You might agree that the recipe for success for us creators are constant testing & keep learning new skills. When it comes to education, we can choose from a wide range of services, and it can be quite overwhelming to compare and evaluate what each formats can offer. If you are seeking for more clarity about your options, you are at the right place!
In this episode of the 'Let's Talk About...' blog post series you will get your questions answered about subscription-based learning - including how it works, how it is different from other education formats, and when to consider sign-up for this learning experience.
If you are interested in learning more about camera angles, manual settings on your camera, composition, food styling tricks and tips, or even business practices you can check the previous episodes of this popular blog series by clicking here.
The end of 2023 is near...
WHAT ARE THE MAIN EDUCATIONAL OPTIONS YOU CAN CHOOSE FROM AS A PHOTOGRAPHER?
- Formal education: you can pursue a certificate in photography by enrolling in a degree program at a university or art school.
- 1-on-1 consultation & mentoring: you can get personalised guidance, feedback and a personalised learning plan with established professionals during single sessions or on-going mentorship programs.
- Portfolio & image review: detailed feedback from experienced photographers, editors, curators and reps can offer you valuable insights for improvement and elevated vision.
- Workshops, masterclasses & webinars: participating in events hosted by other professionals can provide hands-on experience, insights into their techniques, and real-time Q&A opportunities.
- Online courses: thematic online courses offered by experts on a certain filed can help you process a specific topic as it fits your own schedule.
- Subscription-based learning platforms: you can access to a broad range of courses, lessons and tutorials.
- Assisting: you can gain practical experience by working as an intern or assistant for an established photographer.
- Blogs, newsletters, video channels, podcasts: usually free resources that are providing insightful tips, tricks, and tutorials and showcasing diverse approaches to various aspects of photography and creative business management.
- In-person & online communities: by joining and actively participating in thematic communities, forums, or social media groups you can learn from others, share experiences and find solution to current challenges.
- Networking events & conferences: by actively engaging with professionals in the food industry, including manufacturers, restauranteurs, chefs, food stylists, and other photographers you can get valuable insights to the challenges and needs of your potential customers, crew members and "colleagues".
It's of course possible, that this list might not cover the entire spectrum of educational opportunities, but I believe these are the main options currently available on the market.
Exercise: WHAT TYPE OF EDUCATION IS THE BEST FIT FOR YOU?
I brought you a list of questions that help you self-evaluate your needs, and prioritise the type of education that fits you the most.
What are your specific goals as a creator?
Clarify your short + long-term goals, whether it's mastering a particular technique, building a portfolio, dive deep into styling, get more traffic to your blog/website, or enhance your entrepreneurial journey.
What topics interests you the most?
In order to pick right option that will keep you engaged and motivated, identify your specific areas of interest within photography, then get clarity on how close/far these topics are from each other. This will help you to see the "big picture" and understand the complexity of your goals.
What is your current skill level?
Assess your existing knowledge and skills to get a clear picture of the appropriate starting point for your studies. This ensures you don't end up investing into a program that is too basic or way too advanced.
What gear & resources do you currently have access to?
Consider the equipment, software, and facilities you have access to. Some courses may require specific tools, so it's essential to choose an education path that aligns with your current resources - unless your goal with education is mastering a new gear or software.
What is your preferred learning style?
Consider whether you learn best through hands-on experience, visual aids, reading, or a combination of these. Digging into this question can guide you toward resources that align with your learning preferences.
Do you prefer structured courses or self-paced learning?
Determine whether you enjoy structured lessons and assignments, or if you prefer the flexibility of learning at your own pace. Based on your goals and personality, determine if you feel more comfortable growing as part of a group, or thriving independently.
Do you learn better through critiques and feedback?
Assess whether you value feedback and constructive criticism in your learning process. Some educational formats, like workshops, feedback sessions and mentorship programs, may offer more personalised feedback than others.
How much time can you dedicate to learning?
Be realistic about your time commitments. Consider your work schedule, hobbies, family obligations, and other responsibilities to find an education format that fits into your lifestyle.
What is your budget for education?
Evaluate how much you are willing and able to invest in your education. This will help narrow down options and find courses or resources that fit within your financial constraints.
Are you looking for a certification?
Decide if you're seeking formal qualifications or if you're more interested in acquiring practical skills and knowledge. This can influence whether you choose a traditional academic path or specialised workshops and tutorials.
There are so many opportunities to choose from, so it can be quite difficult to hear the right calling in the noise of all kids of services the market has to offer. Here is how I eliminate the risk of investing my money & time into lessons I personally don't need:
- I earmark all types of educational resources and opportunities that interests me, even if I do not have the will or budget to enrol right now. This way I can avoid losing sight of good resources and get back to them later on.
