if you want it, you can have it. It's yours. It's really that simple.

If you want to start the journey to becoming an authentic artist and having pride and confidence in your work, knowing that you are going to be able to create amazing work every time with every client, then I would love for you to join me and my free Facebook group Facebook Community

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