DLS 2014 dates (finally!!!)

FINALLY!!!  Dates are nailed down and the workshops have been given a fresh new overhaul for 2014.  At a glance, here they are:

January 19*, 2014 - it's not about the camera (new date!)
February 9,  2014 - composition, understanding light
March 2,  2014 - technical critiquing, photo manipulation
March 30,  2014 - portraiture and controlled lighting
April 27,  2014 - the business end of things I
May 25, 2014 - the business end of things II

Workshops are $150 each.  A discount of $25 per class applies when you sign up for 2 or more, or $50 per class if you take the complete series.  Zip me a message about payment plan options :)

Sunday, January 19, 2014 - it's NOT about the camera
Start time: 10am
Finish time: 5pm
When someone says, "Your camera takes nice pictures!" if you're shooting in Auto, they are indeed correct - your camera is taking the picture.  This workshop will take you an on in-depth exploration of exactly how your camera works, all the fancy accessories you can get and what they are for, and the REAL reason virtually any camera can take nice pictures: YOU.  In addition to checking out pretty much every piece of camera and studio equipment in My Edmonton Studio, you will begin to develop a solid foundation in understanding the technology upon which every camera in existence is based: the Law of Reciprocity.  We will learn the differences between wide angle, fish eye, macro, micro, telephoto, pancake, and specialty lenses like tilt shifters and lensbaby, discuss RAW v. JPEG, explain the difference between DPI/PPI v. pixels and digital resolution, learn about Depth of Field (DOF) and how it "makes stuff blurry in the background" and more. You will likely have a shopping list when this class is done, but save your pennies for now... because it's not about the camera.  Find the Facebook event HERE.

Sunday, February 9, 2014 - composition, understanding light
Start time: 10am
Finish time: 5pm
This day is dedicated to the two most basic elements of photography: composition and light.  The first portion will allow you to get a firm grasp on strong composition and understand how composition is used to clarify, create context, and intrigue viewers.  We will explore how to make negative space active and learn why sometimes it's best to break the most common rules of composition to work to your advantage.  Then, despite living in Alberta, where the weather can change in literally minutes, we will learn how light is 100% predictable.  When you understand exactly how light works, you will be able to use this knowledge to create images using natural, available and controlled light.  You will learn how to guesstimate your camera's settings in manual as well as look at situations when you may want to use aperture or time priority and what the trades offs are when using long or short shutter speeds, wide or deep apertures, and high or low ISO.  WARNING: this class involves heavy use of sparklers and/or glow sticks. Find the Facebook event HERE.

Sunday, March 2, 2014 - technical critiquing, photo manipulation (in Adobe Photoshop)
Start time: 10am
Finish time: 5pm
Learning how to deconstruct images you are looking at will help you recognize things like lighting set-ups, identify lenses and focal lengths that your prefer, and recognizing the elements that attract you.  This will ultimately assist you in developing your style through the lighting set-ups you choose, the lenses you invest in, the design elements and composition you employ, and finally the post-processing you apply when finishing your images.  The Photoshop portion is a play-along demo; students will be given a set of 2 - 4 images to work with and we will walk through several techniques as a group that will hopefully help you get your feet wet and feel more comfortable with the PS environment.  By the end of the demon you will have used most of the tools in your palette while playing with levels, curves, skin retouching (3 techniques), liquify, masking, layers, and more.  Time permitting, we will also write a basic action for applying a watermark and apply it using a script.  Find the Facebook event HERE.

Sunday, March 30, 2014 - portraiture and controlled lighting
Start time: 10am
Finish time: 5pm
Not gonna lie - posing is important, so we will learn lots of tips and tricks for posing individual men and women, infants/babies, children, groups, and families - but the MOST important part of your job as a photographer is to make your subjects feel as comfortable and relaxed in front of the camera so that their own personality can shine through (even when their personality type is awkward...)  Throughout the day, we will be practising on each other as well as several models and while we are doing that we will be experimenting 3 different lighting set-ups - single off-camera flash, 2-piece continuous fluorescents, and 3-piece Alien Bee strobe kit - as well as 3 different types of sets - continuous paper, a creative set, and a "typical" living room.  Find the Facebook event HERE.

Sunday, April 27, 2014 - the business end of things I
Start time: 10am
Finish time: 5pm
Do you need a business license?  Should I register my company name? How do I open a bank account?  Why do people trademark their images?  How do I get a bank loan?  What can I write off on my taxes?  Do I have to collect GST? How much should I be charging for my services?  This just barely scratches the surface of all the questions you are going to have about setting up shop, and in one long, whirlwindy kinda day we are going to dance our way through all the intricacies, and then maybe celebrate decompress with a glass of well-earned wine... find the Facebook event HERE.

