Workshops and Tours
There are many photography workshop and tour operators out there. Most are o.k. Some are good. But very few are what I would call excellent. It takes a lot to be excellent in my book. The business must be well organized, respond quickly to questions and deal with payments fairly. The trip must be well planned and executed and be focused on the particular needs of the photographer.
Beginner and intermediate photographers can benefit greatly from taking workshops from a variety of people. Teaching is a big part of workshops and it is helpful to get input and inspiration from a variety of photographers, each with their own individual style and vision. For workshops, the leader must be an accomplished photographer in their own right, with a unique and special vision and a thorough understanding of the mechanics and technology. But just being a great photographer is not enough to be a successful workshop leader. In order for the participants to learn and improve, the workshop leader must also be an accomplished teacher and have an ability to inspire the group to do their best.
An advanced photographer traveling to a new location can save time and money with a tour. Without thorough knowledge of a new location, many hours and days can be spent scouting locations, sun angles, animal habits, etc. For tours, the leader must posess intimate knowledge of the area. They must know where to be and when to be there for the best light. They must know what time of year is best for getting just the right sun angle or color of foliage. They must be familiar with local regulations and requirements such as the need for local guides or special vehicles or other transport. And, although the tour leader need not be a famous photographer, the leader must structure the tour for the particular needs of photographers.
I have found the following workshop and tour providers to be excellent examples of the best in the industry:
- Joe Englander Photo Tours & Workshops
- In his early days, Joe worked with Ansel Adams. Now he is an accomplished photographer and a skilled and patient instructor. He can provide detailed instruction on all camera formats, including large format, and on both wet and digital darkroom techniques. His workshops cover not just gear selection and technique but concentrate on developing the workshop participant's artistic nature and vision.
- Ralph Paonessa Nature Photography Workshops
- Ralph is perhaps best known for his bird images -- hummingbirds, in particular -- which are widely published. He offers a variety of workshops to the best bird locations. For the landscape photographer, Ralph is also a very knowledgable workshop leader to the Eastern Sierra, Zion and Bryce Canyons and Death Valley. Ralph is a patient and skilled instructor in any setting.
- Rocky Mountain School of Photography
- The Rocky Mountain School of Photography uses a wide variety of well known professional photographers to lead their workshops - John Shaw, David Middleton, Brenda Tharp and Nevada Wier to name just a few.