On Sept. 18, 2015 I left Massachusetts for Jackson, Wyoming to attend a week-long adventure photography workshop put on by the Summit Series of workshops and founded by legendary photographer Rich Clarkson. I had been to Jackson Hole twice before and was immediately drawn to its incredible landscape and wildlife, so it seemed like the perfect place for a photography workshop.
We started early every day, sometimes before sunrise, and had one to two shoots per day broken up by classroom instruction, portfolio reviews, and image critiques. In the evenings, the workshop instructors gave presentations on just about anything--their careers, workflow, the business side of the industry, the importance of social media, or a current project in the works. Aside from the photo shoots, the nightly presentations were my favorite part of the workshop, not only because of the beautiful imagery being presented, but also because of how genuine, open, and willing the instructors were to share their knowledge. We were lucky to have a very diverse group, each with his or her own area of focus. The instructors included Sadie Quarrier, Lucas Gilman, Jen Edney, Ben Moon, Scott Wilson, Ryan Taylor, Ron Taniwaki, Bob Smith, and Hannah Dewey, with a guest presentation by the great Jimmy Chin.
Featuring trail running, mountain biking, rock climbing, stand up paddle boarding, kayaking, yoga, camping lifestyle, and portraits, each photo shoot presented its own unique challenges and made for an action-packed week. The first day was definitely a bit rocky photo-wise, as we were all getting a feel for how the shoots would run and the kinds of images the instructors were looking for, but by the end of the workshop our photography had improved immensely, translating into more positive image critiques and a great energy throughout the group. The days were definitely long, and we were all running on fumes, but to me it made the experience that much more satisfying knowing we were making the most of our time there.
After the Summit Adventure Photography Workshop, I had the privilege of staying in Jackson to help out with the Summit Nature and Wildlife Photography Workshop the following week. Equally enjoyable and made up of a cast of brilliantly talented photographers and industry leaders, the Summit Nature workshop delivered another week of challenging shoots and invaluable instruction, but with a different feel. Because nature and wildlife photography requires a great deal of patience, the pace of this workshop was naturally slower. In order to capture the array of wildlife roaming Wyoming's vast landscape, we had to get up earlier and stay out later. While this made for another exhausting week, there's nothing like standing at the shore of String Lake as the sun peaks through the mountains, fog rolls over the water's surface, and a pack of elk bugle eerily in the background. Wyoming is truly a special place, and as a photographer, having the opportunity to immerse myself in its natural beauty with no agenda was very rewarding.
The faculty at the Summit Nature workshop were just as open and generous, if not more, in sharing their experiences, and it was extremely humbling to be in the presence of some of the absolute best in the business. The group included William Albert Allard, MaryAnne Golon, Allen Murabayashi, Dave Black, Michael Forsberg, Bill Pekala, Ron Taniwaki, Bob Smith, Donald Winslow, Tom Mengelsen, Jim Richardson, and Rich Clarkson himself. Again, the nightly presentations were incredibly moving, insightful, and inspiring, and I feel grateful to have been able to attend both workshops. A definite theme throughout the workshops was the sense of community and support between the students, faculty, and staff, and it was great to see so many connections and friendships being made over the two weeks.