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Workshops: The good, the bad and the ugly

I know many of you have participated in workshops in the past. What were your opinions of them? I know the general answer of “you get out of it what you put in” applies to workshops, to a point. Whether it’s organization, the commitment of the organizers, whatever, some are going to be better than others.

I have been part of the Mountain Workshops 2007 put on by Western Kentucky University, which was very disappointing. The inaugural Mardi Gras 360° was amazing. I wish I was down there now. The two I have attended, taught me more than I could have taught myself just fumbling about for a week on my own, and I have been able to get some friends out of the experience to boot.

I am looking into applying for the Eddie Adams Barnstorm XXII taking place in October. If anyone has opinions on that workshop, I’d appreciate feedback. But mostly, I am wondering if workshops really are where it’s at for an intense submersion into creating better images. Are there other avenues that are better? Which workshops are best for rookies like myself? Which have you attended that you cannot imagine where you would be without them?

by Brian C Frank at 2009-02-24 19:59:09 UTC Des Moines, Iowa , United States | Bookmark | | Report spam→

Hi Brian,
I’ve only been to two visual workshops, Eddie and Platypus. The “you get what you put into them” idea did apply to both.

My Eddie “experience” was so-so. My folio reviews ran the gamut from bad (my work sucks, I have no style and no biz being in the biz. not a direct quote but you get the idea) to great (my work is good but here are some things to think about. which i did). My assignment was good and I met an interesting guy but… wasn’t sure what to make of a guy who sat around and drank scotch all day. I met some great people who I’m still in touch with and that’s probably the most important part of Eddie (or any workshop for that matter) – people.

Platypus was the polar opposite. I had an amazing time. I encourage everyone to go. My story was good and timely, even though it needs a serioes re-edit. The whole workshop wasnt so much about working on stories but re-learning how to think visually. Thats what I took out of it. How to switch gears and re-look at how you look at things.

I would at least apply for Eddie. If you dont get in, ya dont get in. If ya do, ya do.

To answer your “cannot imagine” question… my answer is Platypus. I haven’t bought my HDV camera yet but I will be and most of my work will be on video.

Hope that helps.

by Bill Putnam | 24 Feb 2009 21:02 | Washington, D.C., United States | | Report spam→
The first Foundry workshop was amazing. Only minor organisational tweaks needed. I couldnt recommend highly enough. Cheap too.

Haven’t been to any other workshops, but will definitely try to apply to Eddie as well. Too bad only 10% of the places are allocated to non-US citizens, so they’ve made it slightly tougher for us foreigners to get in.

by Mikko Takkunen | 25 Feb 2009 02:02 | Swansea, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
I have taught art/photography for longer than I can remember as well as presenting/organising my share of workshops, my take is . Sure those that are tuned in and focused can get the most out of workshops but they are probably focused anyway. For many it may be a matter of needing a pat on the back, fine tuning attitudes, searching for new directions or just hanging around others. One has to spend a fair bit of time trying to read the “rabble” depending whether they want to be the audience or participants.(rabble is meant in the nicest way just couldn’t find another word) A good presenter will know when to push, when to shove and when to let go.

These days I only do workshops for teenagers and younger because as a “presenter” I learn a lot of new stuff from them and it is sorta satisfying watching these kids fly ………adults tend to be too rigid in attitude

by Imants | 25 Feb 2009 03:02 (ed. Feb 25 2009) | "The Boneyard 017º", Australia | | Report spam→
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by Aaron J. Heiner | 25 Feb 2009 04:02 | Washington, DC, United States | | Report spam→
Hey Brian,

I attended the Foundry workshop this past summer and it was a great experience. As Mikko said some organizational tweaks were needed but I walked away with some great advice, contacts, and the excitement of making new work.

I was also accepted to attend the Eddie Adams Workshop this October and, for me, the experience was priceless. I had a really amazing team with some incredible leaders and a kick ass theme. The portfolio reviews were scary and tough but it was definitely what I needed to hear. I heard some of the most inspirational speeches that I will never forget and I walked away from those 4 days with an awesome body of work and a new collection of friends who I talk to on a regular basis.

