Today I’d like to introduce to you Pratik Naik from Solstice Retouch, a professional high end beauty retoucher that also happens to give workshops all over the world. I had the chance to meet Pratik after I helped him toss together a high end beauty retouching workshop for him over here in Montreal and it’s been one of the most useful workshops I’ve ever taken.
Since I know many of you guys out there are looking to begin giving workshops of your own, I asked if he would be so kind as to write a guest article breaking down the 6 essential things to keep in mind when organizing a retouching or photography workshop.
First and foremost I’d like to thank Ben for having me! He was amazing to approach me in organizing a workshop there and I am eternally grateful.
When he approached me to write this article, I knew it would be one that many of you might find helpful. For those of you who don’t already know me, I invite you to check out my website here . I grew in this industry with a passion to give back. At the time, there wasn’t enough information out there and felt that if ever, I had the opportunity to work in the industry long enough, I would offer a package that would allow people to learn without searching through multiple resources. This is how I ended up offering one on one classes and seminars. I often travel and teach seminars for the most part, with my next one coming up in London on March 16th. I have been teaching retouching for 4 years now.
Now, since I am a retoucher and not a photographer, I will be speaking from my viewpoint. I will elaborate everything in a manner which can also apply to you. Note that there are many ways to run workshops and organize them, so take it with a grain of salt and remember that you can customize this in any way you wish to.
The most important part about teaching, is wanting to teach. If you don’t have a yearning and a passion to show people what you do and make them better, it just won’t work.
Secondly, it’s important to be a people person. I’ve met great artists who are also not good at speaking with people and they are quite shy. I was quite shy as well when I was younger and could barely speak in class. If you’re the same way, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re shy, you just may feel uncomfortable talking about things you just have no interest in. When it becomes about your passion, chances are you will feel a lot more comfortable about speaking, so start out with a small group of 3 to 5 and see how it goes!
Third, you must really have something important to say. Don’t host a workshop just to host one. Make sure you have enough substance to contribute where people can learn from. It doesn’t have to encompass everything, just as long as you make it clear about what you will be talking about. Start writing out what you would like to talk about and how you plan to execute it. If it’s about lighting, what type of lighting will you talk about and how will you exactly demonstrate the differences. These are just a few examples. Essentially, be organized and brainstorm!
The most important part about teaching, is wanting to teach.
Lastly, how good are you are communicating what you want to say in a manner that the common person will understand? Do you have the patience to guide people through the process of what you already know in a manner that will allow them to understand it? Along the course of my sessions, I would realize that there are people who almost no nothing at all and you have to talk in a manner that doesn’t intimidate them but helps them understand everything without taking anything for granted.
Have you ever asked someone for help only to be further confused since they used terms that were foreign to you? They would base their answers with an assumption that you have a general understanding of some things. It’s important to not be that person. Make sure you do speak in a manner that doesn’t take anything for granted when teaching. If you have great skills communicating, that is the most important part. It doesn’t matter if you are the world’s best photographer if you can’t communicate it!
Alright, so you really think you’re ready to teach! Now it’s time to organize and plan our your course.
There are a range of options you have to consider that will rely on your own information. It could be a one day course all the way up to a week long course. I have seen everything in between. For me, I really enjoy doing one or two day courses. With retouching, I have effectively figured out how much time people need to go through everything comfortably. In the beginning, I had nothing to fall back on since it was new to me. In time, I began to realize exactly how long my course would run.
I recommend outlining everything you want to talk about and everything you want to demonstrate. With that outline, you can fill in the gaps about what you will need during your course. Will you need models, makeup artists, more lights, modifiers, a bigger studio space? These are the options you will have to run through.
Remember to allocate 20% more time than you expect you will need. In the middle, things happen. People start asking questions, you may have to reiterate yourself, things can go wrong. Allocate time for this, otherwise you won’t make it. Time always flies when it starts rolling!
Remember to allocate 20% more time than you expect you will need.
Once you have an outline of what you want to talk about and what you will need, you can get an idea of how much things will cost. For myself, it’s a little easier to do since I don’t need camera and lighting equipment to run a seminar. I just need a laptop, my wacom tablet, a projector, cables, space for people, food, and renting a room. As a photographer, you really need to customize this based on your program. If your program is heavy in lighting and gear that you don’t have, begin calculating the cost of renting gear from your local camera shop or buying it. Consider the cost of the studio space you may have to rent if you need a bigger space. Include the cost of hiring the models and other team members. I would also recommend bringing on an assistant to help you change lighting setups and such if your seminar is intensive in different lighting setups.
Also include the cost of lunch for the attendees and what you plan to bring. Usually, I’ve seen cold sandwiches as a good option as it’s cheap and you can have a variety of options since many people may eat different things. The other half of the times, we would take a break and eat at a local restaurant or you can have them cater too. It all depends on how much time you have.
As a photographer, it would also be important to have backups for your camera and gear on the day of. In case you don’t have a backup solution normally, factor that into the cost of rentals.
