Photographic training, everyone’s doing it ~ Why?

Jan 30, 2009 | Business | 12 comments

Everywhere I go I see evidence of photographers setting up training workshops and photographic classes. Some of the trainers have been in the industry for years and have a real talent to… pass on to the next generation. They are the ones that have been mentoring and sharing their knowledge for quite some time and are driven by passion and not the need to earn a living. There are some however that have run out of choices with their portrait and wedding client numbers dwindling. They need to supplement their income in any way they can.

My advice is to beware of the untrained eye when choosing photographic workshops. There are many copy cats and frauds out there who set themselves up as industry experts. Before you sign up to any training programme check the company’s image galleries carefully. Are the trainers expert photographers? Is there a passion and vitality in their pictures? Is their wedding work fabulous? Is there evidence of real financial and creative success in the photographic industry that you can learn from? And finally, what books have they published. Some good advice I was given some time ago was to buy the book before buying the training. If you are still not sure, I suggest you Google the tutors individually. Established companies like CPT run by Annabel Wiliams and Catherine Connor tick all the boxes and have a proven track record of delivering success.

In a bid to establish an openness and clarity within our own training academy I decided to publish over 2000 of our photographs online in our members area and our portfolios here. If you like what you see and would like the opportunity to learn the skills necessary to recreate the images then you know you are in safe hands on one of our workshops. If it’s business training you are after then our Evolve programme might just be what you need.



  1. fred hero

    I’d like to say that PHOTOGRAPHY has to do with PASSION and INSPIRATION. i decided to take photography as a profession out of the love for reflection, anytime i buy me a new cloth I always go to the studio to take some snap shots. That arouse my HUNGER and PASSION. Apart from the training i recieved from several professionals, I found out that I do somethings out of my own volution, thought, inspiration. I create my own style, photography truely speaks more than a thousand words.

    • damien

      Fine words Fred. I hope you continue to get the passion and seek out the inspiration for your photography.


  2. Michael McGrath

    My parents always advised me never to be a teacher , as they said that I haven’t the patience ! Thery were right ( Mother still alive and well at 87 ) .

    At 63 I tend to take things easy now , I am constantly amazed though at the new people coming into the business as part-timers, dabblers with Digitals – but very smart talkers and communicators over the Internet , and this , not their photographic skill , gets them through , – and if it doesn’t they always seem to be able to talk their way out of it , anyway !

    But the more genuine aspirants to the profession will go along and find a good tutor/mentor , like the Lovegroves here .

    As for the others I write about , nobody would ever be able to teach them anything because they already know it all .

    At this stage of my life I would only impart my experience as a photographer of 44 years to a trainee who genuinely wants to provide an excellent service someday , who is committed , hard-working at photography and willing to learn , the way I was taught myself back in the day by several good working photographers I was lucky , very lucky , to meet along the way .

    And I’m still learning – from Damien’s blog here right now !!!

    Regarding Annabel Williams , I disagree with her approach . Annabel preaches meeting so often with the Bride-and-Groom to be , that they might end up having no lives of their own during their Courtship , so much so that she might as well hop into the bed with them ( not that any full-blooded fella would object ! ) . Her photography is GOOD !

    A good Pro meets the couple for an hour or so , twice before their wedding ( at most ) , knows what they want , what he can do , turns up in good time , does the job , in-and-out , that’s that, it’s in the bag .

    And if it isn’t , he shouldn’t be offering himself in the first place !!!

  3. damien

    Thank you Mary.


  4. Mary

    Any training course and it’s mentors should leave you feeling amazing, inspired, be hugely motivating and knowledgeable, as well as being supportive, fun, caring and passionate….. a few words I would most definitely use, if you experience a visit to the CPT Studio in Cumbria or actually talk with Damien.

    Meeting Catherine and Damien will change your life – it has for me.

  5. Catherine Connor

    Wow… many words of wisdom from somebody who understands the business inside out. Why Damien and Julie have real experience and I agree with every word of advise and from the heart Damien has written. He is so very right with his warning… listen and be careful.
    We have been training for over 10 years and in business for an additional 15 in total 25 years of experience and tested expertise. In my view point there are only two places to attend for education Lovegroves and CPT very different but same culture as all that we do is based on tested excellence. Heart felt reaction to smart advise.

  6. Michael

    I agree that looking at their portfolio is paramount and has for established training companies get references from recent students has even they can loose their touch.

  7. damien

    Wise words John.

  8. John

    I can see where you’re coming from on this front, but sometimes, even those that have written books or dvds cannot effectively train someone else. What is an important factor for a trainer is understanding people’s learning styles and being able to cater for a range of abilities in a group. Unfortunately (and I’m not talking about the Lovegrove’s here) there are a number of big names, that have produced books a and dvds but cannot train or impart knowledge to a group. There is a difference between training someone and telling someone what you do.

  9. Brad

    I think it is probably no different to individual seeking to hire a photographer, you have to look at the end product and see if that is what you want from the experience.

    In choosing what training I thought would help with my development, the most important step was researching the various options on the market. I actually found a good step was to use conventions and trade shows such as Focus and SWPP to see the trainers in action doing talks and presentations as an insight into how good their ability to transfer knowledge is.

    The next stage was seeing what sort of end product they were delivering and whilst some experienced trainers were excellent at parting with knowledge, unfortunately they appeared stuck in producing the same image they had been doing the last 10-15 years. Obviously this is no good if you are striving for something modern and contemporary.

    Finally, as Damien suggests above, my last stage was checking out what the trainers had produced by way of books and dvds.

    Ultimately, I chose Damien’s courses as I considered this offered the best return for the investment in time and money and was not let down.

    In fact, I found that the specific training itself was just a small part of the learning experience with Damien’s insights adding extra value. As a direct result of the knowledge I had gained, with my next shoot I had more than re-couped my investment in the course, which probably is the best recommendation you can get.

  10. damien

    Hi Tanya,

    Thanks for your contribution. Unfortunately there’s not really such a thing as a qualification in teaching photography. There are people that will wave certificates at me saying I’ve got one and here it is. But the truth is, the bit of paper is next to useless because you can’t measure a photographers inspirational ability to transfer knowledge with enthusiasm and passion. There are many great photography teachers in our industry like The Yerburys & Simon John. Their ability is driven by talent and charisma in equal measure.

  11. Tanya Plonka

    This is good advice people should follow, but many do not. I sometimes shake my head at some of the people offering training, when clearly they are not qualified to do so.


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