The Photo Workshop Model is Dead – for Me

The photo workshop model is dead. At least it’s dead for me.

Are you really done teaching photo workshops? You are kidding right? Who is going to teach me to photograph now? Do you have any recommendations? Talk to me.

Read on. We are still here. Just in a more refined way. Like a really expensive whiskey.

We have given the traditional photo workshop model a decade-long try. While it has been a successful business model over that time frame, it has also been a HUGE burden.

The problem lies with the sustainability of the photo workshop model.

Photo Workshop Model

The photo workshop model begins with you, the client, paying a fee to join someone like me for a weekend to week-long trip to some location. Once you pay the photographer’s fee, you then need to book a hotel at the location, grab a flight, rent a car, and factor in food while traveling. This cost is thousands of additional dollars. 

This one of the major reasons the photo workshop model is dead for me. I don’t want my clients to have to deal with this scenario. 

Trouble in Paradise

Have you noticed how many photographers have $1000 workshops at different locations every weekend of the year?

This is because they are not charging enough money to create a viable business model for themselves. In addition, they are not filling the trips they have out there, because they have too many trips. This in turn has them continually adding other destinations to lure you back in. 

Do you have any idea how hard it is to put together a trip in a single national park? Let alone a dozen of them? Every location needs a separate permit.

This is another reason the photo workshop model is dead for me.

Shit Just Give It Away

Have you noticed how much FREE content is available to the photographer from the photographer? This is another professional workshop instructor trap. Join our newsletter and get a free ebook! How many websites have massive popup scenarios touting that these days?

I believe that so many photographers have given away so many tips and suggestions for becoming a better photographer that the physical photo workshop is going to severely struggle. The end user can find just about anything “on the line”, so there is less and less need to spend thousands to have me teach them in person. I know this because I have talked to other photographers and to my clients. Photographers have almost created their own death sentence with their FREE content marketing plans.

So how do we fix this? Read on.

The Photo Workshop Model Instructor Dilemma

We are not there yet.

How many photo workshop instructors out there have any sort of educational background? Yeah we all went to school, but being a student does not a teacher make. I have heard about photo workshop instructors setting up tripods and having each student put their cameras on said tripod, proving that this is “the shot”. Really?

I also have heard about how many nature photographers have highlighted what they have added, subtracted, and tweaked in their original photographs. You know “Photoshopping”. No wonder why photography is so fucked.

This why the photo workshop model is dead for me.

New Directions Forgetting the Photo Workshop Model

If no more photo workshops, then what?

Well, it’s simple for me. I am moving in a new direction. I am still going to take people to amazing locations. However, I am going to now offer the closest thing to an all-inclusive experience as possible. 

Basically, I want you to pay for your travel to and from our location. From there, I am in control. 

“There’s the illusion, you never had control.” 

Not that sort of control. 

I want you to come for the experience.

The Control of Experience

If you come on a future photography adventure with us, you will receive just that, an adventure. Yes our trips are going to be about taking you to an amazing location, but we are also going to focus on the food you eat, the wine you drink, and the sheets you barely have time to sleep on. 

A photo adventure is a journey that finds great photography subjects. Allows you to photograph those subjects in as many original and creative ways. By teaching you how to recognize what you are looking at out there in the field. Surrounded by like-minded friends. 

We photograph together. Eat together. Drink together. And well, sleep, yeah that is still separately. 

And why spend thousands on what we are offering? Because you get to do it with a photography professional who actually cares about your overall experience and the photos that you take.

Believe

I believe that by leaving the photo workshop model, I can focus on a better experience for you. An experience that is completely geared towards your needs, not ours. While I may be done with the group photo workshop model, I am not done inspiring our clients and friends. We are actually just beginning.

 Our future destinations are ones that I or someone I know has a vast understanding of. We are not there because we wanted a free trip somewhere. We are there because we already know what a spectacular photo location it is.

