Why Free Workshops?

Discussion in 'Workshops & Lectures' started by per volquartz, Feb 10, 2006.

  1. per volquartz

    per volquartz Member

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    Its all about creating renewed interest and excitement about film based photography.
    These workshops provide a setting where newbies and seasoned pros can get together and share information, experiences and know-how.
    While some of these free workshops have scheduled presentations of various topics the primary part is doing photography in great settings while meeting others who share the excitement (and addiction) to photography. As a result many new friendships have formed. And a wonderful new body of photographic work has been created.

    These free workshops should not be seen as competition to specialized fee based workshops. Instead it is my hope that photographers / teachers, who offer such specialized fee based workshops will participate in these free workshops, which would further the growth - not only of film based photography in general - but also serve as a way for these photographers / teachers to "grow" their own specialized workshops from this large new base of image makers...

    I have always felt - and still do - that manufacturers and distributors of photographic equipment and supplies would be wise to support free workshops. This would be an effective way of spending advertising and PR funds, which today may be tighter than in previous times due to the influx of digital photography.


    If you have questions about my free workshops and / or would like to participate in one please contact me at the following address:

    volquartz@volquartz.com


    http://www.pervolquartz.com
     
  2. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Per, I agree and disagree at the same time.

    I'm retired. I set out to develop a method to make and coat silver halide emulsions for B&W paper and film on my own. I have ended up being invited to give 2 workshops using this material.

    It has cost me several thousand dollars and over 2 years of my time to do this. I will never in the rest of my life be able to recoup the costs of development even with paying workshops.

    And, if even one student begins teaching a free workshop using my material that I taught them, it undercuts my ability to continue financing further work. OTOH, they have a perfect right to do that if they wish, I suppose. But, they cannot use any of my copyright material.

    So, I'm in that dilemma of both agreeing and disagreeing in free workshops. See my answer to Donald Qualls in another thread. I'm doing the best I can, but sometimes free just does not work. Someone eventually must pay for the expertise and experience of another. It cannot just be handed over sometimes. So, there is no simple answer, although I wish that there was.

    PE
     
  3. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    Per, while I haven't been able to attend one yet, I think your free workshops are great. Rather like a pot-luck dinner, where everyone brings something to the table, but some have more interesting stories to tell.

    That said, I also recognize the need for others to charge a fee for their workshops, as that is all or part of their way of making a living.

    Fortunately, there's room for both approaches.
     
  4. roteague

    roteague Member

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    Thanks Per!!! I had the privilege of attending one of your workshops, and it was very much appreciated. I have never been anywhere where I was able to shoot with other LF photographers, and this was a wonderful experience. I hope to attend again someday. It was fantastic!!!!
     
  5. blaze-on

    blaze-on Member

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    I have attended five of Per's get togethers and have benefitted from all, met many photographers and made some good friends, all in the last 14 months.

    As I would not consider 99% of the fee based workshops being offered anyway, my participation in the FREE workshops does not cut in to the fee based ones.
    I'm a firm believer in learning by doing...and doing...and doing...

    I go to meet other analogaholics, share stories and enjoy.
     
  6. Dave Wooten

    Dave Wooten Member

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    Pers' "workshops" offer a good oportunity for good comradeship in a very open learning environment. Those newly venturing into film based photography as well as the very accomplished benefit, it is a most enjoyable and refreshing way to spend a weekend....I thoroughly enjoyed and am thankful for the friends I have met at these workshops and am most appreciative of the experience.

    Also, I was able in one week end to savor a bit of the grape by the evening fire and in the early morning while waiting for the maple bacon to fry, enjoy a good cup of strong coffee, and later in the afternoon i enjoyed a nice round of Wilbur Wong's now famous chile........all in my very own APUG MUG.

    Dave in Vegas

    see you in TP
     
  7. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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    A regional get together is what Per does. A "WORKSHOP" is what Les McLean does. One is a camping trip of LF photographers that might include little short lectures about some aspect of photography of one of the people who shows up Those done either at lunch time or at night while drinking wine. The other is where Les takes the time to fully cover and go over a subject not for 45 minutes but for days. Even the field trip workshops that Les does are chocked full of information and hands on insturction And if lucky single malt in the evenings. Les does the kind of instruction that warrants a fee, and also manufacturer sponsorship. If Per is to get sponsorship from manufacturers and vendors, then all the regional groups should get the same monies given to them. None of the regional gatherings charge fees, nor do they call themselves workshops.
     
