In a couple of weeks I'm going to a Great American Photography workshop here in Washington. One of the things they ask is that we bring at least 20 photos for the workshop faculty to critique. (It's scheduled to be Susan and Neil Silverman if that means anything to anybody.) I imagine the process will be reasonably casual and easy going, but what's the best way to get the most out of this? Should I bring the photos that I think are my best as if it was a a portfolio? One thought I had was to be sure to include photos of subjects I'm interested in, even if some of them might not be my best photos, in hopes of getting advice on how to improve those kinds of photos.
Sounds reasonable to me.... bring a few that you consider your best work, so that you can get suggestions on anything you might be missing, or could be improved....and bring a few that didn't turn out quite how you had hoped so that they can tell you what went wrong and how to fix it in the future. That seems like a good way to learn; let us know how it goes, and have fun!
I'm not familiar with the Silverman's, so I can't say what the range of subjects they plan to cover in their workshop, but definitely go as broad as they plan to go. Beyond that, I'm not sure I'd waste their time and mine critiquing images I already knew were a disappointment to me. Chances are you have a pretty good idea of what's primarily wrong in those images already. Instead, use the workshop as a means to forget everything you already know about shooting those subjects and learn from scratch. You can certainly discuss with them the general question of what seems to generally plague those disappointing images and get some ideas from them.
IMO, however, the greatest value you can obtain from having a couple of pros critique your work is from looking at what you believe is your best work. They can help you learn to see your "best work" through the more critical eyes of those who are used to seeing lots of outstanding images. From that you can learn to look at your own work, past and future, more critically than you ever have before.
I personally believe the greatest barrier to self-improvement any photographer faces is his or her own inability to be sufficiently critical of his or her own efforts. If this workshop only helps you surmount that barrier, it will be money well spent.
Thanks for the tips. The workshop is in the Palouse area of eastern Washington (and a bit into Idaho). I'm guessing there will be lots of opportunities for exploring form and color in landscape shots. Plus "rural" things: barns, farmers, small towns, markets, etc.
My main reason for going to the workshop is to get some insight into a professional photographer's approach. I'm really looking forward to it.