A workshop implies that you will be guided through lessons, that you will have a learning experience. Over time, I saw a disturbing trend. Workshops were being advertised through meet ups and on Facebook, but they really weren't workshops. They were just group shoots.
Let me clarify the difference. I've already pointed out what "workshop" implies. A group shoot, on the other hand, is an organized event where the organizer plans and sets everything up. Very little instruction is given to the participants except for maybe etiquette and how the group shoot works. For example, one photographer at a time, taking 10 shots, then moving on to the next photographer. Nothing, or very little, is taught about the craft. Someone else does all that work for you.
I would say 95% of "workshops" are actually group shoots and are misleading and misnamed. I have learned about 5% of what I do from a "workshop." Early on, I had hopes of learning from these $50, 2 hours "workshops." I learned very little.
Most of my learning has come from practice, research, and experimentation on my own. While I don't want to demean legitimate workshops, there are some out there, I do want to caution anyone looking into them. Look at the work of attendees. If you see the same work over the course of the year, no improvement whatsoever from regular attendees in the group, that's a good indication that these are not so much workshops as they are group shoots.
I do not knock group shoots. They are a great way for a photographer starting out in a new speciality to build their portfolio. However, I think these workshop organizers should not mislead their attendees. They should call the session what it truly is, a group shoot or portfolio builder.
So, why do I post this? There are a couple reasons. i want beginning photographers or learners in any craft to research the workshops to make sure it is what they expect and that it will truly be a learning experience.
I also want to make it clear that it is wrong for a workshop organizer to call themselves a teacher and their attendees students when they aren't really teaching. I attended a handful and a particular organizer claims I am a student. I have not been to any workshops in over two years. It is false advertising. My work for the past two years can be attributed to my hard work and my own research, not to one particular faux-workshop.