I apologize if I'm blunt with some of my comments. Owning most any small business, especially in the 21st century is a challenge!
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.
Great, you have taken up Large Format Photography!
You need to sell more than a print or two or you need to keep a day job. Don't look at getting sales to cover just costs. Work on more than that. Aim high because you may come in lower than that!
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.
Some workshops I pay that per person. That's one reason why good professional photographers charge what they do!
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.)?
You have to figure that out! Sorry! Look at the workshop expense as an investment. Go there to learn. You can do some socializing but that shouldn't be the main focus of your time! With Monte Zucker we started at breakfast around 7:30 AM took a few breaks, lunch, dinner, then worked until sunset. Made beautiful sunset photos at the beach in Florida!
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.
You need to know your competition as well, especially when first starting out. Some who have a "name" associated with notiority get more money. It's usually taken them a long time to get to that level!
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.
Then find a good printer that works for you. Scanning is an alternative but I recommend getting a quality lab to make you prints be it analog or digital. Three good ideas to help with time management:
So my question is this: How does one promote themselves in such a way, as to finance attending 2 maybe 3 workshops a year?
Many ways. I'll mention a couple. Do you go to a dentist? How about using the office walls to show your work? Rotate the prints every 3 months or so. Do it for free. See if you can have business cards on site. Where do you do your banking? Another spot to check out. Your Church or other places of worship? The library. Coffee shops. Flower shops. Bakeries. Offer to do photography for them.
I make photos of cake, flower, presider and give a disc to them. Great PR.
Restaurants. Retail stores. Hotels & motels. Let your mind wander. Try them all. Even if they say "no" keep on trying.
I really don't understand the degree of negativity from professionals artists, especially those responses from those who themselves give workshops.
Originally Posted by Curt
I don't have a formal education in photography. My education and profession is in IT. Moreover, I'm employed with the State of California. For anyone who has been following the news, you know that California State employees were (1) furloughed for 18 months, and (2) and are now being threatened with making Federal minimum wage of $7.25/hr. As far as I'm concerned, Arnold Schwarzenegger is a pompous jerk who should have stuck with making lousy movies with very little dialog from him. In my situation, this little political game GAS played with us employees cost me $1K a month in lost wages for 18 months, and I had to declare bankruptcy. There are state employees that make far less than I do and fared less. Some loss their homes.
Maybe I am naive, but I just spent a week with an APUG member who was not only a wonderful person, but a gifted and well respected photographer.
The money I spent was well worth the time and effort I put into it. And if he offers me the opportunity to do so again, I would gladly jump at the opportunity to learn from him again.
I may be naive but I didn't just get off the boat. I didn't just take the first workshop I happened to see advertised. I considered my options. I've attended college classes in photography; crowded darkrooms, ill-equipped labs, very little personal attention to students. It's a toss of the dice. You may get an excellent instructor who loves to teach, --then maybe not.
Good way to get frustrated in my opinion. But for many, it is the only option other than learning on ones own and being self-taught.
I'm not trying to bait anyone. I think I can subsidize the cost of attending a well put together workshop that doesn't broadcast itself as a rip-off. Oh yeah, many of them do just that: "Hey look at me! I'm rich and famous, and I cater to the rich and famous and those that don't know any better. Come spend a day or a week with me!" And by the way, you're on your own when it comes to lodging accommodations and food and you pick up the tab for travel as well.
In any case, I thought this was a presentation and marketing thread. I had hoped to get some good advice from "professional artists," not participate in a flaming contest.
Thanks Bill, your responses are very helpful. These are the types of comments I was looking for. Please understand, I'm not trying to make money here, that isn't the goal. I want to learn how to "make photographs," not take pictures. Anyone can take a picture.
There are a lot of LF photographers here on the West Coast. I spent a fantastic and memorable week with one of them.
No one was trying to flame you. We're telling you the truth. I don't teach workshops. I offer private one on one instruction for those looking to learn something specific, and it is not a big moneymaker for me. I have maybe 2 people a year hire me to do that. My income comes from selling my prints, licensing photos as stock, and doing a little commercial work that includes graphic design as well as photography. I do all those different things because IT IS HARD TO MAKE A LIVING JUST DOUNG PHOTOGRAPHY EVEN FOR THE BEST OF US.
Bill Clark talked in his posts about the benefits he got from workshops with Monte Zucker. Zuzker was a wedding and portrait photographer (he died a few yrs ago), and if you want to do weddings and portraits then a workshop with someone like Zucker might be worth it if the instructor is a good teacher (not all great photographers are). Wedding and portrait work is marketed to consumers and is the only type of photography with mass appeal. What I mean is that EVERYONE hires portrait photographers and most people go to them multiple times to photograph children, etc. as they age. Most people hire a photographer when they marry. Because its a mass marketed form of photography, there are trends that emerge and die and are replaced by new trends and workshops are a good way to keep up with whats hot in the industry.
I presume, however, that you, the OP, are not a wedding/portrait photographer but an aspiring artist. The game is far different in my field, fine art. It is VERY hard to get established and make a living. I have been HOMELESS...more than once....because I could not earn a living when i was younger and could not find a 'real job' either because of the economy where I live. Ask yourself if you can afford to not eat for days at a time, or to lose your home. You said you declared bankruptcy. The last thing you need is to waste money on a dream that is nearly unattainable. Fine art photography is fine for young men like me who were willing/able to literally starve, or for the wealthy. If you have middle class pretensions or kids to support...concentrate on working a real job or go into wedding photography.
