I've been shooting for (counts....) 6-ish years now. I started out wanting to just shoot places and things, then got interested in "documentary" stuff, then decided portraits would rock, and thru some twists of events, ended up doing a whole bunch of "pretty girl" work.
As a rank beginner (meaning, my early work was RANK!), I took classes from a photography shop here in Atlanta as well as a few - just a few - workshops. I chose my workshop attendance based on how much it would cost, who was putting it on, and the model line up. If all of those ingredients added up for me, I attended.
(keep this in mind as we move forward in my ramble - I was shooting 100% film - with a few notable exceptions, mostly b+w - doing my own processing and printing in a rented darkroom)
The first such event I attended was a very small event. It was intended to be a one on one event - the mentoring photographer and me. I was to spend two hours learning directly from the mentor about *how* to shoot. Overall, I was mixed about my experience with that event. Perhaps my expectations were too high. I do know, however, that I got three images out of that day that I still show as some of my better work. No, I did not provide the models with images afterwards.
The next event I attended was a weekend long workshop utilizing different locations and a variety of models. It was my first experience with Over The Shoulder Shooting, Model Hogging, and general boorish behavior from the attendees as well as some of the alleged instructors. Again, however, I came out with a ****e ton of images to add to my growing portfolio, and did so at a cost I could not have done on my own. There was no way I could have paid for the 4 or 5 models, the 3 MUAs, rented the lighting equipment, or secured the locations without the event. Other than a few Bad Practices, the event was run smoothly and professionally. Again, there was no requirement by me to provide images to the models, although I did. But only those images I felt were my best work. A few models didn't get anything from because, frankly, the shots I did with them sucked - AND I was still shooting film! In addition, I had one model begin to <em>demand</em> images from me.
In those early days of digital, film shooting was expensive. If I paid $250 (for example) to attend a workshop, I had to take into account an additional $200-$300 for film and processing. If I shot b+w, I had to take into account *HOURS* of my own time processing the film, making contact sheets, selecting "the best" from the those sheets, then hand printing my images. Just one 8x10 b+w image sent to a model would cost me well over $15 to produce. On top of that, when I did shoot color, I shot chromes! Running down to my local foto-mat to run off a few 12 cent prints was not an option.
When I chose which workshops or events to attend, I had to take into account my total cost, which was BEYOND the fee for attending.
Then, of course, there was useage.
At the first two workshops and various classes I attended, I got model releases which allowed me self-promotional use. That meant, to me, that I could use the images I created of those models in my land-based physical portfolio, my personal website, and on such message boards as Garage Glamour, to show off what I was capable of and to get comments, critiques, and suggestions from a community of photographers whose work and opinions I respected and valued. I passed on other glamour shoots because it was made very clear that the work I created at that workshop could NOT be used on-line! I could hang prints on my wall, or put 'em in my physical portfolio, or hell, even have them in my wallet, but I was not allowed on-line useage without paying an additonal fee.
I have since attended two other events where I feel like I met some incredible people - photographers, models, and MUAs. I have also felt comfortable enough with the event organizers to express to them when I felt an instructor was Model Hogging or that the bumps and hurdles such events are heir to were not being taken care of, and to feel that my opinion was heard and appreciated.
To this day, as better as I've gotten, I will not pay to attend a workshop or group shoot where I am [em]required[/em] to provide images to the models afterwards or where I have to pay an additional fee to use my images for self-promotion and education.
Will I provide images to workshop models? Hell yes! But only when I feel I am providing them my best work. I don't want to send a model any image I feel is less than what I am capable of doing. Am I timely in providing images to workshop models? Hell no! I'm horrible about doing so. I have my myriad reasons - full-time day job, part-time night job, family, my own weekend model shoots, confidence in my post-production skills, etc.
So - to close my ramble - those of you on here who are looking at workshops and events and wondering where to spend your money - DO NOT base your attendance simply on the name of the organizer or the sponsors. In fact, don't even depend on the published model line up (none of the shoots I have attended had all the models expected to attend - I have noticed most promoters now say "scheduled to attend" - good for them!). Don't ask the promoters about the events. Find people who have been to their workshops and ask for their opinions. Remember, too, one man's Great Experience may be another man's Rip Off. I've heard huge complaints from attendees of workshops I loved, and I had complaints about workshops other saw no problems with.
Weigh your costs. There is the fee for the event - then there are the additional fees of post-production, prints or digital image to the models and/or MUAs, maybe even model releases.
As with lighting, lenses, and cameras, go for the best value for [em]your[/em] dollar. Avoid the marketing hype. Look for the return on your dollar. Do you need hands on instruction? Do you want unique "yours only" shots? Do you prefer lectures and demonstrations over actually doing?
(jeeeez, I'm as long winded as some others!)
Think about it... and feel free to ask me how I feel about the shoots I've attended