It is no small secret that I really enjoy going to photography workshops, coaching sessions and conferences. Do these things add up to be a lot of money? You bet! So even though I have have experience shooting weddings for 4+ years, photographed over 100 weddings (either as a primary shooter or a second shooter), and know my way around a camera, why do I still go?
Easy question folks. There is so much value in continuing education. When I was working as a Medical Technologist, the company I worked for would pay for us to to go “CEUs” aka, Continuing Education Units. We would go to classes monthly, sometimes more if we could to keep seeing the applications of our work in the industry.
You would be hard press to find ANY industry that didn’t invest in the education of their employees. So why should I treat my photography business any different? If I am truly dedicated to giving the BEST experience I can to my brides, comes with the underlying principle that I believe in investing in myself to be the BEST photographer I can be. There is always something more to learn, a new way to look at things, etc. It is a dangerous mindset to think that you have learned it all.
I make it a goal to go to at least one workshop or one-on-one mentoring each year in addition to the few larger conferences I attend (like Showit United or WPPI). I have gotten kinda picky with my workshops though. There are a lot of “fluff” workshops out there in the photography world. (Can we as an industry agree to stop going to these???).
So how do you know what workshop will be a good fit for you???? Here is how I decide!
1) Make a list of your weaknesses in your business.
We all have them. So lets be honest with them. What is really holding you back? There is no shame in admitting which areas of your business need a little more TLC than others.
2) Follow photographers that naturally inspire you.
I follow quite a few photographers on social media. But last year (while at another workshop) Abbey Kyhl talked about clearing out the comparison of social media and only follow those that inspire or uplift you. *Note: This is TREMENDOUSLY good advice!* So now when I go through my social media, I see work by people who really uplift me, motivate me and inspire me. When I see those photographers post about education opportunities, I already know they are people that I am naturally drawn too.
3) Look at their strengths.
Every photographer is so so so so different! So the way I look at it, each photographer has something new to teach me. I think it is a good idea to look at people individually and see what they obviously seem to rock!! Learn from their strengths!
For example, here are some of the workshop and mentors I have learned from, and some of their strengths!
Katelyn James: Katelyn is the real deal. Even though she is tremendously “popular” right now in the photography world, that doesn’t matter to me. She has created a client experience and community for her brides that has continued to increase her brand value.
Abbey Kyhl: Abbey is a tremendous business woman! This girl has done amazing things to market and distinguishing herself in the unique Utah wedding market balancing the wedding experience for her LDS brides.
Lora Grady: Lora moved her very successful Utah based wedding photography business to Seattle Washington a few years ago. A move like that can be intimidating, but this girl made it look so easy! (Not to say it wasn’t hard work) but her strategies to build up a new clientele base has helped her tremendously. Also, this girls work is SO consistent! I can always recognize a Lora Grady photography when it appears on social media. Her artistic style can be recognized in every image, no matter where or who she photographs!
Natalie Franke: Working as a “solopretuner”. I am not a husband and wife team, or have a business partner. Same with the ever so successful Natalie Franke who has created systems to keep her business on track as a one woman show!
Camilla Binks: She is my *favorite* photographer out there! She is an artist in how she sees light and makes each Bride feel beautiful. (I know because I was one of her Brides!). When I wanted to learn the technical aspects of shooting, she was the first person I called. But what I learned was so much more. She teaches you how to create.
AND MOST RECENTLY:
Luke and Cat Neumayr: Are two masters at creating a client experience built on providing tangible, heirloom quality products for their Brides! They have opened up their business to more than just sending digital files to their clients online. But really deliver a better service by giving their couples beautiful portraits and albums to hold.
4) See which mentor could help you the most at this point in time in your business.
Now go back to your “weakness” list. What areas are in the most dire need of some nurturing. What improvements would increase your profitability the most this year? REPEAT: What improvements would increase your profitability the MOST this year? When you have the answer to that question, go to the workshop that can help you the most in that area.
Yes workshops cost a lot of money, but when you go to the right workshop for the right time in your business, your investment will be paid back more by the value you add to your brand.
AUSTIN & HOUSTON TEXAS WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER