Modern cameras are complex devices able to achieve great results, but the chance of people just reading a manual and getting reliable good images is small. It is fair to say that many get some very good images, but its by selecting occasional photos from the large number taken not from consistent performance and being able to get the results they want. In more demanding situations those who have had training are able to handle the challenges and take the maximum advantage from opportunities presented.
It has often been said that the most important piece of equipment a photographer has is the bit between their ears, and a competent well trained Photographer with limited equipment can outperform a person with an unlimited budget, who not only cant get the performance they should, but also wastes huge sums on poor equipment choices. Training should therefore be considered essential and when budgeting perhaps you should look at spending between a quarter and a third of your budget on training. For the majority of photographers a days 1 to 1 training will make a far larger difference, both to their performance and enjoyment, than an extra lens would. Often extra equipment widens the opportunities, allows more situations to have possibilities, where training allows possibilities to turn into positive results.
Photography is a mixture of science and art, the science part can be taught allowing the artistic part to develop. You need the technical ability to convert your ideas and dreams into images. In many ways its like learning to drive, at first there appears too many things to think about and its a very practical subject, later much of what looks complex you will do without thinking about it, and you get to spot the special requirements of each situation, as well as being able to consider more the artistic side.
Training on any practical subject is best done one to one, if you wanted to lean to drive a bus or fly a plane you wouldn't expect to do it by sitting in the back of the vehicle, but being involved hands on, being able to gain practical experience, to ask questions and gain experience. Photographic training can only effectively be done one to one, you can't achieve much by sitting in a group. Research suggests that there is a direct relationship between the number of people and amount they fully understand and that this can be represented as the equivalent number of days being required to the number of people present, so if 20 people attend a course it would take them 20 days to get to the same level as one person could in a day on a one to one course. Not only does it therefore take much less time, and is more enjoyable, but its also far more cost effective to go along the one to one route, you have to purchase less days training, have less travelling and accommodation costs and can make more rapid progress. Its not unusual for people to attend several days on a group course and feel they have achieved nothing, then attend a single days 1 to 1 and feel they have mastered not only what they had hoped to but discovered far more besides.
A poor second to this is structured learning via the internet, but this is preferable to group training and books as these just provide presentations with no practical chance for you to look at and try this out with more information available where you need it. We have commissioned a structured course to be developed and will be run jointly by us and Photo Skills, who will also arrange some optional low cost practical days. This course will be free, watch out for information on this.
Recommended Training Providers
Camera Images - ideal for Nikon Users, provides one to one training, the most efficient and cost effective way to get to grips with your Nikon cameras, lenses, flashes, software and applying these effectively. A wide range of courses are offered from 3 hour 'shorts' to multi day courses. The most popular first day is the 'Hands on a Nikon' day, with Capture NX training, portraiture, flash and wildlife also very popular. They have a large number of defined courses but you can also define your own ideal course. Running 1 to 1 allows you to achieve fully many times what you can in a day as a part of a group, as well as ask questions throughout and understand everything fully. Being 1 to 1 also makes it suitable for everyone from the absolute beginner, the intermediate, to photographer upgrading from film and top professional photographers flying in from around the world.
Photography Skills, known for its 'beyond the basics' masterclasses aimed at those who can already basically operate their cameras and other equipment and who are moving on to perfect specific areas. A day could be a masterclass on exposure, on focus and sharpness, on Black and White photography, or some other. To get the most from these advanced courses you ideally need to already be able to operate your camera and other equipment, and then it is independent of camera make. Photography Skills also have a course for beginners, Introduction to Digital Photography, and if you are not a Nikon user this is the best start point for you. All training is done 1 to 1.
Photo Skills, working with us, are developing a completely FREE, online structured learning training course, with sections coming out monthly starting soon. To run alongside this they are organising 4 low cost practical events years, allowing those who choose this route to see equipment, and gain practical experience, ask questions etc. watch the newsletter for information on when this is to start.
Structured leaning is possible with computer and internet training, but difficult to build into books and can't be done with groups. You may remember some years back a project called Home Tutor that taught very many people very successfully to get into micro computers and programming, before it all became so large and more complex. The architect of the Home Tutor system is involved in our structured learning programme and should allow this course to have many of the same benefits. With structured leaning you have constant new information, reinforcement but also supplementary explanations and information when necessary. A course of this type when being developed is a little like a maze, but with sign posted paths, you take shortcuts where you don't need to find out more and can take the longer route where you want to learn more.