Several decades ago I took on the responsibility of managing several teams of trainers who traveled the country “training” dealer personnel in both the technical aspects and the sales techniques of marketing high performance tires. The two-day seminars that these folks facilitated were incredibly successful and attendance was packed at every event.
My first assignment was to learn what these guys were doing and why their seminars were so successful. The seminars turned out to be great fun. The “trainers” were highly skilled performers who had an unending library of jokes and stories. Their training aids consisted of world class action photography and video of on and off road racing. They sweetened the pie even further with numerous raffles giving away everything including a car. All the meals were downright banquets and no one could go home without letting their belts out a notch.
I kept a very low profile and quietly asked participants what they thought of the seminar. The answer was unanimous. It was great! I followed with a second question, “what did you specifically learn that you could take back to your dealership and apply to your business”. The response was either a shrug or “I can’t think of anything right now but it sure is great training”.
Training has often been used as the cover for some awfully good fun and/or travel by the medical, business and political communities. I was part of it in my corporate days and I attended far more conferences than I can remember and several times I was even a principal speaker. Here again, I believe the great majority of people had great fun but had little take home learning value.
The photography world is now flooded with every possible permutation of learning opportunity including the world conference scam. The training is almost always held in fun places and offers a ton of fun opportunities. Training can and should have an element of fun. The trick is separating the fun quotient from the learning and deciding if you received the learning you wanted for the price of the fun.
I’m one of the army of people involved in photography training so I could be shooting myself in the foot. However, after 30 years in the training world I know that people learn differently and there is no specific great method of learning. It’s really all about how you learn.
So with a finite budget and time available what is a person to do? My recommendation is to first determine what it is that you specifically want to learn and remember it’s best to learn in small steps. Even Tiger Woods has had a progression of learning. Maybe you don’t care what you learn. Perhaps you just want to hang out with other photographers. That’s fine, at least you know what you want. There is a photo safari out there for every budget. You can hang out with all sorts of interesting people and maybe even learn something.
There are all kinds of classes, seminars, workshops, safaris, conferences, and DVDs quite willing to take your money. It’s up to you to determine how much fun you can afford and how much learning you expect along with your fun.
In my serious tennis days I attended all sorts of expensive tennis camps around North America. They were great fun and highly motivational but where I really learned tennis and improved my game was through my local weekly tennis lesson and practice, practice, practice. But hey, that’s me. Maybe I’m just a slow learner.