Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Choosing the right education for you

In the current economy, people tend to keep a closer watch on their money, where they spend it and the value of what they are getting for it.

Photographers are no different. In the lifespan of a photographer there are many different phases:

- Student (learning F-stops and shutter speeds)
- Hobbyist (photographing for themselves)
- Semi-professional (wading into the waters of business to see if it is the right fit)
- New professional (finding a style, learning the business side)
- Experienced professional (knows the ropes but also needs motivation so it does not become “just a job”)

Depending on where you are in your journey will make a difference on the type and level of education as well as the type of motivation that will work for you. The thing that lights the fire for one photographer may not do the same for another.

To give you an example, I attended one of PPA’s Imaging USA conventions in the first year or so of my business. I sat in on Julieanne Kost’s program. For those of you who do not know, she is an evangelist for Adobe and knows EVERYTHING about Photoshop (plus, she is really funny.) Since I was new to Photoshop I learned a lot of new and useful information, but some of it was clearly over my head. Every year I attend Imaging and Julieanne is always there as well. I still attend her program because I am now at a level where I understand the more advanced techniques she explains.

While Julieanne does a wonderful job of presenting information to every skill level in the room, not all education is this way. When I was first starting in business I mistakenly sought out speakers who spoke about abstract ideas such as motivation, creativity, finding my style, connecting with clients and so forth. All of this was great information, but it really wasn't the helpful tools I was hoping for.

You see, at the beginning what I really needed was more direct information, more meat. What I needed to learn was information I could immediately incorporate into my business once I got back to the studio. I didn’t know things like what information to keep for taxes, what a workflow should be like, how or why I was marketing to specific clients or how to price my products. My style of photography took me years to figure out and it wasn’t because I listened to a speaker telling me to do a creativity assignment!

On the flip side, a photographer that has been in the industry for a while doesn’t necessarily need to hear a speaker teach posing. On the contrary, they may need to know about sparking creativity, feeling motivated, etc. Most new photographers I see coming into the industry are so happy to be here, they are full of "passion"; however they need specifics of what to do and how to achieve it.

My advice for those who may be new professionals or semi-professionals would be to choose your education carefully. Look at the speaker lineup for conventions, seminars or workshops and determine if this will be the proper fit for what you need in your business RIGHT NOW.

As a speaker, I can assure you that if you have questions about a seminar and whether it will apply to your current phase of business, don't hesitate to contact the individual directly. We're glad to help!

- Kirsten Holscher

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