On Location Nature Photography Workshops Hosted By Aaron Reed

   When researching a photography workshop, there is much more to consider aside from the location & date of the event. The experience, personality and teaching style of the host should be considered first to get the most out of your investment. It is also important to understand the difference between a "photo tour" and a workshop and what to expect from each one of these very different events. Finally, your instructors body of work, success and photographic ideals should align with your own personal goals whenever possible.

Photo Tour or Photography Workshop?

   Photo Tours are typically events where the guide will take you to locations based on their popularity in an effort to "show you the shot" or put you in the right place to capture a particular image. For some, this is all they are interested in and this type of event fits their needs well. For example, an experienced photographer from outside the area with little time to research or plan a trip may book this type of event. They don't require any actual instruction or inspiration and simply want to maximize their opportunity to capture the locations they hope to visit.

   A Photography Workshop on the other hand is an event where the host is hands on with the clients offering inspiration, technical and creative instruction and guidance to the group and individual attendees. A workshop instructor should ultimately be able to inspire and encourage many different personality types. Not everyone is friendly and outgoing by nature and some feel uncomfortable in a group setting full of strangers. It is the job of the workshop instructor to quickly get to know each member of the group and be able to tap into their style and temperament quickly. 

Guide, Instructor of Teacher?

   It is extremely important to understand what type of leader you will have regardless of the event being a tour or a workshop. I personally find there are three main personality types who host these events. As described above, the main requirement of a successful "Photo Tour" guide is knowledge of the locations you will be visiting and little more. In some cases, this type of tour is offered by a less experienced photographer who has the desire to offer workshops, yet lacks the experience or confidence to truly teach.

   An instructor is often someone with a wealth of experience and knowledge to share but may have preconceived ideas about when or how to share this knowledge.  An instructor may have personal feelings about a certain type of photography or style. These beliefs may cause them to avoid teaching about or providing opportunity to experience images or ideals they do not agree with. For example, a photographic instructor who believes that overshot locations are not worth capturing images of may lead you away from these opportunities. As another example, one who does not enjoy HDR (high dynamic range) photography may even discourage this type of photography. The worst of this is that they could be discounting something you are personally interested in without even knowing!

   A teacher is a leader who understands that their job is to find out what drives you personally and use this information to help you learn in the best way you can. This type of person helps you find out what works for you, not simply what worked for them. Knowledge gained from a true photography teacher can be used again and again regardless of the place, time of day or quality of light. A teacher helps you find your inner voice, what drives you and helps you strengthen the interests you have regardless of what those may be. This type of leader is usually charismatic and may be described as a people person, an important quality when trying to inspire a group of strangers over the course of a weekend.

What Do You Believe In?

   The most important piece of advice I can give a new photographer is to never allow anyone to tell you that you can’t, you won’t or you shouldn’t and believe me, they will try. There are a large number of photographers on social media today who seem to think that THEY know how YOU should create art. They speak as if the opinions and ideas that they have are concrete fact and share them openly, many times at the expense of a photographer who has yet to find their own artistic voice. Pay absolutely no attention to these often egotistical people and understand that because they have placed these limits on themselves, they are often unsatisfied with their own work. Create exactly what you want to and how you want to regardless of how you think others may perceive it. The greater the level of freedom you allow yourself when creating your art, the more personal and rewarding it will become. It is crucial during this period that you follow your own vision and do your best to filter out the noise.

   Regardless of your status on the social media ladder, or where you are on your path as a photographer, please do not allow yourself to believe that the value of attention you receive online is greater than your own personal experience and happiness. While receiving praise through likes, thumbs up, high fives or fist bumps may make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside in the short term, these forms of “click and run” praise offer little value in the real world and often inflate egos to the point of no return. Do not allow yourself to believe thatyour popularity online directly equates to the quality of your work or your value as a person. If you see imagery online that you enjoy, take the time to understand WHY you enjoy it and if possible, share those honest feelings with the artist who created it. Participating in this process will help you as an artist more than any award, accolade or praise you will ever receive online.

Summary

   If you are like me, finding joy in photography has changed your life. Your excitement and search for knowledge evoked by this creative outlet has led you to try to absorb all the information you can and social media happily force feeds it to you at every turn. As a new photographer it is natural to seek out the work of others who are more experienced than you. What you find will either motivate you further or begin to water the seeds of self doubt in your mind. It is important during this process to remind yourself that you are just beginning to scratch the surface of your own creativity. Those you look up to now doubted themselves as well in the beginning. Today, thanks to social media and the relentless barrage of high quality imagery we face daily many are afraid to show anything but their very best work, once again placing restrictions on their creativity and their art.

   I enjoy photography more today than I did when I picked up my first camera. I am driven by the experience and connection with nature, regardless of the subject. Should you choose to participate in one of my photography workshops I will be equally driven to help you enhance and cultivate your personal interests as a photographer. I look forward to meeting you in the field! Happy Shooting!



What To Bring On Your Workshop

Aaron Reed Photography Workshop FAQ