Planning a photography workshop is an important decision in any professional photographer’s life. It’s the kind of step that could push your career miles forward – or ruin it, if you get it wrong. With the advent of digital photography during the last few years, there has been increased interest into pursuing photography as a professional path. That means there is ever-increasing demand for photography courses and workshops and many photographers turned teaching into a side business or even their main business.
But what are the key elements to planning a successful photography workshop and to making sure such an event will contribute to increasing your professional reputation? We’ve put together a step by step guide to walk you through the process, so read on.
1.Planning a photography workshop: choose a theme
All the organizational aspects of your workshop, from its duration and venue, to the price you need to ask from your attendees, will depend on the theme you chose. Choose a theme that is, first of all, in line with the skills you’re best known for and that you’re best at. Your theme can be as broad as “destination wedding photography” or as narrow as “lighting in art portraits photography”. Make sure your portfolio (on your website and social media accounts such as Instagram) features plenty of work withing the chosen theme. This way, potential attendees will trust your competence on the subject.
This is also the phase in which you’ll decide the level of depth of information that you’ll provide, and the level of proficiency required from your trainees. When you’re first starting out teaching workshops, it’s a good idea to start from a more basic level. Go into more complex and advanced topics and techniques once you gain more teaching experience.
2.Duration, dates, and venue
Depending on the nature and depth of the theme/subject, you’ll have to figure out how much time you will need for transmitting the knowledge to your attendees. If it’s just a basic workshop on, let’s say, “hot to get the best of your DSLR camera”, geared at beginners, you can crunch the information in one day. Advanced workshops with a high level of depth and proficiency can take anywhere from two days to a week.
As for the dates, when planning a photography workshop, especially at professional level, make sure the dates are not in high season for that particular field, so that your potential trainees could actually attend the workshop without missing out on a lot of their actual work. This is particularly important for example in wedding photography. Many wedding photographers are fully booked for months on end, from April to October. On the other hand, if the workshop is mostly focused on outdoor photography, you’ll need to plan it for a season that offers the most opportunities for the type of light you’re looking for.
For a photography workshop, you have a multitude of venue options to choose from. Planning a basic workshop? you can even host it at the local photography gear store. For a fashion, portrait, still life, lighting, editing and such, a studio (that can be yours, if you have one, or rented by the day) is a more obvious choice. If you’re planning anything wedding related, have it in a wedding venue or in a romantic nature setting. For travel or street photography, think of an exciting picturesque spot in nature or city/town nearby, or, why not, an exotic destination overseas.
3. Budget and price accordingly
You should think of your workshop as a business, and treat your budget as a business plan. Write down any possible expenses that you have to face, These may include (but not be limited to):
- venue rental fees
- course materials
- additional gear that you might have to purchase/rent
- your own transport and accommodation
- whether or not you will have to hire an assistant
- whether or not you will have to hire models
- any refreshments, if you intend to provide them
You can use our free event budget template to make this task easier, downloadable here.
Calculate your workshop prices so that you have a profit margin even if just the minimum number of attendees buys it. And since we’re at it, see what is the minimum number of attendees so that it actually makes sense for the workshop to take place at all. Also, what is the maximum number of attendees that you can handle in one workshop? This way you will know how many tickets to make available. Also, remember that the prices reflect the perceived quality of the information and skills taught at the workshop, so don’t position yourself as “cheap”.
Set up early bird rates to generate momentum when you announce the workshop. To keep track of all ticketing matters, it’s a good idea to use an online event management platform for your workshop. And if you use Metooo as your event platform, you have everything in one place: from creating various types of tickets with funds immediately available through safe transactions, to the automatic invoicing to your attendees.
4. Gather your materials
First, you need to purchase or rent any additional gear that you need in order to teach the workshop. To avoid additional expenses, you could focus on teaching subjects based on your current gear, but if you need a new lens for that particular setting, or extra cables and memory cards, and you budgeted for them, now is the time to get them. Second, build a lesson plan and elaborate any necessary presentations for the theoretical part of the workshop. Even if the workshop is purely practical and activity-focused, a detailed list of topics will still be necessary.
And last, prepare a list of necessary items that your participants need to have in order to attend the workshop. This includes:
- camera accessories (preferred lenses, memory cards, batteries, chargers, adapters, flashes, tripods, etc)
- computer accessories (USB cables, adapter cables, card reader etc)
- personal items (especially for outdoor workshops, any particular clothing and footwear items needed for the climate and setting)
- items related to international travel, if the workshop is in a different country (passport, visas, any necessary vaccines)
5. Promote your workshop
When it comes to promoting a photography workshop, the web is your most obvious option. You can create very precisely targeted ad campaigns on Facebook and show your ad to the exact category of photographers in a certain geographical area, who would be interested in your event. Instagram should also play a fundamental role in your promotion strategy, so first make sure your profile features enough content in the particular field that the workshop will cover. Then, create a campaign based on promoted posts about the workshop. Make sure the link in your bio leads to your workshop event page where people can find all the details about the workshop and can purchase tickets.
Your event web page
Make sure you are using an online event management platform which is an ideal tool for planning a photography workshop. And if you choose Metooo as your platform, you’ll be sure to be able to create a beautiful event web page showcasing the quality of your work as a photographer. This page, complete and professional looking, will be a powerful marketing tool for your workshop. You’ll also be able to add all the needed information for attendees on the page. From dates, times, and tickets for sale, to the list of necessary items they need to bring to the workshop. Metooo also allows you to add email campaigns to your marketing efforts. You can create a beautiful email invitation and send it to your mailing lists imported from Gmail and MailChimp.
And last but not least, use an already ended workshop to promote your next workshop. On Metooo, you can use the storytelling feature, ask the participants to post the photos they took during the workshop on the event wall, and select the best ones to be publicly visible. Then, since the wall has a separate URL, you can share it on your website and across your social media accounts to showcase the amazing results of your workshop.
These were the main steps we identified when it comes to planning a photography workshop. It can seem like the hardest part is managing the workshop itself while it’s happening. But if all the above aspects were taken care of in the planning phase, if your workshop provides valuable content, if it’s planned for the right dates, in an interesting venue, if you attract the right customer, and if everyone has all the necessary information about how to prepare for the workshop, you’re already set for success.