The Workshop Experience

Workshops—both taking them and teaching them—have been wonderful experiences for me. Beyond personal projects, my work has evolved the most—both in terms of craft and vision—as a result of workshops. It is a week of total emersion, of shooting, of learning from and sharing with others, of having your work critiqued, of being constantly challenged.

Here’s why I believe in workshops:

• There is an unrivaled intensity to the week and total immersion into your craft. There are no distractions: You don’t call home. You don’t think about your job. You eat, breathe and live photography (or bookmaking or whatever) with other artists for a full week. You can’t help but learn, be challenged, and be energized in that kind of setting.

• You get feedback on your work from people whose opinions you trust.

• You try things you might never try otherwise. You push beyond your comfort zone, but within a safe and supportive environment.

The key is choosing the right workshop. If you need to advance your skills, take a skills-based workshop from an experienced teacher. If you’re feeling stale, consider a destination workshop to a place you’ve never been before. If you’re looking to advance your career, seek out a workshop that will challenge you intellectually. Look for instructors whose work you admire and who have received rave reviews about their interaction with students.

And then go with two things:

1. A short list of personal objectives for the workshop.
2. And an open mind.

Photo taken in the Red Mountains of southern Colorado during a workshop conducted by the Rocky Mountain School of Photography.