Financing the Cost of Attending Workshops
I'm new to LF photography but already, I can see my potential in selling quality prints as a way to gain more experience and cover the cost of attending a workshop. Let's face it - workshops are very expensive. If I could sell a print or two, to pay for a workshop, it would be more than worth it to me.
I just finished a 1-week workshop that was inexpensive compared to the costs of a lot of workshops being offered and it was well worth the money I spent. If one attends one or two workshops a year, the cost of the workshop, plus travel expenses, hotel accommodations, and food quickly add up. One could easily spend $1500 or more on a single workshop not including travel, food and lodging. And in my case, the cost of a rental car.
So if you've spent $1500 to gain the knowledge to produce a fine print - where's the breaking even point for selling the artistic byproduct (print, etc.)?
Knowing ones potential market and pricing accordingly, really means knowing your potential target clientèle. I think it is just as easy to under-price one's work as it is to over-price it. Undercutting yourself is not a good idea, so how do you find a balance between the time and work you put into making a print, and offsetting those cost in the selling price? How much is your time worth? Your creativity? I think the materials cost is much easier to figure out.
Also, at this stage in my photographic development, I wouldn't want to spend a lot of time in the traditional darkroom. I think scanning film negs and making prints from digital negs would be my best option. I'm way ahead of the curve in setting up a digital darkroom versus a traditional darkroom.
So my question is this: How does one promote themselves in such a way, as to finance attending 2 maybe 3 workshops a year?
The problem is, no one is going to buy your prints and pay you the kind of money that you'd need to finance a workshop selling one or two prints unless you're already well known as an artist. In that case, you don't need to attend a workshop, you'd be qualified to teach it. Workshops are playtime for rich amatuers and a way for professionals to fleece the rich. Professional fine art photographers (that is to say, those who sell prints regularly) don't go to workshops. They're either self taught, or they went to art school or a university art program and got a fine arts degree.
How do I know? I'm a full time professional artist. I earn 100% of my living selling my prints, licensing my photos, and occasionally doing commercial work. I learned the basic technical stuff while earning my art degree at Indiana University and taught myself by practice everything else. Workshops are overpriced and basically involve paying to spend time in the presence of someone famous so you can brag to our friends about it.
I don't see it that way Chris,but I'm not a Professional Fine art Photographer,I'm a truck driver and not a rich one.Been to one of these workshops and thought it was great,did not cost me over over $350.00 travel,motel, food and workshop.Made some good friends and learned a few things about photography,going to another in the next couple of months and looking forward to it.I guess it on your point of view.
While I totally agree with you that workshops aren't the way to become a professional photographer, I think the above language is a little harsh and probably came out differently than you intended.
Originally Posted by chriscrawfordphoto
I have never been to a workshop, and having a busy family to take care of, I am sure I never shall. I certainly wouldn't be qualified to teach one. However, for those of us who spent college learning something other than photography, it seems like a great idea. You get hands-on instruction, an uninterrupted time to photograph and print, and contact with other students interested in the same thing.
nope, chris is right. i'm sure it came out exactly as he intended.
Originally Posted by lns
if you didn't take photo in college, there are limitless ways to learn a variety of techniques. any self-respecting teaching program doesn't call themselves a 'workshop', because workshops have now become synonymous with scam. "Pay me $5000 to accompany me to Iceland! Does not include airfare, accommodation, or expenses! In fact, includes absolutely nothing!"
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I've done occasional workshops, and have found them valuable in terms of understanding my own creative process. I primarily learned most of my photography in art school. I find it, at times, quite helpful to come together for a weekend workshop to look at and talk about my work, and the work of others. I did one week long workshop in Maine about 5 years ago, and found it propelled my work forward in a way that I had not imagined it would, but I also felt after, that I really don't need to devote quite so much time and money to workshops, so I've only done about 2 shorter and less expensive workshops since.
I must say, like others, there are a lot of workshops out there that look to be a total rip off, and I would simply say, buyer beware. The best education will far more likely be found in an accredited university, and not by cobbling together an education through a lot of workshops.
Chris Crawford stated it perfectly. I also feel the same way about portfolio reviews. These are where one pays big $$ to have a photographer from a prestigious photo agency or a curator from a art museum look a sample of your work and then give you their opinion. While I'm not a pro, I'm very happy with how my work is growing and expanding with lots of trial and error experience along with a couple of great teachers at local city colleges where I took a couple of classes.
Chris and others of a similar mind could be right about some workshops. But I can say that two of the most rewarding days of my photographic life were spent in Bob Carnie's darkroom in Toronto learning the finer points of split grade printing with Les McLean. I had taught myself the basic concepts, but the time and money I spent on that workshop took my prints to a whole new level. And for my money I get brag to my friends that I got to spend time in the presence of two famous someones!
As to what I took to be the central question the OP posed before the topic wandered off course, I think that few art photographers, or artists in general for that matter, can pay for all of the equipment, supplies, and other expenses associated with producing their art, let alone provide a living for themselves and whatever dependents they may have. Most of us do it as a labor of love. I think it was Ruth Bernhard who said, "I am an amateur. Amateur is the french word for lover, you know."
I don't see it quite the way Chris does, and it's hard to understand knowing that he offers workshops himself. Anyway, not going to workshops might be right for him, but different people learn differently. Some have no trouble with learning from books, others need hands-on experimentation combined with peace and quite to learn it all themselves, but many benefit from face-to-face group efforts with instructions as in workshops.
There is no one-way-fits-all when it comes to learning.
For people without a formal education in photography, workshops are a good alternative to books and instructional videos. I don't mind a penny I've spend on workshops, but one has to be selective, because there are some bad ones out there too. The best way is to talk to people who have already taken the workshop and ask them what they got out of it.
Last edited by RalphLambrecht; 07-25-2010 at 11:45 AM. Click to view previous post history.
I just signed up for Project Basho's course in Philadelphia.
Tri Colour Gum with Christina Anderson.
I think three friends from Toronto are going to join me.
$500 bucks all in , chance to travel into the States, which is our familys favourite outings. See a new city , and learn a process from an expert.
Can't get any better than that and I cannot wait.