Pacing the Oregon Workshop

Having scouted the Oregon workshop, it was now time to actually deliver the goods. Time management during the workshop is a subtle art but an important one for delivering an good experience for my customers.As I’ve mentioned before, I tend to think in terms of “primary” and “secondary” locations. On this most recent workshop, Face Rock Beach at Bandon was a clear primary location, something I’d make time for in the schedule nearly no matter what else happened in terms of time and experiences. These primary locations serve as anchors for the schedule, and are usually the sorts of locations I’ll feature in my marketing materials and preliminary workshop schedule.

But the vast majority of locations are secondary, like the Darlingtonia Wayside (carnivorous plants) or Beaver Falls (a small waterfall and stream up in the mountains near Florence), based on conditions and logistics we made the latter but not the former. I usually lean towards including a few secondary locations that exercise different sorts of photographic muscles than the primary locations. On this Oregon workshop the primary locations were all sea stacks and crashing waves, so I made a point of including some forested locations. These were fun “changes of pace” but also served as sort of a mental “cross training”.

All of this leads to a trickier question, how many locations to shoot and how much time to allot to each one. The most imporant question to ask yourself first is just how hard you want to drive the workshop, and in part, you have to base that on your clients, their experience, motivations, and energy. When I took workshops many years ago from Galen Rowell, they were incredibly intense, shoots every sunrise and every sunset even in the long days of summer, exhausting but wonderful.

The first time I gave a workshop, it came as a surprise to me that not all of my own students expected or wished such an extreme pace. (It shouldn’t have been a surprise, but it was.) People have a variety of reasons they take different workshops, and finding the right pace is important, just a bit slower pace, a few more breaks in the schedule, and fewer locations with more time at each location turned out to suit the folks on my Oregon workshop a lot better. (A shout out to the folks from that workshop reading this, you were awesome, thanks!)

Like any business, giving photographic workshops is an exercise first in knowing your customers. From there, you can both adapt your product to better serve your customer’s needs, as well as target your product to specific kinds of customers. Both strategies are important components of developing an effective photography workshop business.

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