To start off my summer right, I attended the Vancouver Island Arizona Highways Photo Workshop with photographer, Shane McDermott. This workshop offered it all: wildlife, macro, landscape, and waterfalls on Vancouver Island. Although I have attended workshops before both as participant and instructor I decided to create a list of pointers to make the most of a workshop.
- Prepare – Be sure to read all the information given to you by the trip leaders. And more importantly, read it in a timely manner. You will need the correct shoes and clothes based on the temperatures. If you need to purchase these items, you may need time to break in something like water proof shoes/boots. Also, research the locations. Get familiar with where you are going, this will help you know what to expect. If you have the chance, arrive early or stay late. I arrived in Vancouver 2 days before the trip and enjoyed spending time on Grandville Island that wasn’t on our itinerary.
- Gear – Plan early if you need to rent or purchase gear for the trip. Practice packing your gear to make sure it fits in your bag. Remember, you will need to carry your own gear. Before the Vancouver trip, I had tendinitis issues in my left wrist which made operating my tripod’s ball head difficult. So, I purchased a used pistol grip tripod head for the trip to ease my pain.
- Meet new people – Even though I knew several of the participants on the trip, I made a point of getting to know everyone. At each meal I ate with different people and the reward was hearing the interesting stories from the other participants.
- Be flexible – Prior to the workshop we received an itinerary but to provide us with better shooting scenarios, Shane altered it. Shane is familiar with the area and locations and always had the participants experience in mind. I tend to be a schedule follower, so this concept was hard for me. But, I learned to relax and enjoy the locations and photograph what captured my eye. Prior to the trip, I thought I would shoot mostly macro (like I often do), but found myself shooting many landscape and wildlife photos too. It was a freeing experience to not worry about a tight schedule.
- Ask Questions – As an educator, I often see students hesitant to ask questions. But, on a trip like this, you
have dedicated time and money to get there, so make the most of it. Even if you think your question is silly. Shane answered every question in the field and in the classroom. He volunteered additional information and created a strong learning environment. I asked about his photo processing workflow and he showed us without hesitation.
So, when you sign up for your next workshop, or as you prepare for one, keep these pointers in mind to make the most of your photo workshop. Find out about more workshops by visiting ahpw.org.