Virtually, everyone reading this has attended at least one photo workshop, seminar, lecture, tour or presentation of some kind. In the mid-nineties, they became more popular and perhaps as importantly, more accessible. Prior to this time, it was difficult to find a program or workshop that suited you and your needs or you would have to travel long distances to see someone "out-o-tour.". So much relied on word of mouth from other photographers, due to the fact that the internet was just starting to make an appearance, and you were forced to read the back of every photo magazine out there to find a small ad about available workshops. As in all walks of life, there are good ones and bad ones, and those that promise a lot then deliver, and those just totally rock. But they do seem harder and harder to find.
Finding the right workshop is as much about content description as it is about the instructor(s). It is critical to find the right content and information that you are looking for. But if your personality and that of the instructor don't mesh, you will miss out on the other 30% of the educational experience. Nothing is as important as the times spent together in small groups and one-on-one with your instructor. Time spent talking about their history, what makes them tick, what sets them apart from others perhaps. All of it comes by putting yourself out there.
One small thing I have noticed in my 28 years of teaching workshops is that from time to time you will see that one person, usually sitting in the back of the room, with their arms crossed and leaning back just slightly. The body language seems to say, "come on, impress me." It's almost as if to say I already know a lot and I just want to see what YOU know. On the next workshop you attend, you'll see this person.
How to succeed in any workshop
Get Involved. Hold a light stand, offer to drive, help with moving equipment
Don't be late or miss anything
Talk to others in the class even if they are annoying (just kidding. Don't talk to them if they are annoying...)
Stay in touch with everyone you meet in a workshop. They will become great friends of yours almost every time. It's true and you'll want to do more workshops together. Happens all of the time.
Stay connected with your instructor, if not in person or directly, at least on social media. Like and Share their posts.
Mostly, enjoy the experience and revel in your newfound information.
Have some fun. It's ok...