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Saturday, September 05 2015 @ 07:41 AM EDT

Choosing a Photography Workshop or Tour

With so many companies offering a wide selection of workshops, tours and safaris worldwide, choosing the best photography adventure can be a tedious and time-consuming task. Not all websites are well-indexed by search engines, so that great opportunities may be overlooked. We have put together a set of twelve guidelines that will make this process easier, faster, and more efficient for you.

  1. Save Time. Your first instinct would send you to search engines, querying by specific keywords, browsing lots of websites and delving into each one of them in search of the information and details you're after. You can save time by browsing one of the many online directories of photography workshops and tours such as
  2. Identify Your Goals. Take the time to write down what you want to learn and achieve. Read workshop/tour descriptions and itineraries. A good workshop or tour company will document all of this information. Steer clear of companies that are vague or thin on details.
  3. Workshop or Tour. It is vital that you understand the difference between a photographic workshop and a photo tour to avoid a disappointing experience. A workshop will include hands-on instruction with a highly skilled photographer and instructor. A photo tour will have little or no instruction. It simply offers travel to a picturesque location(s) to provide you the opportunity to take photographs.
  4. Destination. Whether it’s a workshop or tour, think about places that inspire you most, either local or international. A good online directory will enable you to search geographically and review the number of workshops/tours in each country and/or state. When travelling abroad, check overall political climate to make sure you're not travelling to a destination that is unstable and/or unsafe. Most countries offer a Minister of Foreign Affairs or Department of State website run be the government that can provide useful information to travelers going out-of-country.
  5. Cost. To narrow down your search, you need to determine what you are willing or can afford to pay. Many workshops/tours are held abroad. Read through the workshop/tour fees and package information carefully. You need to know whether they include travel, lodging, insurance, or meals. You may find yourself responsible for some or all of those above and beyond the fee for the workshop/tour. It is customary to pay for your own travel to/from the starting and ending locations for most workshops and tours.
  6. Filter. Carefully review all workshop and tour pages. You need to have a complete understanding of what is being offered. Compare the offers of different companies to see which provides you the most of what you desire versus the cost. You also need to decide for yourself what you are willing to sacrifice and what is an absolute requirement. Lodging details may be more important for some than for others, for example.
  7. Knowledge and Experience. Many workshops/tours specify the level of knowledge (beginner, intermediate, advanced) that is expected from participants. Make sure to select the one that best suits your technical knowledge and experience. Just as important, look for details about the knowledge and experience of the leaders of the workshop or tour. You need to feel confident that the leader of your program will be able to provide you what you expect for your money.
  8. Participants Ratio. Unless you're looking for a one-on-one tuition, every workshop/tour is held in a group. Some groups are small and comprised of no more than four or five participants, while others are as large as a dozen or more. Some workshops/tours are led by one instructor and some by two. All these factors determine the amount of attention one can expect to receive.
  9. Testimonials. Check testimonials and previous participant's reviews and ratings. Recommendation by people who have attended the programs that interest you can be very useful. A good online directory or program will host participant reviews, ratings and more.
  10. Instructors. It is very important that you feel confident about the instructor that will guide you for several days or even weeks. Research them, check their expertise, and review their portfolio. Ask yourself whether their work inspires you, whether their vision appeals to you, and whether you'd like to take similar pictures.
  11. Company. Evaluate the company running the program. Online directories should provide a link to the company websites where you will find further information regarding their activities, vision, leaders, years of activity and contact details. Don't be afraid to pick up the telephone and interview someone in a position of responsibility. If possible, speak with the person(s) who will lead the program that interests you.
  12. Final Decision. After you have made up your mind, take a day or two to think it through so you're comfortable with your decision. Don't be overly anxious to plop down your credit card.

In conclusion, choosing the right workshop or tour can be daunting. Evaluate your choices carefully using all of the information available, and beware of programs that offer little information.

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