I must take a second to say that these books are adopting such a disdainful attitude with the view of correcting our faults. They may sneer at us but they try to teach us - by the end of the book we are probably going to be familiar with the basics of hydraulic engineering or Sanskrit or whatever was printed on the cover. We can even get dummy and idiot books that deal with photography...
I've bought 'em, and can pronounce myself competent in a seven year old computer program. Competent, but not expert. By the time I get to expert the computer will have died and the program lost in history. I might as well study how to punch index cards for UNIVAC.
The popularity of the books is not surprising - we are all unsure about so many things these days and long to have the " official " " expert " " explain " " the " "" correct "" way " to do anything. If your eyes feel a little funny it is because of all the quotation marks. Close them for a minute and it will all be better.
This works pretty well when the subject is 15th century flax weaving as most of the bugs have been ironed out of the looms since then. There aren't a lot of developments in reed-filled marshes and what worked last century will work now. Such is not the case with electronic and optical technology. As I write this and you read it someone else is writing yet another set of computer instructions and the Fruit Company is set to release their next $ 1300 invoice loose on the world. I suspect the Dummy and Idiot press is never going to be able to keep up with the pace of the business and that idiots and dummies will be left stranded by the roadside.
Constant daily combing of the internet, supplemented by weekly seminars and meetings, trade fairs, university courses, and insider bulletins delivered through Facebook connections seems to be the way to go. Of course one must not neglect the artistic connections through galleries, movements, collectives, and societies. Professional organisations deserve careful attention, if only for an insight into the lives of other artists. This should probably occupy no more than 16 hours of the day, leaving an easy 8 more for work, study, home life, sleep, and natural functions. Prospective students should remember the phrase " I owe it to myself " but make positive plans about what to do when yourself comes round to collect the bill.
Is there an alternative? Yep. Shoot Photography Workshops runs a number of fairly up-to-date events throughout the year. They are conducted by fairly well-known photographers and are fairly successful. The are pitched at a fair price.
There's not a heavy level of selling - goodness you probably do more of that to yourselves when you surf the net and agonise over camera specifications. There is sometimes a surprising level of art and contentment. You should ring up, get a schedule for the next few events, and give on a try.
So why be a dummy?
To check out all the courses Shoot Workshops has to offer please click on this link.