I’ve attended enough workshops and seminars now to have a good idea as to how to behave at these things. By last count, there were 17 physical workshops/seminars I’ve attended since 2013. It always amazes me that there are other professionals who seemingly don’t know how to behave at these workshops. In fact, I wish you’d bring your mamma. Maybe she can help you behave at these things.
These workshops cost money… anywhere from $500 on upwards to $5,000. Even when you’re only paying $500, you are expecting to gain
$500 $5,000 worth of knowledge. And mind you, everyone is usually paying the same price. There may be some instances where students took advantage of an early registration deal or received a slight discount because they were a part of the instructor’s members-only education group. But, in general, everyone is paying roughly the same price for the education and experience. Everyone is expecting to learn something to take back and better their own business. This is an investment; no one does this for fun. I can’t tell you how many times I have sat in one of these workshops and thought to myself, “Wow, did you REALLY just do that?” And… there may have been a time or two when that outburst was audible. I also have to add that there have plenty of 100% pleasant experiences too!
But, for those times when I left a workshop wanting to slap someone and in an effort to make this a pleasant experience for everyone, I want to lay down some rules for both the students and the instructors. It would be awesome if no one left feeling irritated, jilted or ripped off… or wanting to slap someone.
Workshop Etiquette for Photographers
- Be sure your personal hygiene is on point.
- Unless there has been a significant mishap in your life (death, catastrophic injury, your kids were kidnapped, i.e.), show up on time.
- Turn off your cell phone or at the very least, silence it and don’t talk. These disruptions are not only rude to the instructor, but to the other students as well.
- Introduce yourself. Hand out cards to people so they can remember your name and connect with you after the workshop.
- Don’t steal people’s seats. If someone left their bag on a seat and then went to the bathroom, it doesn’t mean you can move it and claim the seat as your own.
- Don’t save seats for people who are late. Let someone who arrived early or on time have the seat.
- Don’t assume that because you sat in a certain seat in the previous session or the day before, it’s yours for the duration of the workshop. If you want to keep that same seat, get there early to claim it.
- If the instructor is handing out goodies, only take one! Just one.
- Don’t be a shot hog! Get in line to get your shot. Take no more than two or three quick shots and get out of the way. If you’re not happy with your results, get back in line… the end of the line. (I know someone who actually slapped someone for being a shot hog. If you don’t want to get slapped, don’t be a shot hog.)
- Don’t direct the models during other people’s shots unless you are asked to.
- Never step in front of the people who are waiting in line to get a shot.
- If you’re invited to bring images for a critique by the instructor, bring no more than the number suggested.
- Don’t break out your phone/tablet/laptop and ask for a critique of your work in the middle of class breaks/lunch/dinner. Oftentimes, this a professional service that the instructors actually charge for.
- Don’t try to teach the class! No one, I repeat, NO ONE paid money to hear YOU!!!
- In general, just be courteous. Pretend your mamma is there ready to pull your ear if you misbehave.
Workshop Etiquette for Instructors
- Make the students feel welcomed. Call them by name when you can.
- Gear the workshop toward a specific skill level. There have been many times when I’ve sat through a class only to have it taught to the lowest skill set in the room. I know this probably can’t be avoided at larger seminars, but it can be avoided at smaller niche workshops. Advertise the material and then teach it. Buyer beware.
- Don’t relentlessly peddle your sponsors’ products.
- Be prepared; be organized.
- Involve the students for setting up a shot… let them hold lights, position reflectors, carry bags, etc.
- After you demonstrate how to take a shot, make sure the students have a few minutes to try and get the shot.
- Without embarrassment, quiz the students during the shot.
- Ask to look at the back of the students’ cameras after the shot. Offer a speedy assessment.
- If we can’t use the shots from the workshop for image comp, neither should you. It makes us feel like we paid for your competition images and you weren’t fully present during our educational time. If you want to enter images from Iceland, then take those images on a different day, in a different location, with a different model, in different wardrobe. Get it?
- When giving critiques, go hard. Or at the very least, ask what each photographer is comfortable with hearing. Personally, I don’t mind someone being totally and brutally honest with my work as long as they are being objective. It doesn’t do anyone any good if every single critique is candy coated. Again, I’m there to learn and I can learn from other photographers’ work just as I can my own.
- Police the shot hogs. Please!! Pretty please!! Also, if you can, put their cameras in timeout. 🙂 (If I were ranking these, without a doubt, this would be #1!!)
- When possible, spend time with the students outside of the class time. Personal time is much appreciated and remembered fondly.
- Try and keep in contact with the students after the workshop. You never know who will be a repeat student, write a five-star review or direct other students to your workshop.
- If you make a promise about following up (creating a Facebook group, contacting via email, conducting a survey, etc.) keep it.
- In general, make a personal connection and not let is appear as just a money-making endeavor.
I attend these workshops because there are photographers whose work I admire a great deal and I want to learn from these masters. I attend because I want to learn and increase my photography game. I attend because I want to meet people in the industry and stay connected with them. I attend because I know I have oodles to learn. When I attend, I want it to be a pleasant experience for all. I think if we followed these simple etiquette tips, it would help. If you still can’t help yourself, bring your mamma.
What are your pet peeves about attending photography workshops?
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