A photographic workshop is a very different kind of holiday to take. It differs from a photography tour in the sense that participants expect to learn something when they sign up. For this reason, before booking, things like group size, instruction type and number of instructors are often more important than the location and accommodation. Tours billed as ‘photography tours’ on the other hand can mean virtually any type of travel where photography is featured (the standard tour boat to Peru’s Islas Ballestas or South Africa’s whale-watching excursions are all billed as ‘photography tours’ and entice everyone from the cellphone snappers through to the dedicated DSLR toting photographers).
Nature’s Light runs Workshops! Small group workshops at that. This means that participants can expect a certain level of instruction to take place during the course of a workshop or trip. However, the workshops we run are not necessarily the same as a course that you could take at a local college or club. What do they entail then?
The trips we lead are tours in the sense that participants are visiting interesting locations in order to create great photographs. During the course of these trips instructors (at a ratio of 1:3 or better, although if we collab with another photography workshop group these numbers may differ) are there in order to give assistance and guidance during shoots. Between shoots instructors often have seminars and discussions around different topics that are part of the workshop. There is also a significant level of guidance given during the post-production editing sessions. To top it off every workshop has several ‘critique sessions’ scheduled where participants and instructors sit down to look at and discuss images taken and edited during the workshop.
A Typical Non-Travel Day:
A typical day on tour starts off with an early morning sunrise and golden hour shoot. This can sometimes mean an even earlier start depending on the shoot location itself and whether we have to travel to get there. Sometimes all it means is rolling out of bed and putting the camera on the tripod.
After the First dawn shoot we usually have a late sit down breakfast followed by a rest period for the photographers.
Around lunch time we usually have guided editing or a seminar session.
If there is time, lunch and the seminar are followed by a rest and or/packing period before heading out for a late afternoon shoot.
Evening shoots are also common and can sometimes happen after dinner, or near where we have selected as a dinner restaurant.
A Typical Travel Day:
Some travel days start with an early morning shoot, but are usually left for a lie-in (the number of shoots we squeeze in often means that the lie-in days are something of a looked forward to luxury).
Depending on the workshop, travel days can occasionally be quite long. We try to minimise these but sometimes they are simply unavoidable (Madagascar in particular has some gruellingly long travel days which are rewarded through extraordinary end locations).
Shorter travel days end with either a seminar session or shoot in the evening.
For the most part we strive to cater with good accommodation and food. When these are not possible due to the location we give ample warning to guests and advertise this in the brochures. By and large the vast majority of the accommodation providers we use are of excellent quality and comfort with wonderful menus.
Nature’s Light decided at the onset that tired photographers need a comfortable bed and excellent food in order keep up with early sunrise chasing dawns and milky way gazing nights. With the exception of some notable locations (we warn guests about them…but it is about the images at the end of the day) we think we have managed to do this!
Apart from some of our more local (think Drakensberg) workshops, transport is provided in 4 -seater four wheel drives (Namibia, Madagascar, Wild Coast) or small mini-buses (Iceland, Tuli Block - for the airport transfer after which we use game-viewers). We opt to use these rather than a large bus so that there is flexibility in the group and the locations we are able to visit. Some of our competitors use large 20 seater buses, but they also insist on larger groups, which we personally prefer not to have. We’d rather have smaller, more personal, groups.
It takes a different kind of person who thinks the thought of spending a week or more doing nothing but photography, talking photography, thinking photography, dreaming photography is fun. If you have read this far you are probably one of those people. The workshops are geared towards photographers who really want to get the most out of their photography, travel to great locations and spend time with like-minded travellers.
We have fun! From exploring the ruins at Kolmanskop (and getting booed by other ‘ghost’ photographers) to chasing the midnight sun in Iceland and sailing in a pirogue along the Madagascan beaches, our groups come together as strangers and usually leave as friends - Nature’s Light has even managed to spawn a photo group amongst some UK based guests.