Workshops : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I've been wondering whether or not to do a workshop this summer. I thought I would post this question to the forum. What experiences both good and bad has anyone had attending these workshops and which ones would you do again. joe

-- joe kras (, May 06, 2002


I have had absolutely great success with workshops here in the San Francisco Bay Area. I started in LF last spring, and have taken a few workshops, both in the studio and in the field, from Don Cameron in Santa Clara.

This is not a shameless plug, but an example of how my work with large format has gotten tremendously better by having a mentor close at hand. I probably could have learned many of the same things through books, but it would have taken much longer to become competent with the tools.

Just my $.02


-- Andy Biggs (, May 07, 2002.

I have to agree with Andy... hands on help just seems a whole lot faster learning if the leader is competent. Besides, if you have a good place to take the workshop, you'll at least come home with pretty pix's.

-- Scott Walton (, May 07, 2002.

I have done the Maine Photographic Workshop twice over the last four years. If you are using LF, which I assume you are, it is very important that the workshop leaders be (at the very least) familiar with LF equipment and issues, and amenable towards having an LF user in the group. I cannot overemphasize the importance of this point.

My first workshop was LF only with Tillman Crane. He is an experienced LF photographer and teacher. It was a superb experience. My second workshop was billed as "all formats welcome" and I contacted the instructor beforehand and was assured that I would be comfortable using LF in the class. Unfortunately, everyone else in the class used 35mm, the pace of the class, site selection, etc. was geared for the 35mm user, and the instructor didn't have the faintest idea what to do with LF and was of very little use, instead using interaction time with me to try to convince me to switch to 6x7 (which the instructor used) and to Velvia rather than Provia (which I have used for years).

That being said, I am signed up for a workshop this month with the Ansel Adams Gallery Workshops, which I expect to be LF-user friendly.

-- Josh Divack (, May 07, 2002.

There are reviews of workshops on this page. Look at the heading called "Workshop Reviews" or something like that. There is also a workshop section on I've attended a lot of workshops. The instructors I've liked the most were John Sexton and Craig Stephens. Bruce Barnbaum was very good also once you got past the ego. Ruth Bernhard was different and also good but I don't know if she still does workshops. Michael Smith and Paula Chamlee were also different and very good. I've heard bad things about Ron Wisner but since I have no personal experience I'll let someone who does speak about him. In addition to the instructor, which is by far the most important thing, the facilities are also relevant. I liked the Anderson Ranch facilities the best of those I've seen - everything is within easy walking distances, the food was good and convenient, the darkroom facilities were excellent, the housing at the workshop site was adequate or you could use an Aspen/Snowmass condo if you wanted to go first class, the staff was friendly and helpful. Maine is o.k. but not very convenient. The workshops and housing are spread all over the town and few are close to the eating area, there is a shuttle bus but you have to wait a while for it, parking is limited if you drive your car, the housing facilities aren't very good - I stayed in the most expensive housing they provide and it was adequate at best. I heard many complaints from others about where they were staying. On the plus side, the food was terrific. Palm Beach has moved since I was there so I don't know what it's like now. I didn't care for Sante Fe's facilities. The most expensive housing was o.k. but not particularly good, they don't serve dinners so you have to eat in local restaurants, which means you have less informal interaction with other participants and the instructor, and a rental car is a must since there are no restaurants anywhere nearby. They also didn't have a darkroom that could make prints overnight so if you wanted a critique from your instructor about the work you were doing you had to use slide film. This may have changed, it's been about five years since I was there. I would never choose a workshop based solely on the housing or the food. I'd attend a John Sexton workshop if it was held in a tent and an outhouse. I'm just passing along my impression of some of the facilities I've seen in case you're having trouble selecting between two otherwise equal workshops.

-- Brian Ellis (, May 07, 2002.

I've participated in as well as helped teach a number of workshops and I think they have the potential be about the most effective and enjoyable teaching tool in photography. The thing I love about the workshop environment is that everybody there brings something to the table. The instructor may be providing a lead, but in a workshop everybody draws off of everybody else. People come from all different backgrounds and have all sorts of different experiences they can share, and, in the same way that this forum allows people to freely share knowledge and experience, a workshop allows participants to learn great things in an enjoyable way from eachother. If you can find one to your liking, I highly recommend participating in a workshop this summer.

-- David Munson (, May 07, 2002.


Take a look at the post two posts about you by Per. He is running free workshops this year. He was a commercial photographer for many years and knows what he is doing. Perhpas you could write to him and get in on one of those workshops.


-- Kevin Kolosky (, May 07, 2002.

The following link should be of interest to you in the pre-workshop phase. The link is to a re-print of a LensWork Article on "How to make a Workshop Work."

-- Joe Lipka (, May 07, 2002.

I have taken three workshops in the last year or so and here is my 2 cents worth. I had just started large format and did not have any experience with my 4x5 so everything was new. For this reason I started with Charles Farmer's Owens Valley 1 week Large Format workshop. The site was spectacular, the lodgings in a motel excellent, the pacing was right with rest time so that I was not overwhelmed, the teaching was great for the beginner and totally large format oreiented, there were good critiques and lectures. We travelled to a wide variety of scenery both man-made and natural. Dick Garrod, as one of the instructors, was really inspirational. If you are experienced with large format then this workshop would be a chance to shoot in many nice sites, but would not have advanced education in it.

My second workshop was Howard Bond's two-day printing workshop in Detroit. The best part was seeing huge numbers of excellent fine prints which really sank home the concept of the "fine" in fine print. The darkroom teaching was average, but not nearly as good as Sexton's teaching as will follow below.

I just returned from John Sexton's workshop "the expressive fine print". This was simply spectacular. Intense 8:30am-11:30pm for 6 days. Well thought-out, professionally presented, clear and precise live demonstrations, phenomenal critiques (mine lasted more than 1 hour and was VERY useful). John is also very personable, approachable, warm, and incredibly knowlegable. For this reason the schedule flew by in a snap of the fingers. I found that so many things that I understood 9/10's of suddenly fell into place directly because of his ability to teach and make something technical understandable. The only thing that didn't work as I anticipated was the afternoon field-trip to Point Lobos. By the time we had eaten lunch, and John had finished his demonstrations, there was only and hour or so left. Not enough time for any serious shooting. Also John had so much more to show and say, that I had no interest in shooting because the info was still coming fast and furiously. For this reason I wish I had left all my heavy gear and film at home and been able to travel to Carmel so much lighter. What a great experience this was for me and my fellow workshop attendees still keep in touch and were all significantly impressed by the experience. I certainly will not need any other printing/darkroom workshop after this.

Hope all of this personal reaction helps. . .


-- Scott Jones (, May 07, 2002.

I will echo Scott Jones' comments on John Sexton's Expressive Print Workshop. I attended this Workshop in April, 2001 and it was an incredible learning experience. Iv'e had 20 years of formal education and some 30 years of professional continuing education. I have never had an instructor or teacher make a greater effort or share more of themselves as John did in our Workshop. If you are serious about your photography, you owe it to yourself to attend one of John's workshops.

Joe Egge Portland, OR

-- Joe Egge (, May 07, 2002.

I would recommend any training you can receive by Don Cameron and his Creative Camera Studio. He offers workshops, courses with UC Santra Cruz, and one-on-one training. His 25-plus years of knowledge covers everything you would ever need about photography. Check out his workshops at

-- Joe Hertzbach (, May 11, 2002.

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