  8. per volquartz

    per volquartz Member

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    If you had been in Zion this January Aggie...

    You'd have learned a bit about color photography from one of the best wilderness photographers in the United States, Claire Curran.
    Claire gave a presentation at night - in a board room - no wine, sorry - and followed up the next day by taking those interested on a 65 mile 4wdr dirt road to some of her secret photographic spots.

    If you had been there perhaps your photography would have improved to a point where even you could be called a photographer?

    Just because someone posts a lot in a forum on the internet does not in any way make them an expert!

    A creative photographer to some extent needs technical skills. However, the central issue, and difficulty in photography - as in any art form - is visual content and ideas. This is learned by doing.

    Free workshops act as a catalyst to increase the awareness and excitement about photography.

    Specialized workshops such as the one you mentioned - as well as my fee based darkroom workshops - become secondary steps on the ladder to being able to communicate what you see and feel during making the initial exposure.
     
  9. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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    I was in Zion In January, just not at the gathering. You in your EMAIL to me last April Made that very clear what you thought of me and all the money and help I poured out for your last years Zion workshop.

    As to Claire, I doubt I would have learned what I wanted to learn about color in a one night lecture, which may not have been any longer than any of the other night time lectures that have been during your gatherings. As to the secret special spots, I could match them 10 to 1. You missed the big ice flows that were within 40 miles of your location. The massive walls of ice that flow down a mountainside and the locals add bits of colored water as they grow. They are colorful and texture rich. Then there are all the waterfalls of the virgin and other rivers that are in and around Hurricane. Shall we talk about an area that has bristlecone pine? How about one of the newest park areas, RED ROCK? Then there are the Dixie Narrows. All of these places less than 40 miles from Zion, and many of them with spectacular views right from the side of a maintained dirt road. Now if you want to get off the road and do some hiking now that I can hike any man into the ground and have energy to spare, There is a lot more. Then there are the three other ghost towns besides Grafton. There is a small community that has not changed since pioneer times, and is still inhabited. BUT AS YOU SAID IN YOUR EMAIL! I know nothing.

    The assumption I am not a photographer I must ask you personally why? I did after all ask you for help on the how to's many times at your supposed workshops. Where did you fail in your teaching? Or was it the lack of teaching that has left me bereft of being a photographer? I guess I can throw out the plaques I have won in three seperate competitions, and tell the people I have sold photos to that it is all nothing, since Per says I'm not a photographer.

    Now if you get back to what this thread was about was whether the workshops should be free. I interjected they were not true workshops but gatherings where LF photographers get together and share. Yeah they are fun. Do you learn a lot? Not really. Do you see things that might inspire you? Sometimes, depending on who shows up. Are they any better than any other regional group that gets together? No! Should you be singled out over the other regional gatherings for sponsorship? No unless you did something more to earn the designation of a workshop. There are many very good and talented people all over who have organized and conducted similar gatherings as you have Per. They all deserve just as much gratitude and respect. Papagene in the east, Lee in Texas, I can't think of the guy in Michigan but he does well. Look what they do in England. The list goes on. None of them misuse the term WORKSHOP They share what they know when they get together and if someone knows something more than the others, they share.
     
  10. per volquartz

    per volquartz Member

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    Sorry for having offended you Aggie...

    You did make a large effort in making the first Zion Workshop (not regional gathering) a successful event. You did do a lot of research and offered a lot of information. And you were a great help in making many people want to return for the recent workshop this January in Zion.

    For that I am greatful as it is my hope that through my free workshops I will help further the excitement and understanding of film based photography. I am glad to share the knowledge and experience I have gathered through more than 35 years of doing professional photography, working for some of the largest corporations in America and in Europe! To date more than 15 of my free workshops have taken place throughout the West. With more than 270 people in all attending. In addition I get constant email from people on the East Coast and in Europe who want me to arrange workshops there as well...

