Death Valley National Park Photography Workshop

When: November 8-12, 2021
Where: Death Valley National Park, CA
Fee: $975

Registration Deadline: September 7, 2021 (space permitting)

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Death Valley has been attractive and mysterious since long before the first prospectors arrived in the middle of the 19th century.  In Death Valley National Park, “Your mission, should you decide to accept it . . . .” is all about creating images that capture the desert’s attractiveness and its mystery. Fortunately, for this workshop, we have two experienced workshop leaders.

Waves of Death Valley

There aren’t many photography workshops that offer two leaders with experience that Tom Dwyer & Michael Gordon bring to the valley. Indeed, you’d be hard-pressed to find a photographer with more knowledge in this National Park than award-winning photographer Michael Gordon. And, while this will be Tom Dwyer’s first time leading a Death Valley workshop, his experience as a workshop leader is well known and appreciated. (See “What others say.)

Michael Gordon

We’ve all seen the iconic images created in this, the 5th largest of our national parks and the largest national park in the lower 48 states. So, we cannot be blamed if we are tempted to be more than a little daunted at the challenge before us. Both Michael and Tom have demonstrated experience in facilitating the ability of workshop participants to rise to the many opportunities the desert offers. Both have led workshops large and small in places remote, wild, and challenging. Tom’s workshops in New York’s Adirondack State Park (at roughly 6,000,000 square acres the largest park in the lower 48 states), the vast Fingerlakes region of New York State and the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia are known for being punctuated by his knowledge of where to be, when, along with a focus on helping participants create meaningful, expressive, artful images. Michael’s award-winning images are a testimony to his photography and, his unmatched knowledge of Death Valley assures we’ll be where we need to be when we need to be there.

Our Itineraries
You’ll enjoy no less than two location shoots per day (sunrise/morning and afternoon/sunset) in Death Valley’s most unique and remarkable locations.

Tom Dwyer

While it may not always be the case, you should be prepared to walk about 3-5 miles per day while carrying your gear (a walk into and through the photogenic heart of Mesquite Dunes requires no less than 2-3 miles (up to 5km) of round-trip walking in variable sand conditions with a few steep sandhills). It’s not as far as you think; the time and distance fall quickly and effortlessly while in a photographic state of flow.

In the canyon

Getting to Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park is located some 130 miles from Las Vegas and approximately 275 miles from Los Angeles. The estimated driving time from Las Vegas is about 2.5 hours; from Los Angeles, it is 4.5 to 5 hours.

Lodging: Based on Michael’s unmatched experience and knowledge of Death Valley, lodging has been reserved for you at Stovepipe Wells Village, close to the dead-center of the park. From here our daily treks (mostly by automobile though some short hiking may be required to access prime venues) will be within easy reach. Be sure to talk to Tom if you have concerns about any potential hiking difficulty.

Do not delay your room registration; unregistered rooms are released to the public 60 days before our workshop and alternative lodging cannot be guaranteed.

The Stovepipe Wells Campground is located at Stovepipe Wells Village (where we are based): http://www.nps.gov/deva/planyourvisit/camping.htm
Showers and swimming pool access are available for $4 per day.

Sensual Death Valley


What is included?

This workshop tuition covers all instruction, location guiding, and 100% of Tom and Michael’s attention focused on your needs and photographic growth. Following your registration, you will receive a checklist to assist with preparations. The National Park Service requires carpooling to our shooting venues (no more than four vehicles per group) which we will coordinate daily.

What’s not included?

Lodging, airfare, car rentals, Park entrance fees, camping gear (if camping; which is optional), camera gear and meals are not included, nor are any items of a personal nature. Participants will be required to transport themselves to and from our meeting location at Stovepipe Wells, Death Valley National Park. Anticipate a 2-3 hour travel time to/from Las Vegas.

A Desert Kaleidoscope

Health and Fitness
We need to know if you have any medical conditions of concern. If you are physically fit and exercise regularly, your experience in Death Valley will be more enjoyable and less tiring. Death Valley has nearly 1000 miles of paved and dirt roads, but the best images tend to be found well away from roadsides and parking lots.

You can anticipate beautiful weather during our workshop. Temperatures in Stovepipe Wells Village and on the floor of Death Valley (at or below sea level) will be about 50-80° Fahrenheit, but be prepared for considerably cooler temperatures and potential wind/rain/snow at high-elevation locations (up to 6433’/1961m). For your comfort, plan and prepare for a temperature range of 20-90°F and be sure to pack wind- and waterproof wear, a fleece hat, and gloves (please consult the Suggested Gear section of this document). Our shoots take place even when it may be cold and windy – be prepared.

National Weather Service forecast for Stovepipe Wells Village: http://tinyurl.com/6umjls4

Food & Dining
Our days are generally intensive and long. Each day begins before dawn and we’ll usually return by 9:30 am for late buffet breakfast. We’ll typically depart again by 1 pm for our afternoon/sunset shoot and do not return to lodging each evening until after dark.

If our itinerary finds us in the Furnace Creek area after our sunrise/morning shoot, we’ll eat ba buffet breakfast at The Oasis (optional). We make a point of getting you to a proper breakfast and dinner each day; you will need and enjoy the fuel.

Mountains of desert color

Those attending should be aware:

Access to most of our venues will require driving dirt, gravel, and often rugged roads. So, an SUV or other rugged high-clearance vehicle is required to assure an enjoyable experience. To maximize this experience all participants should be in good health, have good physical conditioning, and be able to comfortably walk 3-4 miles per day with camera gear.

    • Photographers with physical mobility issues should check with Tom before participating to assure they can participate safely and enjoyably;
    • This workshop is not “physically demanding”, yet good fitness ensures a more rewarding and less fatiguing experience. Please inquire if you have doubts;
    • All participants should be fully knowledgeable with the operation of their equipment; with full knowledge of photography fundamentals (camera operations; ISO, aperture, depth-of-field, etc.);
    • Finally, this is not a photo tour. Daily classroom time, as well as one-on-one learning, and artistic growth should be expected.

Upon Registration:

While you should certainly feel free to contact us for answers to any question you may have, rest assured that upon registration you will quickly receive a complete packet of information to help you prepare for this exciting adventure. Everything you might want to know is included:

Dunes before the mountains

  • Daily itinerary expectations,
  • Detailed lodging information,
  • More details on how to get to Death Valley National Park,
  • Food and dining options,
  • Detailed clothing and photo gear recommendations,
  • More.

If you would like this information now please feel free to reach out to Tom via email: [email protected]