If you are an aspiring horse photographer, you have probably considered at some point in type attending horse photography workshops or tours.

However, if you are new to the world of workshops and tours, you might not know the differences and what to ask the host in order to make sure that you get the workshop experience that you desire.


Horse Photography Workshop vs.Horse Photography Tour


So first of all, you need to understand that there is a difference between an equine photography workshop and an equine photography tour. For a workshop, the host will provide the location, the subjects to be photographed, and will provide some type of education.

A tour is an event in which the host sets up the opportunity for you to photograph something but you are on your own for the actual photography process. No education is provided. The host is just providing the location and the subjects but what you do with it, in the end, is up to you.

Therefore, someone who is newer to photography might benefit more from a workshop than a tour so that they have more help in learning their camera settings, figuring out posing or desirable movements, and more.

For the purposes of this blog post, we are going to focus on equine photography workshops.  


Horse Photography Workshop Basics

Gypsy Vanner in Field captured at a horse photography workshop


Once you start delving into the world of photography workshops, you will discover that there is pretty much a photography workshop out there for everything.

Some of the things that you need to consider when evaluating a photography workshop are specifically related to you. Consider your budget, time, interest and needs.  



Horse Photography Workshop Basics: Your Budget


Photography workshops themselves can cost a couple of hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. The price of a workshop depends on several things, including the length of time of the workshop, overall experience, backend costs, model costs, travel costs, and the number of animals and facilities involved.

When considering your available budget for a workshop, you need to factor in travel costs. Some workshops include some travel costs, and some do not include travel at all.

A workshop might include one meal a day, others include all meals, and some may exclude meals altogether. Some include hotel costs or they might leave you on your own for figuring out lodging. Knowing what is included in the workshop fee in advance will save you from an unexpected expense.

Many newer photographers assume that they are paying the workshop fee and it is all going right to the workshop host’s pocket. But, please remember that in most instances, that is not the case at all.

Workshop hosts have expenses that they have to cover with those fees. They are paying facilities, permits, models, riders, grooms, and horse handlers.


Horse Photography Workshop Basics: Your Time


Some workshops are one-day events. Others can last a couple of weeks, particularly if you are traveling overseas for it. Consider how long you want -or can afford- to be away from home. Maybe you have a job or a family counting on you and you can only spare a weekend. Knowing that in advance can help you figure out what you can fit into your schedule.

You also need to factor in travel time. For example, if you live on the East Coast and the event is being held on the west coast, it may take you a day to travel each way. So definitely consider that when planning how long you can be away.


Cowgirl and western show horse captured at a horse photography workshop

Horse Photography Workshop Basics: Your Interests


Your interests play a large part in what type of workshop you are looking for.  Horse photography is a broad genre that actually covers many sub-genres.

Just to give you an idea, there are workshops held in Kentucky that are specifically about photographing racehorses.

Or, you might want to travel to Sable Island and photograph the Sable Island Horses which are only found there.

Maybe you are interested in capturing craggy cowboys on the range. There is a workshop for every sub-genre within the equine photography world.

You may also find it helpful to attend workshops to discover what you are NOT interested in.  When I first started going to workshops, I thought that it would be really interesting to go photograph a certain sub-genre.

Upon actually doing it, though, I found out that I would basically rather gouge my eyes out then have to do that again.

Not because the workshop host wasn’t interesting, nice, or helpful but rather because I have ZERO interest in shooting that type of photography. But, it took me going and doing it before I knew that.

And, since then I have actually turned down a couple of jobs shooting that exact sub-genre. Because I know that my heart would not be in it and I wouldn’t do my best work. 

Instead, I referred those potential clients out to other photographers who enjoy that type of work and excel at it.  


Horse Photography Workshop Basics: Your NeedsTennessee Walking Horse Posed on Black Background


When I talk about your needs, I am referring to what you need to learn.

If you are a total newbie with a camera and have never taken the camera off auto, you might need a more hands-on workshop with a smaller number of attendees so the host has time to work one-on-one with you to help you with your settings.

Are you an aspiring photographer who is portfolio building and wants to focus on a specific genre? If you have decided that you want to focus on shooting rodeo events, then maybe you don’t want to attend a workshop that is about Barque horse breeds.  Perhaps you need a workshop that is specifically about capturing the best shots at various events.

It’s also always a good thing to ask the workshop host what the plan is during the workshop times when you aren’t actively shooting. Are you free to do what you want? Do they schedule classroom-type learning during that time? Do you bring a laptop to work on individual editing at that time? Does the host have other speakers coming in to talk to you at that time? 

Several of these options may be helpful to you depending on your needs. Figuring out what you need to learn will help you in narrowing down which workshops will give you the most bang for your buck.  


Evaluating your Options


This is part one of a two-part series of blog posts on horse photography workshops. Part two will be published next week and will focus on what you need to consider when it comes to the actual workshop itself.

In the meantime, to help make it easier for you to evaluate horse photography workshops and figure out the best fit for you, download the Equine Photography Workshop Evaluation Guide and use it when you evaluate your choices.

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