The Yosemite Workshop Experience
We recently took another five photographers out on a Shutter Click Adventures Workshop to Yosemite; it was awesome! Well, the adjective awesome is hardly capable of describing the amount of personal growth we all encountered on this trip. At the beginning of the Workshop, we did an opening welcome just after our first dining together. In that discussion, we told them that they would grow exponentially in 5 days. You could tell by glancing around the room that they were hesitant to believe such a bold statement, but by day five they knew it, they felt it, and they were ready to take on any photo challenge.
You’d think that photographic growth could not happen in 5 days, but Jake and I have developed a formula that is so successful the attendees don’t see it happening. We wake up early, shoot the sunrise, go back to the condo, make breakfast and conduct classes. At the end of the day, each attendee is required to share a minimum of two images from the day’s shoot.
One thing you must know is that everything is on the fly. Sure that might sound like we are shooting from the hip, but we do this on purpose. Our schedule is built based on the needs, wants, and desires of the attendees. We will do whatever is necessary to ensure each person gets what they want out of the trip. Whether that is shooting tips, post-processing advice, or more critique time it works, the formula just works.
For Yosemite, we planned our days based on the locations we wanted to shoot. This meant waking up at 345 in the morning to be on the road by 440 to be in the park by 540. Yes, it took an hour to drive into the park for every outing, but for Yosemite, there is no other way around it due to the parks location to the towns around it. We were in the “Southgate” town of Fish Camp, the closest place you can be without being in the park. For many this hour-long jaunt may seem daunting but it was the best time to get to know one another, and we got to know one another VERY well!
After our morning outing, we’d do a variety of things. The first on the agenda was coffee… then education. I would teach whatever the attendees wanted to know, and it helped to have source images from the location. These courses would be anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours in length with breaks when necessary and plenty of food made by Jake “the jack of all palates chef extraordinaire”. After the session, they’d be given an assignment, two or three images for a critique session conducted during dinner. They were then free to nap for our upcoming sunset shoot or process images with me while we listened to music, laughed, and made memories.
The key to growth in our workshops is the formula we have developed. Wake up, shoot, learn, process, eat, critique, shoot again and repeat. You have to understand that we have many people attending these workshops, from hobbyists to professionals to businesspeople. The idea here is to stop everything, turn off the email, let go of the cell phone, and fully immerse yourself in the education and the ability to devote the necessary time to your passion. Of course, the location, Yosemite, made this pretty easy. We had a fully international group from China, Australia, the UK, and Ohio but the common thread was our passion to learn from one another and make better photos.
Yosemite itself offered many breathtaking viewpoints. We traveled from Tunnel View to Bridal Veil Falls, all the way around the park loop and up to Glacier Point. We trekked the same spots Ansel did in his young days, and we had a blast reminiscing on the legacy he left behind for us.
To say that this trip was incredible would be an understatement. I shot over 55 Gigs of images and will be looking at them for years to come. While I do enjoy the pictures I took during the trip, I am more satisfied with the results everyone saw from day one to day five. On the last night of the critique, we showed our day one images. They were good, but not the best. By day five, we had built an incredibly powerful portfolio together that would stop the hearts and calm the minds of any who laid eyes on them. This was an unforgettable experience and Jake, and I are blessed and very thankful to those who went out on a limb and gave us a chance.