Sunday, May 25, 2014 - the business end of things II
Start time: 10am
Finish time: 5pm
Marketing plans, campaigns, promotions, schedules, business management software, social media, integration platforms, websites, SEO optimization, branding/rebranding, blogging, bonding, networking, referral programs, products, packaging, consultations, complaints, customer feedback, Facebook contests, rewards, client gifts, developing a corporate identity, logos...  yeah, that kind of day.  Bring coffee.  Find the Facebook event HERE.

You're welcome!

Navigating licenses, permits, insurance, bank accounts, etc. when first setting up your photography business can be a very intimidating and confusing process.  While I can't share with you the magnificent conversations we have about the how and why of the steps involved at each of the stop signs, I can share with you the flowchart that shows where to start and how to proceed with a series of simple yes-no questions.  This flowchart is specific to Alberta/Canada but if any of my friends elsewhere feels like they would like to help me make a version local to their area or country, zip me an email!  

Please feel free to share this handy flow chart with anyone you think might find it useful.  You're welcome!

Business Coaching 2014 prep

Phewf.  You got yourself a camera and you're starting to get requests for baby and family pictures and someone asked your if you'd bring your camera to their wedding...  You know you can't play the "newbie" card and work off the grid (not forever, anyways, right?) but how do you know where to start?  Well, my dear friends, for a very reasonable price I am offering a 10-week guided business coaching class for people in the Edmonton area BUT for those who can't attend or who live too far away, I have written this sweet little self-guided learning article just for you.

Nothing included here constitutes legal advice, but the hotlinks will direct you to people in the organizations that CAN give you detailed instructions on exactly how to accomplish whatever task is at hand.  While this article is definitely geared towards people in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, the process is similar regardless of where you live. If you think of this article as a compass that will point you in the right direction, you and your favourite internet search engine can sort the rest out.  :)

If you think I've left something out, know of a great resource I missed, or wish to add something, please use the contact form here and let me know!

If you get through this list in under 4 weeks you are a) a liar, b) a superhero or c) missing a lot of steps.  Before you start thinking this is all going to take a day or two, think again.  It will take several hours over several weeks to put everything in place.  Once you accept this reality, you can develop a much more realistic timeline and not risk overlooking something important by trying to rush through it or take the easy route.  Expect to spend a ridiculous amount of time on the phone and the internet, in permit offices, and on hold.  And it's all OK.  Deep cleansing breaths and a lot of patience will help you do it right the first time and protect you from frustration and disaster later.

An excellent place to start when developing a strategy for starting a new business is to take the time needed to develop a proper business plan.  You can find free samples everywhere but I really like the one available at Alberta Women Entrepreneurs.

Determine the kind of business you are going to run.  Is it a sole proprietorship?  Partnership?  Will you incorporate?  Once you figure this part out you can start looking at things like if you are going to register the business and open a separate bank account or take payments in your own name and throw the money in your regular bank account.  If you do not live in Alberta, you need to check your provincial or state legislation for specific rules that apply to your area.  You can find affordable editable legal forms online here.  If you need help with incorporating, I have used Business Develop Canada's services before and found them to be knowledgeable, affordable, and incredibly easy to work with.

You do not have to have a business number unless you make over $30,000 and are required to collect and remit GST, or if you have employees.  You can register for a business number here.

Find a NUANS search provider in your area. This will help you determine if you can register your business name or if it's already in use.  Be prepared with a few options just in case.  Make sure to do a search for your desired domain name in case you want your dotcom/dotca to match.

Yes, you need to inquire about a license or permit for every municipality in which you perform work, even if you are taking money in your home town only.  This applies to neighbouring towns, other provinces, and international locations as well, where you may be required to get a work permit or visa if you don't want your equipment confiscated, harassment from local authorities, or a jail term.  Banff and Mexico are well-organized when it comes to monitoring outsiders.  In Alberta, pretty much all you need to know about how to obtain a business license for most municipalities can be found at Bizpal.  To find your own provincial Bizpal visit here.

You will need to determine how you are going to handle your banking.  Are you going to accept cash only?  Debit? EMT? Credit cards?  Do you need to be able to take payments on site or mobile?  What kinds of service fees are you allowed to pass along to your clients?  What are the pros and cons of mixing your business income with your personal bank account?   The best plan for setting up your business banking properly is just to make an appointment with the bank.  You may want to do a bit of background checking on who has the best business rates - http://www.pcfinancial.ca

Generally, leasing and renting offer better write-offs than purchasing and depreciation.  Interest is not always tax deductible, either.  An accountant will be able to advise you on what parts of your loans and/or leasing you can write off but only a TAX LAWYER can offer legal advice.  If you feel confident in your ability to decipher tax laws, you can visit the Canada Revenue Agency and research what deductions are allowable and which ones are not.