    These free workshops are costly for me - not only in terms of expenses but also in terms of time. I am not wealthy by any means but do love creative photography immensely - And want to share my experience with as many people as possible. Therefore I conduct these workshops for free!



    Furthermore...

    You are entitled to your understanding of what the word "Workshop" means as I am entitled to mine.

    I have only been to Zion a few times and still hope for the day when I will be there during weather that in my opinion fits its timeless and violent past.

    Oh, and by the way several people did shoot great images of ice this January.
     
  11. Mark Carstens

    Mark Carstens Member

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    I want to echo what others have said about Per’s workshops with respect to their scope, purpose and affect on the greater community of photography. I’m not a young dude (though I play one TV ;-}) nor am I new to photography, and yet I feel as though Per and the other photographers who participate in his workshops are providing an apprenticeship-type education to me in large format photography. Were it not for Per’s enthusiasm, generosity and willingness to invest himself in the community of photographers who frequent his workshops, some of us may have moved on, or moved over to -- eeek! d*g*tal capture -- out of sheer frustration. Heck, he’s even got me gearing up to soup my own negs, and that just wouldn’t have happened without his frequent, workshop-grounded support.

    So, to answer the question, does Per offer a “service” of inherent value to others that could warrant a fee? Damn straight he does. The difference for me is that his service and all the benefits they accrue go back to “the community” at large rather than into his own pocket.

    Thanks, Per. You go, boy!!
     
  12. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

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    There really is a whole range of workshops out there from free to expensive that offer a range of things, and I don't see them necessarily competing with each other. I've paid modest fees (under $100) for workshops that were essentially "regional get-togethers in a learning environment," which sounds like an apt description of what these are, and they've been completely worth it. I met some interesting people, learned a few things, taught others a few things, and got access to interesting locations, which was exactly what I wanted. They're a great way to get motivated and motivate others to use the medium.

    I don't think free and low-cost workshops necessarily compete with workshops that are more like a master class, or intensive study with a widely recognized artist or practitioner or someone who has particular technical experience in a specialized process.
     
  13. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member

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    This is why I called my Gathering last year a "Gathering" and not a "Workshop".

    I had no intention to teach, and the word "Workshop" to me implies that teaching will be perpetrated. Instead I wanted to gather resourceful people from a large part of the globe in a very unusual setting, and see what developed (literally).

    We'll do that again - Stockholm this summer!
     
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  15. per volquartz

    per volquartz Member

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    Agnes participated in The North Coast Free Workshop,
    came back for more at The Mount Shasta Free Workshop
    and to the first Zion workshop.

    Here is her comment after participating in the North Coast Workshop:
    5/28/03

    I loved the experience. I was able to learn so much
    valuable information that on a college level I had not been taught.
    Professors may talk about a photography previsualization,
    but you showed it. Clicking the shutter is only the starting
    pint of the journey to a great image. That image is
    closer and more attainable now that I can visually see
    how to correct the exposure the way it should be done.
     
  16. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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    Mammoth.
    Owens Valley
    Bodie
    Mono Lake
    Yosemite
    October 25 - 29
    2005
    FREE

    SIGN UP
    While this is more
    of a Gettogether the following
    will be covered:
    Image content
    Analysis of Form
    Creative use of exposure
    High altitude photography
    AZO = myth or fact?
    Alternatives to AZO
    Environmental portraiture


    This above is the direct from Per's workshop page about one of his get togethers. You can access it by going directly to pervolquartz.com and going to his workshop page. He even admits it is nothing more than a get together. They are great if you want to do the get together thing and share with others. They are not about the teaching aspect.

    Ole summed it up best! Considering I knew absolutely nothing about LF when I attended the Redwoods gathering, Anything was more than I had been taught at the college I went to where only two select MEN were allowed to learn about LF and others were discouraged from doing anything other than 35mm. We were given a fast little demon on previsualization for the darkroom with actual workprints we brought with us. From there he went on to tell us how to do it with PS and a computer. Yes this is something I had not seen before. was it a full lesson? No. It was a teaser, and from there I had to go learn how to really do it. I was asked by Per to write something good about his get together back then, hence the blurb.
     
