Newborn workshops – 10 factors to consider before you enrol

Workshops are a vital investment in the future success of your photography business. So how do you choose the right newborn workshop for you?

While it may be tempting to go with local photography studio or who has a good deal, there are a few key points that you should consider before making a decision. Newborn workshops cost from $700 – $1000 and beyond and vary dramatically in duration and course content, so it’s imperative that you do your research if you want to walk away with a solid return on your investment.

1. Group sizes
Small, interment group sizes mean you can cover more with less interruptions. While larger group sizes help to reduce the overall cost.  As the age old saying goes, it’s time or money, but if you are low on funds and just starting out, this might be important to consider.

2. Type of workshop    (Hands on / Demonstration / Fly on the wall)
Make sure its the right workshop for you.  We all learn differently, so it’s important to find a newborn workshop that teaches the way you need to learn.  Here are the 3 most common types of workshops.

Hands on – If learning the intricate steps of newborn posing and wrapping, is important to you, this format is the best way to learn and gain real feedback from your provider.  Typically the newborn workshop instructor will organise a real baby so that you can see the pose in a real life situation and then attendees are guided through the pose, step by step with a StandInBaby® or similar.   NOTE:  Most insurance companies around the world will not cover students learning and practicing on infants, so you will want to check that the workshop provider has either a StandInBaby® or a posing doll equivalent with realistic movements, size and weight.   Generic dolls  (ie. “off the shelf” play dolls, reborn dolls, or non articulated silicone dolls) that do not bend appropriately will not help you learn.  

Demonstration  (demo) – This style of newborn workshop is also somewhat interactive in that fact that most providers encourage you to bring your camera and after demonstrating how they pose the baby, talk you through camera set up and angles ensuring that you understand the shot and how to compose it correctly in camera.  Students are not given the opportunity to work with a baby in terms of hands on posing but do usually walk away with images and valuable insight into how the poses are preformed.

Fly on the wall – Some times the best way to learn is watching it in a real life environment.  Watching how the photographer interacts with their clients (especially in less controlled situations) and being apart of the experience can add valuable insight into how you want to run your sessions and how to “work on the fly” when things don’t go to plan.

** IMPORTANT NOTE:  If your provider is stating hands on clarify exactly what parts of the workshop are interactive, especially if you are wanting “hands on” posing practice, as some providers also refer to taking the photos of the baby after it has been posed as “hands on” or they could be referring to completely

different aspects of the newborn workshop entirely, so it’s best to check prior to booking to avoid disappointment later.  Remember these are only basic outlines of common newborn workshop terms and references.  Some newborn workshops may provide variations or combinations of these or may use completely different terms.  Please check with your workshop provider to clarify exactly want you are getting and what to expect.

3. Style
Just as you should never book clients who prefer another photographers image style, it is as equally important not to choose a newborn workshop who’s style differs greatly from yours.  There are many different styles of newborn photography and while we can all appreciate the beauty behind each look and each artist, it important to consider if the workshop providers style is right for you, as during the workshop you will be learning the techniques they use to create their looks.   You will take away greater knowledge if you find someone who’s work and “feel” resinates with yours.

4. Workshop content
It is as equally important to ensure that the workshop encompasses what you need, as it is to ensure that it’s not covering aspects you already know.  If you are already strong at sales, from a previous career, a workshop that spends a third of the time discussing the finer points to making a sale might not be for you.   Or if you have been a wedding photographer for the past few years, I can’t imagine that a workshop covering camera operation would be necessary.   Below is a list of possible subjects that you may or may not want covered depending on your previous knowledge.  I also advise asking how long is spent on each component during the workshop.

• Camera operation & settlings
• Composition & camera angles
• Setups and styling
• Lighting (natural / studio)
• Newborn Posing & wrapping **
• Posing for composite **
• Posing with siblings

• Posing for parents **
• Post production (Photoshop & Lightroom)
• Colour management
• Session planning
• Sales / Marketing
• Pricing

** check workshop learning delivery method   i.e. Hands on / Demonstration / Fly on the wall.  And if they are stating their workshop is “hands on” confirm exactly which parts are interactive (see  ** IMPORTANT NOTE under point 2)

5. Restrictions / Terms and conditions
Make sure you read the fine print.  Are there any restrictions that might affect the direction of your business?  Protecting your brand is important and it’s equally the same with workshop content, which is why some providers have restrictions preventing you from teaching for at least 2 years after the workshop.  So if teaching is something you want to do yourself in the near future, you will definitely want to incorporate this into your decision making process.

6. Post workshop support
During a newborn workshop (and especially during live newborn posing) there will be times when something was said but the conversation moved on to quickly for you to ask questions and clarify.   Post workshop support allows attendees to clarify and avoid making sometimes costly mistakes.   This support can come in the form of special attendee only training videos, take home worksheets and booklets or even online Facebook groups.   It’s always good to know what type of post workshop support your workshop offers prior to booking.

7. Prior knowledge required  (Beginner / intermediate / Advanced )
Will the newborn workshop be to hard or to easy for you?  Will it challenge you or leaving you wondering what you got for your money?   It is important for both you and the provider that the workshop fits your level of knowledge and expertise.  Equally the provider doesn’t want an unhappy customer or to upset other attendees who aren’t at the same level and you don’t want to sit though a workshop covering points you already know, waisting your time and money.

8. Investment
Knowledge is power and workshops will give your business the push it needs moving forward.  Just like photography, clients should expect to pay more for more experienced trainers who have worked in the industry longer as they will have greater insight having negotiated more business highs and lows then their competitors.  As always you get what you pay for, sometimes saving a little longer to get the right advise from the right people might be a better choice for your business.

9. Refund Policy
Check the refund policy.  The best newborn instructors are sometimes booked months or years in advance, which means there is a possibility that something might come up between now and then, so it’s always best to fully understand the providers refund policy prior to booking.   Another good question is, what happens if I am sick on the day of the workshop?  Getting sick is unavoidable but when dealing with young babies with immature immune systems it’s never recommended for unwell people to attend if there is any chance they could infect the baby.

10. Travel
Do you need to travel to attend the newborn workshop? While the workshop itself might be affordable, factoring in possible travel costs, food and accommodation, not to mention time away from your family is an important consideration and something you need to workout prior to booking.  You may also want to look into what happens if the workshop is cancelled for any reason and possible insurance that may cover lost travel costs.

BONUS TIP.  

11. Needles
When dealing with infants, professionals advise that you always be fully immunised.  So please check to see if this is required by the newborn workshop provider as early as possible as sometimes immunisation stocks a low and not always available at the last minute.

Your Workshop question check list

  • What is the maximum group size for the workshop?
  • Do you have StandInBaby® (or posing doll equivalent with realistic movements, size & weight) for hands on learning?
  • Will there be an opportunity to take photos, should I bring my camera?
  • Will the workshop cover … (insert requested subject/s)?
  • If the workshop is covering subjects you already know – How much of the course is dedicated to … (insert subject/s)?
  • Do you demonstrate with natural or studio light?
  • Are there any restrictions for me or my business after attending your workshop?
  • Will we be provided with post workshop support?
  • What experience level is this workshop aimed at / would this workshop be valuable for my experience level?
  • What is your refund policy?
  • What happens if I am sick on the day of the workshop?
  • Am I required to have needles prior to attending the workshop?  (And if so can you clarify what they are?)
  • Can I use the images I have taken during your workshop in my folio?
  • Can I post general images I have taken during the workshop online?

 

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