The career of a professional photographer is constantly changing and evolving. For many established professionals, there will come a time where adding an additional element to your creative business will feel like a logical next step. This new endeavor will allow you to shift gears from the traditional practice of production toward a new and fresh way of sharing and imparting your wisdom with other photographers. Let’s talk about hosting and teaching your own photography workshops.
In many ways, the concept of teaching and hosting photography workshops can be a beneficial pillar to further strengthen your audience and make supplementary income.
We often see photography workshops and tutorials being hosted by top notch professionals who have been in the industry for many years. A perfect example are the Master Classes, where you can learn photography techniques, tricks and concepts by legends such as Annie Leibovitz. When signing up for a class or workshop being taught by a photographer with decades of experience, you are investing in the knowledge and insight of a seasoned professional.
Although learning from the greats, the photography experts and gurus would be a truly career changing experience, and you may not have to venture far. Now more than ever, photographers are carving out a place in their specific niche to guide and teach eager beginners and aspiring creatives how to master the tricks of the trade.
If you’re a photographer interested in creating and hosting your own photography workshops, the process may be simpler than you think. If you have a focused niche, a solid and engaged follower base and the passion to share your experience with others, then you can start teaching and hosting your own photography workshops. Although starting your own photography workshops will take time, research and patience, you can start generating ideas with a few standard guidelines.
To help you kickstart your new business endeavor into the world of photography workshops, we will cover everything you need to know. In this article, we will discuss how to determine the appropriate niche, create true interest with your audience and plan a workshop that is full of valuable knowledge and experience.
What is a Photography Workshop?
A photography workshop is a guided, teaching event where a professional photographer works with other creatives to explain, hone and strengthen their personal photography skills. A photography workshop can be done in several ways, either taught at a specific location such as a studio or hosted in the form of a walking workshop where the group moves from place to place.
The majority of photography workshops are held over the course of either one or two days. Anything longer than this would be considered more of a photography program, which are usually short period courses hosted by a school or university.
During the period of the photography workshop, the students attending will undergo several specific events as determined and outlined by the workshop’s itinerary. The photographer will create the set of tasks and topics to be covered during the photography workshop and will usually disclose the schedule to interested individuals during the sign up process.
A photography workshop may include concepts such as understanding light, posing your subject, learning how to post edit your images and a portfolio review to take a look at your current work and make critiques.
Online Photography Workshops and Tutorials
In addition to physical workshops, you can also begin your journey into teaching through online methods of creating tutorials or web focused courses. Many photographers looking to start teaching others about the art of photography often begin with this method as a way to expand their reach to students all around the country or even the world.
Online photography courses, tutorials and workshops should be created with the same dedication and attention to detail as those that are held in person. You can host photography workshops online via web seminars where students can log in to join, in the form of personal Skype mentoring sessions or even in easy to access downloaded packets that give specific and concrete guidelines and approaches to a specific type of photography.
If you are interested in creating workshops that are accessible only through the Internet, you will need to make sure you are creating the highest quality of content. Because you are removing the personal, physical interaction that exists during in-person workshops, you will want to craft a workshop that covers all of the bases with little to no room for error. If you construct a workshop that is too confusing or lacks in substantial information, you will experience an influx of questions, concerns and even in some cases, a request for refunds.
For the remainder of this article, we will focus on building in-person photography workshops. If you are interested in learning more about building online photography learning sources, tell us in the comments below and we will cover this topic in the future.
How to Know if You Should Start Hosting Photography Workshops
If you’ve considered the idea of starting your own photography workshop, you are most likely thinking about where to start. Before you even begin tackling the technical and planning aspects of a workshop, you will need to decide the type of photography workshop you would like to host.
A photography workshop will be held for people who are interested in and value the work you produce. It is common for those attending a photographer’s workshop to interested in their content and style, even to the point of where their own work is inspired and influenced by these techniques. Therefore, you should stick to hosting workshops that fall within the niche of your photography portfolio.
For example, if you are a fashion photographer you should host a workshop focused on photographing people either in a studio or at an on-location setting. If you are a landscape or travel photographer, you could host a workshop at a specific place that involves moving around to various locations in order to offer your students different backdrops to capture. In either situation, you will need to teach your students the art of photography within your specific subject matter.
