Student Images From Amelia Island Workshop

I have just wrapped up a weeklong photography workshop based on Amelia Island along Florida's northeastern Atlantic Coast. In addition to Amelia, we explored Big Talbot Island, Little Talbot Island and Fort George Island. It was a wonderful week with a group of creative women and I wanted to share some of their work with you. Enjoy!

Join Me For a Botanical Photography Workshop in Maine

What memories of summer are strongest for you? For me, it’s the smells—freshly mown grass, hemlocks in the mountains of North Carolina, mint in my mom’s garden, burgers cooking on the grill, even that odd smell of lightning bugs. Do you have lightning bugs where you live? Perhaps you call them fireflies.
Anyhow, it’s summer and my thoughts are eagerly turning to the botanical photography workshop I’ll be teaching in Rockport, Maine, this August. Offered by the Maine Media Workshops, it is a week’s emersion into the subject with a small group of individuals who are passionate about plants and photography. It’s one of those few times you can leave everything else behind and focus intensely on learning, playing, experimenting and making new artistic discoveries.
Teaching at MMW is one of my favorite summer activities. (And before I began teaching, taking workshops there was tops on my list!) Rockport is a quaint harbor town sandwiched between Rockland and Camden. The gardens are enchanting—sometimes charming, other times sophisticated. The studio is spacious and well equipped. Meals, which are eaten outdoors under a large tent, are always worth writing home about. And the talented staff is truly a joy to work with.
This workshop is going to be a little different from those I’ve taught in the past, in that we’ll spend more time in the studio and concentrate more on photographing plants than gardens—though we’ll get out in some lovely gardens, too. Shooting in the studio is unique in that you have an opportunity to look at and work with plants in ways that are often difficult and sometimes impossible in the garden. You can slow down, have a bit more control over your subject, and explore it more fully. The days will include a mix of working in the studio, shooting in the garden or nature, class discussions, creativity exercises and reviewing work. We will work hard, play hard, get lots of hands-on experience, share ideas and have some fun in a great setting.

While you don't need any botanical photography experience to take the class, you do need to know how to operate your camera and use some kind of image-processing software so that you can work with and share your images. You'll need to bring a laptop with that software, your camera, a sturdy tripod and, ideally, a couple of lenses. I highly recommend a macro lens for getting the most out of the class. (You might consider renting one for the week or asking MMW if they have any loaner equipment that would suit your camera.) We'll also play around with our camera phones and apps. You don't need to be an equipment geek to take this class; our real focus is shooting.

Don’t you want to join us? [Click HERE for information and registration.] If you have questions, please shoot me an email or respond to this letter. Also, would you do me a favor and pass this along to anyone you know who might be interested? I sure would appreciate that! Hope to see you in August! 

The Workshop Experience


At first, we cursed our fogging lenses and worked primarily on strategies to keep our cameras dry. (Shower caps are great for this, by the way.) But once we settled in a bit, the magic started to happen. It wasn't the first time I'd photographed in cold or rain by any means, but it was the day that I truly discoverd the magic of shooting in inclement weather. Or should I say, the magic of sticking with it, despite all of the challenges, to get the shot. By the time we packed our bags and headed back to the classroom to drop off our film, we were all anxious to see the results. Indeed, they were some of the best images taken all week. They were the shots that others don't get, because others usually do sit by the fireplace on cold, drizzly days.

That stick-with-it-attitude we learned that week has come to the rescue for me on countless assignments over the years when--thanks to inclement weather, broken gear, bad timing, travel hassels, or other problems--I really wasn't sure if I'd be able to deliver the job. But rather than give up, I stuck with it--often to the point that I simply gave up approaching things the usual way and just began to play. I've always returned home with publishable work. Indeed, what turned out to be one of my most frustrating magazine assignments ever resulted in a front-cover image. Thanks, at least in part, to Brenda and the Maine Media Workshops.

I'm still a student, and still take workshops from time to time because there is always something new to learn, some new territory to explore, another instructor to inspire me to look at things a new way. As an instructor, this is what I most love to do--get students to look at things in new ways, to break out of their routine, to expand their visual vocabulary, to try something they've never tried before. We work hard and we play hard. We go where we haven't gone before. That's what a workshop should be all about.

I guess my thoughts today are two-fold: Remember that the magic often happens when you push beyond your frustration level. And if you want to experience a week of growth, consider taking a workshop from a photographer or other individual you've always admired. It's a great opportunity for creative growth.


Only a Few Days Left to Register for Callaway Gardens Workshop

As part of the Southern Gardening Symposium at Callaway Gardens, I'll be teaching a half-day Garden Photography Workshop on Friday, January 29. Even in winter, Callaway Gardens is a magical place. In fact, winter is among my favorite times to photograph landscapes and gardens--quiet scenes, compelling texture, interesting seedpods, and the role evergreens play in the garden. We'll spend some time in the Conservatory photographing a variety of dramatic plants as well. Class size is limited and was filling quickly, so register soon if you're interested. I'll also be giving a presentation on Water Gardens on Sunday morning as part of the symposium. Other speakers for the January 29-31 symposium include Erica Glasener, Pam Baggett, Pamela Crawford, William Cureton, George Sanko, Dr. Mark Windham and June Mays.

Photo ©2009. Lee Anne White. All rights reserved.

The Workshop Experience

Workshops—both taking them and teaching them—have been wonderful experiences for me. Beyond personal projects, my work has evolved the most—both in terms of craft and vision—as a result of workshops. It is a week of total emersion, of shooting, of learning from and sharing with others, of having your work critiqued, of being constantly challenged.

Here’s why I believe in workshops:

• There is an unrivaled intensity to the week and total immersion into your craft. There are no distractions: You don’t call home. You don’t think about your job. You eat, breathe and live photography (or bookmaking or whatever) with other artists for a full week. You can’t help but learn, be challenged, and be energized in that kind of setting.

• You get feedback on your work from people whose opinions you trust.

• You try things you might never try otherwise. You push beyond your comfort zone, but within a safe and supportive environment.

The key is choosing the right workshop. If you need to advance your skills, take a skills-based workshop from an experienced teacher. If you’re feeling stale, consider a destination workshop to a place you’ve never been before. If you’re looking to advance your career, seek out a workshop that will challenge you intellectually. Look for instructors whose work you admire and who have received rave reviews about their interaction with students.

And then go with two things:

1. A short list of personal objectives for the workshop.
2. And an open mind.

Photo taken in the Red Mountains of southern Colorado during a workshop conducted by the Rocky Mountain School of Photography.

Garden Photography Workshop

I am pleased to announce that I will be returning to Rockport, Maine, this summer to teach Garden Photography at the Maine Media Workshops. This is a week-long workshop from July 19-25, 2009, immediately following the local garden tours--so there will be a wonderful mix of coastal Maine gardens to photograph.

The workshop is geared toward editorial and fine art photographers with a passion for flowers, garden design and landscape architecture. For the most part, the garden will be our classroom--so come prepared to spend lots of time in the field! We'll also have some lively discussions and insightful critique sessions. Both gardeners and photographers are welcome, but participants should be competent with their own digital imaging equipment.

Participants will have an opportunity to master professional techniques and explore their personal vision. This class is as much about learning how to see a garden as it is how to photograph a garden. Topics will include visual design, working with light and weather, close-up photography, creating a portfolio, developing your style and promoting your work.

If you'd like additional information, please feel free to drop me a line. To register, contact the Maine Media Workshops at 877-577-7700. As soon as the summer schedule is updated on their website, I'll post a link to the class.

Photo ©2008 Lee Anne White. All rights reserved.