Where’s the beef?
Remember that question, “Where’s the beef?”, from the Wendy’s commercials back in the 80s? Or “It’s in there” from the Prego commercials of the same era?
Well, couple the two thoughts and you’ll get some idea of what to expect from the best nature photography workshops available today. I think it’s fair to say that many people can get you to good sunrise or sunset venues on time.
The “beef” in the outdoor photography workshop isn’t going to be found in the sunset or the technique or the technology. The value, “It’s in there” is only there if you go home a better photographer than when your arrived for the opening of the workshop.
Whether you like your hamburgers rare or your spaghetti spicy, you need your workshops to be about learning.
That’s why my workshops focus on the one-on-one aspect of the experience. The venue, whether somewhere like next week’s workshop at Ricketts Glen State Park covering all or part of five days, or next month’s Preparing for Winter Photography workshop lasting only six hours, is the kettle in which we combine the ingredients of a special photographic experience. The challenge is much like making the perfect burger or your grandmotherls spaghetti sauce. We have to put the right ingredients into our patty or our sauce, in a way that makes it special to each person. In a way only you can.
Workshops should not be about going home with a bucket of “keepers.” They need to be about going home better able to recognize, compose and collect those keepers in the future. It’s about asking yourself the right questions before you click that shutter release button. Heck, before you even decide to compose your image in the first place.
It’s not about recognizing a beautiful wildflower, or finding a vantage point for a grand landscape or getting to the waterfalls when the water is flowing strong. It’s not about knowing what it is you are photographing. It’s knowing what about your subject you want to communicate.
Composing a photo “of” your subject is relatively easy. Not so, if your objective is for your photograph to be “about” your subject. What you want your viewer to see is the easy question and normally the answer is pretty easy, too. But, what do you want the viewer to experience? To feel? To understand? To sense? What do you want to share?
Before you “squeeze the trigger” you need to know the answer to at least one of these questions or another similar question you haven’t asked yet.