  17. per volquartz

    per volquartz Member

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    Thank You for the Blurb, Aggie!

    "I was asked by Per to write something good about his get together back then, hence the blurb."

    I appreciate it very much!
    And I am glad you did learn something too!

    Learning photography is a life long endeavor. Not something that can be understood in a week day or even months.
    The technical aspects are easy. Anyone who wants to spend the time and money learning photography and purchasing the best equipment can create sharp images.

    Paraphrasing Edward Weston (sorry for not having the correct word-for-word quote at hand):

    "In photography is is stupefyingly easy to create an image; yet incredibly difficult to create an important photograph."

    Before studying design, painting and photography at Art Center College in Los Angeles I was an apprentice in a small advertising agency for 3 years - in the old country. There I learned from others by observing and doing actual work. For me this was a very effective learning environment. In fact that is what I hope to do with the free workshops: create an environment that intersperses learning by doing - with short presentations of technical issues.

    I can accept that some people like this way of learning and that others do not.

    I do use Gettogether and Workshop at liberty because the free workshops contain both great learning experiences, great times and camaraderie.
     
  18. per volquartz

    per volquartz Member

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    Amazing!

    "Considering I knew absolutely nothing about LF when I attended the Redwoods gathering".

    This was in May of 2003!

    In just 2 1/2 years you sure have learned an amazing amount about photography, Aggie. Obviously enough to have become an expert!
     
  19. Dave Wooten

    Dave Wooten Member

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    Why Free Workshops? Why Not? It is about giving and sharing in an open forum in a nice neighborhood! See you all soon in Galli Country! :D

    PS BYOP (bring your own petzval)

    Matt will probably be designing a Petzval Madness Tee Shirt!
     
  20. Thomassauerwein

    Thomassauerwein Member

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    In my early days of Photography I attended a lot of workshops, mostly in Santa FE. Paid for them all. Only one was a bust. The person treated it like a get together and we were all her freinds. She had little knowlege but was very social. What a waiste of time (and money) My definition of a "workshop" is to go meet like minds and learn from an experianced person who is beyond my ability to access thier experiance. If they have done the work to achieve a level of experiance and exposure then they should have the confidence in themselves to charge. And should be paid! Why would someone give away something so valuable? In 5 of the workshops I learned more than I had, in school and working as an assitant. These guys are the cream of the crop. Had to work my ass of as did they. Worth every nickel I spent! There are a lot of people out there that "learn as they teach". Some charge some don't. On two occasions that I attended I walked away. Dissapointed at waisting the time. Ironic that, having not spent a cent I felt ripped off. As others have said, like minds getting together and playing together is a great thing. But "It is what it is" a gathering. If you want to develop a teaching program that you can charge for maybe try guest lecturing for local schools. I've done this for the college here. Learned as much as the kids did. Not photography but about teaching and am far from qualified to sell my services as a teacher. But if I was I would expect to be paid.
     
  21. zerochance

    zerochance Member

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    As the spouse of the person Per's playing his little childish games with here, I feel that I'm probably as qualified as any to weigh in.

    #1, based on the last message I saw, LF does not equal photography in general. Aggie's had cameras as long as I've known her. And we just celebrated our 25th anniversary, so that's a bit longer than 2 1/2 years. Maybe LF photographers think they're the only true photographers, but that's as dumb an assumption as the C programmers I know who think they're the only true programmers.

    #2, The whole 'workshop' vs. 'gathering' discussion is a canard. Call it whatever you want, as long as you're not charging for it. Nobody can complain if something free turns out to be something other than what they originally thought it was. How else can we explain all the 'free' vacation offers that are really attempts to force people to listen to obnoxious hardsell sales pitches.

    #3, The nonsense about all the 'learning' that goes on during the free workshops. I had the chance to attend one, along with Aggie, in Shasta. While my negative feelings about camping out aside (Motel 6 is roughing it for me), I didn't see much learning going on. There was a lot of exposing people to new things, as that's about all you can do in the short increments of time (45 minutes to 90 minutes) used. From what I can see, the 'free' workshops cost me a lot, as once Aggie learns that something interesting is out there, she won't rest until she gets good information about it. So I've ended up paying for a lot of real workshops and seminars for her to get complete information on things she's been exposed to.

