How to Make Money from Photography Workshops

(The following is excerpted from 99 Ways to Make Money from Your Photos, by the editors of Photopreneur.)

Photography can be an unstable business. You often never know where your next job is coming from. That’s why many photographers turn to teaching at least part of the time; it’s a way to turn knowledge into cash and create a secondary income stream.

If you’ve never taught a class before and are wondering whether you’re up to it, start the teaching process by learning. Take a photography workshop yourself, and pay attention to how the teacher interacts with the pupils and what the pupils are looking for. Then think about what you would have to offer if you were the instructor.

Local College or DIY?

To teach at a local college or adult education center, start by scouting out the options and then check online for instructions for applying. Or just call the college’s information office and ask.

Keep in mind, though, that part-time college instructors are not highly paid (the average part-time self-enrichment teacher made $16 per hour in 2006), so you may find the application process more trouble than it’s worth — particularly if you have no prior experience.

The alternative is to organize your own workshop.

One of the big benefits of a DIY course or seminar is that you have complete freedom in how to market it — and in selling your photography books and prints to supplement the fees from attendees. Many photographers make the bulk of their workshop income from the products they sell to students.

But you will have to market the course yourself, something you’ll have to do with flyers, press releases, advertising and networking. It’s not that difficult — but it does take time and effort.

What to Teach

Unless you’re an old pro hoping to teach to photography newbies, it’s probably a good idea to steer clear of workshops that focus on the basics. Lots of people know what an f-stop is, how the rule of thirds works and how to change a lens. That sort of information they can read in a book for themselves.

To build audiences for your workshops, it’s better to focus on a particular subject. If you browse through subjects offered in adult education centers, you’ll find subjects like “Indian Vegetarian Cooking” rather than just “Cooking,” and “Romantic Poetry” rather than just “Literature.”

By keeping your workshop focused, you will reduce the size of your potential market — but you’ll also have fewer competitors, and students with a real passion for the subject.

So shoot images of your specialization. Show them to your class as a teaching tool. And then have them available in book form so that your students can buy them afterward.

6 Responses to “How to Make Money from Photography Workshops”

  1. I'm a photojournalist with 2 decades of experience. I've found teaching Digital SLR workshops as well as Photoshop Elements workshops in my community to be very rewarding.
    I've had great classes with engaged folks who are eager to learn new skills. It's awesome watching them grow.

  2. thank you very much for your idea.I would like to get more information.basic knowledge in Digital Photography. [email protected]
    Anil Perera Sri Lanka.

  3. I teach workshops in San Diego and love every minute of it. I'm not sure I agree that we need to stay away from the basics. I'm amazed by how many people with top quality DSLRs have no idea what F stops are and even if they do they cannot deal with equivalent exposures. I get many workshop attendees who describe themselves as 'experts' who really don't know how to control their cameras to get the results they want. I teach many quite advanced classes, but my basics class is by far the most popular.

  4. Completely disagree with a lot of this article - I teach three different colleges and most people have a very patchy understanding of the basics or they don't understand them at all. LIke the previous poster - my basic classes are by far the most popular and are always over prescribed.
    You really should do a bit more research before you post this kind of information as it's very misleading.

  5. I found this post very interesting as myself I'm planing of starting to organize photography workshops based on how to use speedlits for complex lighting. All of the information above will be very useful for me.

  6. I agree with the others about not teaching the basics. I teach an intro and intermediate DSLR photography class in the Birmingham, Alabama area. I also have an ebook, blog, and am working on a series of video classes. I'm a 20 year pro but new to the teaching aspect. There are SO many people who have bought a digital SLR and don't know the first thing about it. They feel lost and while, yes, there are TONS of resources on the web for free, blogs, YouTube, etc, they want hands on instruction.

    I have had a few aspiring pros but for the post part it's people who want to take better pictures of their kids. There is a plenty big market for those interested in the basics!

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