- Intuitive use of the camera and strong technical skills in taking a good image
- Composition/narrative awareness and capture
- Sense of personal style in my work
- Limited post processing skills
- Over commitment to what I believe is important
- See the world through my eyes rather than necessarily considering my audience
I am a qualified coach and so have been looking at providing 1-2-1 support to photographers wishing to clarify focus, development and commitment for their future photography work.”
We were asked to consider a number of questions:
What is a workshop?
We were given the following current working definition for a “workshop”:
“For us, a workshop is a “short-term, intensive and problem-focused learning experience that actively involves participants in the identification and analysis of problems and in the development and evaluation of solutions”. (Sork 1984:5) As such, the workshop format provides an opportunity for people to come together to resolve a task / problem set out by you.”
There are similarities in this definition and the one from Wikipedia for “coaching”:
“Coaching is a form of development in which a person called a coach supports a learner or client in achieving a specific personal or professional goal by providing training and guidance. The learner is sometimes called a coachee. Occasionally, coaching may mean an informal relationship between two people, of whom one has more experience and expertise than the other and offers advice and guidance as the latter learns; but coaching differs from mentoring in focusing on specific tasks or objectives, as opposed to more general goals or overall development.”
In my professional life I coach senior managers in work-related issues and problems. The purpose of coaching for me is to allow the coachee enough space and time to reflect on their chosen problem through asking insightful and penetrating questions and reflecting back to them my insights and thoughts about finding solutions.
Where do I start?
A popular methodology for a coaching session is GROW developed by John Whitmore:
I plan to use this outline for my coaching sessions with photographers:
G– Goals for the session
R – Reality – talking more about the issues, players, etc
O – Options – reflecting on possible ways to solve or mitigate the problem
W – Will – gaining commitment from the coachee to the course of action they have chosen
The aim of the coaching session(s) would be to work towards producing a Photography Development Plan (PDP). The plan, completed by the coachee after the penultimate session, would identify what has been achieved during the coaching sessions, provide clarity about further development over the next twelve months, resources needed to achieve objectives, what needs to be done by others, any issues not resolved to date, barriers to achieving objectives, ways to remove barriers and any other issues needing to be recorded. The initial sessions would be followed up by a 1-2-1 Skype call (at the end of the twelve months period) to measure progress and resolve on-going challenges
The feedback in my working life to my coaching is wholly positive but to me the real value is in learning about how others approach problems, some of the innovative ways they choose to solve their challenges and the fact I learn as much from them as they do from me.
My intended audience for the coaching would be people looking to develop their photography to the next level. It would be for them, with my support, to identify what that next level might look like. It may be finding more time to spend on photography, looking to pursue photographic distinctions or courses or developing into a new genre. I have given some thought to whether this type of coaching could be done in small groups and I think I have two options:
- Pursue individual coaching model
- Undertake a workshop to help participants start to think about their aspirations and future direction in photography and to facilitate contributions and ideas across the group. This will provide a creative starting point to then go into 1-2-1 sessions. It will be helpful for me to hear other ideas to address participants’ current issues and challenges. In turn, some of these ideas may inspire me to change my direction or approach in my Research Project.
What needs to be decided?
The size of the participant group: Given the approach and methodology I intend to use and the need to focus on each individual and their challenges in the workshop setting, I would restrict the workshop to six people. Although I recognise the limited ideas and contributions that might be available I think this is a compromise that needs to be made in order to give time to each individual participant.
The composition of the group: I would hope to provide wider challenge to participants by choosing a group with varying degrees of experience, skills and aspirations.
How participants communicate with each other: Given the sensitivity and extent of sharing required within the workshop setting I would want to encourage positive engagement and participation between group members and, of course, all discussions would remain confidential to the group.
How much participants help each other: All participants will be expected to contribute in the knowledge that everyone will have certain skills, experience or ideas to be able to do this. I will need to recognise the potential for friction. One way of dealing with this would be to have a contingency plan to split participants into two groups or pair discussions.
How much you want participants to know first. Having an interest and commitment to developing their photography will be sufficient for participants to gain something from the workshop and/or coaching sessions.
If and how the workshop is recorded: Given the nature of the engagement and the fact that often discussions take a confidential turn I would not wish to record either the workshop or coaching sessions. However, I do encourage participants to take their own notes of relevant points raised. This is consistent with participants gaining commitment to their own learning and development. I would encourage a reflective journal as a means of recording objectives and outcomes as they develop their photography.
What could go wrong?
The most likely problems, from my experience of five years of coaching is that people get upset articulating their challenges, become defensive or are sceptical at the start of the coaching experience. However, this is coaching that people are choosing to engage with (rather than possibly being volunteered by their superior) so I would I could deal with the normal 1-2-1 challenges of engaging with people in this way.
I will need to reflect on this idea and any comments I receive from fellow students or through this blog.
Whitmore, J (1992 ), Coaching for Performance, Nicholas Brealey Publishers, London