On the 26th, 27th and the 28th of June 2009, SMEX organized the Digital Photography Workshop, facilitated by Georges Haddad.

George Haddad explaining to the participants basic
photography skills on Saturday.

The program included basic photography techniques, followed by a photoshoot where the participants applied the techniques assimilated, then the group got together again to check the pictures, give feedback and get tips on how to improve in the future. For the rest of the day Georges explained how to manipulate, extract and edit the pictures using Adobe Bridge as “media manager for visual people”, Adobe Photoshop and Picasa as editing software. Throughout the workshop participants received professional advice on what to do with their pictures? How and how much to resize them? Where to upload them? Where to find citizen journalism material and photojournalism material? How to improve their knowledge of photography itself?
The presentation content is now uploaded on SlideShare and is now available for anyone to check and learn from:

By the end of the day, participants left the training with a feeling of having received a crash course in photography. By covering the different aspects of photography, this training has opened the door for all participants to be photographers. Being professional photographers of course will require years of practice and tremendous self-motivated research. But for now, there is no obstacle facing them.


Zeina Gabriel
Thinking back at this experience, comparing this photography training to other photography trainings in which I took part (including really useful ones and not so useful ones) I can’t help but to think of two forces that were in place when we were looking for a trainer.
  1. Hire a professional Photographer! A professional photographer would know better and therefore would help participants get better and fast.
    Unfortunately, it is not always the case. Professional Photographers spend years improving their skills and as they genuinely try to transmit that knowledge in the context of a training they might fall in the trap of stuffing people’s minds with jargon words and dos and donts to the point where participants might end up feeling that they are listening to a documentary in Chinese. They risk being disempowered and discouraged from working on their photography skills.
  2. Get a good trainer and develop a Photography training with her/him! A professional will never understand, you need a good trainer not a good photographer.
    Every trainer knows this, training successfully is not simply blurting out the information. Depending on your long-term and short-term objectives from the training, being an expert in your field may not help you get the message across well enough. We all remember those weird teachers at school that were genius when it comes to the material they teach but that just couldn’t teach. It’s the same with adult learning, only with adults, assimilating information could be more difficult since participants don’t usually have a lot of free time to learn new skills.

So what do we do? Do we hire someone like Georges Haddad or do we just develop the training ourselves?
In fact, both strategies can work, a professional photographer could give a proper training and a trainer could develop a photography training. But having a professional photographer has the undeniable advantage of just knowing a lot. The challenge in this case was to communicate and cooperate well enough with George.


Friday participants (at least some of them).

On the first meeting we all sat down and each explained in as much details as possible what they want and what they expect from this training. Georges on one hand, was very understanding to the fact that such a training will need to be flexible, rely on patience, be brief and avoid big words. Our team on the other hand, tried to facilitate Georges’ task by providing him with material that we had, ideas that we wanted him to focus on.

Sunday participants.

In the end, the key to the success of this training was everyone’s commitment to the needs of the participants. Some participants had absolutely no knowledge in photography, others were amateur photographers. So we had to be flexible, to try not to bore anyone and at the same time to try not to discourage anyone by neglecting their need for additional attention.
N.B.: The Pictures in this post were taken by Mohamad Najem during the training, participants’ photos will be uploaded gradually and linked to this post as soon as their owners publish them.