When I started photography decades ago, the mark of a serious photographer was attendance at photographic workshops because photographic instruction was done face to face. Workshops were usually week-long affairs with time spent listening to lectures, critiquing photographs and lots of time in the evenings to socialize and bond with fellow participants (accompanied by adult beverages) to discuss making photographs. Attendees shared a love of photography in all aspects. Friendships were made and information was freely exchanged. “Field Sessions” gave participants the time to see how others photographed and became learning by doing instruction.
Have you been to a workshop lately? They are now half day affairs where hundreds of photographers are jammed into a hotel ballroom elbow to elbow watching a big screen powerpoint presentation on how to manipulate software to achieve their creative potential. Point and Click. Point and Click some more and great art is created on the screen. At coffee breaks everyone is heads down with their iPad or smart phone answering email, returning that important call, tweeting or updating their facebook page. Photographs are not shared but treated like trade secrets. The quest is not to make better photographs, but to “get” – a show, gallery representation or a book deal. In short the quest is to “monetize your output” and be a successful career Fine Art Photographer. You are no longer attending an event with your fellow photographers, but your competitors.
Workshops have changed. I’m not sure they have changed for the better.