Over the last few months I have really enjoyed sharing some fabulous photography tips and ideas and even more so because so many of you have come out and told me how useful you’ve found it – thank you for that! Today is the last post of this series and I wanted to share my recent experience of attending an inspiring photography workshop and my tips for choosing one for yourself. I knew I wanted to attend a course as I really want to improve my photography skills. Learning to improve your photography skills from written tips and e-courses is possible and can help a lot, but there is no substitute for going to a workshop and being taught in person, especially by photographers you already admire. So if like me you want to take your photography to the next level, then I highly recommend taking a beginners course which will get that expensive camera off auto mode – sound familiar?
Last weekend I went to A Happy Capture workshop which is taught by Abigail Fahey and Suzi Bowles both of whom are very talented family photographers with very different styles. Both have contributed tips to my photography series so I already knew and loved their work. They’ve recently started workshops held in Cobham, Surrey – a suburb just outside South West London. The workshop was held in a beautiful venue called the Medicine Gardens which is a walled Victorian garden with quaint cafe’s, workshops and art galleries tucked behind the garden walls. It was a full day course and had me engaged from the moment we started till the very end. I’m so glad I chose to go on it and if you’re thinking of a course, I totally recommend it but if you’re not in the area then I have some suggestions on how to find a course that’s right for you.
Photography courses can be expensive and you’re not likely to do more than one or two (unless of course you want to go pro). So it’s worth taking a little time to choose the right one for you and it will really pay off. I’ve done one before A Happy Capture which was completely un-inspiring and I ended up learning nothing. It probably wasn’t a bad course but was not the right fit for me being too techy and focusing too much on technique and numbers rather than creativity. So here are some tips on how to choose a photography workshop to make sure you get the most out of it:
1. It might sound obvious but look at the work of the photographer/s behind the course. Does his/her style inspire you? Do they photograph subjects that are similar to what you want to photograph? Read their website and any information you can find about them to check that they are the right match for you.
2. Most of us here are mums who may also be bloggers so our aim is to improve our everyday photos of our kids, our holidays and our life to keep as memories and perhaps share on our blogs. We don’t want too much technical knowledge or technical speak that will just mean nothing to us. So read the course details to see what’s covered and always check the level of the course – beginner, intermediate or advanced.
3. The venue is almost as important as the teacher as it tells you so much about what the photography workshop is going to be like. And if the workshop is held in an inspiring place it will help you get your creative juices flowing too. The first course I did was held in a small dark room with bare walls and one small window where everyone sat facing one of those bare walls! As you can imagine it did nothing to inspire me at all. But A Happy Capture was held in a beautiful room contained within a stunning walled Victorian Garden – this venue had me excited from the moment I got there.
4. Think about what you want to get out of the course and write down questions before you go otherwise you are likely to forget. If you’re an absolute beginner and don’t know what exactly you want, write a basic list and take along pictures that inspire you. Also carry photos you’ve clicked that you want to improve on. I loved that Suzi and Abigail asked us each to send them one or two photos we’re proud of before the workshop – this really made me think about what I like about my photography and what I don’t and helped me think about my questions.
5. Find out what happens after the workshop. With A Happy Capture Suzi and Abigail have set up a facebook group for past students to interact with each other and help each other and Suzi and Abigail pop in too and answer questions and critique your photos. I’ve already been taking part in the group and been learning even more.
6. Preferably always go by a recommendation rather than just picking a course off the internet. By recommendation I mean a like-minded friends suggestion but also your own experience of a photographer. Perhaps you have had photos taken by a pro you really admire and they do courses or you have just admired somebody’s work from afar, maybe on instagram. I have known and admired Abigail’s work for a long time and recently discovered Suzi’s both of which I like a lot. So when they recently launched their courses, I knew I had found the course for me and I wasn’t wrong.
So that’s what I would suggest on how to choose a photography workshop. Don’t make my initial mistake and attend a photography course that isn’t suited to you. I have seen the difference of what the right workshop can do for you. One of the things I wanted to get better at was taking dark and moody shots especially of Anya. I wanted to capture her face, her personality and her expressions in a natural, un-posed way but with a strong element of moodiness in the pictures. Above are a few shots I took after attending the workshop and while they’re not perfect I can honestly say they are far better than anything I have taken before (compare these to the one I shared on this post which was taken before the workshop when trying to do something similar). So a little research beforehand can really go a long way in finding the right workshop for you.
If you’re interested in learning more about A Happy Capture workshops, visit the website and feel free to get in touch with Abigail or Suzi – they’re both really helpful and very approachable. And if you haven’t already guessed, I couldn’t recommend them more. I learned so much in such a friendly, relaxed and creative environment which has given me the skills to experiment far more with my DSLR.
A very big thank you to all the talented photographers who contributed to my photography series and gave us such useful photography tips – Julia, Abigail, Lucy and Suzi. Gosh imagine getting all four of them in a room and learning from them?! Shame that can’t happen but the good news is that you can get two!
There are lots and lots of handy tips and ideas on photography in my previous articles which you’ll find here:
How to style your photos
How to photograph your newborn baby
How to organise your digital photos
How to grow your instagram following
How to photograph moving kids
The best photo filter apps
How to photograph kids using an iphone only
A mini photobook
A beautiful forever photobook
*I’ve linked up to Honest Mum’s Brilliant Blog Posts