Could You Learn Photography from This Man?

Scott Kelby on stage

Scott Kelby Rocks! - © Copyright 2010 by William Beem

Last week, I found something on Scott Kelby's Blog that caught my eye. He's teaching a hands-on workshop in Tampa for his Light it, Shoot it, Retouch it seminar. I've already signed up for the seminar here in Orlando on August 5th.  As it happens, this workshop is a week earlier on July 29th as part of Dave Cross Workshops.

Just like his seminars, he'll go through multiple lighting setups.  However, there are only 16 participants, instead of being in an audience of nearly 1,000 folks. We'll get to bring our cameras and laptops to shoot the same kinds of things other people on this seminar could only watch, and then learn the retouching techniques to go with them. I have absolutely no idea how the logistics of this workshop are going to flow, but I'm hoping to come home with a couple of decent portfolio shots, and some knowledge to help me do more portrait work on my own.

This was a spur of the moment decision for me, but I'm already signed up.  It's good to have some Mad Money around to take advantage of unexpected opportunities like this one.  On one hand, this one day course costs as much as attending Photoshop World.  On the other hand, I believe it will be much more targeted training.  By that, I'm referring to the limited audience and opportunity to actually put the training into practice while I'm there, as opposed to sitting in a lecture hall. Both methods have their place, but I really enjoy workshops where I have a chance to learn and produce something.

Of course, I'm wondering now if there's any need for me to go to the seminar in Orlando after I've already had the hands-on experience the week before in Tampa.  I suppose so.  After all, I've already paid for it and I put in notice I'm taking the day off. Besides, maybe something will come up in the seminar that isn't discussed during the workshop. Maybe Brad Moore will do handstands on stage.  You never know.

When I attend a workshop, I'm looking for at least one of two things:

  1. I want to learn something that I didn't know before
  2. I want to experience something I wouldn't do on my own.
Despite my previous comment about hoping to come back with a shot or two for my portfolio, that's really not the driving reason for going to a workshop, but it's always a nice bonus. For example, my first pre-conference at Photoshop World was the Photo Safari with Moose Peterson and Joe McNally. That was an all-day affair complete with a trip to a location I'd probably never visit on my own. As Moose explained to us before we left the conference area, we should expect to get a few snaps, but nothing great.  He was right.  I honestly didn't get anything there that would knock anyone's socks off.  Moose & Joe did, as part of their demonstrations, but the rest of us just sort of fiddle-farted around with our cameras.
However, I really learned quite a bit on that trip. It was a good opportunity to give myself some problems or challenges to resolve.  I tried one thing or another and felt quite a bit frustrated. Then I watched a demonstration Moose provided of Auto-FP High Speed Sync and boom – that was the answer for my particular self-assigned problem that day.  Maybe I didn't come back with anything visually exciting, but now I had new methods and tools to use in the future.  To me, that's a successful workshop. I learned something.
Another idea of success is using a workshop to coordinate events or travel.  Yes, I could go to Yellowstone by myself.  However, that may not be the wisest thing to do.  It means I have the burden of scouting locations and organizing everything I do.  I lose any opportunity for economy of scale, meaning that sometimes it's better to charter things with a group than pay for it on your own.  Finally, I don't want to go wandering in the wilderness all alone. I like the idea of having a noisy group along to let the critters know we're coming.
This workshop seems to fit both of my objectives.  I know there's a plan to teach lighting, photography and retouching, so I ought to learn something.  I also know that it's very unlikely that I'm going to rent a studio and have a couple of professional models and/or photo assistants around, so I get to experience something out of the ordinary.
Now I just have to prepare myself in case Scott shows up in a leather jacket, chain belt and spandex pants.


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