On the other hand, there were some people who had a not so great time due to their teams and their theme. It’s definitely a toss up, but as with anything, you’ll get out of it what you want to get out of it.

There are also smaller workshops like the Atlanta Photojournalism Seminar and the Short Courses which are great chances to catch up with your peers who all run in these workshop circles, get some excellent feedback on your portfolio, and maybe pick up some new tricks.

Hope this helps!!!

by Sandy Hooper | 25 Feb 2009 04:02 | Atlanta, Georgia, United States | | Report spam→
Just home from my first ever workshop, much much smaller than what I can read in the above comments

http://www.blog.still-dancing.com/2009/02/dancing-street-workshop/

very helpful portfolio reviews, involving all the participants, always, daily review of the work done, not much sleep, but lots of bonding in the group.. most helpful insight to me: to see the work of the others, done in the same place at the same time. Energyboost, and the one or other lifetime friend you find if you’re lucky enough..

by eva mbk | 25 Feb 2009 05:02 | Tuscany, Italy | | Report spam→
Why didn’t you like the Mtn Workshops? Why did you like Mari Gras?

Foundry is awesome and you should sign up for it for this July in India. Eddie Adams is great as well and you should most definitely apply for it. Both offer great learning opps and networking as well.

by David Ryder | 25 Feb 2009 06:02 | Park City, United States | | Report spam→
First, thanks for all the feedback. I hope this can become a bit of a reference for all interested, not just giving me ideas.

I liked the MG 360 workshop for many reasons.
1) It was organized pretty well, especially since it was the first go around
2) The “instructors” were very dedicated
3) Very solid, constructive, and sometimes harsh feedback. As the days progressed, I could see my work getting better.
4) Great people, both in the workshop and in the city.

Andy and I disagreed on a couple of points, but every concern I had, he answered openly and truthfully.

As far as the Mountain Workshop, although I learned a significant amount, I do not feel comfortable addressing my issues in a public forum.

by Brian C Frank | 25 Feb 2009 06:02 | Des Moines, Iowa, United States | | Report spam→
Brian, thanks for understanding. Yes, last year was a learning experience, and this year was considerably better, much smaller and much different. I certainly missed all of the gang from last year— thanks again for your support.

by Andy Levin | 02 Mar 2009 02:03 | United States, United States | | Report spam→
I’d love to attend one of the various fantastic looking workshops that are mentioned from time to time.

Just the small matter of several thousand dollars to get there as they all seem to be very far away from NZ and Australia!

by Marcus Adams | 02 Mar 2009 02:03 | Christchurch, New Zealand | | Report spam→
I thought that the Adams workshop was more of a young mans/womans game? mostly college students. Am I wrong? I know it has a great rep!

by James Chance | 02 Mar 2009 04:03 | Denver, United States | | Report spam→
Andy – When we gonna see pics?

by Brian C Frank | 02 Mar 2009 04:03 | Des Moines, Iowa, United States | | Report spam→
Brian, I am working on a new magazine format that will incorporate some of the best work, and there will be a workshop page that will have examples of some of the students work as well. I am looking at the 14th for a roll out on the magazine…..

by Andy Levin | 02 Mar 2009 17:03 | United States, United States | | Report spam→
I did a workshop in Uganda toward the end of last year with a group called Momenta Workshops. The aim was humanitarian work—each student paired up with a local NGO to document their work, and at the end of it the NGO gets a selection of your photos. The instructors have been doing NGO work like this for years, so they were really helpful with reconciling what the NGO wants and getting your own story out of it. It was definitely an immersion—you set up the agenda with the NGO and worked out where to go and what to shoot. The instructors were there to provide support and suggestions, and they helped lead when a student needed guidance. But on the whole, it was your story, your ideas. The feedback was always really helpful, and geared toward creating a story by the end of the two-week workshop. There were daily reviews (until quite late, in some cases), and the instructors did their best to make time for each student. I learned a lot about how to approach a theme, thinking about the story I wanted to tell. And the instructors were great to hang out with, too! There are certainly other avenues, but the Momenta workshop was a great way for me to get an introduction to a new part of the world from people who had been there and knew how to provide support when I needed it. I hope that helps.

