Personal project as a volunteer: photography workshop

Hej hej, it’s Jan Malte here. Today I want to tell you about my favourite thing at my project in Sweden and what I learned from it.

As a volunteer in the ESC you have the possibility to create a personal project. For me this was the creation of a photography workshop. I have been doing photography for four years now and wanted to meet people with the same interest and share the knowledge that I gained in the last years.

Due to Covid19 the workshop had to be online, which is unfortunate, but also opened up new possibilities. If the workshop would have been in person, there would have only been participants from my area, now people from all over Sweden are participating.

The first task of creating my project was to think of a concept and then market it. My goal for the workshop was to inspire people and simply let them enjoy photography, but I also wanted to give them the opportunity to learn new things. So I created the concept of a weekly one hour meeting. Then I had to market it.

Here I learned that it is very hard to find participants for online activities. Basically, you are competing with the whole internet, especially platforms like YouTube. So I knew I had to come up with something that these platforms can’t offer. My idea was to create a Facebook group for image critiques and feedback.

After knowing this, I started to post my event in EVERY swedish photography group on Facebook that I could find, and I am still continuing with this. Every week, one day before the workshop I post my event in ten different groups and, this way, I still get new participants.

In the meantime the Facebook group was crucial to keep the participants coming back. The group created a feeling of community and I can always make sure that everybody gets the link to join the meeting.

Now the course has been going for over ten weeks and I usually have around ten participants which is simply amazing. 

Doing the course I had to put all my knowledge into words and learn a lot more myself so it has also helped me a lot. 

I also realized another really interesting thing: by putting myself into this ‘teaching’ position I got into a position where people listen to what I have to say. This is a great feeling, but it also comes with a lot of responsibility. I usually spent at least three hours preparing for this one hour workshop. For me it’s also very important to show the participants that I am still learning a lot myself and that I am still a ‘beginner’ in comparison to the great photographers.

Experiencing this myself opened my eyes to be more appreciative for content creators like youtubers. But it has also helped me realize that you should never just rely on the knowledge of one person, but try to get a lot of different input because there are so many different perspectives on an artform like photography.

Doing this workshop has taught me a lot and I am very grateful to have found so many participants. It is one of the most rewarding things during my time here in Sweden.