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01-26-2016, 02:07 PM   #16
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QuoteOriginally posted by frogoutofwater Quote
I can share my own experience with photography courses and see if that might help you decide what's worth it for you, or not.

First of all, I am the kind of person who learns best (in the early stages) in some kind of online or live classroom - with homework and feedback to give me an incentive to practise. If it's something technical or physical, I usually need a little bit of hands-on help to start. If it's more on the creative side (or later in the process), I can often learn just as well online (or through reading etc).

I got my first advanced (interchangeable lens, manual controls) camera in early 2013 - a Sony NEX. I tried taking a 3-hour workshop on shooting in manual mode. It was almost completely useless because the instructor was only familiar with Canon and Nikon, so he was unable to offer me any hands-on help with my Sony.

I would add that I've never had a teacher be dismissive or insulting about the brand of camera I use (initially Sony, then Pentax). But I have had a few instances where the instructor wasn't familiar with some key functions - and that had an adverse effect on learning. But I don't think this would be a problem any kind of early stage course you'd take - I've only had that problem with Pentax when I've been taking studio and flash photography courses.

Next, I signed up for a 12-hour live course (2 hours per week for 6 weeks) with a local photography school (PhotoUno, in NYC). I LOVED it! I got both the technical help I needed, some short, practical and creative homework assignments to reinforce what I learned - and a highly motivated and creative instructor who encouraged me to play and learn. Of everything I've done, that 6-week hands-on course was the single best investment I've made in photography.

After completing that live course, I signed up for a few online courses through bpsop.com (Bryan Peterson School of Photography) - initially, a course on pet portraiture (because that's what I like doing) and then a basic course on Photoshop. Later on, I took some more courses (e.g., people portraits, etc). Mostly, I found the online program through BPSOP quite helpful (and the courses good) because:
- they fit a busy schedule - download a lesson on Friday and you have 9 days (until the following Sunday) to complete the homework assignment (usually uploading 3 images for critique)
- there's a discussion forum for the students and the teacher, so you can ask questions and get some feedback as you go
- you get a critique of your work and can also see the instructor's critique of other students' work - a good way to learn
- the pace is pretty good: mostly 4-week classes so you aren't pushed to learn too much at once, but they have a clear end point in sight
- prices aren't cheap (about $169 for the four-week courses, unless they have an occasional promo) but not super-expensive either

There are cheaper (and more expensive) kinds of online learning, but personally, I found that I needed the incentive/reinforcement/feedback from the homework assignment plus critique. If it's something more passive (e.g., watching a course online without a deliverable that's marked), I don't get as much out of it.

I went on to complete a LOT of other courses and workshops over the past couple of years. I'm fortunate to be able to afford that in terms of time and money, and I live in NYC, which has a grad school-level institution (International Center of Photography) with a great continuing studies program.

I also have got a lot of benefit out of joining some Facebook groups that focus on particular areas of photography that I'm interested in (nature, photography for animal shelters, animal portraiture and a general group). If you're interested in the general group, PM me and I can send you an invitation to our general group.

Here is what I'm doing these days:
Frog out of Water Photography

Bottom line - Unless you are both mechanically and artistically adept, I think you'd benefit from some hands-on instruction at the outset. That could be a 3-hour workshop (but make sure they're familiar with Pentax) or you might be better off taking up the offer in this thread from WaxPhotographic. Personally, I think it's more helpful to have a few lessons of a few hours each, spaced apart so that you can practice each lesson before moving to the next.

Once you get beyond the technical basics, you can learn a lot on your own by looking at great photography, watching tutorials, joining a photography club (in your city or online). If you can afford to spend money on a high-quality workshop that is focused on your interests and offers good group critique (from the instructor and students), that's great but not essential.

And of course, you need to shoot shoot shoot - and expose yourself to critique.
Thanks for sharing your experiences. I think I definitely want to try a workshop sometime, but it might be a while before I do. I think your last piece of advice is that part i need to focus on. I will hopefully put some stuff up for critique soon. Thanks to everyone who have offered their advice!

01-26-2016, 05:33 PM   #17
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QuoteOriginally posted by Zephos Quote
I'm worried that I might not get out of it what I hope though. Also, what if the guy sees my Pentax gear and treats me like a lost cause?
For what it's worth, this has never happened to me on the workshops I've done.

Try getting in contact with the instructor beforehand. if it's one-on-one, they should be able to tailor the time to suit you.
01-26-2016, 08:45 PM   #18
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All sounds like good advice...shoot, critique, shoot.

What I have found attending workshops using Pentax is that it is up to YOU to be fully familiar with the camera's menus and functions, as it is highly unlikely that the teacher will be. They'll be able to direct Canikon users to the relevant menus etc, and while they're doing that you'll need to be pretty quick with the Pentax manual and/or the relevant eBook available on this site to get the settings/functions working. I printed mine off and took it along

I have found that teachers have been VERY impressed with the features and output of the Pentax and no-one has been dismissive at all. When I have told them the price and have been able to keep shooting in the rain, it has been...oh WOW.

Doing a course that is only a couple of hours a week for a few weeks with homework in between has proven the best for me, as it allows me to build and practice and sort out settings and Pentax features between classes. A full day/weekend can be so overwhelming that retaining all the info can be hard.
02-19-2016, 09:11 AM   #19
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I'm late to the show... But I have an idea that I would like to become reality at some point.

Instead of a one-on-one workshop how about PF Community Sourced Workshops?
I'm thinking a flat fee would cover the cost for venue, food, and a donation to PF.

We could host in multiple cities, or have a poll for people to vote on a location, or multiple...
Again, I'm just throwing out the idea.

I wonder how many people would be interested in such a thing?

Less of a tutorial based workshop, more of a meet and greet, discussion, etc.
People could share their tips and tricks, and better yet go out and shoot together and learn from each other in the field.

Anyways, just a thought.

Cheers!
Logan

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