I want to quote part of an article entitled Education Never Stops by Skip Cohen, president of Marketing Essentials International, that was printed in the June 2009 issue of Rangefinder Magazine.
“‘Years ago at a Nick Vedros seminar, I sat down next to Don Blair, who was 71 years old at the time and still recognized as one of the leading portrait photographers in America. I was shocked to notice Don feverishly taking notes on some of Nick’s lighting techniques. ‘Don’t you know this stuff already?’ I teased. ‘Are you kidding?’ he said, ‘This guy is giving me a ton of new ideas!’”
Wow. I knew what a wonderful teacher, mentor, and inspiration “Big Daddy”? a.k.a. Don Blair has been to hundreds, probably thousands of photographers in his career but I hadn’t assumed he attended the classes given by others. I figured, when you got to the pinnacle of your career you never looked back. I was wrong.
What amazes me then, is, if such a photographic icon as Don Blair realized at the age of 71 that he would benefit by continuing his education—then why don’t pros half his age (at that time) realize this?
I can’t tell you how many photographers I’ve met who think they know it all, who think there’s nothing left for them to learn, who think themselves above their peers.
Till the day you die, you’ll find yourself presented with new things you never knew before—business and marketing tips, capture and post production techniques. Only you can decide you want to refine your vision, re-craft your techniques, renew your enthusiasm for photography—by educating yourself. Whether it’s self-exploration or seminars and workshops—even opening a book and trying what you’ve read—all of these things can and will lead you to become a better photographer or a better businessman or woman.
There are a wonderful myriad of educational opportunities… just look at some that I’ve come across:
- Long Island Photo Workshop – August 3-6, 2009 – Smithtown, NY – Instructors are Vincent Versace, Dave Black, Gary Small, Fay Sirkis, Janice Wendt, and Hanson Fong – www.liphotoworkshop.com.
- Skip’s Summer School – August 16-19, 2009 – Las Vegas, NV – Instructors are Bambi Cantrell, Skip Cohen, Tony Corbell, Ron Dawson, Robert Evans, Jim Garner, Jerry Gihonis, Mitche Graf, Matt Hill, Kevin Kubota, Charles and Jennifer Maring, Dane Sanders, and Ken Sklute – www.mei500.com.
- There are dozens of PPA affiliated workshops and one day seminars offered throughout the year. Check the website at www.ppa.com for more.
- Renegade Photo Shoots are unique and different Photo Edu-Experiences. Recent Renegade Shoots earlier this year included City Shoots, Shoot with the Stars, Sip and Shoot – look for more events to be announced soon – www.renegade-pr.com
- Like to fly? Check this one out – September 27-30, 2009 – Half Moon Bay, CA – Instructors are Dirk Karsten and Chris Golson – A photo workshop set in the San Francisco Bay Area that will include a photo shoot aboard a Zeppelin in flight and trekking through an ancient cedar forest – www.chrisgolson.com/workshop
- Sandy (Sam) Puc’ leads many workshops during the year – check her website for dates and locations – http://samspros.com
- Eddie Tapp – Workshop in Iceland – August 16-22, 2009 – Check the website for other seminars and workshops as well – www.eddietapp.com
- Antartica with Art Wolfe – Nov. 30-Dec. 10, 2010 – Check the website for other workshops as well – www.artwolfe.com
- Santa Fe Workshops www.santafeworkshops.com
- Palm Beach Photographic Workshops – www.workshop.org
- Lepp Institue Workshops – www.leppphoto.com
- Maine Media Workshops – multiple dates throughout the year – www.theworkshops.com
- Barnstorm – Eddie Adams Workshop – Oct. 9-12, 2009 – (portfolio review required to be selected to attend) – www.eddieadamsworkshop.com
- National Geographic Photography Expeditions – offered throughout the year – check website for locations around the world and dates – www.nationalgeographicexpeditions.com/triptypes/photography
Tradeshows that also offer educational sessions:
- PhotoPlus Expo – October 22-24, 2009– NY, NY – www.photoplusexpo.com
- WPPI – Mar. 4-11, 2010 – Las Vegas, NV – www.wppionline.com; and this year WPPI goes on the road to four cities throughout 2009. Check the website for exact dates.
- Imaging USA – Jan. 10-12, 2010 – Nashville, TN – www.imagingusa.org
- PMA – Feb. 21-23, 2010 – Anaheim, CA – www.pmai.org
Can’t afford to travel? Webinars allow you to sit at your computer and learn. Most are Free. Webinars include:
- Webinar Wednesdays (as of this writing, dates are set for the summer) – Kevin Kubota – www.kubotaimagetools.com/webinar_schedule.html
- The Bogen Café series of free webinars cover a variety of photographic topics. An upcoming webinar is Adventure Sports Photography: Round Table with Adventure Photographer Michael Clark – Friday, July 17, 2009, 2- 3pm EDT – www.bogenimaging.us/webinar/
- Artistry Webinars with Corel Painter Master Karen Sperling where you learn how to turn photos into paintings using Adobe Photoshop and Corel Painter – www.artistrymag.com
This is just the tip of the iceberg. My point is, whatever your photographic niche, educational opportunities abound. Open your eyes and mind and your experiences will last long after these events are over.
— Diane Berkenfeld
• Big Daddy was the nickname that Don Blair, who passed away a few years ago, had. He will be fondly remembered by all those, including myself, who knew and learned from him.