Frequently Asked Questions

Why do you use the term “tour/workshop”?
Throughout this website, as well as on my blog, I refer to my scheduled events  as “tour/workshops,” while others (other photographers as well as tour participants) often refer to these same events simply as “workshops.” Therefore, a brief explanation of the experience you should anticipate is in order.
Can you describe a tour?
My tour/workshops are typically scheduled as “in-the-field” events designed to accomplish different things for different people. First and foremost, however, these “tour/workshops” are designed to provide guided opportunities for enjoyable nature photography.

During the tour/workshops, I work one-on-one with each participant to address opportunities to capture unique image as well as to enhance his or her photographic knowledge and skill. This explains why my tour/workshops are limited to eight participants (sometimes even fewer, depending on the locale). I’ve learned that I can provide the level of individual attention that is appreciated by participants, without you feeling like I’m hovering over your shoulder all the time. You get to learn and enjoy at the same time.

Occasionally you’ll find an event that is identified simply as a “workshop.” That typically means that this event is 1) indoors and 2) conducted in a classroom style format. Each of these events will be clearly identified so as to not be confused with my tour/workshops.

Are lodging, transportation and meals included in the tour/workshop fee?
Tour fees do not typically include lodging, transportation, or meals unless specifically as noted. While we’ll typically have a “headquarters” situated at a local motel, hotel or B&B,  and try to negotiate special rates for tour participants, each participant needs to confirm his/her own lodging at the HQ or elsewhere in the area.

Since traditional breakfast and dinner times often conflict with the best times for us to be shooting, you should come prepared, if you feel the need to eat something between or during normal mealtimes. I will typically have a cooler onboard, should that prove useful to anyone.

How and when do I need to make a reservation?
Advance reservations are required and may be made by contacting me via e-mail ([email protected]), by phone (315-420-3513), or by clicking on the “Register Now”  link  following each finalized tour description.
Who should attend a Tom Dwyer tour/workshop?
Beginners to intermediate and more advanced photographers with a desire to take their photography to the next level. All of Tom’s tours are scheduled with individual participant needs and objectives in mind.
Do I need advanced digital equipment?
The simple answer is “no.” Any camera equipment you have will work. However, some compact cameras may not afford you the opportunity to be as creative as you’d like or to take advantage of some of the opportunities my tour/workshops are designed to provide. With this in mind, I encourage use of digital SLRs with whatever lenses and accessories you may have. I also encourage participants to bring laptop computers along with a flash drive, to facilitate image reviews and critiques.
What if I don't have a digital SLR?
If you do not have a DSLR and/or a laptop computer, I suggest talking to me before registering, just to make certain your equipment will allow you to get the most benefit from your experience. Digital cameras are preferred because they allow us to review images during the shoot and during our image review sessions. If you have a laptop computer with Lightroom II (or III) and/or Photoshop installed, bring it with you. Consider downloading free demo versions of Lightroom III and Photoshop from www.adobe.com just before you come to the workshop, if you don’t already own it.
What's a tour/workshop like?
With the interests of individual participants as our objective the tour/locale/subject becomes of paramount importance. You’ll advance your photographic skills in the field, behind your camera. The tour itself will focus on specific subjects (often more than one – wildflowers, waterfalls, mountain vistas, country streams, iconic landscapes) and the unique skills and techniques required for the subject matter, many skills related to successfully capturing exciting images are the same, regardless of subject matter.

That said, the interests and needs of all participants in my tour/workshops are seldom the same. That accounts for why I limit the number of participants. I want to be able to assure each participant the one-on-one time necessary to bring home new skills that you have tried and tested, as well as images they’ll want to share.

Throughout the tour/workshop I work with each participant, exploring their unique interests. You’ll discover or enhance your ability to recognize what belongs in your image and what doesn’t. You’ll be introduced to new skills, new techniques, and new technology. To accomplish this I do not shoot during my tours (except perhaps to grab a few quick images of the participants).

Upon arrival at a venue, I’ll quickly point out some interesting elements offered by that venue and perhaps suggest a lens I’ve found most useful, often suggest a filter or camera setting, and generally try to get all the participants off to a quick start.

Typically, most participants will head off in different directions, while I respond to specific questions. Then, I begin interacting with each participant individually. We’ll often review images on the spot and suggest ways to enhance your captures. I’ll answer questions, point out unrecognized perspectives, suggest ways to improve your capture technique, and more. When more than one participant can benefit from a quick “moment” we’ll stop and gather those interested together for a brief “mini-workshop.”

Is transportation provided during the tour?
Transportation to and from the tour is the responsibility of each participant. Besides driving to our gathering point for each tour, air, bus, and rail transportation may also available. For anyone not planning on driving, I’ll try to be prepared with information on transportation options. During the tour/workshop will carpool with each other to reduce the length of our caravan, the amount of parking space we need to use at each venue (which is often limited) and cut down on both the economic and ecological impact. Typically, some participants are more anxious to drive than others and we’ve never had a lack of drivers or room in our vehicles. Of course it is nice if riders will offer to help defray fuel costs for fellow participants who are driving.

Fees vary depending on the tour/workshop. Typically the fee includes the tour/workshop only. Lodging and meals are each participant’s responsibility, as is transportation to and from the tour. Fees are quoted as part of the tour description, along with other pertinent information.

  • Typically,  a minimum of $200 is due with your application and prior to the cut-off date for reservations;
    • 50% of the balance is due 60 days prior to the tour.
    • Final payment of the balance is due 30 days prior to the tour.

What do you accept for payment?
Most people pay us via PayPal. However, we accept cash, check and credit/debit cards (MasterCard or Visa) as well.
What happens in the case of foul weather?
It’s difficult for me to imagine weather conditions that would cause us to cancel a tour/workshop. Of course, extreme weather such as a hurricane or tornado, might cause local officials to close roads, etc. In this case we would expect to reschedule the tour and will work with participants to accommodate your needs. That said, I view typical rainy, snowy or windy weather conditions as opportunities to express our creativity in ways we might not have otherwise imagined. Normal foul weather will not cause cancellation of a tour/workshop.
What is your refund policy?
First off, I always anticipate your total satisfaction with one of my tour/workshops. However, in the unlikely event that you are not totally satisfied, your request for a full or partial refund will be honored and your payment refunded in full with 30 days.

In the event you need to cancel after your registration, refunds will be made as follows:

  1. In the unlikely event that I have to cancel the photo tour for any reason, a full refund will be made to all participants, or the participant(s) may elect to have any amount paid credited to another tour/workshop.
  2. A full refund, less a $50 cancellation fee, will be made for participant cancellations made 90 or more days prior to the photo tour start date. Such cancellations must be made in writing and the date the written cancellation is received via e-mail or postmarked will determine the cancellation date.
  3. 80% of total tour/workshop fee (less the cancellation fee) will be refunded if the cancellation is received in writing 60-89 days prior to the tour/workshop start date unless, a replacement participant can be found, in which case the policy in #2 above, will apply.
  4. No refunds will be made for cancellations 59 or fewer days prior to photo workshop start date unless a suitable replacement participant can be found, in which case, policy in #3 above will apply.
  5. Policy #1 will apply when cancellations are due to serious illness or the a death in your immediate family. A doctor’s or other appropriate professional’s verification is required.