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  • Is photography teaching for you? Part 1 of 3 - "Changing strategy led to more than expected" Brett Florence

  • Running photography workshops and photo tours can be a fulfilling and profitable sideline for photographers. If you have considered this, then our three-part blog series where three professionals share their experiences and advice might provide some useful insights for you.

    First up: South African wedding photographer, Brett Florens.

    ‘Changing strategy led to more than just an increased income’


    Brett Florens, wedding photography, Is teaching for you, photography teaching, photography career
    Wedding photographer and coach, Brett Florens, South Africa,


    In 2007 I was very busy, doing on average 50 or 60 weddings a year but not making much money, so I turned to DVDs by American educators to see how I could improve my business model. Changing my marketing strategy really worked, and it also gave me the idea to get into teaching. I felt that the coaches from the DVDs would never tell you everything, which made me want to get into education and share all my knowledge and experience.


    I hired a videographer to film me while shooting a wedding, and made a DVD, explaining my techniques and thought processes. The tutorial was well-received and got me an invitation to speak at the Photo and Film Expo in Johannesburg, which I really enjoyed.


    I also started to teach workshops. I like the interaction and friendships that emerge, and find that during every workshop I teach, I learn something from the students too. I find it enormously fulfilling when people listen to what I have to say and implement it with good results.


    Making sure you start out well 


    Organising workshops can be a logistical challenge, but I have a team of reliable partners. I will always pay models – I don’t believe in offering portfolio shots or exposure in return for work, as I don’t think it’s professional or fair. Sometimes organisers of workshops also hire me and pay me a fee, but if I organise the workshop myself, I can of course keep all the profits.


    Brett Florens, wedding photography, Is teaching for you, photography teaching, photography career
    ‘I will always pay models – I don’t believe in offering portfolio shots or exposure in return for work, as I don’t think it’s professional or fair.’ – Wedding photographer, Brett Florens.


    I promote my workshops on my website and social media platforms. I also send newsletters to people in my database. Word of mouth is also a good marketing tool and social media is vital for this.


    I also write articles for magazines and approach camera clubs, schools, colleges, and as many different institutions as I can, to get the word out. Free talks or one-hour sessions at camera clubs and schools work pretty well, as many will sign up to my longer workshops.


    Public speaking at events, societies and conventions also gives your workshops a lot of exposure and I am looking into writing a blog about wedding photography. Giving away free information like this is a ‘loss leader’. I invite possible clients to listen to what I have to say to incentivise them to book a full workshop.


    I also have video tutorials on Vimeo and YouTube, which have made a huge impact. Video is a great tool for marketing. For most workshops I hire a videographer and put a one or two-minute video together. I post it on social media, so people can see what goes on. They see that it’s not intimidating and the photographers involved are very enthusiastic.



    Getting ready for photography workshops 


    For shooting workshops, I allow a maximum of 15 people, which I find is a good balance between class size and affordability.


    Participants range from students to 60-year-old professionals who want to adapt to changing times. Most students though pursue, or want to pursue, a sustainable, professional career.


    I will hire two models dressed as brides, and one groom, so participants can rotate around three shooting stations. I do have a lot of cameras and lenses, so as an added bonus, the photographers can try out equipment before buying it.



    Making photography workshops a success  


    For me, a big part of being a successful photographer is about belief in yourself, so I try to instil in photographers the confidence to go out and shoot their style and to charge what they are worth.


    I don’t want them to be clones of myself, but to amplify their strengths, so I show them how to find solutions and not just a formula. I teach the technical side of wedding photography, but I also try to empower them to run their business like a business and charge accordingly. I teach marketing as well, because it’s a huge part of photography.


    Patience is very important when teaching adults and explaining topics in different ways to make sure that everybody understands – I don’t mind saying something 20 times, before moving onto the next subject. You need to construct a programme that holds the audience’s attention. It’s important to pace your workshops, and get the right ebb and flow of high and low intensity subjects.


    Having an aptitude for teaching is a must, as you have to be able to convey a clear message and have the kind of personality that attracts people and makes them want to learn.


    You really need to be established and relevant in your industry with some measure of success to give quality workshops that have real value – but more than anything else, I think you need to enter the market for the right reason. If it’s about an ego trip, it won’t work. You have to want to uplift the industry, helping photographers not only to produce quality work but also to charge appropriate prices. This can only result in helping photography to remain a respected and valued profession.




    So is teaching for you?


    Stay tuned as we share the experience and tips from Isreali photographer and teacher, Roie Galitz



    Nikon Pro The original article appeared in the Summer 2015 edition of the Nikon Pro magazine. Interested in similar articles? Get the mag here or download the Nikon Pro app, available from the App Store here and through Google Play here