Education is one of the best parts of photography. You can never stop learning. A good thing is when you love photography, learning doesn't make you upset, tired or obliged. I guess it is the same way with any kind of job that becomes your calling. You have to read, watch interviews, visit workshops and conferences.
In my opinion, there are some great reason to do so:
1. To be an expert for your clients.
Photography (it doesn't matter if it is family, wedding, portrait, reportage type of photography) is developing. The techniques and technology are changing, trends are evolving, expectations of customers are growing because they can see all those beautiful works on Instagram, Pinterest, on their friends walls, newspapers and magazines. You can be lucky enough to have your own voice, your unique style, but even then, you need at least to be aware of what is happening outside your little world, to be an expert for your people, to be sure you give them the best they can get because your clients deserve that.
2. Not to move backwards.
At the end of the day, if you stay still it means you move backwards. If you don't grow professionally, if you don't develop your photography, it is the same as stagnating. You can't stay the same and think nothing will change, for one simple reason. The world around you is changing and really fast. Get ready for that, predict and expect changes. Education is a good, safe and easy way to do so.
3. To experiment, to be inspired, to stay creative.
As any kind of artist, photographers need inspiration. Books and films, exhibitions, nature and people around us are great sources for finding new creative ways, to get inspired. When I followed other photographers from my genre, it didn't work. It was even depressive sometimes. I have started comparing my work with theirs and I needed to stop doing that. It was no good for me. But meeting those photographers personally was great! To meet people who love the art as much as I do, those who can see the same meaning in it helped me a lot.
I have visited a couple of conferences, retreats, meet-ups and workshops. They made me want to do more, to try something new, to believe in myself finally.
4. Fall in love with photography again.
Creativity can be easily killed by routine, but workshops and conferences will give you new impulses. Education in general helps us to be braver too. Every next family, wedding, any type of photo session will seem to be a new adventure, not something you are so much used to.
Here is a list of events and courses I have personal experience with. The one I really loved and I hope to participate in again. Maybe they will inspire you as well. And I have already started budgeting for education for next year (did you hear about the Real Life Conference, Foundation Workshops, Fearless Conferences?). Every time I photograph, I work on the next wedding or personal project, I can see and feel how much it pays back, for me and for my clients.
Twice I have joined a photo camp with one of the top photographers Sergey Maximishin and https://www.schoolandtrip.ru/. It was in Varanasi, India and in Porto, Portugal. You need to speak Russian for these particular classes, but how great it is to concentrate on photography only for two weeks, to see just the story you want to show, to share your work every evening with other photographers, to see their progress step by step. After these workshops I was full of energy, ready to achieve anything.
Some great workshops are offered by the organization Eyes in Progress. I found out about them only last year and I visited one workshop, but I am sure it was just a beginning. You can read more about my experience with this school in my previous post. This course was with the photo agency VII, one of the best in the world. Meeting their photographers, talking to them, sharing my projects and ideas gave me a totally different perspective on my own work and helped me to see the bigger picture.
If you are interested in documentary family photography, check Documentary Family Photographer's community. They have interesting courses and they also plan retreats on photography, marketing, pricing, time management topics. Everything specially for documentary family photographers. Guess what! Their first retreat was in Prague and it was super cool.
My first photo school was CreativeLive (https://www.creativelive.com/). It is an online school were you have so many classes that it is hard to choose and impossible to stop. Classes on photography, marketing, business, etc. You can always find something interesting. I spent a year of my life there, every evening following new live courses (and I own more than 60 classes). If I could recommend you just one, it would be Body Language from Vanessa Van Edwards. I think everyone who works with people must see it! The most helpful class ever.
Two years ago, I even visited CreativeLive personally and attended one of the classes. It was Family Photography: Photojournalism in the Home with Kirsten Lewis. I would need to write two more blog posts to tell how wonderful it was :D
I am based in Prague in the Czech Republic and I don't really know many local workshops, but there is one conference I really enjoyed this year. It was for Czech and Slovakian wedding photographers. Locally absolutely top event for me, called Festival of wedding photographers.
All those workshops and meet-ups have something in common. I met many great photographers there, made new friendships, met some wonderful teachers, and many really talented people. It opened new opportunities for me.
By all means, trust your guts, select what works for you personally, you don't have to apply everything. But to be able to break the rules, you need to learn them first.
Hope this will inspire you. See you at one of these events!