If you want to improve your photography or perhaps start the transition from amateur to pro, then education is the first place you should look.
There are dozens of major photography related conventions and workshops to attend throughout the year. The biggest and most obvious for Americans are Imaging USA in January (www.ppa.com), WPPI, Wedding and Portrait Photographers International is in Las Vegas and usually in February (www.wppionline.com), NANPA, North American Nature Photographers, holds a national convention each year (www.nanpa.org) and PhotoPlus Expo is usually in late October, (www.photoplusexpo.com).
At every convention there are workshops and special events offering you the opportunity to learn a new technique or simply fine tune your photographic, marketing or business skill set. It’s important to choose wisely though – don’t get caught up in popularity contests, but attend those programs covering topics you need help with the most.
It’s especially important to attend the trade show, not just to see the selection of
products offered, but pay attention to the lineup of speakers at many of the exhibitors. For example, most photo labs will always have speakers in their booth. Many software companies will be presenting programs every day and all the big camera brands will have a full lineup of photographers. Each of these companies are giving you an opportunity to fine-tune your skills with the expertise of a known professional.
Then, there are associations like ASMP, American Society of Media Photographers (www.asmp.org) and APA, American Photographic Artists (www.apanational.com). Both offer programs and educational support throughout the year.
There are numerous private forums on Facebook and on other social networks the offer both free and fee based training. You’ll often see questions thrown out to the membership from photographers needing advice or help on a technical or business issue.
Add to all of the above boutique photo conferences such as Photoshop World (held in Vegas and Orlando) and online education such as Kelbyone (https://kelbyone.com/) you can check out. Combine all of these and you have an abundance of chances to learn and network.
On an individual basis, virtually all of the major icons in professional photography teach throughout the year, both on their own and as part of various programs independent of any association affiliation. If you follow these people on social media you can often reach out for at least some help.
Last but not least are local chapters of the national associations offer you a chance to expand your education and network with monthly meetings, often with special programs by the industry’s strongest and most popular instructors.
Education is critical to helping you refine your skill set because the technology is constantly changing. You’ve got to take advantage of every opportunity to constantly keep learning.