by T.J. Kirkpatrick | 02 Mar 2009 19:03 | Hartford, CT, United States | | Report spam→
I have participated in three photo workshops over the past several years. I learned from each one however one of the best was with Momenta Workshops in Myanmar. The instructors were fantastic. Each one of us received one-on-one instruction and reviews of our work. These guys were tireless! I learned more traveling with them for two weeks than from all the other workshops I have attended. I so pleased with my growth as a photographer that I signed up for two of their forthcoming workshops, one in in Sacramento, Kentucky and the other in Peru.

by Rob Elliott | 02 Mar 2009 20:03 | Laguna Beach, California, Southern Sudan | | Report spam→
Early 2008 I signed up for my first workshop, with Steve Mc Curry in Burma. The itinerary for the two week long trip was very carefully laid out by his assistants and I don’t think I have ever spent two weeks in my life to such maximum effect. From early morning tours until the nightly review sessions, everything was meticulously planned and executed by his team but instead of rigid or scripted the whole experience felt very seamless and organic. Internal flights, hotels and restaurants, all were arranged with the best possible care and efficiency and our Burmese guides turned out to be excellent fixers. On the Photography side, the right comments and tips were made at the right time and the reviews and critiques turned out to be very much to the point and utterly helpful. I am extremely critical about these kind of things but in this case there wasn’t a moment I regret signing up. The guys who organized and ran this workshop now operate as “Momenta Workshops” and I can sincerely recommend them to anyone who wants to push him- or herself beyond their current limits as a photographer.

by Bas Uterwijk | 02 Mar 2009 20:03 | Amsterdam, Netherlands | | Report spam→
I’ve attended many workshops over my career but, unfortunately, none of the ones mentioned. There doesn’t seem to be as many available in Canada. My favourite workshops were with Budd Watson in the early 80’s exploring the waters of Georgian Bay (Lake Huron).

I have to agree with Imants though. I too teach workshops and some participants are there for the ‘pat on the back’ while others (and they usually stand out) are there to learn. In the ‘get out what you put in’ vein, it’s certainly true. As an instructor, it’s hard to instruct if you don’t get any feedback from the participants. I’m amazed at how few questions there are at times.

So if you attend a workshop, ask questions! The instructors need the feedback to know where you are and where you want to go with your photography.

by Mike Guilbault | 06 Mar 2009 21:03 | Barrie, Ontario, Canada | | Report spam→
Hello Brian,
I’d recommend 3 workshops from experience; Eddie Adams, Missouri Photo Workshop, and the VII Workshop with Gary Knight in Cambodia. My only regret is that I took the VII workshop at too early in my progression as a photographer. I was out of my league, but Gary was fantastic and pushed me to rethink who I am as a photographer and the other photogs showed me where I needed to be without being arrogant. I was going to Cambodia at the time anyway so the cost wasn’t that bad. If you have the time the VII workshops are beneficial if you can take a few weeks after the workshop to continue your story. Missouri felt like a real family and the overall atmosphere was a special place from the staff, to the faculty, to your fellow photogs. Eddie was another great experience, really intense sessions of showing your work and not much sleep. I’d recommend all 3, if you have any particular questions about one the workshops send me a message.
Best,
J

by Justin Mott | 08 Mar 2009 06:03 | Hanoi, Vietnam | | Report spam→
I would agree with the you gotta put something in it to get something out of it sentiment. I have been to a few workshops and that has been my experience.

I would suggest the Summit Series of Workshops put on by Rich Clarkson. http://www.photographyatthesummit.com/

The faculty at these workshops is top shelf.

Tom

by Tom Leininger | 08 Mar 2009 13:03 | Denton, TX, United States | | Report spam→
LOOK3 has an amazing lineup again:

The Photographic Essay with David Alan Harvey and James Nachtwey
Crafting the Long-Term Project with Nina Berman
Liberating the Intuitive with Larry Fink
Photographing People with Eugene Richards

http://www.look3.org/2009/workshops.html

and they have 10 scholarships for students

http://pa.photoshelter.com/c/look3/about

Deadline May 1, 2009

by Mikko Takkunen | 08 Mar 2009 13:03 | Swansea, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
Have any of you tried/heard about White Cloud workshops with Bryan Moss?

by Molly Corso | 09 Mar 2009 12:03 | Tbilisi, Georgia | | Report spam→
Have any of you tried/heard about White Cloud workshops with Bryan Moss?

by Molly Corso | 09 Mar 2009 12:03 | Tbilisi, Georgia | | Report spam→
I had a very similar experience to the one Bas described above with Momenta Workshops. I also traveled to Myanmar and was there for two weeks. Although I hadn’t heard anything about the group prior to this, I had researched various different workshops in the past and had never come across one that seemed to be run by such dedicated and thoughtful instructors.

