My Fears Around Teaching Photography Workshops
I wanted to share with you some of my fears, and how I overcame them, around holding my photography workshops because I know so many photographers have dreams of one day teaching their own and fear tends to be the reason they don’t.
I’ll start off by giving you a quick background on me, my mission, and what I do for other photographers.
My name is Mark Maya I'm a Marine Corps Iraqi War Veteran, former college athlete, PTSD conquerer turned wedding photographer and coach. I’m also an Digital Art Teacher at a high school. I have two young kids, Harvest and Honor. They live with me in Durham, N.C.
I provide genuine wedding photography for unique couples and my mission is to provide them with a stress-free, genuine experience that makes them feel confident in me, my abilities and my experience. I do this by working closely with clients to make sure that I go the extra mile through unexpected ways. The main way I help my clients is to give them a high quality product while providing them with an amazing experience that they won’t forget so they can actually enjoy their wedding without having to worry about the details like photography.
I’m also a coach for photographers where I facilitate an online paid community, face-to-face workshops, and small group coaching in order to help photographers find their “Why” in their businesses. I do this by actively cultivating relationships with other photographers and being an advocate for them, their businesses and their missions. The main way I help photographers is when they’re feeling uninspired, stuck or disconnected, I use inquiry-based learning models to guide them to their own purpose, meaning and focus so they can gain clarity on what steps to take next in their photography businesses.
This is the part where I talk about my fears of teaching my own workshops.
Touring the country teaching face-to-face workshops has been the scariest thing I’ve done in my business. From January 2017 - March 2018 I taught 6 different one-day, face-to-face workshops for photographers in LA, Chicago, Salt Lake City, Nashville, Asheville and my hometown of Durham, N.C.
The fear I felt around teaching my workshops was connected with failure. I had never done anything like this (especially this big) but I knew I wanted to travel more and that face-to-face environments were inspiring to me so I worked hard to work through that fear and procrastination.
Here are some things I took action on to overcome those fears.
Procrastination and the fear that I wasn’t good enough popped up as soon as I was ready to commit to doing my workshops so I knew that inspired action was important so the first step I took was to buy a plane ticket to my first location and put the date on my calendar. That helped me hold myself accountable for doing it and ultimately obliterate procrastination. Also, if no one came to the workshop (which actually happened once) then I would still meet my need of wanting to travel.
I also searched for local ambassadors that were already in my community to help with the promotion of the events. I actually had 4 photographers register for my last workshop in Chicago just because I asked a local established photographer to think about people who they think would benefit from it. 3 of those people have joined my online community since then.
Finally, I just told my audience through Facebook, Instagram, and email. This helped me get in the mindset of talking about my workshops consistently and it helped to my audience understand what I was doing more.
Here are the results of those actions I took.
The first four workshops were complete duds. I found only a few people that I was resonating with and it resulting in some real personal embarrassment. For example, the first four workshops I held had only six photographers attend…combined.
I thought about quitting after each one of those first four workshops just because I was so embarrassed. Luckily, I didn’t because the last two workshops were complete hits. They both had around 10 or 11 attendees and the reviews I got from those 20 people were golden and I’m currently using them to promote my next workshop tour. This time around I have much more confidence in myself and my ability to help other photographers and I even double my price for it.