Picture This: Travel Photography Workshops


By the Editors of FarewellTravels

travel photography workshops

“It’s not just about taking great travel pictures, it’s about telling a story,” explains Layne Kennedy, a magazine editorial photographer, who leads many travel photography workshops in the states and abroad.

That’s one of the objectives he establishes right off the bat in his workshops, saying “You can go to Italy and take 700 photos, but do your family members and friends really want to see them all?
In some of the workshops Kennedy conducts, participants share just ten shots at the end of the trip. “They learn how to edit their images down and tell their travel story in a concise, compelling way,” he says.

Travel photography workshops and expeditions have been gaining popularity in the last few years. Indeed, shooting photographs while discovering new places is a wonderful way to travel. It’s also very rewarding because it’s easier to be successful shooting with a digital camera than it is with a film camera. Mark Thiessen, a staff photographer at the National Geographic Society explains that “You can learn in minutes what it used to take days.”

With this growing interest and increased appetite among travelers and photographers, there are many travel photography workshops being offered both by large, well-known companies and smaller outfits.
While the workshops vary, many are geared for photographers of all skills, from the amateur who may just be taking his or her camera out of the box to the pro looking to fatten up his or her portfolio. They generally include considerable time in the field working alongside professional photographers, some instructional work (lectures, presentations), Courtesy of African Portfolioand review and critiques of each participant’s work. Many of them include working together in uploading, organizing and editing images.

Below we’ve provided some basic information and links to a selection of workshops and photo expeditions. Start by visiting their websites and if you want to learn more, do yourself a favor and pick up the phone and call the organization. They may be able to steer you to a workshop or an instructor that would be the best match for you.

National Geographic

“Take a photo and then review it on your LCD monitor. While doing so, zoom in. Like what you see? Then zoom in with your lens and take that actual picture right then and there.” This is just one of the many tips you might pick up from Mark Thiessen, who leads a couple of National Geographic workshops a year.

Shooting photos alongside a National Geographic photographer. Sounds like a dream, doesn’t it? All of National Geographic’s photography workshops (which are limited to 25 participants) are led by both a National Geographic photographer and a professional instructor and are geared toward amateur photographers interested in improving their digital photography.

They currently offer 4-day Photography Workshops in Chicago, New Orleans, New York City, San Francisco, Tucson, and Washington, D.C., and a 7-day workshop in Santa Fe. The company also has Photography Expeditions, which are longer trips allowing travelers to experience incredible places in the company of a National Geographic photographer. These are designed for photographers of all levels and the itineraries maximize photographic opportunities. Current destinations include Alaska's Inside Passage, Bhutan, Costa Rica and the Panama Canal, Galapagos, and Morocco. Details.

Mentor Series

Popular Photography’s Mentor Series are geared towards the active traveler who wants to learn to shoot under normal travel conditions and bring home the ‘visual bacon,’” says Layne Kennedy, who leads some of their worldwide “treks.” He adds, “We encourage them to push the envelope of their creative side and fine-tune their vision.”

travel photography workshops
They offer 16 trips a year which include long weekends in various US national parks and cities and up to 11-day trips abroad. With a ratio of no more than one instructor (mentor) to 20 students (trekkers), the workshops are led by top photographers such as Dave Black, who shoots for Sports Illustrated, Dan Cox (for the National Geographic Society) and Layne Kennedy who shoots for the National Geographic Society, Smithsonian and many other top publications. There are usually two pro shooters on each trip, which offers participants a variety of professional opinions. It gives students a unique insight to learn and observe how different pros approach their photo-creating process.

Upcoming domestic trips include Santa Fe, New Mexico and Savannah, Georgia later this month, the Colorado Rockies in June, Northern Arizona in August , Montana and Yellowstone National Park in September and Maine’s Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor in September. Overseas trips on the 2011 calendar are London and the Lake District in July, and Switzerland in October. Every month, newly scheduled treks are announced on the site. Details.

Santa Fe Photographic Workshops

Santa Fe on its own is a spellbinding photography destination (think Georgia O’Keeffe, Ansel Adams, Eliot Porter). Combined with a state-of-the-art photography facility and a dedicated community of professional photographers (where there’s an average of 10-15 students per class) it’s a photographer’s dream come true. There are a range of 4- to 6-day local and New Mexico-based travel photography workshops including one that takes you into the red rock formations of O’Keeffe’s Abiquiu country as well as longer trips to other US destinations such as Route 66 (end of September, into October) and much further afield (coming up in July, Ladakh: The Last True Remaining Tibet and, in September, a Photo Tour of Israel). Details.

Other Travel Photography Opps

When choosing a travel photography workshop, you might want to stravel photography workshopstart by thinking about where you want to go. One of the most photogenic countries, Iceland, has  several photo tours available that range from half and full-day trips with Iceland Aurora Photo Tours to eight-day-long Ring Road Photo Tours by Nature Explorer.

If you’re considering taking a safari, think about going on one that’s geared to photographers of all skills. African Portfolio has an exciting trip coming up in July in South Africa’s Timbavati Private Game Reserve. It’s being led by renowed wildlife photographer Christian Sperka. Find details here.

What about Australia? How does spending two weeks flying across the Australian Outback in a private plane, guided by an otravel photography workshopsn-board photographic expert and visiting the most photogenic destinations sound? You can learn more about this 14-day tour being offered by well-known travel photographer Ewen Bell in June of 20112 at Photography by Ewen Bell.

Perhaps the most intriguing photography workshop we’ve come across however is one that combines photography with driving a team of sled dogs in Ely, Minnesota.

Led by Layne Kennedy, this four-night photo workshop and lodge-to-lodge dogsled vacation is for both beginners and advanced photographers. By day, you’re out gliding through the northern woods capturing the experience with new-found photographic skills. By night, you’re learning all sorts of tricks of the trade including tips for getting your images published and how to use the latest photo technology tools.

On top of all that are French dinners, lots of socializing and unwinding in the Finnish sauna. Now that’s something to focus on! Find the details here.


Photo Credits

Home page and top of this page: Mentor Series, Egypt/Michelle Cast

Photographer shooting in the reeds:Courtesy of African Portfolio

Photographer on shore of lake: Mentor Series, Grand Tetons/K.Case

Photographer on shore of lake with ice: Visit Iceland

Sled dog photo by Layne Kennedy





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