You may need to have helpers from time to time.  To determine if they are employees or subcontractors, use this status of a worker form. The IRS has similar information available.

Companies are required to pay Workers' Compensation.  Contact your provincial branch to find out what kind of coverage you need, where to remit, etc.

There are both Personal Income Tax and Business Tax - here is a handy set of calculators and tables if you want to get a guesstimate of your Federal & Provincial business and income taxes.  You will pay taxes differently if you pay yourself as an employee, if you are incorporated, etc.  You may contact CRA directly or consult with an accountant to tax lawyer for details specific to your business.
GST/HST - Basically, total GST collected less total GST spent = GST remittance (refund.)
This guy is a Canuck and has a great Tax resource site.

There are pros and cons to becoming a member of any number of professional organizations.  Some require a peer jury for admission while others simply accept your dues and allow you to hang up a sign.  You will have to decide personally which organizations you feel are legit.  One of the biggest benefits of belonging to a professional photography organization lies in its ability to provide you with group health benefits and insurance rates.  PPOC and PPA are organizations that offer both accreditation and benefits/insurance.

You should talk to your insurance agent (I don't know who he or she is but YOU do) to see if you qualify for any discounts by compounding your business with your existing home or vehicle policy, or you may contact any one of a number of insurance companies for a quote.  If you have a physical location, your building manager may have minimum insurance requirements.

If you are running a small business with 5 or less employees it is often not cost-effective to set up a health benefits plan.  A Google search will find you tonnes of companies you can request quotes from.  You may also encourage your employees (if they are eligible photographers) to sign up for PPOC/APA to access group benefits.

Canadian Copyright Law is pretty straight forward - you own your images and have the authority to restrict how your clients use them by creating a personal or commercial license.  This should all be addressed in your contract or model release.

Here's a collection of basic photography forms that you may modify to comply with your federal and state/provincial laws.  Here's a subscribe and get it free wedding contract download from Tofurious who also has an incredible amount of marketing resources on his site.  It's also highly valuable to create a number of "canned responses" such as a tip sheet for what to wear or bring to your session, an "away from the office" reply, and a price sheet.

I highly recommend installing a time tracker on your computer.  It will help you see how much time is spent doing legitimate work v. putzing by monitoring which websites you are on vs. which software you are using.  It's really easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you are working really hard and getting nowhere when you are actually just wasting a tonne of time on social media or surfing YouTube.  You may wish to come up with a written workflow for yourself so that you have something to refer back to when you feel yourself getting sidetracked.  For example, you could put a hard copy or a digital copy of your own checklist with each client:

Book, get all client info, send style guide or tip sheet with invoice
Send receipt and confirm location, booking, weather 2 days before session
Get contract and model release signed
Shoot session
Upload Photos
Back Up Originals
Sort Photos 1 - garbage out
Sort Photos 2 - faves
Sort Photos 3 - find missing details
Sort Photos 4 - cull to quantity (ie 500
Export final cull to separate folder
Back Up final cull
Choose & Process Teasers
Post Teasers on Facebook, ask clients to share
Process images in Photoshop/Lightroom
Back Up professed images
Upload proofing gallery/schedule IPS meeting
Collect balance due
Design Albums, send prints in, etc.
Review and repackage competed products
Deliver gift and completed product to client

Some software (like StudioCloud) will actually send you reminders for this sort of thing but this can work if you are more of a hard-copy in a binder type.  Others use whiteboards or desk calendars.  The point being, you need to be organized so things don't fall through the cracks and so that you know exactly what the status of each clients' session is at a glance.

You will need to invest in some software.  You will likely need either Lightroom or Photoshop (or both) and they can be found on Adobe Cloud for $20 - $50/month (probably less than you spend on your cell phone bill.)  Cloud allows you to forever have the most current version of their software.  You *can* buy CS6 still but Adobe is phasing out supporting all its older versions meaning they will not be updated with information to handle new formats, may not be compatible with newer operating systems, etc.  Blogging will become a part of your life and you can make manual storyboards but if you want to save time you may want to invest in something like BlogstompStoryboard (Canadian!) or Compositor.  When designing albums you may create composites/storyboards using InDesign or Photoshop or whatever but most pro lab systems ("ROES") have online design capabilities with free templates.  Please review "Bookkeeping & Accounting" for business software.

