I spent this past weekend in Yosemite, taking part in a landscape photography workshop organized by Edward Mendes.
There are four essential components that make up a great workshop organizer, these include:
1. In depth knowledge of both the technical aspects of photography as well as the compositional.
2. The ability to teach. I.e. the ability to effectively communicate new ideas and instruction to a variety of individuals.
3. The ability to organize.
4. .The ability to put aside one's ego as well as one's own photographic ambition.
I have had the chance to participate in a few photography workshops and have had the opportunity to observe several workshops in progress at the same shooting locations where I was working. The first one is easy to find, simply put there are a lot of very talented, knowledgeable photographers out there. The second, the ability to teach is more challenging to find in talented photographers but not impossible. Things start to get tricky with the ability to organize and finally #4 is where things usually break down. I have witnessed too many workshop organizers either full of themselves or more interested in making their own images than helping their customers. It has made me weary of exploring new workshops and these days I like to get to know the organizer well before putting down my hard earned money.
Edward Mendes has an ideal balance of these four components which makes his workshops not only productive and useful but also excellent value. His workshops are very well organized with instruction material prepared in advance and well laid out. His instruction on composition and the art of landscape photography can benefit the experienced er as much as it can the novice. Finally, he's just a nice guy with a pleasant demeanor which sets a very relaxed tone to the entire workshop.
If you haven't been on a photography workshop before, I highly recommend trying one of his weekend workshops. They are excellent value and a great way to give you a taste of what a photography workshop is like. Assuming my schedule can allow it, I fully intend on signing up for a couple more of Edward's workshops this year and in the end I think that's the highest recommendation I can give.
On a slightly different note, I have also been thinking about how to change the kinds of posts I make the way in which my work gets displayed. One of the things I'll be doing this year is 'releasing' images. In the past I have posted images which only quick tweaks while on the road. I will be cutting down on those choosing instead to post image releases. In addition to having all post processing complete, a 'release' image will have gone through several print iterations until I am happy with the final print it produces. I will still be making posts to share tips, ideas and solicit feedback.
This Fiery Ribbon over Yosemite Valley image is my first image release of 2011. As Edward mentions in his workshop recap, what started off looking disappointing on Saturday night ended up being truly spectacular. I haven't worked at the Tunnel View location before (actually I haven't photographed Yosemite as a hole all that much) so I don't have a frame of reference but I'd heard a few more frequent shooters at that location comment that they hadn't seen conditions like that before.