Why take an oopoomoo workshop?

With all the wonderful photographic opportunities out there, it can be difficult to decide WHICH event to choose. But regardless of whether you are saving up for that once-in-a-lifetime photo trip or seeking something a little closer to home, BEWARE! Not all photography workshops are created equally. Price or location alone is not a good determination of fit for you and your creative goals. Too often we’ve heard feedback from participants about workshops that didn’t meet their needs or expectations. We’ve set out where we are coming from in terms of how we select, design and operate our photography workshops, and we hope this information will help you evaluate whether an oopoomoo workshop is for you!

©Darwin Wiggett - When you invest in your photography, you want the best bang for your buck.

©Darwin Wiggett – When you invest in your photography, you want the best bang for your buck.

Booking on Celebrity Factor

Have you ever attended an instructional photography event only to discover the photographic leader was more intent on his or her own photographic opportunities than assisting you, the paying client, with yours?

It’s tempting to book a workshop based simply on how much we admire the photographs of the photographer leading the workshop. But just because someone can photograph, doesn’t mean they can teach. Doing something very well is not the same as being able to communicate how such a thing is done. It also doesn’t mean that such photo ‘instructors’ give a rat’s hiney about you and your artistic needs and goals.

We think an entitled attitude from a photography instructor is just wrong. It pains us to hear from our workshop participants that other photographers charge exorbitant fees for sub-par instruction. No one is keeping that photographer from shooting on his or her own time, and the priority in a photography workshop should be quality leadership and friendly guidance. In short, your fearless leader should truly care about you and your learning. THAT is the hallmark of a good teacher and a basic prerequisite to hanging out the workshop shingle.

©Darwin Wiggett - Friendly guidance in showing others to 'see beyond the obvious'.

©Darwin Wiggett – Friendly guidance in showing others to ‘see beyond the obvious’.

Booking for Value

In selling real estate, there’s a common saying: location, location, location. An equivalent for photography workshops should be: value, value, value. It’s a simple question, really. For the money you paid, do you feel that you received fair value for what you got? It’s a contextual question, which is why you can’t make the decision based on price alone. Good questions to ask yourself are:

Is it a tour or a workshop?

We moved from a tour format to a workshop format not because we didn’t want to do tours anymore but because we found again and again that our clients wanted more interaction with us and our knowledge of photography and the locations. In short, if you are booking a workshop, your instructor’s priority should be on helping you with your shots. During a photo tour, usually you hire a guide whose job is to show you locations where you can make your own great images. This isn’t to say during a workshop a photo leader never makes an image (having someone constantly at your shoulder is also extremely annoying), but his or her camera should be put down immediately if someone has a question.

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett – At a workshop format event your instructor should always be available to help you if help is needed.

What’s included in the cost?

Are there other costs not factored into the price listed? Often photography workshops seem cheap because there are ‘extras’ not listed, such as some meals, lodging, taxes and fees. Carefully add up all costs associated with a workshop before coming at a final price. Research comparable workshops to evaluate the market listing of the workshop.

Do I know what to expect?

Hopefully, the workshop is described in enough detail that you know what topics will be covered, what photographic opportunities await, when and how to pay, how many are attending, where you will be shooting etc. Additional info that should be available either at the listing or after registration includes how the event will unfold, any safety concerns or risks, what gear and clothing to bring and what (if any) follow up happens afterward. You shouldn’t have to ask for these details.

©Darwin Wiggett - You should be told in advance what to expect and what to bring to be sure you have a safe and fun event.

©Darwin Wiggett – You should be told in advance what to expect and what to bring to be sure you have a safe and fun event.

Booking for Fun

We admit it. We photograph rubber chickens. (Sometimes, they accompany us to our workshops.) Participants have also been known to photograph the chickens. While the subject matter of an image can be heart-rending, the act of image-making is enjoyable. You should have fun with your instructors and your fellow shooters during a workshop. Our policy is: life is too short not to play with rubber chickens.

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett - Fun is our first priority!

©Darwin Wiggett – Fun is our first priority!

The Take-away

A good workshop should:

  • be client-focused: it’s about you and your creative goals
  • leave you feeling you achieved value for your investment
  • be professionally conducted throughout
  • be taught by qualified teachers who truly care about you and furthering your artistic goals
  • facilitate contact with your instructors before, during and after the workshop
  • take out the guess-work: look for clear descriptions of the event, clear policies on payment, refunds, cancellations etc., clear communication with you through the booking procedure, during the workshop and afterwards with follow up
©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

Why an oopoomoo Workshop?

Here at oopoomoo, we’ve always been passionate about sharing our joy of photography with other shooters. From featuring inspiring photography on our oopoomoo blog to sharing participants’ images from the workshops, our creative outlet is photography but our focus is photography education.