People go to school for 4 years to get degrees in marketing so don't expect a lot here other than knowing you need to consider your corporate image and how you will promote your business.  Relying on social media with an "if you build it they will come" mentality will fail you miserably.  You can find all kinds of detailed marketing advice for photographers online (I recommend Tofurious because he's clever AND entertaining) but my top two tips are: 1) develop a corporate identity (a lot of what goes into this will come from doing your business planning way back on Day One) and 2) make a marketing plan which includes some sort of market analysis or research (you may have done this already in your business plan) so you can properly target your campaigns.  There is both free and paid software to help you with getting the word out - I suggest checking out Mailchimp and HubspotStudiocloud has a built-in calendar for this and (for a price) places like Sandy Puc's SPU actually do the marketing plan FOR you with ready-made templates and stuff.

Yes, social media gets its own category.  There are pros and cons to using social media, but the general rule of thumb for photographers is that social media is a great way to inform existing clients and not so great for recruiting new clients.  Even a post that gets 1000 likes doesn't mean your making a penny off it, whch makes it expecially frustrating since it takes so much damned time managing all your accounts - Facebook, Instagram, Vines, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. etc. etc.  Managing several social media accounts can be difficult so you may want to look at some social media integration apps (both paid and free versions exist.)

You need an online portfolio, period.  Whether you use a blogsite, a hosting company, or get something fabulously custom made, you need to be able to send someone to your website.  Here are many web and blog site hosts you can investigate.  You can also check out companies that specialize in online proofing.  If you wanna stay Canadian, check out zoomphoto.ca or showmyphoto.ca   Pricing varies - free, pay and go, pay as you go, set-up + monthly fee, etc.  Some offer clients self-fulfillment and direct shipping of orders while others you need to order separately from your printer based on their online order.  Spend some time determining what your needs are and find a website host that fills those needs within your budget.

Here is a review of some of the most popular labs.  Many pro labs offer both packaging AND printing of everything from prints, albums and keychains to custom USBs and picture tins.  Check for local printers first - in a pinch you might need something local so it's good to know.  In Edmonton and Area every photographer should know about (in alphabetical order) Don'sMcBainTechnicare, and Vistek.  Photobooks can be printed lots of places in a variety of styles and price ranges - check to see which ones are 100% Canadian is you want your $$$ to stay in Canada.  High-end albums are usually available through professional printers only.  eBay and Kijiji, and local Facebook groups are a great resource, too.

I often get asked what gear a photographer should buy first.  I get asked what brand, too, but I don't discuss brand - that's up to you entirely.  I shoot Pentax and if they ever went out of business I'd go Nikon, not because Canon makes bad gear but because I'm still bitter about one of their marketing campaigns back in 2001.  While the lenses you end up using most to shoot your subject matter (landscape, models, cars, flowers, whatever) will eventually form part of your style, you do need a starting point.  My advice is simple - your camera body will get updgraded several times, so start investing in good glass because frankly, while I 100% believe it's not about the camera, you will still get better results putting a $3000 lens on a $600 body than a $300 lens on a $6000 body.  Here is a great place to get reviews on camera gear before investing in equipment.  You can check local stores (listed in previous section), try eBay for new and used gear, or check on Kijiji or photographer forums for used gear.

Here's a versatile starter kit, available in whatever brand floats your boat:
1) 50mm f1.4 - a nice fast lens with great bokeh and little distortion
2) An inexpensive zoom, erring on the side of wide (you can always crop to zoom in but can never zoom out in post)
3) flash with pivot and swivel capabilities if possible
4) the best body you can afford after buying those two lenses and your flash

Also nice to have fairly early on:
decent camera strap and bag - you will get sore carrying your gear after a couple of hours
remote - always handy for selfies, hard-to-reach places, stealth shooting, and distracting children (cheap ones can run under a buck...)
tripod (if you pay less than $50 0r $60 you're just putting your camera needlessly in danger)
portable OCF kit (stand, bracket, & diffuser) (cheap ones run about $40 but don't forget to buy a sandbag, too!)

Here is a great calculator to help you determine roughly how much is "enough" to cover your personal financial needs and goals as well as your COGS and operating costs.  This will determine how you go about setting your prices and hours of work.  Here are some free business calculators you might find helpful when determining your operating costs and cost of goods sold.