Chances are that most of your future workshops will be in another city all together. This is where it gets a little trickier since you do not have the same connections as you do locally. In this situation, you will have to obtain costs based on calling local camera shops and getting in touch with studio owners to see if they have options to rent the studio for a workshop. Chances are, you may even know someone in the city you are going to go to that has a studio. I would always recommend working with someone you already know since the communication is a little bit easier. You can even get referral for local models and makeup artists.
I would always recommend working with someone you already know since the communication is a little bit easier.
If you plan to do a shoot outdoors rather than in studio, you will have to consider the cost of permits (if needed) and finding a location. Again, I recommend getting advice from local photographers in that area about great places to do a shoot. I would also definitely recommend assistants in this situation.
Next, the biggest cost may be the travel expenses. Consider what the average expense of hotels are in that area, the amount you will need for ground transportation, airfare, and estimated food costs for yourself and the team (if you are flying with anyone). Depending on where you go, it may be best to rent a car once you fly in if you have a lot of equipment on you. Many people I know rent most of it wherever they are.
Once you have these major costs outlined based on the city you are planning to go, you can get a estimated price. Increase that by 20% for unexpected costs that you might incur.
Teaching is great! But be sure after all of this, you still make profit off of what you’re doing. The amount you want to give yourself wildly depends what the local market is willing to pay for a workshop vs what you deserve. Sometimes, these figures don’t align. If you’re starting out, I would recommend doing a few workshops priced just high enough to cover the expenses to get an idea of how they are going, if they met the amount of expenses you had estimated, and to see what people are willing to pay.
It’s also a good idea to see how other local workshops are going and how they’re priced. Chances are yours may very well fit into their price structure too.
(The amount )[…] depends what the local market is willing to pay for a workshop vs what you deserve
So for example, if you find that your expenses to do a workshop in a city is $1,700 and you want to make $1,000 from a day’s workshop, this can amount to charging $270 per person for a workshop. This is a low example, but you get the drift.
I can’t give you a figure of how much you should make for a day’s work, as that comes from you, but I would recommend figuring out your expenses vs how much other workshops (that are conducted by people in your experience level) generally charge locally and subtract the difference. If you feel that the amount is more than what you wanted, that is a great sign. This is not to say you should follow everyone else. By all means, definitely price it to your own value and what you believe people will pay for it too.
Now that you have a general cost structure and all the details ready, it’s time to start marketing and planning. I always like to keep my seminar 2 months ahead so that I have enough time should I not get enough feedback to cancel it. The first thing I do is market it before booking my airfaire and everything else.
It’s very important to market and get the word out about your workshop. Whenever I get a workshop together, I create a flyer together that notes the important information such as this (link).
I setup a blog post that talks about what my upcoming seminar will be about along with how people can register for the event. You can spread that post on all social media platforms.
With registration, I personally do it a few ways. Usually I team up with someone who handles the registration of attendees, or you can use a website like http://www.eventbrite.com/. It helps people register for your event. It’s a one stop shop so you can focus on everything else. It allows people to book the event and manages number of open spots. You can also write anything you want there so people can get a description of the event.
The marketing itself will generally be done through social media platforms like facebook, twitter, tumblr, etc. Alternatively, you can enlist the help of friends to spread the information as well. A good tactic is giving a payment for every referral in case you need to, which can be a small sum, but enough to bring in attendees. Another option is also contacting local photo schools and organizations and seeing if you can advertise through them.
You can get really creative with marketing, just look at Ben, he’s the perfect example! He creates excellent behind the scenes videos, that in result bring in many new fans and followers. The more demand he gets, the more awesome workshops he gets to put on for the benefit of the fans. Once someone sees that he is doing a workshop somewhere, people want him everywhere else. So that is how it happens.
Let demand dictate where your workshops is, it will be easier for you and it will be more fun that way. You won’t have to market that much either.
Initially you may not have the option to enlist help in organizing the event. However, going with an organizer is another option that will allow you to focus on planning for the event itself so that you have everything booked and prepared before the event. As you progress with more workshops, you will begin to find more organizers and promoters that actually take care of everything for you, including location, studio, and marketing! By then you may not even need them, but it does help.
However, in the beginning I recommend doing it on your own so you know everything that goes into it. Through the process, you’ll learn what you will be missing along the way.
Let demand dictate where your workshops is, it will be easier for you and it will be more fun that way.
Part 6: Baby Steps
With all this information in mind, keep in mind that it’s about the baby steps. Start small and do a workshop that is a smaller scale of one you really want to do and see how it goes. If you start large, it may not go as planned and this helps. Over a few years, you will find a system that works for you.
If you start large, it may not go as planned
I hope that this article helps to get your gears up and thinking about your own personal workshops! If you have any questions at all, do not hesitate to contact me personally.
If you would like to be kept up to date on Pratik’s latest workshops, contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Richard Dubois – Fantastic Magazine
Lara Jade for Velvet
Glenn Prasetya for Marie Claire
- Interested in writing a guest post for this blog? Send me an email or leave a comment!
- I will be giving a CRAZY 2.5 day workshop in London, UK on the 22/23/24th of March… Check it out HERE