How to Generate Interest in Your Workshop
Once you have determined which kind of photography workshop you will host, you will need to understand how to generate and spark interest in your event.
To begin, you will want to evaluate your current audience and reach within your sector. This could be as simple as calculating the number of combined followers and engaged individuals who view your work via social media. Start with your largest platform such as Instagram. If you use the business platform of Instagram you can easily access the personal statistics for your account such as reach, weekly visits to your profile and the amount of engagement per specific post or image.
You could also reference your personal portfolio website, looking at the SEO metrics to discover the number of visitors who have viewed and engaged on your website. The greater number of followers and subscribers you have, the more likely you will be able to accumulate a strong, interested group of aspiring and budding photographers to attend your workshop.
Yet, although these are effective ways to measure your following, this cannot be the only determinant of whether or not you should start hosting a photography workshop. The best way to understand the amount of people who would be interested in a photography workshop is to simply ask.
Start with something simple like hosting a poll on your Instagram stories, asking your followers who be interested in attending a photography workshop hosted by you. Pose the same question on one of your latest posted images and tell people to comment if they would attend. Depending on the engagement of your followers, this can be an effective way to gain results and answers in a quick, effective manner.
Maybe, you are a photographer who has an email subscription list. In this case, use the list of email subscribers to send a targeted marketing email blast to develop and ignite the spark of your new idea. You could even add a component that applies added value to your future students, such as the first 10 people to sign up will receive a 25% discount. You could also offer a discount to those who share the workshop with their friends and result in them signing up.
Once you have exhausted your efforts of social media, word of mouth and polling through email blasts, sit down and crunch the numbers. A good photography workshop will have between 10 to 20 students, a number that is decided upon a series of factors.
The number of students that attend your workshop should be manageable by you and the location in which you hold your workshop. For example, hosting your workshop in a specific space such as a studio will allow you to have more designated room for a larger group. Yet, a workshop that involves walking around and moving locations would call for a smaller group of students to keep the group organized and tight.
Additionally, cap the number of students for your workshop based on what you believe will create a personal and intimate atmosphere. A student does not sign up for a workshop, so that they can sit in a huge room with other students without engaging in personal, one-on-one time with the photographer. If you feel that you can give special attention to every one of your 5, 10 or 20 students, then make the selection that best suits your organizational capabilities.
Lastly, you will need to decide how many students will make the workshop a feasible and financially smart endeavor. Although you should be hosting workshops based on your primary focus of teaching growing photographers, you should also view photography workshops as a great way to make extra income.
With matters of money, you should calculate the total cost you will incur to host the workshop. These figures may include the location booking, extra equipment rental, permits, day rate fees for a model, sourcing a makeup artist or stylist, coffee, snacks, lunch (if included) and any extra elements where additional costs may be incurred. Once you have determine the full cost of hosting the workshop, you can then begin to set your price for each student’s registration.
For a photography workshop, you will want to host a class where the number of students covers your expenses and still allows you to walk away with a solid amount of profit. For many professionals, photography workshops generate income that can be used to fund future, personal projects and commissions.
Build the Itinerary for Your Workshop
The itinerary will serve as the backbone and outline of events that will take place during your workshop. The itinerary for your workshop should be broken down by day, if there are multiple days, and then by each hour to keep the event scheduled and moving according to plan.
The itinerary you create will be shared with your students, so be sure to outline every specific detail. For example, if you plan to break for lunch from 12 to 1 p.m. include that in the itinerary. Or if the workshop begins at 9 a.m., have the itinerary read that check in and registration begins at 8:30 a.m. to account for any later arrivals that may result in lost time.
For the larger portions of your workshop, have each specific topic and component that will be covered as a bullet point within your plan. For example, if you were to host a fashion photography workshop, topics you could include in your itinerary would be:
- Tips for Studio Lighting
- A Guide to Posing Your Subject
- Working with Makeup Artists and Stylists
- How to Post Produce Your Images
- The Business of Fashion Photography
After determining which topics your photography workshop will include, align them accordingly to the time allotted. A good rule of thumb for workshops is to have each section build upon one another. Therefore, aim to start the workshop with a generalized topic and then add more detailed components as the day progresses.