Now that you know how much you need to make to meet your financial goals, you need to set prices.  It is generally not feasible to be a profitable or sustainable business shooting 1-hour sessions for $50.  While it might feel like you are making money, you are taking time and money away from your family to subsidize a hobby that isn't even supporting itself.  Rather than reinvent the wheel, there are several wonderful articles out there that already explain this in brilliant detail.  I suggest reading all three of these, because they take such different approaches:

I love this one.  It's geared towards weddings but really has a great way of presenting things in a logical way.
Creative Orange Juice might be a little TOO simplified but you get the basic idea (and a free video tutorial)
Psychology for Photographers - while I admit "Easy as Pie" is NOT my cup of tea and I do not like (read: hate) the language the author uses but to balance me out thankfully there are people who disagree with me and can be more objective about the value of this popular resource.

You will be required to keep detailed records of your income and expenses.  Here are federal guidelines for your reference.  You do not need to be an accountant to do your own bookkeeping - there are many free or inexpensive online software companies with a variety of pre-made templates and options such as Wave (my fave), Kashoo (rave reviews from industry professionals), and Studio Cloud (which is specifically designed for photographers).  You might want to brush up on a few accounting terms.

If you aren't ready yet or can't afford to set up your own studio, in addition to being able to rent My Edmonton Studio, Edmonton has a number of other rental options suitable for different uses.  If you wish to set up a physical location (including one in your home) you will need to check with your municipality and make sure that the location is zoned for that type of activity.  After finding a location (Kijiji is my suggestion) you will need to consider equipment (printer/copier, lighting, projection, sound, etc.), furnishings (seating, props), decor (curtains, paint/baseboards, sample prints/albums), and props, backdrops, draping & costumes, as well as specific-to-photography goodies like wall-mounted paper roll systems, sandbags, and beanbag posers.  Both the size and how you furnish and decorate your space need to reflect the type of photography you do - you will want a change table if you are catering to babies and it might be a good idea to avoid glass vases if you are having kids in your studio, whereas if you are doing boudoir you will likely want a make-up and/or changing area and a bed.

Keeping your skills up to snuff is important.  If there is a specific skill you are lacking (Lightroom/Photoshop, OCF or lighting, newborn posing, boudoir, etc.) you can ask My Edmonton Studio to bring it in for you OR you may look at taking a class that is already scheduled.  Professional development is a valuable investment not only in maintaining and improving your technical proficiency so that you may better serve your clients, but in developing a network of colleagues who will support you as well as provide valuable referrals.  You may also consider joining online photography forums on Facebook (Edmonton has tonnes of groups in a variety of special interest areas - ask your photography friends for an invite or check out Facebook's suggestions) There are local meet-up groups as well as larger international forums, none of which I will suggest as I prefer to stay active more in local forums as they tend to have harder leads on local clients and resources.

Studios available for Rent in Edmonton & Area

Photographers in the Edmonton area are fortunate to have access to many venues with a wide variety of amenities, aesthetics, and functions.  With rates averaging around $40/hr, here are a handful of other rental venues available with a quick rundown of their highlights.  If you know a space that isn't on this list, please contact me via the contact page and I will make sure I expand the list!

Located in the heart of Edmonton's gorgeous 124th street business district, Garage Photographic is a slick outfit with tonnes of amenities including main floor access, HUGE continuous backdrop area, flexible operating hours, and an enviable collection of continuous lighting.  Geared towards film, Garage has also been used for stills by the likes of Jason Symington MFA of Imagen and Renee Robyn of Renee Robyn Photography.  Contact talented and knowledgeable owner Peter Markowski for complete details.

Edmonton Studio Rentals
Photocred: Garage Photographic

Rates start at $40/hr to rent this beautiful space with 12ft vaulted ceilings, loads of natural light, and a variety of wall colours for quick shooting.  Nare also features a change room, washroom, and the capacity to set up multiple seamless drops.  Contact Noelia and Rodrigo by emailing them here.  Minimum 2-hr booking.

Photocred: Nare Studio

Located in south Edmonton, Edmonton's largest photography-specific rental space, Studio 42 boasts 26 ft high ceilings, 32' x 22' shooting area, Makeup and hair station, Stereo systems with CD Player and IPod Aux, High Speed WiFi Internet, Telephone/Fax Machine, Client Lounge Area, Free Parking, main floor access.  Half and full-day bookings only.

Photocred: Darren Greenwood

Outfitted with a bed and multiple draperies, The Photographer Studio's private 2nd floor location perfectly suits the dedicated natural light boudoir photographer.  With a second location in west Edmonton, owners Tammy and Lauri have a membership program that allows individuals the ability to have booking dibs.  Email them here.

Photocred: The Photographer Studio

The Where House is available to rent for photography, videos, rehearsal space, shop space, and more.  20 foot ceilings, full stage, 5000 watts of sound, countless props.  The Where House recently added a stripper pole to its collection of unique amenities for creative collaborations.  Zombies.  Fetish.  Fantasy.  Fire.  If these are the things you're looking to do, this is the place you want to be.  Contact them via their Facebook Page.

