Photo Tour vs Photo Workshop

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Photo tour vs photo workshop:  which one is right for you?

The answer depends on your style because the two products are very different beasts.

The reason why I pose this question is because I have met people on my photo tours who will receive more bang for their buck on a workshop, not a tour, and yet they find themselves adrift on my intensive, results-based tours.  I think the difficulty lies in part with definitions.  A photo tour is usually a photo-intensive outing designed to put photographers in great locations in the best light. These tours are about photography first and instruction second. The reason why you pay a fee for these kind of tours is because the photographer has spent the necessary days or months to scout the best locations and photo opportunities and plunks you perfectly into those conditions. You are paying for the pro photographer to be an excellent guide, reading the light and doing the background research to get you where you need to be for maximum results.  These tours are aimed at advanced amateurs and semi-pros looking to flesh out their portfolios or maximize their take from a given area.  They are not for those who are looking to understand camera controls, the basics of photography or some general goal of ‘improving their craft.’

©Darwin Wiggett - Photo Tour result - a trophy shot in great light

On the other hand, a photo workshop balances classroom instruction with field application.  You will probably have a seminar or two (or more, depending on how long the workshop lasts) that provides you with lessons on how to shoot followed by practical time outdoors implementing those lessons.  There is more formal teaching involved with a workshop compared to a tour because the emphasis is usually on learning first and photographic opportunity second.  Which style of learning — tour or workshop — depends on you, and it is critical that you know what you are looking for in order to get the most value from your experience.

Workshops should stretch you to see beyond the obvious

Sometimes pro photographers try to combine the best of both worlds by offering a workshop/tour combo. In my opinion, doing a combo package is very difficult to do well. The two styles really do not mix well. I suggest that, if you plan to sign up for one of these ‘all in one’ packages research it carefully to find out how the tour part and the instruction part compliment one another. Otherwise beware of the ‘we do it all’ packages.

Personally, I do both tours and workshops but no combos. Here is what is currently on offer:

Photo Tours – For tours, my greatest reward is getting people to places they would not get to on their own and in perfect conditions with appropriate light. I have been doing these kinds of tours in the Canadian Rockies for 7 years. No matter the conditions, I know where to go to find subjects that match the quality of the light.

Photo Workshops – Recently, I have been doing more workshops with other photographers.  I find that having at least two instructors on a workshop results in a higher quality of instruction overall. Not only can two or more instructors get to everyone’s questions, the different styles of the instructors compliment each other.  One specialized workshop I teach with Samantha is aimed at Camera Clubs.  Called PhotoCram Weekend, we teach photographers the fundamentals of photography through an immersive, weekend workshop. that is tailored toward the Club’s needs. (Any Club interested in having us come out to teach members new skills please contact us). I  am also a founding member, along with Samantha and John Marriott, in the Snap! Photography Seminars series. These workshops are broadly designed to give you the most bang for your buck; we cover a wide variety of topics through both class seminars and practical time in the field. The next workshop is the Harvest Moon Photo Weekend in late October this year and it is aimed at beginner to semi-advanced shooters.   Check out our  PDF here. I think there are still a few spots left.

One of the ‘holes’ in the photo workshop arena is for the advanced or semi-pro shooter who has mostly mastered the craft of photography but needs to expand his or her artistic vision and professional presentation. In photography there are three pillars to being a master. A fine photographer has learned to balance equally the craft (technique and tools), the art (vision and expression) and the profession (external presentation) of photography. I am part of a team of photographers, along with Samantha Chrysanthou and Royce Howland, who is offering an intensive, immersive photo workshop designed to help photographers grow in all three of these areas. We are looking for only nine photographers this November for this novel workshop, so space is extremely limited.  To find out more, simply download the information pdf or watch our Light Matters Master Class: Creative Expressions video trailer below.  If you know of a friend who might be interested, help us find our nine photographers by passing this link along. These nine photographers will come away from the weekend transformed (we promise).

In the end, I have tried to develop a workshop or tour out to match your needs and skill level. Hope to see you soon.


7 Responses to “Photo Tour vs Photo Workshop”

  1. Darwin, thanks for the post. I’ve been watching some of the Master Class posts on your and Samantha’s blogs. One thing I haven’t seen yet and was curious about was a sample itinerary. I was guessing you hadn’t formalized it all yet.

    Even knowing what time it starts and ends would help. For me, coming from the states, there are limited flights available. So, I may have to plan for one day more or less.


    • Hi Ryan, we do have a detailed itinerary for the Masterclass. Once people sign up we were going to send out the itinerary. But maybe you have a good point, peple might like to see this in advance so we may publish the ‘plan’ next week.

      As far start and end times = Nov 3rd, 2010 at 5PM to November 7, 2010 at 1 PM.

      Thanks for your question.


  2. Thank you for the clarificiation! And that trophy shot, OMG those glorious luminous clouds….

  3. Perry McKenna Says:

    Darwin – great post. Having done your tour, it was exactly what I was looking for at this time. I also believe there are different levels of workshops, beginners and more advanced like the Master one you will holding in Nov. I’m not ready for such a workshop, but hopefully by next year.

  4. If I only lived closer–I’d love doing a tour or two. And what a spectacular “trophy” shot!!

  5. Peter Calamai Says:

    I sincerely hope that the Nov “Light Matters: Master Class” is a success so that you offer it again at a time when I can attend

  6. […] The concept of an intensive, mentoring-based photo experience that blends in-class instruction on key topics with targeted assignments during field outings has generated some strong interest among aspiring photographers. The ideal participants are looking for something more than a photo tour designed to put them in great spots, or classroom workshops focused on camera theory or Photoshop techniques alone. For more insight on how the Light Matters Masterclass event differs from many other events, see Darwin’s post on Photo Tour vs. Photo Workshop. […]

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