Finding the right photo workshop

Lindsey models for my students during one of my Small Flash Lighting workshop.
Lindsey models for my students during one of my Small Flash Lighting workshop.

A funny thing happened overnight when photography evolved from film to digital.

Besides the obvious photography businesses popping up everywhere you look, now, those who used to do  it professionally find they have a new revenue stream: teaching other photographers.

It’s great for the established ones who know their craft.

Small Flash Lighting workshop

A sampling of images taken by Peter Phun and students during the actual Small Flash lighting workshop.

[img src=]13.5k0©Javier Mercado
Photo by workshop participant Javier Mercado
[img src=]13.4k0©Martin Sesuca
[img src=]13.3k0©Jina Jani
Photo by workshop participant Jina Jani
[img src=]13.3k0©Martin Sesuca
[img src=]13.2k0©www.peter
Caitin lit by one Speedlite on the left and window light on the right
[img src=]13.2k0©Martin Sesuca
[img src=]13.1k0©Martin Sesuca
[img src=]13.1k0©www.peter
[img src=]13.1k0©Alan Sponholz
Photo by workshop participant Alan Sponholz
[img src=]13.1k0©Rigo Peña Photography
©peter phun
[img src=]13.1k0©www.peter
Lindsey lit by one Speedlite (behind her and to the right) and one reflector on the left
[img src=]13.1k0©peter phun
[img src=]13.1k0
[img src=]13k0©www.peter
Lizelle lit by one Speedlite behind her and one reflector on left.
[img src=]13k0©www.peter
[img src=]13k0©Greg Matthews
Photo by workshop participant Greg Matthews.
[img src=]13k0©Martin Sesuca
[img src=]13k0©www.peter
Colleen lit by one Speedlite in homemade beauty dish and one reflector
[img src=]13k0©www.peter
[img src=]13k0©peter phun
[img src=]12.9k0©Marco Rodriguez
Photo by workshop participant Marco Rodriguez. Lizelle was lit by one Speedlight behind her and window light on the right.Speedlight was off-camera on a long cord behind her.
[img src=]13k0©peter phun
Samantha lit by one Speedlite shot into umbrella.
[img src=]12.9k0©peter phun
Samantha lit by one Speedlite and lens was zoomed during the long exposure.

Not so good for those  eager to learn because there are a lot of ‘hacks’ out there.

It’s tough for the newbie to sort through the ones who are hawking their gear and those who are actually teaching and sharing technique.

Because photo gear is so expensive once you get to the level of wanting more control and learning to light, it’s important that everyone takes at least an overview type lighting class.

That way, you can educate yourself on what gear to buy.

Beginners seeking out workshops need to realize it’s a business and those who are good at marketing  tend to draw the biggest crowds but they aren’t necessarily the best bang for their buck.

Sadly, many of these so-called gurus like Jasmine Star and Doug Gordon may not be as skilled as they portray themselves to be.

I don’t know or follow Jasmine Starr or Doug Gordon.

And I don’t know of their work.

But what I do know is that they have been caught plagiarizing content from other photographers.

More importantly even when caught, they didn’t exactly come clean.

Their supporters who blindly follow despite these revelations point out that the haters are just jealous of their enormous success.

There are some very worthwhile  experts like Joe McNally whose background and credentials are proven.


Joe McNally shows sold-out audience Nikon’s iTTL triggering system during a workshop at Los Angeles Convention Center

Even though Joe McNally is sponsored by quite a few photo gear manufacturers, when asked what ‘brand’ the reflector his assistant was using, I could sense in the pause before he answered he was thinking, “Pay attention to the technique, not the gear.”

Joe doesn’t need the likes of the super marketing machinery like the Wedding Portrait Photographers International (WPPI). There are tendencies for any organization once they get a certain size to not do anything self-destructive like remove guest speakers of questionable integrity.

Group photo of all participants in one of my Small Flash Lighting class.
Group photo of all participants in one of my Small Flash Lighting class.

On a personal note, now that I find myself teaching more, aren’t you at all curious why I do it?

Besides the obvious, like you, I have bills to pay.

There is an ulterior motive.

By teaching, I’m actually becoming a better photographer.

I have to break down my technique almost one-step-at-a-time so that I can explain the rationale behind the approach.

We all know the most difficult open-ended questions to answer are those that start with those 3-letters “WHY?”
Peter Phun Photography

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2 thoughts on “Finding the right photo workshop”

  1. Thanks Peter — One of the things I like best about this Blog is that you tell it like it is – No Pulled Punches.

    Thanks for the information and the insight.


    1. Hi Al,
      Thanks for taking the time to stop by. Sorry I just noticed your comment. There are lots of excellent photographers but not all have the patience or the willingness to share. As a college student who majored in photography, I never missed a chance to listen to a guest speaker especially one who is a practising photographer. Those who came to visit often weren’t paid to do so, they were always generous with their time as well as their knowledge.

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