- I research the reputation of the resources I'm considering by checking the reviews, testimonials, and success stories can give me an idea of the quality of education provided.
- I contact the educator directly with my questions. In addition to get more information on their service, I can directly experience the responsiveness, style, approach and helpfulness of my future mentor, to see if we are a good fit before booking.
- If I'm still hesitating, I simply reach out to my creator friends who previously participated in the course I'm interested in. Hearing their personal experience and their point of view can help me decide.
I invited a professional food photographer and educator friend who has created her own subscription-based educational hub. Welcome, Lucia Marecak on board!
Who are you and what is your specialty?
My name is Lucia Marecak. I am a full-time food photographer, and I also specialize in memberships and courses and help small entrepreneurs to start or transform their businesses online.
I was born in Slovakia, but I live in Turin, Italy. I started my photography business in 2020. I work with food brands and create product images for them, and I also teach food photography online in my membership called the Members’ Club.
When did you get inspired to share your knowledge with other creatives?
Food photography has always been my passion, and during 2020 I was sharing many insights from food photography. I loved sharing about things I was learning. Thanks to this, I grew my profile, and I realized that I loved sharing my knowledge and helping others to learn new things. This led me to open my Members Club in December 2020. There, I started creating courses and masterclasses on various topics, and the club has developed even more since then. We have regular live coaching calls, business training, and many other activities that help my members grow their food photography skills and develop their businesses.
In December 2023, we will celebrate 3 years of our Members’ Club. It’s been an incredible journey, and I am very honored to be part of the community we created. It’s energizing and inspiring to be in touch with other photographers, as the journey of a typical food photographer is typically lonely.
During the past 3 years, I’ve been creating many resources, tools, and materials that my members use daily. These are very helpful resources that can improve photography or business processes a lot. So, I decided to create a FOODlight Growth HUB, which is a place where members can find all the templates and other tools for photographers. The HUB is in the final phase of being launched publicly and will open its doors in a few week’s time.
What are the most common struggles of your students?
My students have all the struggles that every person has when trying to learn food photography or create a photography business. It’s simple: composition, lighting, editing, or working with clients. It was the same for me when I started in food photography.
At my beginnings, I also needed regular help & and advices to improve my photography, business, or marketing, and this is what I try to focus on in the Members’ Club. I create resources that cover all the areas my students need help with.
How do I know my students’ struggles by simply asking and talking to them during live calls and doing surveys about topics for our upcoming courses. This is how I create new masterclasses, themed courses, or specific live trainings.
What sets a subscription-based platform apart from other forms of education?
A subscription-based platform offers people to pay less and access the resources inside a learning program. This is different from purchasing courses and 1-1 sessions. Such resources are a one-time payment, smaller or higher. However, membership allows you to pay less, which helps you be a member for a longer time and receive all the support you need on a long term base.
My members pay a small monthly fee, allowing them to access the entire platform, where they find courses, masterclasses, trainings or challenges, including my coaching calls. So, instead of purchasing a singular 1-1 session, one course, or an e-book, they access all of this inside the membership.
This is an excellent solution for anyone needing long-term help learning new skills or growing their businesses. This is a valuable aspect and a life-changing experience. Building a business is extremely difficult, and often, few friends around us understand what we go through. This makes our journey not easy, and we feel very lonely.
What is the role of collaborators on your platform?
Since the beginning of the Members Club, I regularly invite other professional photographers to join us on live calls and tell us more about their journeys. Talking to other photographers who have built a successful business is inspiring and makes you realize that you are not the only one struggling with particular challenges. There is always someone who overcame the challenge that new photographers face. I try to invite experts with different photography or business experience so that everyone can find something valuable in these live calls.
What do you recommend considering for a photographer looking for new learning options?
It’s important to connect with the person when purchasing a course, a membership, or other resources. A coach needs to inspire you and communicate effectively. When I look for a new course, I expect my coach to deliver concrete, specific, and easy-to-understand information and not to make me question something even more than before. So this is very important, to have a connection with the teacher.
Another important aspect is to work with a coach who has been in a situation as you before. Learn more about the coach’s background and experience. Experiencing something is the only way someone can help others to solve the challenges or progress further.
Then, it’s important to set the objective of what you want to learn. What do you need to learn now, and what is your business goal in the future? A photographer doesn’t only have to search for ways to improve their skills, but it’s important to keep learning about business and marketing. Since the beginning of my photography career, I have taken many courses, and I am a member of a few memberships focusing on business and entrepreneurship.
On the other side, while I understand the worries of purchasing an expensive course, a membership offers to become a member even for a month, and test the platform. This is a huge advantage, because when you are not sure about joining, just come in, see inside and you have nothing to lose :)