Article by Photography Skills
Cutting the Cost of Training
Lets look at training
As the cost of digital equipment falls and cost of training increases with all costs in the UK, it has become a larger percentage of the cost involved in getting to the point where you can reliably get good photographs.
If we spend millions on a plane we would probably feel happier about spending more on training than we would when buying a cheaper item. We also all know that to fly a plane we would need training, while with some other items we can muddle along ourselves.
As time has moved forward cameras like many other areas have become more complex, we have far more controls and options to us and while we could ignore them and use our cameras as a 'posh' point and shoot, we are not likely to get a large percentage of good shots this way. We would of course get some.
Training may help you to get the best photo you have ever taken, or this may just come about through either just being in the right place at the right time, or by taking a vast quantity and selecting the one in a thousand that's worth keeping. What training does is to put you in control, to move from a situation where some pictures come out well, to where you can say with confidence that nearly all pictures will come out technically good. You change the odds, from there being a 1 in a 100 (or a 1,000) chance of getting a good photo when you push the button, to there being in excess of a 95% chance that your photograph will be good. Also as you are now in control you can make changes that allow you to get more shots, that give different interpretations, perspectives and are lit in different ways.
We at Photography Skills concentrate mostly on the beyond the basics photographic masterclasses , for those who can already take good photos and want to move to the next stage and spend a day concentrating on one aspect, such as exposure, focus or black and white photography. We do run an Introduction day as well, but if you are a Nikon user we suggest that you go to Camera Images for this, as they are the world leaders in Nikon 1 to 1 training, with around a third of their clients flying in from around the globe.
Perhaps you could probably pick it up yourself, but lets look at what one of the Camera Images tutors does when they get a new camera, so that they can share the knowledge with you on what it does and how to get the most out of it.
They start with the instruction manual, and extract information from this into a complex outline document, showing all features to be defined and indexed, with for example the Nikon D80, a mid range camera, this was 10 pages with hardly any margins and small print, single spaced. Next they compare this with other outlines from other cameras by the same manufacturer and try out features that worked on other cameras but were not in the manual for the camera being defined. They then go through all press releases and technical specifications, not only released in Britain but around the world, including any technical articles or features on the working of specific sub assemblies. Next they check any other reviews that have appeared in other countries as well as Britain, and although these usually have many errors, it can sometimes highlight a feature that has been only partly explained in some countries. Next they try out new features, and test the results against other models, they will check out the focusing, the noise in high ISO images, and look at just about every aspect that can be adjusted. They will check how they work with different lenses, and that all are compatible. They have an advantage over you, in that they have a vast amount of experience, and are doing this regularly, they have other outlines for other cameras and a lot of equipment they can use with it. Realistically few people would be able to do this themselves. Of course they then need to pass on the sections of this information that is relevant to your interest and need. They also need to look in the same detail at lenses, flash units and a vast amount more. You can see therefore that its not really possible to just pick this up yourself without any training. Of course not all who offer training have the same level of product and photographic knowledge as those at Camera Images.
Training is available in a variety of formats
Photography is a practical art form, and we all start with different levels of knowledge, have different interests and find some parts easier to pick up than others. You need therefore interactive training that is just right for you, and of course you can't beat 1 to 1 training with a photographic tutor who really understands his or her topic and the equipment well.
There are two major disadvantages with groups, even if concentrating on the same camera and they become nearly irrelevant if trying to cover a wider range, its a bit like taking out a bus load of people in a coach and teach them how to drive a taxi. Yes there are similarities, but realistically they are not going to each get much out of it. The major disadvantages are that you can't ask questions as you go along, and it won't run at your speed, making sure you understand each point before moving on.
One organisation looking at training said that you need to have the same number of days as the number in a group to get to the same level of knowledge, so if its a group of 8 you need 8 days, a class of 30, 30 days or individual 1 to 1, a single day.
There is a risk with group courses, you could spend time and achieve nothing, this is not uncommon even on multi day courses, while with 1 to 1 you are guaranteed that you will be able to follow it and the tutor can make sure you understand, you get to ask questions and all the examples are relevant to your interests.
As you need far less days training to get to the same point, you have less days to attend, less travelling, less accommodation and all the other costs associated with it. There is also no risk of not achieving your objectives. So although the day rate may be more the net cost of acquiring the skills is less and of course its far more enjoyable as well.
If you have a projected need over a period, perhaps this is not the person looking for single days training but perhaps someone looking at doing a range of courses perhaps spending several days or a week, or planning to undertake a range of training over time, then you can make considerable savings by using training vouchers. They also have flexibility, in that you don't either need to book the course as such or even decide which of the training providers to use, as long as you can see your needs will be met by those accepting the training vouchers. So for example a Nikon user might start by doing a Hands on a Nikon day for their camera, then a day on editing with Capture NX2, then perhaps a flash day - all with Camera Images, then looking at spending some days with us at Photography Skills with some of the 'Beyond the Basics' Masterclasses a while later. By starting out by obtaining a block of training vouchers they can decide as they go along which days are relevant and when, but still get a sizable discount.
Read more about training vouchers.
You could also accept training vouchers, perhaps offering to give other photographers a guided trip around your area, or escorting them further afield. Training vouchers can be turned back into cash by those accepting them but can also be used like a barter currency, you could earn some and use them then yourself for paying for more training yourself. Read more about being able to accept training vouchers.
For those with no training budget
There is an option better than going on group courses, even for those with no budget at all for training, in that there are Free interactive photography courses and free Photoshop courses available online put on by Photo-Skills. This is far slower in that you have to do each of the monthly segments over a period to get the knowledge you need. Its probably of greater benefit to those who have already done a days 1 to 1, as a means of reinforcing what they have learnt and perhaps also discovering ground that initially did not interest them.