Teaching Photography in Copenhagen

This entry was originally posted on my main journal over at www.matthewjames.dk

One area of photography I don’t shout about too much is my
Shooting Copenhagen Workshops, but after this week it’s probably about time I gave myself a pat on the back and shared the story behind them with you.

In the months (years actually) before I made the move to Copenhagen I had decided that I could definitely teach photography if I had to. With the education and experience I had as a newspaper photographer, I knew that my skills would be coveted and I could make some money from it. So one of my very first visits to the city was spent walking around with a notepad, drawing sketches and writing down ideas for workshop locations and tips.

Whilst living in Brisbane in March 2012, I was invited to start working for a Photography Workshop company and it seemed like a great intro to that line of work. Alas it wasn’t to be, as we had plans to head north and we wanted to stick to them. So I never returned the call…

Six months later I’d arrived in Copenhagen and was going through the pain-staking process of building a website, building networks, looking for clients and working out a budget. The website,
shootingcopenhagen.com, came first and it was up and running in no time. In fact, when I put an advert out to find five volunteers to take part in the trial workshop, the inbox almost exploded. From that reaction I was sure they’d do well. Indeed, the budget we created estimated that we’d find at least five hungry customers everyday and therefore our turnover would amount to 220,000 kr. Well let’s just say that that figure was a tad optimistic.

photography course, photography workshop, copenhagen,photography course, photography workshop, copenhagen,

In hindsight there are many reasons I never made this amount of money during the first year, and I won’t go in to them all here. But needless to say, the problem was simple: I didn’t invest enough money or time in to marketing them. Sure I got some posters and business cards made up, and I stopped by as many hotels and hostels as I could be arsed to, but it just wasn’t enough. I had no idea at the time just what was needed.

Over the next couple of years other sources of photography income came in and I started to lose interest in the workshops. But then I started to follow American photographer Joe McNally and soon got a taste for teaching again. So by April this year I had a brand new website with some sexy pictures and a more focused approach and soon enough the emails were coming in again. In fact, this week has seen three private workshops and a group tour, all back-to-back. Finding the time to do these has been a challenge, as there are plenty of Nike jobs, weddings, and other pictures that are stacking up on my hard drive, in need of editing. But seeing the huge difference between the trainees’ first pictures and those they produce during the workshop makes it totally worth it.

I just wish I’d met someone like me when I was starting out all those years ago. I might have been a shit photographer for a little less amount of time.