I have an MFA in photography and use it to teach at a university, but I still see the benefit to attending workshops if you are trying to learn something specific that may not be offered anywhere else. Wet plate, for example. There are some scams out there, but there are very good teachers, too.
I agree with Ralph. Neither undergraduate nor grad school taught me much about producing art and photographs that I hadn't learned on my own. The less practical education of those schools was more valuable. Others may benefit more from the structured teaching of schools and workshops. Now, 57 years after buying my first Leica, I'm still learning from this and a few other forums. That's a real bargain. I sell photographs at a local arts & crafts show and occasionally in other places. Without a lot of hard work and good promotion it's no way to make a living in most locales, but I can still enjoy it.
Originally Posted by RalphLambrecht
Perhaps you have a place in your area like The Light Factory in Charlotte. Membership, classes, darkroom use, etc. are a tremendous bargain. They have a monthly event called Sunday Afternoon Salon which would be perfect for anyone interested in photography. The staff is very knowledgable and friendly. I love The Light Factory and am suggesting you try to find something similar locally.
I also know that what you choose to do is totally your business.
Originally Posted by lilmsmaggie
With all due respect and with the expanded background and living situation you have posted here, all I want to do is tell you that there are priorities in life.
Look a the chart and you will see the pyramid of the hierarchy of needs. Notice what's on the bottom then notice what's on the top. That's what I'm saying without calling it tough love.
What I hear you saying is: I don't have the skills to be a professional photographer. I met someone who is and would like to be like this person. I attended photography classes and and had bad experiences there. You would rather go it alone than be in a group without direct instruction focused toward your needs. You think you have a plan but the money spent must be on a guaranteed experience. You might me envious of those who are successful. You resent having to pay for expenses even though it is a part of the workshop logistics. You came here looking for advise from professional artists. You may, that's may believe it's all presentation and marketing.
My advice, take it or leave it is: We welcome you here to discuss part or all of you life. There is the Lounge for the Arnold comments and California, we do see the news and know what dire conditions exist in California. Many people are being hurt and hurt bad, it's a near Depression in some parts of this country right now. If you are the one who has no shelter and nothing to eat and no heath care then it's a Depression for you.
You are not alone, not that it helps to say so, honestly millions are sitting down to next to nothing to eat and the prospects of losing their shelter, they are trying to figure out what happened, what to do and what it will be like when and if things do get better.
The United States is a hard country to be poor in. We are based on money, money, money. You must think of how you will live on a day to day basis, even if that means moving to a state where the employment is better. Running away is not the term I would use, I would say you need to seek better employment and a better chance for a future.
Too many people work for the government in California, it over staffed and crowded with workers even though as an economy it ranks up there with nations. There are other problems with the states policies but that's another story, or many other stories. The bottom line is, if you can't make a living there then you must move to a place where you can. Maybe you will return at a later date in a better position.
Your frustration is evident by the comments about a mentor and remarks about paying for what most of us consider a part of the package in workshops. I for one decide to split a room with someone who I met and like very much on the next workshop. I haven't done that before but why spend if you can share expenses. There is no loss of pride in that, it's good economical sense. I may even buy a lunch at a grocery store so I don't have to eat an extra meal out. It's smart to watch the pocket book.
I'm not sure that you understand that most of the members here are not "Professional Photographer" who earn a living solely from selling their work. A hands up or down from the member would be needed here.
If you believe that advertising and marketing is the ticket then consider instruction in business classes if you are lacking. Photography is a business if you are to pursue it professionally. To consider otherwise is fantasy. There is a spectrum of individuals here from beginner to professional. Many who consider themselves amateurs often have a higher knowledge than "professionals". They have never stopped learning and have acquired a high degree of proficiency.
Don't think badly of those who's comments you read here you don't agree with. Even though we understand the strain you are under you have to know that the ability to accept criticism is paramount, especially in Art. It is a part of the process.
The best of luck,
Splenetic rants aside, workshops can be little more than celebrity worship and/or CV building in any field. In photography, as elsewhere, there's motivational/aspirational spew and then hardcore, hands-on sessions where, without considerable experience/know-how, you're clueless, embarrassed, and out a large chunk of change. It's a self-selection process for either experience and both types of workshop satisfy a need.
Speaking as a non-professional, non-rich person who loves photography and loves learning, I love taking workshops. I don't take 2-3 a year, more like 1 every couple of years. The couple of days working with Tim Rudman was worth 10x the price I paid.
However, as has been mentioned by others, I get so much out of meeting other APUGers. There's not a huge contingent around my area, unfortunately. I went to the APUG conference inToronto, I went to the Wyoming gathering a few years ago (which turned out to be 4 of us...), I went to Colorado initially to go to the big photography conference that turned into nothing (met some great guys while out there, though) a couple of years ago and I went to Photostock last year. At each one of them I got to photograph areas I've never been to before, I got to meet other photographers with very different backgrounds from all over the world, I've learned an incredible amount from the people I've met and most importantly, I've formed friendships with people whom I never would have met if it weren't for the various gatherings put together by various APUG members.
Per Volquartz has a gathering every year (I believe) in Joshua Tree, that's not too for you is it? I have wanted to go that but just haven't made it out there yet.
I guess this is all just a long-winded way of saying, go to the workshops if you want, but also realize that you can gain a tremendous amount of knowledge and gain some new friends by attending the various gatherings