It shows in the little things we take care to do. We’re a tiny company, but we’re proud to have our own privacy policy: we respect your personal information. We have donated our dollars and our time in service of local organizations that build a better world. We try every day to minimize the impact of our business on our finite planet. We strive to meet every expectation just outlined above.

But in the end, what we are most proud of is the achievements of our students. We are humbled and in awe of what our workshop participants share and show during oopoomoo workshops and beyond. Our core belief is the foundational need and value in nurturing our clients’ unique perspectives on the world. The world does not need another drone. It does need you, and all you can frame up with your camera.

Why an oopoomoo workshop? Because we hope you have the same goal of discovering and improving your own photographic voice!

©Samantha Chrysanthou

©Samantha Chrysanthou – Darwin in his native environment.

©Darwin Wiggett - Samantha with her famous POC (puffy orange coat)

©Darwin Wiggett – Samantha with her famous POC (puffy orange coat).

 

About the Author

Photographing the incredible beauty of natural things, filming quirky videos, trying new foods with unpronounceable names, curling up with a good book, sharing ideas on how to live lighter on the Earth...these are a few of my favourite things!

11 Comments

  1. John Fujimagari
    June 20, 2014

    On the oopoomoo workshops that I have attended, I’ve always felt that creating a learning experience was a priority for the team. And you guys always come through. I leave each workshop with new experiences, new techniques, new ideas and a desire to create better images!

    Reply
    • Darwin Wiggett
      June 24, 2014

      And sometimes you come away needing a new tripod or getting a new nickname ;-)

  2. Stefan
    June 21, 2014

    Hi there, even the fact we didn’t met before it feels that I know you a bit. Probably based on the interesting blogs you share with the world and the way you write and approach things very practically. Like your ebooks, from which I bought the filter one and the shift tilt one. Both very instructive and supporting!!!

    So……I really appriciate the way you are explaining what people can get during a workshop. I agree there is a lot of so self called photography teachers which call themselves a pro.

    Wish you good luck and I really hope to meet you once ‘to check’ whether you are as nice live as on the internet and in your ebooks :-)).
    Cheers from this part of the world!
    Stefan

    Reply
    • Darwin Wiggett
      June 24, 2014

      Stefan,

      Thanks for following us! We hope to meet you one day to see if you are nice in person as you are here on the blog ;-)

  3. Marion Faria
    June 21, 2014

    If anyone can give a recommendation for the Opoomoo tours, it is me! I have been out with Darwin and Sam for 5 tours; every one of them enjoyable, exciting, filled with laughter and great photographic opportunities…They are always available when you are looking for advice or struggling with a composition…the lodging at Aurum Lodge is the best: the Ernst’s are wonderful and a lot of fun…it is like being at home with family while you are with them. Darwin and Sam are always willing to teach, review images, and stop on the road if you see something worth photographing…

    Reply
  4. Guy Kerr
    June 22, 2014

    I have attended and enjoyed two workshops now and envision attending more. My biggest frustration has been the lack of my ability which they both have helped me work through and I have even amazed myself.
    Thanks eh!
    Guy

    Reply
  5. Al Dixon
    June 23, 2014

    I have had the pleasure of attending (4) different events hosted by Sam &/or Darwin. They have ranged from photo walks & half day sessions to full weekend workshops. Although I would consider myself an advanced shooter, I continue to be amazed with the information that I take away from these events. Their teaching style is a direct reflection of their genuinely warm and open personalities. You can definitely find lower priced training alternatives, but I defy you to find one that will give you better value for your $$. A weekend with Sam & Darwin is a true investment in your photography. The greatest part of an oopoomoo workshop, however, still remains the loads of fun you’ll have while gaining invaluable knowledge and experience.

    Reply
  6. Carl Heino
    June 23, 2014

    I look forward to getting to know you both at a future workshop in the Rockies where I’ll be able to shoot what I love most – landscapes!

    Carl

    Reply
  7. Parnell
    June 24, 2014

    This just goes to show how clear of a vision Darwin and Sam have of their workshops. This really comes out in their instruction and the support provided to all the group members when on location. It really promotes an environment that helps melt away the limitations I create on my own work, creates an open and engaging atmosphere and keeps the workshop fun and inviting. This was just the recipe to keep my mind open to learn and see new opportunities. I wholeheartedly agree with the focus on value. It was the one thing that I greatly appreciated after attending. So much planning is evident and when coupled to the attentiveness to each individual I can guarantee anyone will come away with a similar view. Keep up the good work!

    Reply
  8. Allison
    June 24, 2014

    Darwin and Sam will always give the best workshops around and I have been on a few with other photographers, but these are the best ones…

    BTW…Love the second photo!

    Reply
  9. hiro
    July 4, 2014

    Good to read, Sam and Darwin. Full of useful information for both beginners who are seeking WSs and advanced who are considering WS business. Some professional photographers do not care distinguishing tour and workshop. But I prefer your way. I am sure students bring a lot of new things to home from your WSs.

    Reply

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