Edmonton photographers who have been known to rent their spaces out include Elizabeth Van Der Bij of ENV Photography, who just moved into new digs this month and has been sharing sneak peeks of her almost-ready boudoir suite on Facebook.  Email her here.

If you happen to be out in Sherwood Park/Gibbons/Fort Saskatchewan, you are welcome to contact Lareina or Corry-Lyn and inquire about their adorable little space located in the Fort.  With a quaint collection of furniture and drops, this itty bitty space has huge possibilities.

(pics coming soon!)

Still don't see what you need?  You should just check Kijiji - there is always a dance studio, gym, or other new photographer who has their doors open for a once-in-a-while rental.

Don't see your name on this list?  Send me a pic of your space and a brief write-up so you can be added!

so you think you can teach?

Contrary to what you might think ("Oh, you can just show up, people watch you do your thing and you take their money...") a great workshop actually takes a lot of detailed planning to ensure that everything from the content and slideshows to the catering and location are taken care of.  While every workshop is different, there are certain elements which carry across the board from one to the next.  I'm going share with you some of how to make your burning desire to teach translate into a valuable learning experience.  I'll use the example of a "couples posing workshop" as my example but y'all are bright kids and can translate this into teaching about babies, Photoshop, riding a unicycle, making origami chickens, whatever...

I'm going to put a shameless plug in here and say that I am for hire whether you would like to start teaching a workshop on photography or fire eating.  I will not only help you develop your workshop but will assist with everything from getting the catering and swag bags prepared to ensuring that you have all the necessary releases, permits, licenses and visas required to safely and legally run your workshop.  Additionally, I will sit down with you and go over your course one step at a time to ensure that your content is relevant, interesting, and thorough from a consumer standpoint.  I can assist you with identifying your target market and developing your marketing campaign and materials, and lastly, look after collecting exit interviews/service surveys.  Call me.  ;)  But I digress...

Who will buy it?
Unlike the field of dreams, just because you build a workshop doesn't mean people will come.  The first step you need to take is determining if there is even a market for whatever you are teaching.  Ask yourself: If the information is available for free online, why would people pay for it?  is someone else teaching this already, and if yes, when? where? what am I offering that's unique? what are other people charging for similar workshops?  if one doesn't exist, are people actually interested?  You need to spend some time understanding who your market is - do they expect you to have a formal education?  X number years of experience?  How much do they have to spend on professional development and what does that say about who they cater to as clientele?  If you do not have a clue about who you are selling to, you may waste your time researching and writing a workshop that no one will actually pay to attend because it's too obscure, too expensive, too common, etc.

Who will sell it?
It's entirely up to you whether to sell on your own or partner up with a presenter, facility, or host.
If you decide to host your own workshop, do you have the resources required to promote yourself?  Are you able to manage all marketing, sales and registrations?  Can you afford the risk of not working with a local organizer or host, especially if you are presenting someplace not in your own area?  If you are invited to teach and do not already have a contract that you use, you will need to define your expectations for the host/facility - are they handling all the marketing, sales and finances and paying you a fee regardless of how many people attend?  Or are you paying a rental fee?  A percentage of your gross sales?  Will you allow one or more representatives of the hosting organization to attend at a reduced or no cost?  If the host is taking a percentage or charging a per-participant fee, is their cut representative of the amount of work they are doing to facilitate or develop the workshop or would your profit margin be greater by just paying for your own rental facility and selling on your own?

Be the student.  ALWAYS.
If ever you have been to any kind of class, it shouldn't be too difficult to step into the shoes of a participant.  Doing this allows you to design the type of workshop experience you'd like to create, whether it's low-key and practical or frou-frou and elite.  Consider: Is it a catered event or do people bring/buy their own food?  Is the catering pizza and beer or crumpets with tea in real teacups? Would my subject be best learned in a classroom with computers or in a farmer's field?  Or both?  Does it need to be taught in a big city or can it work in a smaller centre, and how will travel needs affect my willingness and ability to attend?  If I'm in a computer intense workshop or a workshop with live models, what size of group will allow me as a participant to maximize my learning?  What topics are covered and are they relevant to my own business and creative goals?  Considering things like this will help you determine what your hard costs are going to be which in turn will affect how you set your pricing.  Remember that the type of experience you offer should be reflected in your pricing - you cannot expect people to pay top dollar for a workshop held in a cramped space with take-out pizza served on disposable plates any more than you can expect to make money off a workshop priced affordably but held in a 5-star hotel with lobster tails served on antique china for lunch.

