Of cookies and critiques
I loves me some chocolate chip cookies. And if I do say so myself, I can make the very best chocolate chip cookies I've ever had. They're pretty awesome.
But I'm no baker. I really don't know what I'm doing other than following a recipe with some of my own modifications (guesses, really). I don't know why cookies need salt or baking powder or soda or whatever. The only thing I really know is that they need chocolate chips. That's all that really counts for me. Still, I can make some awesome cookies.
But sometimes things don't go quite right and I really don't know why. The taste is usually still there but the cookies sometimes come out flat and chewy. Sure, I can go on the internet and get some ideas (and I have) and then learn my trial and error. If only I had a professional baker at hand who could take a look (or taste) at my cookies and tell me where I went wrong. That would be the fastest way to learn about my mistakes.
No, this isn't the Rod Barbee Baking Blog, but my point about the cookies can apply to anything you're trying to master, be it baking or photography. Having a professional at hand to critique your work and point out where things might have gone wrong and how to fix it in future situations is one of the fastest ways to learn. I see it happen all the time in workshops. After the first critique session my students are already watching out for clutter in foregrounds, or branches intruding from the side of the frame. They're looking to find cleaner backgrounds and trying to simplify compositions. And by the time we get to the third critique session of a workshop everybody is joining in pointing out ways to improve images.
So if you really want to get a jump start on improving your photography, getting your worked critiqued is one of the quickest ways of doing it. And if you want to have a lot of fun at the same time, the workshop environment is the way to go.
So whether you take one of my workshops or a workshop from someone else, you'll find that you're photography will improve, you'll have fun, and you'll make some new friends.
Don't forget to bring some cookies.