Why Take a Workshop?

Why should you take a photography workshop? One answer is that you’ll learn something specific. For example, if you take my workshop Digital Workflow: From the Field to Flickr (I’ll be giving it next at the Santa Fe Workshops from July 7-14) you’ll learn a great deal about shooting digital under field conditions, and come away from my workshop with a personalized digitial workflow.

Golden Gate at Night, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger. Read more about this image.

But in some ways the specific topic of a photography workshop is a red herring, or as Alfred Hitchcock called the apparent storyline of his films, a MacGuffin. Hitchcock’s MacGuffin is a plot device that advances the story, but otherwise has little relevance to the story. The nominal topic of a good photography workshop performs the same role as a MacGuffin in a movie. Think of the statue of the bird in The Maltese Falcon. Without the statue, there would be no story, but other than the statue’s value it has no lasting importance to the story.

For me, photography is life and life is photography. You can’t separate who you are from the photos you make. Every good photo shows something of the spirit and soul of its creator. It may seem obvious, but you should look for a workshop led by a photographer whose work speaks to you. Craft is important, but digital photography goes way beyond craft. You can see some of my work on my blog.

My workshop Digital Workflow: From the Field to Flickr explains aspects of the technical craft of digital photography in the context of my work. But my workshops are not about me as much as it is about you. The single most important aspect of any workshop is to help facilitate the creation of a community of photographers. Technique without soul and vision is nothing. My real goal in giving a workshop is to help each participant understand what photography means in their own life. In my workshops, we explore digital photography together as a journey, not a destination, and accept a happy, busy, creative, and fun time together as a quest. This is a visual, philosophic, and sentimental quest. The results may not be what you expect, but I can guarantee adventures along the way.

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