If you have been in the photography industry for any length of time, you know there are an excessive number of photography-related workshops available to the general public. This fact begs the question – which ones are worth your hard earned dollar and likely very limited “free time”?
My quick answer: go where the pros go. Because quite frankly, the big name professionals are less likely to associate themselves with frivolous, lack luster workshops, and (the obvious reason) they’ve got the knowledge and experience you want.
Enter: Santa Fe Photographic Workshops in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Located in the third largest arts community in the country, the workshops offer everything from lighting, landscape, and fine art classes to digital workflow and business workshops. With three seasons per year – each lasting two months – and several classes taking place each week, you will be hard pressed to narrow your choices for class selection. And these classes are not to be taken lightly. You will spend 8-10 hours per day for 5-6 days straight, with lectures, assignments, homework, editing, critiques, all the while sorting through hours and hours of information, tips, tricks and secrets from some of the most creative minds in the world. In six days, you will most certainly walk away with knowledge and experience which would otherwise have taken years to learn on your own, if at all. Students may find themselves working in the large, well-equipped studio, out on fabulous locations like Eaves Movie Ranch with professional models, or in the astoundingly beautiful Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Even better? If you shoot Nikon, you are in luck! Because Nikon is one of the sponsors of the Santa Fe Workshops, you can choose from an abundance of top of the line Nikon gear to check out during your stay… free of charge! A final week-end image presentation showcases the outcomes of what the workshops call the inevitable “breakdowns and breakthroughs” of the week.
If fabulous class offerings and fully equipped studio spaces and facilities are not enough for you, consider that internationally renowned photographers such as Joe McNally, Jay Maisel, Bobbi Lane, Peter Yang, Karen Kuehn, David Michael Kennedy, and Andrew Eccles call the Santa Fe Workshops home for a week or two each year, welcoming hundreds of photography students ranging in experience level from beginner to hobbyist, and even the seasoned pro. I had the pleasure of studying under the endlessly talented and always feisty Bobbi Lane. Bobbi was tough, no holds barred, and pushed us to the very edge of our abilities. The true test of a master teacher. Bobbi, as well as the students, were also magnificently supported by the Studio Coordinator, Sara Bielecki, and Course Coordinator, Michael Karsh.
While the cost of the workshops is not for the faint of heart, alternatives for those who are fiscally challenged are available. Students can apply for scholarships or one of the coveted work-study positions available each season. The Workshops also offer mentoring sessions, affording individuals the opportunity to work one-on-one with some of the most talented photographers in the field. It’s not the most inexpensive endeavor, but can you really put a price tag on that kind of experience?
My time at the Santa Fe Workshops was an exhaustive but challenging week of photographic excellence!
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