Do Pros Still Take Photo Workshops?

by New Mexico adventure lifestyle photographer Michael DeYoung

It seems that a common characteristic of all good teachers and true “masters” is that they remain life long students and learners. Taking that to heart as a workshop instructor, and seasoned pro shooter I still see great value in taking photography workshops.

The last one I attended was a day long seminar called the Flashbus taught by 2 masters of speedlight location lighting, Joe McNally and David Hobby. Hobby has one of the most popular photography blogs called the Strobist. I’ll bet that most people reading this are already aware of the strobist blog. Joe McNally, a well sought after workshop leader (I took one of his workshops in Santa Fe, 80 miles from my home), wrote two of the best books on digital flash photography that I’ve read. They are: The Hot Shoe Diaries and The Moment it Clicks.

The Flashbus was a great deal at $99 even for a working pro who is familiar with most of the material they were presenting. This year’s tour is half over. I hope they will do something similar next year. As usual, I picked up a tip or two. Also as a workshop instructor always striving to improve my own presentation, these are 2 guys to emulate.

The capabilities of camera flashes today are astonishing compared to when I first started photography in the early 80’s. In fact, after some early trial and errors, I mainly avoided the use of flash other than basic fill lighting until a few years ago. I discovered a monumental change in hot-shoe strobe capabilities. The array of effective, portable light shaping tools on the market today is also amazing. Mastering the use of portable strobes is a great growth area for expanding your creativity. It is also right up my alley, since I often schlep gear into hard to reach locations for adventure photography, fitness photography and wilderness travel photography. So the capability to get studio quality lighting to remote places has greatly enhanced the value of my imagery. I wrote about such an adventure photography shoot in a previous blog post.

Adventure lifestyle photographer Michael DeYoung lighting his subjects under Wrangell-St. Elias National Park's Root Glacier located in Kennicott, Alaska

Michael DeYoung lighting his subjects under the Root Glacier with a Canon 580 EXII with wireless TTL triggered by a Radio Popper. A Honl grid was used to focus the light on the subjects and keep it off the ice walls. The camera on a tripod was triggered with a 10 second timer.

I am moving more in the direction of teaching more workshops. This summer I am scheduled to do my third weekend long workshop – Creative Outdoor Photography Workshop – in Alaska for the Alaska Society of Outdoor and Nature Photographers. I have done evening presentations for the ASMP Alaska chapter and for NANPA, the North American Nature Photography Association. I am scheduled to lead a10 day Alaska workshop next summer (2012) for the Rocky Mountain School of Photography.

Learning from the masters is the time honored way to helping yourself become one. I’m still a way’s off from being a master. Like many masters I admire, I will always remain willing to pass my knowledge on and give back to the photography community that has given so much to me.

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