Where and when.
Let's assume you have determined that you need a large room that will accommodate up to 50 people at tables that is located within walking distance of a park or green space.  You know that you need 2 full days to cover your material and that between May and September a good portion of your target market reserves Saturdays for shooting weddings and Sundays for recovering but that most of them probably have day jobs that would prevent them from attending a weekday event.  Traveling in the dead of winter in Alberta is unpleasant as is shooting outdoors.  Wedding season starts up in May, so you decide on doing an April workshop so all your content is fresh and relevant.  That means to allow 10+ weeks of lead time will have you selling the snot out of your workshop by no later than the middle of January.

Calculate your expenses and hard costs.
Let's say you've decided to skip the host and throw a DIY deal.  You've found an upscale banquet hall in a central area with a full weekend available in mid-April that doesn't conflict with Easter or Spring Break.  You decide against full catering to keep costs down, but want to serve coffee, tea, and bottled water - don't forget to budget for creamer, filters, stir sticks, and sugar. You decide that instead of making everyone work with just one model, you are bringing in 4.  You may need to pay your models, HMUAs, and possibly costume purchases/rentals plus items for your styled shoot if you cannot get them sponsored.  You may need to consider hotel costs if they are traveling.  If you are just doing a straight up information/lecture session, you may only need to have some photocopied handouts or even just email a PDF afterwards which cost next to nothing, but if you are holding a more elite event, chances are good you should consider proper printed materials as well as putting together swag bags or prize draws, which you can try to have sponsored but you might have to pay for (or a combination) so include this when you're figuring out your expenses.

If you are traveling out of your own municipality, do you require a license?  If you are traveling out of the country, have you factored in the cost of a work visa for yourself?  Add those in before setting your workshop fee.  You should also factor in a salary for yourself, so you don't end up working for free.  The minimum amount you're willing to work for is up to you, but $250/day (clear after all expenses) isn't an unreasonable expectation for a presenter and for any NEW workshop built entirely from scratch I like to use a 4:1 preparation to presentation ratio.  So 2 days of presenting + 8 days of prep = $2500.

Decide what to charge.
You've tallied up your expenses and hard costs so you already know the minimum amount you need to break even.  So let's assume your hard costs plus salary for this workshop are $5000.  If you could sell out every possible one of your 50 spots at $100 you would break even, but there would be no room to undersell the event and nothing built into the budget in the event of unexpected expenses.  One way to "break-even" finance your workshop is to assume a 50% attendance rate, with a 25% OH SHIT margin added on top.  In our example, this would equate to a minimum of 25 participants at ~$250.

There is no "correct" amount to charge but the important thing when deciding what to charge is that you don't just pull a number out of your ass - your pricing needs to cover your costs as well as reflect the experience you are offering.  Some presenters will charge $2500/participant for a one day workshop and others will charge $100; one would assume that at the $2500 workshop you'll get some pretty sweet giveaways, and that at the $100 workshop you'll be brown bagging it.

Be the student.  Again.  To plan your content.
Now that you know when and where, to how many people, and for about how much you are selling your workshop, you need to tease out the key topics of your workshop so that people will know what you are teaching.  Are you teaching camera skills?  Just posing? Business strategy? All of the above?  What should people walk away knowing at the end of each section you are teaching?  A simple way of determining this is to quickly throw together an itinerary (don't worry - the times can and will change as you go along!) and outline how much time you plan to dedicate to each area.   Think from a student's perspective what you would most like to garner from the workshop content.  If teaching pose-flow is your thing, allowing students to shoot will interrupt the flow; if you think you'd like lots of portfolio shots schedule more time for participants to shoot; if you'd prefer a little more business guidance, cut back on posing and shooting time a bit.

Sell sell sell!

Now that you know what you are selling, your job as a marketer is about to kick into high gear.  You will spend several weeks advertising your workshop.  Your job will be to find the forums or groups where your target market is spending time, place ads in papers or online, advertise in magazines or on blogs where your market is likely to frequent, etc. etc.  Striking a balance between promoting your workshop and just irritating people is a very fine line, too, so it might not be as easy as you think.  You might want to consult with a professional who can assist with where you ought to advertise, how to design a campaign, how to write copy that will attract the participants you think would benefit, etc.  You may also wish for that company or individual to look after your ticket sales/registrations so you can spend your time focussing on fine-tuning your course content.  Remember that the wording you use will affect how your workshop is perceived - selling a $1000/day workshop and telling people their instead of they're getting free cupcake's with an apostrophe is not good...

