As we talked about in our previous article Important Things to Know Before Booking a Photography Tour, attending a workshop is a great way to improve your photography and learn from a professional.
However, there are certain things you should do to prepare in order to get the best result and make the most out of the time.
Know the Basics of Your Camera
Even if you attend a photography tour or workshop with the intention to learn how to take better pictures I strongly recommend learning how to adjust the basic settings such as shutter speed, aperture and ISO.
You don’t necessarily need to understand what they are but learning how to change them is beneficial. While your instructor most likely is familiar with a lot of cameras they might not be familiar with your specific model (keep in mind that there are small changes between brands and models).
By investing a little time into learning this beforehand you can instead focus on how to use the settings to capture better images.
Aquire the Right Camera Equipment
An expensive camera won’t make you a better photographer but you should do some research as to which photography equipment you should bring for the trip.
For example, if you’re going on a wildlife photography tour to Africa, a telezoom will probably be your most used lens. Going without one will probably result in you missing a lot of potentially great shots.
Let’s say you’re going to a night photography workshop. To capture the best images at night, it’s recommended to have a solid tripod and a wide-angle lens with an open aperture.
This might not be essential but it certainly will increase the chances of you having a positive experience and leaving the workshop with a series of great images.
Read Documents that the Operator Sends You
I know. It’s easy to postpone and forget reading emails and documents as it’s never the ideal time to receive them. However, reading the documents or emails your tour operator sends is important.
Typically, you’ll receive a PDF containing all the crucial information about the tour. This document not only tells you what to expect but also how to prepare, what to bring and what you need to do beforehand.
What’s Included in the Tour?
While you should already have an idea about this before purchasing the trip, make sure that you double check what’s included in the tour. Here are some points to check:
- Is lodging included?
- Are meals included?
- Do you eat at restaurants or cook yourself?
- Are admission fees included?
- What about equipment? Do you need to bring everything yourself?
Make sure that you’ve read this soon after booking so that you’ve got time to purchase or rent any additional equipment that you might need.
What About Quality?
If you’re going on an adventure-style photography tour, it’s a good idea to check what type of equipment or accessories are included. This is information that should be included in a handout you receive before booking the trip and it’s a good indicator of what the trip will look like.
Some companies/operators don’t include this information in the handout and in those cases, I strongly recommend contacting them to request this information.
This is some of the information you want to know:
- The brand/quality of clothes (or tools such as tents and backpacks)
- What food you’ll be served if it’s included
- Quality of camera equipment/accessories included
I strongly recommend requesting this information beforehand. Just because it says that backpacks are included, it doesn’t mean they are of good quality – so it might be better to bring your own.
Request Information about Visa
If you’re traveling internationally to attend a photography tour you might need a visa. This is information rarely listed on the operator’s website but it’s easy to find.
A quick Google search gives you the information you need but a lot of operators and tour guides will help you through the process and present you with the needed documents.
This is something that should be looked into before booking a trip. Some countries might be harder to get a visa for and not all operators will refund you if you cancel the tour because of a failed visa.
Have a Valid Passport
This should be an obvious point but it’s worth mentioning as I’ve heard several instances where operators have had last-minute cancelations due to a participant forgetting to renew his passport.
Double check that your passport is valid for the duration of your international stay, and you’re good to go!