Arts & Entertainment

Photo workshop or tour, what’s right for you?

 | December 17, 2012

There are a lot of very talented wildlife, landscape and photographers in Canada who are offering photography workshops and tours. Many photographers offering these outings are very passionate, professional and knowledgeable individuals. Our job as potential clients is to find the best tour or workshop to sign up for. 

So what’s the difference between a workshop and a tour? Well, a photo tour is more often than not geared toward those who already have the tools and skills required to create good images. In other words, there’s little instruction from your guide. He or she simply takes you out to the desired location or gets you closer to the wildlife than you normally would on your own. These photo guides usually shoot right beside you and create their own images, and offer expertise in knowing when and where the subjects are best photographed. 

Workshop leaders can also be very specific with what they teach and will focus on helping you become a better photographer by offering the very basic skills of camera operation, composition, exposure, lens selection and so on. The list is endless as pro photographers realize that their clients’ interests and needs are wide and varied.

Custom one-on-one workshops are popular today too. Imagine what you might learn by spending the entire day alone with a professional landscape or wildlife photographer!

Many of the best workshop and tour leaders are locals. For example, if you’re looking to spend some time photographing the Alberta Rockies, look for a guide who lives and plays in the area. The added value of signing up for an outing with someone who knows all the secret locations and has visited those locations repeatedly is always worth the time and money. It’s true that locals know best; you wouldn’t want to spend time photographing a location or subject with a guide who hasn’t ever visited or photographically experienced an area on their own would you?

I’d like to suggest checking into the photographer’s background as well. Find out what makes them a good trip leader or instructor by visiting their website and reading their biographies. Seek out comments from past clients to get an idea if they had a positive or negative experience and always have a peek at their social media sites where additional information can be found. Another obvious, but good, idea is to scroll through their galleries and analyse their style of photography. Does it motivate and inspire you to create similar images? Finally, ask about personal safety, insurance and waiver forms and how many clients are taken out at one time. 

Workshops and tours are the quickest way to improve your photography skills or add to your library of images. Be clear on what you want to accomplish and let your chosen trip leader know exactly what you expect to get out of your outing.