Photographing Landscape & Place: Great Cranberry Island


DATE:  August 9-11, 2018

LOCATION: Heliker-LaHotan Foundation, Great Cranberry Island, Maine


What is this thing we call landscape? What do we mean by place? And what elements in the landscape give a place a sense of place? How can we move beyond the obvious shots to photograph the true character of a landscape or the "fingerprints" of place? We'll explore these questions through discussions, image reviews and extensive in-the-field photography on Great Cranberry Island, Maine.


Great Cranberry Island is the largest of five islands in the Cranberry Isles, located off the coast of Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park. Accessible only by boat, the island is home to approximately 40 year-round residents (who mostly make a living lobstering or boatbuilding) and a few hundred summer residents. In addition to wild, rocky shores and spruce-fir, birch and red maple forests, Great Cranberry has a beach, a bog (traversed over a narrow log bridge), a unique protected tidal pond referred to by locals as "The Pool," and stunning views of Mount Desert Island. When tides are low, it is possible to walk out to Crow's Island, as well.

Primary access to the island is provided by the Beal & Bunker mailboat ferry. Private water taxis and a tourist ferry are also available. A small shuttle runs the length of Great Cranberry Road. Otherwise, plan to get around on foot. The island is one mile wide by two miles long, so it is a good place for walking. A small general store, cafe and library provide basic local services, but among the charms of the island is its remoteness and simple way of life.


This is primarily a field workshop, with ample time to photograph the island each day. We'll take a mid-day break for lunch, image reviews and discussions before heading back out again with our cameras. The workshop is available for both island residents and those who wish to visit Great Cranberry Island. A room-and-board package is available for those traveling to the island. 


Essential gear:

Digital camera and manual
Laptop or tablet with software for processing/sharing images

Non-essential, but useful gear:

Lens range from wide angle to  telephoto
Macro capabilities: macro setting on existing lens, screw-on macro filters or macro lens
Circular polarizing filter
Thumb drive for sharing images
Extra cards or small external drive for saving a backup of work

Notes: You should already be familiar with your camera and image-processing software. Manuals can be downloaded online if you do not have the original. There is no need to purchase any new gear for this workshop; you can work with what you have.

Other suggested items: Bug spray and sun screen, comfortable walking shoes, closed-toe shoes for walking along water's edge and in tide pools, rain gear (just in case) and water bottle.


New York painters John Heliker and Robert LaHotan spent their summers painting on Great Cranberry Island, and their dream was to one day turn their island property into an artist residency program. Upon their deaths, the Heliker-LaHotan Foundation fulfilled those dreams--converting their home into a residence and their studios and outbuildings into studios for visiting artists. Each year, the Foundation invites artists to spend four weeks focusing deeply on their work in quiet surroundings overlooking the water.