Well, my annual photo workshop, which I teach as a Nikonians Academy instructor is over and I finally have a chance for some reflections after its, shall I say, “hectic” pace.
All the images in this blog showing workshop participants were taken with an iPhone 5s.
For the record, we leave our hotel each morning at 5:30 or 6:00 AM to catch the gorgeous sunrises that kiss these beautiful shores that are full of vibrant color at this time of year.
After a full day of shooting through sunset, we eat a leisurely dinner, before finishing up with an evening session.
Each year I am impressed by the passion and commitment shown by these dedicated amateur photographers. Some are here to simply have me take them to the best locations when the light is just right; others come to upgrade skills; still others to learn from those of us who may be a bit ahead of them in our expertise.
On the way home from the workshop, a grueling 13-hour drive, I had time to reflect on what I get out of these workshops. I’d like to share that with you here.
First of all, I am recharged every year by the enthusiasm of the participants. Due to the economy this year’s group was smaller than usual, so there were more one-to-one interactions that allowed me to to better understand the motivations of the people behind the cameras. What a terrific group of folks who are willing to spend money to hone their creative vision, who expose themselves to unfamiliar environments, and who challenge themselves physically and creatively.
Next, it’s a special thrill to teach my craft to others. I thoroughly enjoy it when they approach me on location to ask questions, to see what I am doing, and to learn from each other.
There is also the special joy when participants tell me that as result of the workshop they’ve learned something new or refined skills they already had. I almost always hear that they are excited to try out new techniques and equipment.
But I also get to learn from my workshop attendees. Many have learned advanced techniques. Some have a unique way of looking at a scene. Some have adapted a piece of equipment with an ingenious twist of technology or plan old mechanics and I can’t wait to get home and adapt it for my use.
Another plus for me is seeing the faces of attendees when I take them to one of the spectacular natural places that I love.
In some cases I know they would likely not have found that place on their own if they had a limited period of time to drive around, or if they did they might arrive at the wrong time of day. Either way, I enjoy watching their faces light up as they take in the scene, their eyes trying to interpret it in photographic terms. Pretty cool.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, is the humor. Once we break the ice and get out in the field, the good-natured teasing and kibbutzing begins. There is something about seeing a pre-coffee, bleary-eyed colleague at 5:30 AM and spending the day until evening that engenders lots of laughter. I guess looked at by a dispassionate observer, the extremes we nature photographers go through is pretty crazy.
Oh, and I get paid for what I do.
Anyway, from an instructor’s perspective, I love the workshop experience. Whether it’s one of my workshops or another competent, experienced instructor’s, I urge you to consider taking a workshop to hone your skills and take your photography to the next level.
BTW, stay tuned for a near future post where I will feature some of the images captured by my workshop participants in Acadia and nearby areas.