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I am thrilled to offer a guest post by my pal Rick Sammon. With 34 photography books to his credit, countless television and workshop appearances under his belt, and several decades of shooting experience, Rick makes a fine addition to our little family. Even if it’s only as a guest poster. Read this one and send him props so maybe he’ll be nice enough to do it again :)

Photo and post by Rick Sammon

Plain and simple: The reason I teach digital photography workshops (including the one I’ll teach on Sept. 9 – 12, 2009 with my friend Scott Bourne – http://aperturenatureworkshops.com/?p=283) is because I enjoy sharing what I’ve learned about digital imaging over the past 30 years. I love seeing the reaction of a participant when he or she looks at the camera’s LCD monitor and says something like, “Wow! I got it.” How cool is that!”

I also enjoy setting up shots for the participants – so everyone on the workshop gets great shots. (That, by the way, is one of the main reasons why an instructor is hired to lead a workshop – although I have met one instructor who think he “owns” the shot.) What’s especially rewarding, for me, is when a participant comes up with a variation of a shot that I set up – a shot that I sometimes like better than mine :-)

That is what a workshop is all about, in my mind: sharing, learning, growing – and of course, having a ton of fun in between!

In the trio of images in this post, the bottom shot was setup by Darrell Gulin and Joe Van Os on a workshop on that I co-lead at the Ponderosa Ranch in Oregon. So, it’s my photo, but they sure did help! Thanks, guys!

Never been on a workshop? Here are seven tips that, I hope, will make it a great experience.

1 – Check out the instructor before you leave home. Some instructors actually do workshops with the main goal of getting great shots for themselves, rather than putting the students first. I have seen that happen. Do a Web search on the instructor and check out what others say about him or her.

2 – Pay attention. Sure, focus on the subjects around you, but also pay attention to what is going on around you. For example…. I was helping my students on a workshop in Montana get great photographs of a momma bear (top left) when her cub decided to take a nip out of me (top right). Yikes – I mean, Ouch! I shoulda been paying more attention to what was happing right at my feet. Fortunately, I had my camera ready and got a shot of the nip, as did my friend Rick Booth who took that picture you see here. By the way, as Scott Bourne knows, my, voice was a lot deeper before this photo was taken.

3 – Know your camera. Hey, I’m a Canon guy. I don’t know where to find similar menu features (like custom functions) on a Nikon, Sony, or on a so-and-so camera. Many instructors are in the same boat. So, know you camera thoroughly before you leave home – and don’t leave home w/out your camera’s instruction manual. Likewise, I am a Mac guy. I can’t find stuff on a PC to save my life! So, know your computer, too.

4 – Be part of the team – Get to know the other workshop participants. You can learn a lot from them no matter how good you are. I always do! They can also learn something from you, which may not even be related to photography. That’s a real fun part of workshops.

5 – Set Goals – Give yourself a few goals. Halfway though the workshop, ask yourself if you have reached those goals. One goal may be to get better at a Photoshop technique; another may be to take great pictures of strangers. The key is to set goals – and to meet them.

6 – Bring back-ups. Hey, it’s not impossible that you may be, for example, shooting by a quarry when you fall in the water and total your top-of-the-line digital SLR and favorite lens. That happened during my 2008 Maine Media Workshop . . . to me! As careful as you are, accidents can happen. Bring back up stuff just in case. . . .

7 – Stay in touch. Don’t leave the workshop without a list of the participants email addresses. Keep in touch for future workshops and to share your images. My guess is that you’ll become good friends with your fellow workshop participants – most of whom share your love for photography and creative expression.

Catch you later . . . hopefully not by a quarry.

 

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