As far as professional photographers are concerned, technological advancements in DSLR equipment and the growing affordability of such hardware represent both a blessing and a curse for the industry. On one hand, there’s the plus point that comes with being able to afford stupendous-quality equipment on a comparatively low budget, opening the profession to serious and focused newcomers like never before.
On the other side of the fence, however, there are those that simply buy a quality camera, build a cheap website and masquerade as professional photographers when they are in fact nothing of the sort. Worse still, there are those that not only have insufficient experience to call themselves true professionals, but go one step further by claiming to deliver high-quality landscape photography courses when they aren’t even remotely qualified to do so.
Of course, this shouldn’t put any fledgling photographers off the idea of taking such courses entirely, as the benefits to be taken from learning from true professionals are both abundant and priceless. As such, the key lies in knowing how to spot a genuinely beneficial photography workshop and provider thereof, in order to give those on the other end of the scale a wide berth.
Remote Classes Only
For example, it’s important to exercise caution when and where the workshops and classes on offer are delivered by way of remote learning only. Not that remote learning opportunities cannot in many cases be fantastic, but there will always be those who charge the Earth for little more than the mailing out of a bunch of literature that can be accessed online by anyone, 100% free of charge. If, therefore it’s a case of only remote workshops on offer, you’ll need to exercise caution – any provider offering in-person workshops and excursions is generally a much safer bet.
Speaking of excursions, there isn’t a photographer alive that would happily lead a group of like-minded individuals on a trip of exploration and education into and given natural environment if they didn’t know what they were doing and what they were talking about. As such, the most beneficial and often reputable workshops to choose from are those that see participants taken out ‘into the field’, where theory can be put to practical use under the careful watch of a seasoned professional.
Something else to keep a close eye on if considering a learning experience with a professional provider is the quality and depth of the portfolio they offer access to on their website. This is in every way the be all and end all of what they do and represents the ideal resource with which to get a better idea of whether or not what they do is in line with what you want to do and learn more about. You shouldn’t have to beg and plead for evidence of their greatness – it should be right there in front of you.
What should also be clear after going over their website in detail is exactly how knowledgeable they are about the subject of landscape photography in general. It’s one thing to have a bunch of pretty pictures in place and the basic details of a few courses, but it’s another thing entirely to demonstrate knowledge and passion with rich, varied and inspiring site content. Establishing professionalism is often as simple as taking the time to explore the website in a little more detail and seeing whether or not the image conveyed is one that breeds confidence or otherwise.
While there’s nothing to say that newcomers to the professional photography industry cannot offer fantastic teachings and guidance, there’s much to be said for siding with those that have plenty of experience and a track-record to be proud of. The longer they’ve been in the game, the more time they’ve had to learn lessons of their own and to hone their craft into a fine art. Experience doesn’t necessarily guarantee outstanding abilities, but it’s an important contributory factor nonetheless.
Last but not least, the only thing you have to go on that can be considered 100% impartial is the feedback offered by those that have tried and tested the courses out for themselves. In the case of any course or workshop provider that’s chaired even one single course at any time in the past, feedback should and probably will be available for inspection. If all such reviews paint a wholly positive picture, chances are it’s a safe bet to side with.