In Person Education Can't Be Beat

Have you ever needed to know something and watched a you tube video to learn it? Sure you have, many of us have. But when you had questions during the process, how frustrating was it that you couldn't ask the presenter your questions? And therefore could not fully achieve the level of learning that you had hoped for. I've been there. Whether I needed assistance with a vehicle, a recipe or (gasp!) yes, even something photography related.

When you attend a meeting, a seminar, a workshop, a convention, a class or a school about photography, you get to be around like-minded individuals who share your passion, your drive, your love of all things photographic. There is an energy in the air, and you can feel yourself getting excited because you know you are about to learn something. There will always be at least one person there that knows more than you, and it is easy to gravitate to those with a higher skill set and knowledge base. You find yourself wanting to soak in every word, the way a piece of bread soaks up the last bit of gravy on a plate.

For those that tend to be more on the shy side, they may only observe and intently listen, while taking notes, the first time or two that they attend something. Others who are more bold, or have had to overcome their shyness or anxiety will ask questions, and the group listening will benefit from the answers. And when there is a teaching demonstration going on, if it is a mixed group with several new people or beginners, there may be some experienced people in the group that will purposely ask pointed questions of the teacher, so that the new folks can relax and just listen and learn.

For those with the argument that you can just ask "Google" a different question to bring up a new video to learn from, sure you can, but then there will be more questions that can't be answered due to lack of interaction, and more frustration.

October of this year, will be 10 years since I jumped off the cliff and decided to become a photographer and open a business. I respected the field of photography, the industry, so to speak and knew I needed to learn as much as I possibly could. I checked with my local "Vo-tech" otherwise known as a vocational school or technology center, and found they had an in-depth beginning photography course. I took it. I also took their advanced class. I live in Lawton, OK and we dont have "camera shops", so I traveled to Oklahoma City as I knew I needed more than kit lenses, and purchased my 1st 70-200mm lens. I met people that were happy to share their photography knowledge with me. They also shared local and state organizations with me and told me of workshops coming near the area. I went to everything I could attend, and afford. I hungrily drank in every word, and filled pages and pages of notebooks with knowledge. Then after about 14 months or so, I found myself at a seminar thinking to myself,

"I already know this. Why am I here? This is boring."

And I did not gleen as much from that seminar as I should have. I lost an opportunity and was a little upset with myself.

I had to re-assess where I was at, and knew that I might know some or many things about photography, at that point, but I would never know everything. And I realized the minute I or anyone else in the industry thought they knew it all, we would be dead in the water. We can know the basics, and more but we will never know it all, and that is why continuing education, in person, on a regular basis is so important.

I am so happy I had that realization so early in my career. 10 years in and I still have so much to learn, to do, to accomplish. Because I have wholeheartedly believed in and jumped into "in person education", I have joined Digital Dolls(the 1st all female digital photography group in Oklahoma) and am a past president for them, MPPA( Metro Professional Photographer's Association), I serve on the board, PPOK(Professional Photographers of Oklahoma), I also serve on this board, then PPA(Professional Photographers of America), as well as venturing off and joining another state's organization, TPPA(Texas Professional Photographers Association) I attend Texas School thru this organization,(ask me about it) and volunteer at their state convention or whenever I am able. And through all these organizations, I have found lifelong friends and several mentors. I have had education that is absolutely invaluable. I have met speakers from out of state and become friends with them, and been guided by them as well. People that I know I can call and they will back me up if I fall ill for a wedding, or other job. Networking that goes beyond the lesson given. It is literally priceless. You can't get any of that on YouTube or any other video forum.

I hope to help others as I have been and continue to be helped. If you need help, just ask, and I'll do my best or guide you to someone more knowledgeable in that area. And if I'm able to help you, I just hope, you will in turn, help the next person.

I encourage you to attend your local PPA guild, and to dig deeper, look at all your in person education options, and get to know the people in your state, not just the local area. Then build on that and start to build a national network of friends that you can talk to, learn from, and gather together with in the world of photography, so that you are never alone, and always have someone cheering you on, guiding you, helping you and there for you to celebrate your successes with. You will truly gain another family by becoming part of the photography world in person. And sometimes your photography family will be there for you in ways your actual family will not be able to. In person education is not a hand out, it is a hand up. It is about reaching out, pulling the person behind you up, as the person you admire pulls you up, to the next level of knowledge. A computer can't do that.

Mandy Womack


Memories by Mandy

Location Photography

Lawton, OK

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