A Little Toast to Ditching the Photo Workshop Model We Know

I am going to raise a cyber glass and toast all of you have joined us over the years. To ditching the photo workshop model and creating something more experiential. We will travel to locations old and new, but with a better appreciation of the photography, local culture, and how we interact and appreciate it all. An all-inclusive one that stimulates all of your senses. Because isn’t this how creativity explodes? By knowing what is there and then moving beyond it in a new way? I think it is.

Now go check out where and what we are doing next.

Pro Nature Photographer

Driven to Inspire. A new online magazine is in development. Help us launch by donating now!

6 Responses

  1. I’ve not had the pleasure of a workshop with you, or anyone else for that matter. Many times I would have appreciated the experience and, no doubt, benefited from the tutelage, but work and bespoke finances persuaded me to work differently. That said, I have enjoyed your monthly email dispatches and found your posted portfolio to be handsome. I’ll watch for more news about your e-magazine and consider whether it fits my situation now. I’ve been “retired” a few years but still desire to grow in competency and artistry. Though I may not scramble up a 14-er like I used to, I’ll still be out scouting, looking at the light and gleaning ideas and info on locations for years to come. Good luck with your transition. I’m confident things will work out.

    1. I am too Larry. I already have more work than I know what to do with and it is all design related. So I completely feel like I have made the right decision at this point.

  2. I tend to agree with you. There are mainly two reasons I go to “workshops”. The first is because I want someone who is intimately familiar with an area and will guide me around the area to the best spots. These are what I typically call “landscape” type workshops, although some of the wildlife and bird photography workshops I have been on fall into this category. Once I have been on a particular workshop, I don’t really need to go on it again – been there, seen and photographed that. I can return on my own should I want to photograph further in this area. I believe the market for these types of workshops will decline in the next ten years.
    The second reason is because I believe that the “photographer” can teach me something about photography: 1)about photographing the subject itself, e.g., flowers, aspects of composition, etc., 2) about a new form of photography, e.g., infrared photography, night time photography, etc; and 3) about post-processing; e.g., how to better use apps such as Lightroom and/or Photoshop and various plugins, e.g., Nik, Topaz, etc., to process my images. I am not sure this type of workshop will decline as fast as the previous mentioned as folks will always reach a point in their own education where they need someone to show them how to do “something”, although the web-based instructions may remove some of the need for these types of workshops, nothing beats “hands-on” for these types of things.

    1. Thanks for the comment Ron! I think with companies like Adobe producing so many how-to videos and webinars to sell their products, the hands-on approach is going away too. And with technology like Apple iMessage and Google Hangouts available to anyone for free, people can get one-on-one instruction from people like me even if their schedule is super chaotic or their budget limited. While some with huge followings will definitely reap the rewards, the decline is going to continue. There is no way the amount of content out there will ever decline, and the quality will continue to get better and better as people see upticks in searchability and traffic if their content is informative and well done.

  3. I’m sad to hear this. I disagree. The only reason I am yet to go on a workshop is I can’t afford it right now, but I am saving.
    The reason why I wish to go on workshops is to yes, go the best locations and find the wildlife with an expert. But also to watch a seasoned professional work and learn from them, and the holy grail, the feedback on my own images. I want someone to watch me work and give me advice. Both in the field and after, editing my images. Try this next time, look here, maybe the odd photoshop tip. The whole point is the interaction and direct learning with a photographer whose work you admire. You cannot get this combination from simply looking online.

    1. I completely agree. We are going in a different direction. Not stopping bringing people to places, but shrinking group sizes and making the whole experience part of the package. Instead of relying on the group, we rely on the client’s specific needs. We have seen great success with our first attempt in our new Winter Yellowstone Tour ( https://jaygoodrich.com/photographystore/product/winter-yellowstone-photo-food-adventure/ ) and our Teton Photo Adventures ( https://jaygoodrich.com/photographystore/product/teton-photo-adventures/ )

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time to join the Darkside

Subscribe to our mailing list and get a FREE ebook of your choice.