All I want to say on the subject is that many of us would be better photographers if we spent more money on attending workshops and less on filling our homes with cameras.and lenses.
Make it a priority
I think you have to make it a priority. It would be great to finance your workshops by selling prints. It's hard to get into a reputable gallery if you don't have a body of work and they take at least a 40% commission. Selling online with Etsy at http://www.etsy.com/ is a good way of avoiding gallery fees, but it more of a store than a true art gallery.
Originally Posted by lilmsmaggie
If you want to go to the workshops, it must be a priority. I love to travel, but I can't travel overseas and have cable TV, drive a fancy car, and eat out every night at fancy restaurants. I budget for travel. What I would do is to sit down to figure out a budget to see the big picture. Crunching the numbers will go a long way. If you think you could make a decent income by selling prints, add that to you budget too. With money, it's hard to separate different expenses. That's my 2 cents worth.
You've forgotten several important things:
Originally Posted by Mainecoonmaniac
1) She's out of work and recently declared bankruptcy. She has no money to put to this.
2) Beginners NEVER sell photos in enough quantity and a high enough prices to bring in enough money to do anything with.
3) it takes YEARS to get to where you sell enough to live.
4) Galleries won't even talk to her without en exhibition record, unless she knows someone who will give her a chance.
This is an apple, grape, pomegranate and oranges thing. Learning how to photograph, learning to express one's creativity, learning how to make photographs that are salable, be it from school, books, workshops, mentors, what have you, are all separate things. Learning how to actually sell prints is one more discipline. Selling prints at a price that does more than cover your costs on a consistent basis is hard, perhaps harder that the technical and expressive parts of photography combined. It takes serious investment of time, effort and money, assuming that the photographs are salable in the first place. You see many "successful" fine art photographers offering workshops, and that is not just because many find workshops rewarding to teach, but also because it supplements income. I realize the OP is trying to cover just the cost of attending workshops, and that is a good goal. One might first try, however, just seeing if one can cover the costs of the effort to make and sell a few prints. You can't price your prints like you are a famous dead photographer, nor can you price them to compete with the inkjet mills. To sell, get your prints anywhere you can. If you have prints that are of a local flavor, restaurants, boutiques, etc in tourist areas are a good place to get gratis wall space and exposure, but you have the outlay of framing to consider.
I don't mean to discourage, and who knows, maybe you'll go zero to rockstar, but in general, selling prints is at it's core the same as starting and building any other business, and perhaps one of the most difficult to start. Making prints is comparatively easy. Selling is hard. And yes, I have the T-shirt. Reading between the lines, what you are trying to do amounts to bootstrapping a business, while competing with people who are losing money and either don't know it, or don't care, and it will be that much more difficult. Notice I say difficult, not impossible.
Last edited by JBrunner; 07-26-2010 at 12:28 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Reason: Only a cat has claws at the end of it's paws. My comma had no clause at the end of it's pause.
Two types of Workshops
I personally host workshops, but they take two forms: One is the classic "welcome to the world of photography, let me show you how to turn on your camera and remove the protective plastic thingy off the battery pack", and the other is the equivalent to being a hunting/fishing guide.
You'll find that most of the location workshops fall more into the hunting/fishing guide category. These are where the "hosts" have identified the photographic hotspots and have GPS'd the exact location to the inch where you need to place your tripods. They run a pretty tight schedule and will give you about 20 minutes to make your masterpiece before crawling back into the van to head on down to the road to the next masterpiece location. At some point during these workshops, you'll spend an hour in front of a computer learning some Photoshop trick. You are almost guaranteed to be pressed into purchasing some widget the host happens to sell.
There is a hybrid approach, though. These workshops usually meet in some decent location, but more often than not, in a more "normal" environment than exotic. Who wants to spend classroom time inside a darkened room when the clouds are scraping the mountain-tops outdoors? These are the workshops where you can leave most of your camera gear at home. You are there to learn. The classes are usually very specific and each session builds on the previous one. Figure about 15 hours of classroom instruction. The photography sessions are your "lab work", not portfolio-stuffing opportunities. Save that for the next couple of days after the class has ended and you booked extra vacation days.