The workshop was designed to get most out of each day, which usually meant rising before the sun to ensure great lighting and working late into the day either shooting or editing. The group consisted of 6 students ranging in age and experience and 3 instructors, a ratio that allowed for plenty of face-to-face time with each instructor and continual peer feedback. While the schedule was rigorous, each participant was encouraged to explore topics that interested them personally. The instructors always did their best to arrange for cars and guides for this purpose. The instructors clearly spent a lot of time scouting locations prior to our arrival and the access was impressive.

During the two weeks, I learned a lot about myself as a photographer. My skill level and photographic eye improved more than I imagined possible in such a short time. This is a very intense workshop, but not at all rigid. You will work very hard and you’ll have a great time doing it. I plan to join them on another excursion as soon as possible.
www.momentaworkshops.com

by Grace Roth | 18 Mar 2009 14:03 | Bayside, United States | | Report spam→
Check out the bang for the buck that is The Foundry Workshop… http://www.foundryphotoworkshop.org/

by Monte Swann | 18 Mar 2009 15:03 | Minneapolis, MN, United States | | Report spam→
Here is a shameless self-endorsement. Check out this work by ICP student Kevin Dotson, its from the last 360 Workshop in New Orleans for Mardi Gras: http://www.100eyes.org/issue-1/kevin-dotson/

by [former member] | 18 Mar 2009 19:03 | | Report spam→

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Participants

Brian C Frank, Photographer Brian C Frank
Photographer
Des Moines, Iowa , United States
Bill Putnam, Producer. Bill Putnam
Producer.
(Video-Photo)
Washington, D.C. , United States
Mikko Takkunen, Photo editor Mikko Takkunen
Photo editor
New York , United States
Imants, gecko hunter Imants
gecko hunter
" The Boneyard" , Australia
Aaron J. Heiner, Photojournalist Aaron J. Heiner
Photojournalist
(Sleeping his life away)
Baltimore, Md , United States ( IAD )
Sandy Hooper, Visual Journalist Sandy Hooper
Visual Journalist
Atlanta, Georgia , United States
eva mbk, cabby eva mbk
cabby
Tuscany , Italy ( SAY )
David Ryder, Visual Journalist / Multi David Ryder
Visual Journalist / Multi
Seattle, Wa , United States ( SEA )
Andy Levin, Andy Levin
(photo workshop, photography wo)
New Orleans , United States
Marcus Adams, Photographer & Guide Marcus Adams
Photographer & Guide
(Guide, Photographer & Fixer)
Singapore , Singapore
James Chance, Photographer James Chance
Photographer
Manila , Philippines
T.J. Kirkpatrick, photojournalist T.J. Kirkpatrick
photojournalist
New York, Ny , United States
Rob Elliott, Community Planner Rob Elliott
Community Planner
(DigitalAlchemy)
United States , United States
Bas Uterwijk, Freelance Photographer Bas Uterwijk
Freelance Photographer
Amsterdam , Netherlands ( AMS )
Mike Guilbault, Photographer Mike Guilbault
Photographer
(Photographer & Educator)
Wytheville, Va , United States
Justin Mott, Photojournalist/Videojour Justin Mott
Photojournalist/Videojour
(Freelance)
Hanoi , Vietnam
Tom Leininger, i take pictures Tom Leininger
i take pictures
Denton, Tx , United States
Molly Corso, Writer-Photographer Molly Corso
Writer-Photographer
Tbilisi , Georgia
Grace Roth, Grace Roth
Bayside , United States
Monte Swann, Photographer Monte Swann
Photographer
Manali , India


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