Since a photography workshop is built on practical application, you will have to carve out an appropriate amount of time for the shooting and production to take place. Depending on the number of students, you may need more or less time, but a standard amount of time for each student to shoot with the model should be anywhere from 15-20 minutes. This can take place after the lecture part of the workshop and once you have covered the bases of each topic.
A tip in order to fully utilize your time in the workshop is to run the shooting exercise in conjunction with the portfolio review. After giving the students time to capture their own images based on your guidelines and tips, take the time to speak with each person individually about their portfolio. The students can bring a printed or send an online version to you prior to the workshop. During this time, you will offer constructive critiques to their book. This serves the purpose of having a fresh set of eyes view their images and tell them what is strong, what can be improved and what kind of work they should be doing more of.
Create a Place for Registration
Hosting a photography workshop should be viewed as a serious event that reflects your professionalism and competencies as a photographer. With this in mind, you should aim to create effective and streamlined communication from the conception of your workshop to even after its finished. Remember, one successful workshop could lead the potential of hosting more in the future.
In order to properly show your passion and interest in teaching, you should create a specific page on your personal website or even a whole new site for interested students to sign up and register for the workshop.
The sign up spot for your photography workshop registration should include the following information:
- The date(s) and time(s) of the workshop
- The location name and address of where you will be hosting the workshop
- A full detailed itinerary of each day, laid out by the hour for ease of organization
- A list of what each student will need to bring with them to the workshop
- Contact information for them to use for further questions
- The full price of the workshop
- Any notes or disclosures that seem appropriate to include
Once you have included all of the necessary information to your registration sign up page, you will need to build the actual form for sign up and payment. This aspect of your registration will be built depending on which website provider you use. Considering registration contains the sensitive information of payment details, you will want to make sure you are building this aspect to be as secure as possible for your students.
For the payment component, you should have your registration form collect the following information:
- Email Address
- Phone Number
- Personal website details or social handles
- Photography gear that they will be using
- Notes on any dietary restrictions for when you are planning snack choices
- Any Health concerns they may have that you should be informed of
- Emergency Contact information in the case of accident or other occurrence – this is vital for you to have in the case of insurance purposes.
- Payment details
Once you have collected all the obligatory information for payment, you should keep a detailed account of every purchase for the workshop for your own personal records. Bring this to the workshop in the case that someone has a question or needs clarification. Once you have completed the registration process, the final step will be to host your workshop.
Solidifying Details and Hosting Your Workshop
In conjunction with the process of registering your students for the workshop, you should be working hard to solidify any details, rentals and bookings you will have made for the workshop.
The following aspects of your workshop that will need to be confirmed in advance include:
- Searching for and securing the perfect location or studio
- Renting any equipment for the shoot
- Reaching out to a team for the day — such as a personal assistant, makeup artist, stylist, lighting technician or videographer
- Casting and booking a model(s) for your shoot
- Confirming any type of catering that you may include such as coffee, snacks or even lunch
- If you offer the option for students to send their portfolio online before the workshop, then you will need to collect and organize these images
- Make any final payments for the costs of the workshops
- Follow up on any missing payments from students.
And after months of planning and preparation, the day to host your workshop is finally here. Remember that hosting a workshop and teaching eager students about your passions will be a two way street. You will impart your knowledge of photography on them, while having the opportunity to meet, interact and build relationships with young artists who are truly dedicated and inspired by your work.
On the day of your workshop, remember to take time to answer as many questions, offer your best advice and truly show your students that their learning process is important to you. Hosting a workshop can be a guaranteed way to establish a new way of making money with photography, but is most importantly an event that centers around community and connection through creativity.
Taking on the challenge of planning and hosting a photography workshop will allow you to create the perfect space to teach and share your years of experience. As a professional photographer hosting your next photography workshop, aim to give your students the insight they seek, do your best to explain the expectations of your industry and give them the tools they can use toward their own personal photography careers.