    #4, The focus on Aggie. I'm rather curious as to why Aggie's being focused on here. She's not the only one who feels that using the word 'workshop' to describe Per's whatever-they-are's isn't correct. When you factor in the snide apology emails she's getting from Per today, along with the publicly condescending attitude he's displaying, the resulting picture isn't pretty. Sorry Per, but women can be photographers too. And they are even entitled to opinions as well. Maybe it wasn't like that in the 'old country', but it certainly is here. Welcome to the new millennium.
     
  22. per volquartz

    per volquartz Member

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    True about developing a teaching program ...

    ...and actually teaching in accredited institutions.

    I have taught both at city college level and at college level (Art Center College of Design.) Also, I am listed at the Maine Photo Workshops as an instructor (although I have not taught any classes there yet.)

    And it is true that you have to be paid for your efforts.

    However, this does not always have to be in hard currency.

    I do owe a lot and have found free Workshops a way to pay back in some small way what I received: About 12 years ago I received a kidney transplant from an unkown donor, a young man or woman, who died so I could live. Since that day I have tried to learn as much as possible about visual communication - and share freely what I know and understand. My total career in the visual arts and photography spans 42 years, incl. my apprenticeship and college education. My images have been published in most magazines and newspapers in the United States as well as in several European photo publications. In addition I have worked professionally with most camera types available (NOT incl. digital cameras - can't figure out how to get a useful image with these tools.) My "dayrate" while working commercially was not in the hundreds but in the thousands - and I was busy! - specializing in high end large format photography - primarily black and white.

    By sharing this knowledge openly with those who ask gives me great satisfaction = one of the reasons I spend so much money and time doing these free workshops. I am not "learning as I go" = am way too old for that.
     
  23. per volquartz

    per volquartz Member

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    Childish Games??? - Snide remarks???

    Agnes came to my free workshops. She asked questions. I answered them. And showed her a few technical details. She also came to a one day fee based darkroom workshop that one of my former participants had arranded for me in San Franciso. For that she paid $100. It was not a free workshop.
    Agnes is interested in photography - no doubt about that. Time will tell if she puts enough time and effort into the medium and develops the sensitivity and the eye to actually produce worthwhile images.

    I am interested in all constructive viewpoints, good and bad when it comes to bettering myself and my workshops. For some reasons - and I don't know why - it appears that Aggie is now talking to me or about me in the same fashion she spoke of Steve Anchell and others, who decided not to participate in producing Emulsion magazine. Is there a common thread here? (Not intended as a snide remark or childish game.)
     
  24. Thomassauerwein

    Thomassauerwein Member

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    Well I think you answered your own question. And yes it is a great thing you are doing. With that kind of motivation I'd might do the same thing. Congratulations on your successful transplant, the person though, you recieved it from could have been named Aggie.
     
  25. jimgalli

    jimgalli Subscriber

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    Me, I only really learn one way. That's to put a dumpster outside the darkroom door and fill it up. Those who know me know I'm a wee bit hard headed. Thick, OK, fair enough. That said, the workshops (or gatherings whatever pleases you) I've gone to have been about lasting friendships that are more valuable to me than any $$ spent. I have met the most enjoyable and positive people of my life in this hobby. Per and Aggie included!

    Tonopah will be a blast. One problem I foresee is....well the studio is up a flight of narrow wooden stairs........and there's no handrail.......and if the wine flows while we're doing some evening portrait sessions.....maybe I'd better put some old tires down there to break the fall. See you there!
     
  26. blaze-on

    blaze-on Member

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    This has become way off track from the well intended initial post.
    Please air your differences privately.

    There is obviously many who have attended Per's Workshops and thoroughly enjoy them. Many attend again and again, as I will. To me they are "priceless".

    I learn something each time and I work at achieving my goals while attending and I also usually shop locally :smile: For me - it's a workshop.

    There are not too many credentialed photographers out there willing to share their knowledge and experience for free. I have called Per numerous occassions to ask advice and questions and never have I been disappointed.

    Shooting is always learning, and learning isn't always shooting.

    Petzval Tee Shirt..hmmm, nice idea Dave!