Know when to pull the chute
Sorry to spill the beans, but the dirty little secret behind early-bird pricing is that it's not because we are super nice guys and want to give everyone a chance at a wicked discount but rather to give ourselves the ability to gauge whether we need to cancel the workshop or not.  If you have not gotten to your minimum quota by the time early bird sales are done, you need to carefully evaluate why your workshop isn't selling as well as you would like.  Is there another competing workshop by a cheaper or more experienced presenter appealing to your clients?  Are you priced too high that people cannot afford it?  Are you priced too low and people think it's too cheap to be worthwhile? Have you been promoting the event or just waiting on a wing and a prayer for it to go viral?  The end date for your earlybird sales should be far enough back that you can adjust your tack and sell harder to meet your quota if you're close, or to cancel or postpone it if you are way too far from your goal.

Be the student.  Again.  To write your material.
Your course content should have a natural flow to it.  Hopefully that flow was identified when you put together your itinerary/outline, so it's just a matter of beefing it up.  Your course content should also be interesting and engaging - if the content is so boring people are apt to nod off, you need to make sure you break it up, mix it up, keep it dynamic.  Getting people up and down out of their seats, injecting lots of humour, asking for audience response are all good ways of keeping your audience engaged during the "lecture" part.  Consider things like doing an ice-breaker at the start of your workshop to kickstart participant networking, ensuring that your participants will have adequate instructions, space, and time to follow through with in-class activities, and build time for water/pee/smoke/lunch breaks into your schedule.  Design your handouts and slide presentation in a way that makes them easy to follow/relate.  Avoid being too vague with your topics - if you plan to just stand up there and make shit up on the spot because you think you know it so well, people are going to figure it out.
Check, check, and triple check.
The days leading up to your workshop, do a thorough once-over of everything you need.  Do you have your handouts printed and your swag bags stuffed?  Did you remember the cream and sugar?  Do you have the required license/permits/visa?  Is all your equipment (computers, projectors, cameras, lights, etc.) cleaned, charged, and ready to go with all the necessary cables, batteries, and cords?  Are your models and HMUAs all still coming?  Things like confirming your catering, doing a final head count, sending out a reminder to your participants about what to bring will help you ensure that you've left nothing to chance, and your day will run as smoothly as possible.

The fine print
A random collection of things you might wish to take into consideration, in no particular order:
  1. Models. When choosing your models, make sure you select ones that relate to what you are teaching - bringing in a petite model to teach techniques intended for voluptuous women, 3 homophobic males to teach couples, or someone who is shy to pose for glamour nudes isn't going to work very well.
  2. Food.  Allergies prevent some people from attending altogether - make sure you inquire and let other participants know if they should (specifically) avoid bringing peanut products - and dietary restrictions for personal reasons need to be considered if you are bringing in catering.
  3. Potty mouth.  Sure, maybe you drop the f-bomb on a regular basis, and while you're teaching a workshop on PS retouching it's probably not going to be a big deal if a few slip, but someone teaching family photography probably shouldn't be telling Mom how fucking hilarious her kid is in front of said fucking hilarious kid.
  4. Sex. At Hooters you are welcome to put boobs in people's faces, but as a presenter your personal conduct should always be clean and professional.  It's always best to avoid sexual innuendo lest your humping of the furniture be taken out of context and reflect negatively on you  or worse, result in legal action if it is misconstrued as predatory.  This applies regardless of your gender and sexual orientation.
  5. Competition.  Some photographers like to restrict the participants to those who live a minimum distance from proximity of their own city or area.  This is to avoid training their own competitors and reducing the risk of losing clients to them, though honestly chances are good that if you don't teach them someone else will and would still steal your clients, so you may as well take your neighbour's money, too, no?

Be the teacher.
(yeah, that's all I got - I have to assume you know your shit well enough and have all the necessary credentials, experience, and applied knowledge to teach it so you're on your own here...)

Be the student.  One last time.
Learn from your students how to be an awesome teacher!  Once you have completed the workshop, it is REALLY important to follow up.  Have a "how did I do?" card in the swag bag or provide a link to an anonymous online survey they can do at home after the workshop.  As much as it might terrify you, without this feedback it will be impossible for you to know what you did well and what you can improve on.  Ask questions from your perspective if you were a student like, was it worth the money?  Was the content well organized?  What can we improve on? That sort of information is pure GOLD for when/if you decide to teach again as it will give you precise instructions on how to fine tune your workshop to meet or exceed expectations next time.  And if you get nothing but glowing reviews, then you know you've got it right!

I am sure I've forgotten a million things, but this should at the very least give you a running start.  Now go share your unique perspective and knowledge with the world!