When I hosted the Isle Royale Workshop, that one was more "fishing/hunting guide" than "workshop". I spent a long time and considerable expense planning and researching for that one. I've also invested time and effort into an Upper Pensinsula Workshop as well as a Colorado Workshop which will also fall into that "fishing/hunting guide" category. At the same time, I am investing in instructional materials that is appropriate for the participants so they will feel that they got more out of it than just a van driver.
But then there are the bread-and-butter workshops. These are the ones where most of the participants have purchased some fine piece of photographic gear but are clueless how to use it. I hate to say it, but a 2:1 instructor to student ratio (yes I said 2:1 not 1:2), seems to be about right. Does wonders to the budget--that's why we sell widgets!
As to the cost of a workshop, there are two things to consider:
1. This is education. What is education worth?
2. How does the price compare to an equal amount of time at Disney?
Education is never cheep. I have three workshops on my short-list of attending in the next two years, but figure then $6000-8000 which I will end up spending if I attend all three will come back to me not in a direct sales-profit, but in an improvement in my own self and skills which most likely will result in more money, but if not at least I am a better man for having done them.
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Originally Posted by chriscrawfordphoto
I agree with your first 3 points and am always amazed at people who just think their work will sell enough right away to make a living at it. But on point 4 I disagree. While there are galleries that will not talk to anyone, she has little to lose by contacting galleries for their advice. Some of the galleries in the larger cities might be less willing but when i took out my personal work I had little problem having NYC galleries look at my work and some even offered me representation. So you never know.....
But back specifically to the original poster, if she's in economic hard times, she needs to get a job with health benefits and not spend time or money chasing a photographic dream.
I agree with you that it's difficult, but not impossible. I think APUGers are unfair in disclosing her financial status and using "NEVER" when it comes to selling enough prints. Who knows, she might being a rock star photographer. It's up to the galleries and the public to determine that. Not just a couple of APUGers. She might end up teaching workshops herself. We all have dreams right? I wish her luck.
Originally Posted by JBrunner
She disclosed her financial status herself. None of us know her personally, we do not even know her real name or even if she is a she, so all we're going on is what she told us here. She told us that she lost her job and had to declare bankruptcy. No one's judging her for that, you can't help it if your employer lays you off because of the bad economy (thats what she says happened to her, she wasn't fired) and if you have no job, you can't well be expected to pay bills, so declaring bankruptcy was probably something she was forced to do in that situation.
Originally Posted by Mainecoonmaniac
There seem to be some people here who are taking their personal experiences and presenting them as some kind of universal (and rather negative) truths about what can and cannot be done, who can do it and with what specific education, how many years of what kind of work, etc...
I appreciate reading the more realistic comments about these pertinent questions and considerations of workshops / education, and selling / marketing work. I'm sure most can agree that yes, it's hard to do, but hopefully for most it's a labor of love and that, in a nutshell, there are very good workshops out there (I have yet to attend any at all) and that there are also some that aren't so hot. Ken N seems to have given a pretty good approximation - clearly from experience - about what one might be able to expect if one does their homework on workshops, and the potential value you could expect.
I also think that when it comes to priorities, we all have to do what we have to do, but let's not discourage those who are apt to follow their dreams, even at great expense and sacrifice. I'm sure there will be many rude awakenings, hardships and discoveries along the way, but I'll bet that's the case of more than one "dead photographer" who's work sells for prices we could only hope to see for ourselves in our lifetimes.
To the OP: Listen to what people say here, sort the wheat from the chaff if you can and then go for it! You may learn some things the hard way, but sometimes the old "no pain, no gain" cliche still rings true.
A rather Unpleasant post, part of a string of them in fact with probably only one fact of truth, you seem to be targeting the OP, taking out your own angst against her.
Originally Posted by chriscrawfordphoto
In post #22 she tells you who she's working for, and the wage or hours cuts impossed by the State Governor.
She's just paid for a workshop, so if I was her I'd be thinking of suing you for malicious libel. your words are in writing held on a US server.
Beginners can sell prints, it's a lot harder but if work's good enough then it can happen.
If she has the talent she could be exhibiting within a year, selling prints. It's pure luck.
She's asking for help and advice, not vitriol.