So you want to attend a photography workshop. You want to shoot like a pro. You want to get it right ‘straight through the camera’ without doing much post  processing? Yes, its all fine and dandy but dont get your expectations up way too high.

I’ll be honest, being a seasoned pro photographer in the industry isnt about what workshops I have attended. Seasoned to me means I’ve taken my camera  through all seasons. Just kidding. Seasoned to me is being able to master any weather or lighting condition.

The Myth: Workshops are just for beginners and ‘wanna’ be professionals.

WRONG! They are also for seasoned photographers to build on a portfolio. When else do you get to shoot beautiful people in a ‘controlled’ environment. By  controlled environment I mean taking photos in the ‘best’ light! Chances are that if you are attending an ‘effective’ work shop the instructor will ensure  the light is ‘best’ and the models are gorgeous. After all, they could come out so good that major magazines use them for cover photos. With that said, I was truly blessed when the below image was published on the cover of nation’s longest, oldest and widely circulated newspaper, The Hartford Courant. Happened to be taken at the Davis Love Story Workshop.

3 votes

If you paid attention to what I have said so far, you will notice somethings like Straight through the camera, Controlled environment, Best light and most  importantly the word Effective. These in my opinion are one of the most important aspects of an excellent workshop.

 The cookie cutter workshops:

Watch out for these. Infact, run as far away from these as possible. In this economy, I’m noticing that more and more photographers are holding these  workshops. These workshops are similar to buying a book on “Photography for dummies”. Honestly, there isn’t anything more disappointing than attending a  workshop and finding out that most of what was covered in these workshops is in a book you bought 5 years ago. I won’t discuss this anymore since people need to make an educated guess on these themselves. Don’t attend these type of workshops just because you want to get images like the workshop holders. Create your own style. After all, photography is art and make it your own! You can be THE best photographer out there but if you don’t know how to market yourself then you wont get too far. Instead of spending money on these workshops, spend it on marketing techniques etc.

You pay for what you get:

Isnt this what your parents told you? You go out and buy a fiat and it craps out on you in 5 months and then you wonder where the $3000 went? You buy a  Lexus for $50k and well, you get a masterfully crafted luxury car. You get my drift.

4 votes

Same goes for ‘renowned’ and ‘effective’ workshops. I have attended them all. Infact, when I think of Mercedes Quality Workshops for photographers I only  think of Bob and Dawn Davis Love Story Workshops and the Mike Colon Experience Workshops. Why do I call them Mercedes quality workshops? Well, for starters  Bob Davis is an Canon Explorer of Light. To be part of the Prestigious Canon Explorer of Light Program you really have to be the best of the best. Taken from  the Canon website: The Explorers of Light concept came out of Canon USA in the mid-1990’s as a broad ranging initiative for photographic education and  inspiration. Today, the group is comprised of 62 of the most influential photographers in the world, each a master of his or her own creative specialty. The  Explorers share their photographic and technical expertise with eager audiences of photo professionals, hobbyists and enthusiasts in a variety of personal  appearances, seminars and gallery showings throughout the United States. A look through the Explorer ranks reveals a wealth of photographic talent.  Bob Davis is part of this elite group. Bob and Mike are both world renowned Celebrity wedding photographers. Nothing in the “world renowned celebrity wedding photographer” can be taken lightly. It does have a good ring to it after all.

10 votes

I thought I took good photos. I also thought that I knew my gear really well. After attending these workshops I started to think that I no longer take good  photos but AWESOME photos! lol Heck, after doing this for such a long time it is sometimes so refreshing to get feedback from the likes of Bob Davis and Mike  Colon. What amazed me is the kind of shots I was seeing both Mike and Bob take “straight out of the camera’ without the need to apply the cookie cutter  ‘photoshop actions’. An effective workshop in my opinion delivers the goods and makes the instructor really push himself/herself to make sure all the  attendees ‘get it’. Bob and Mike are extremely humble individuals and that is the single most important thing to look for in a person who is leading the  workshop. After all, the more humble a person is the more photographic skill love is being shared at those workshops.

3 votes

Bob and Dawn Davis workshops along with Mike Colon Experience workshops had the best controlled lighting situations possible. Bob’s Love Story was sponsored  by Westcott. So naturally we had lots of really practical reflectors, studio strobes, soft boxes etc. In addition to westcott, Radio Poppers were also supplied to  all attendees so they could do exactly what Bob was doing during the coursework. Its amazing and exhillirating to see the photos come out to life in the  camera LCD. I built up the portfolio like there was no tomorrow.  Bob taught me some amazing use of wireless flash use. The setup used during the workshop helped me to do my own setup during photoshoots I did recently for the Fox News Network Anchors. Photos of which by the way were all over interstate highways in the form of gigantic billboards. I cant describe enough how much of an amazing experience I got from his  workshop and how much knowledge I could actually implement during my own photoshoots. My wife Loreta, learned so much Dawn Davis as she primarily does all  the design work for our studio. The post processing workflow Dawn taught Loreta was incredible. For Loreta, the knowledge shared by Dawn was really an eye  opener. Bob and Dawn Davis are amazingly inspirational and one of the most honest, loving and humble people we have ever met!

4 votes

Mike Colon’s The Seven Workshop is really an experience. Mike loves natural light. Having covered what I wanted to learn in flash use through Bob Davis, I turned to  Mike to see what he does and how he uses natural light for the incredible images he takes. I didnt use Manual mode much during day light before going to this  workshop and now I am on manual mode 100% of the time, both indoors and outdoors. It was that amazing to see and learn.  Mike teaches you consistency in your  images! Its about setting the camera each time to ensure your shots look consistent lighting-wise when you were shooting under the shade vs direct sunlight.  Its awesome really! Remember when I said Controlled Lighting, Mike actually looked for the best light he would look for when he is at a shoot. The light was really the best light as the images came out stellar!

3 votes

8 votes

Other cool workshops you should check out are the Ray Santana and Kenny Kim ‘Portfolio + Workshops’. Ray is an incredible teacher and you can learn a lot of from him.

Check out more information on these workshops here:

The importance of building your portfolio:

Not all pro photographers attend these workshops but they really should. I got a chance to build my portfolio at both of these workshops. I made sure I did.  I ended up submitting them to the largest newspaper in the US. The Courant. They loved the photos. Each year The Courant publishes a monstrous large  circulation magazine called The Wedding Planner. This year the Courant choose all my images to be used in the entire magazine. The cover photo was taken at  Bob and Dawn Davis Love Story Workshop. Do you now see the importance of building your portfolio at these workshops! Do you now see the importance of  controlled lighting led by extremely talented photographers? I hope you do.