I see you are sponsored by Olympus - Do I have to shoot Olympus to attend your workshops?
Absolutely not! We do shoot Olympus mirrorless cameras personally and on our workshops (and we love them!), but our adventures are for anyone and everyone, regardless of what brand of camera you shoot. We have experience with almost all brands of cameras due to our retail photo sales background. No matter what you shoot, we are happy to have you!
Plus, keep in mind that we often have loaner Olympus gear for our participants who are interested in learning more about Olympus mirrorless cameras. All you have to do is ask and we can get you a loaner set for any workshop we do.
What About Non-Shooting Spouses?
We generally welcome non-shooting spouses/significant others on our workshops. This request is quite common. Often we will allow a spouse to tag along on a shoot, but sometimes we will be unable to do so. Some workshops/locations aren't affected by the number of people we have present.....but some are. Participants are always welcome to bring a non-participating spouse with them with the understanding that the spouse may have to find a way to entertain themselves during our photo excursions, depending on the workshop.
1-Day Workshops: Generally there is no restriction for spouses for 1-Day workshops. If there is an entrance fee, you will have to pay for that person - but so far, other entities do not place a size limit on our group on 1-Day workshops.
Weekend/2-Day Workshops: Depending on the workshop, there MAY be a limitation regarding spouses or significant others IF they are going to join in on ANY aspect of the workshop....meaning joining us on any of our shoots, riding in the carpool or attending any lecture. And for some of the 2-day workshops we do we may have a limitation that won't allow spouses to join us at all. It all depends on the location and how much room we have for parking at a particular location. This limitation will be listed on the individual workshop page if it is an issue to the particular workshop.
There will definitely NOT be a limitation for the other party if they are coming on the trip to do something ENTIRELY separate from the workshop. If they will not join our group at ALL, we do not charge for a spouse/significant other. (We often have a group dinner on our workshops and the spouse/significant other is welcome to join us at dinner).
5-6 Day Travel Workshops: Depending on the workshop, there MAY be a limitation for spouses or significant others if they are going to join in on ANY aspect of the workshop....joining any of our shoots, riding in the carpool or attending any lecture.
There will definitely NOT be a limitation for the other party if they are coming on the trip to do something ENTIRELY separate from the workshop. If they will not join our group at ALL, it is a non-issue. (We often have a group dinner or two on our workshops and the spouse/significant other is welcome to join us at dinner).
Many of our longer workshops are held in national parks, and the parks are starting to limit group size. This has a HUGE impact on who we can bring and whether we can allow non-shooting spouses or not. The particular workshop page will indicate if a restriction applies to the workshop.
Please Note: The non-shooting spouse who joins us must indeed be a NON-SHOOTING SPOUSE. If he or she will want to photograph during our shoots (other than using a phone or point-n-shoot for snapshots), they will have to pay the tuition.
All of our workshops have limited enrollment. At no time will there be more students than our instructors can spend one-on-one time with. Our students pay good money to participate in a workshop so it is important to have skilled and knowledgeable instructors who pay attention to their specific questions and concerns.
Every once in awhile we will have a guest instructor or a guest product specialist assisting us with a workshop. The number for enrollment will correspond to how many instructors/guests we have available to assist students.
Workshop fees cover tuition expenses only. Travel to, from and during the workshop must be arranged by the participant. Major airports service all of our workshop destinations.
During the Workshop:
Participants must also arrange for their own travel during the course of the workshop. Most participants rent vehicles for their travels during longer workshops. There are major rental car companies available at or near all airports servicing the areas for our workshops.
We often require that workshop participants carpool during the workshop as often there is very limited space for vehicles at some of the shooting locations. For this reason we suggest to participants that they carpool and/or share a rental car and it's expenses throughout the course of the workshop. Please let us know if you would like to be given contact information for others who wish to carpool.
Unless otherwise noted, there is free parking at all of the hotel facilities we use for our workshops. (Except for Savannah - Savannah is almost always an extra charge.) And when shooting in city environments there may be fees for parking there as well.
Participants are responsible for their own lodging during the workshop. Each workshop lists the hotel(s) where the workshop will be hosted. We block out a number of rooms in the name of Natural Connections Photo Workshops and participants should contact the specific hotel to make reservations. Most of the room blocks will be released by the hotel 60 days prior to the workshop start date - although dates vary. After that point, you may make a reservation on an as-available basis only. Most of our workshop locations are very popular destinations and hotels tend to fill up quickly. For this reason, we suggest you book your hotel as soon as you decide on attending the workshop. All of the hotels have reasonable cancellation policies, and you will get a full refund of any lodging deposit normally if you cancel within 72 hours. Please check the specific hotel for their cancellation policy prior to booking.
Participants are responsible for their own meals during the workshop. Your instructors will give ample information about your schedule so that you may plan your meals accordingly. Often a group meal or two will be planned by your instructors but is completely voluntary for each participant.
Cancellation By Us:
Natural Connections Photo Workshops reserves the right to cancel a workshop for reasons that include, but are not limited to lack of enrollment, acts of God, natural disasters (such as fire, flood, etc). We are not responsible for any incidental or consequential expenses or damages that you may incur as a result of the cancellation of a workshop. Due to this, we suggest that you not book your flight more than 60 days prior to the workshop start date in order to minimize the risk of non-refundable expenses. When booking your flight, you may wish to consider booking refundable flights and/or purchasing trip insurance to cover any potential and non-refundable expenses.
Cancellation By You:
Each workshop has a different date after which there will be no refunds issued in the event of your cancellation. (See each individual workshop page for the relevant workshop's cancellation period - normally 60days on weekend and longer workshops.) If you cancel after you have paid but before the cancellation date listed on the workshop page, then we will refund your payment minus a 10% administration fee. We do not issue refunds after the cancellation cut off date. This is the date by which we have to notify the hotels about whether the workshop will be cancelled due to insufficient attendance or whether it will continue as planned.
Note: There is one exception to the above 'no refunds' rule. If there is a waiting list for the workshop, and someone is able to take your place in the workshop, then you will receive a full refund of monies paid minus the 10% administration fee.
Workshops at these prices fill up rather quickly. We do keep a wait list for those who are interested in attending a workshop that has been filled to maximum capacity. If we receive a cancellation for a workshop, we will contact the person next in line to offer them the spot. That person will have 24 hours to notify us if they wish to accept the open position. If we do not hear from that person within 24 hours we will offer the spot to the next person on the list, and so forth.
In some instances there will be additional fees associated with the trip. We will make you aware of any such fees before the workshop. An example of this would be National Park Pass fees. Most National Parks charge $25 for a 7 day pass. Unless otherwise noted, these are the only fees associated with our workshops that are not included in the cost of tuition.
Who May Attend?
Natural Connections Photo Workshops are open to any individual 18 years of age or older.....OR 16 years old if an accompanying parent is also signing up to participate in the workshop.
Most of our workshops are not extremely strenuous, but they do require some physical activity. Participants should be able to walk up to two miles with gear in environments that include high altitudes, paved and unpaved paths which may or may not have uneven walking surfaces. Some workshops may even require walking in areas where there are no pre-made paths. It is very important that you are able to assess your ability to embark on any shoot that requires any amount of physical exertion. Every workshop is different since every workshop is held in a different area of the country. If you have questions about specific physical activities please do not hesitate to contact us with your concerns.
We reserve the right to make changes to any published or unpublished itineraries whenever, in our judgment, it serves to better or enhance the workshop experience. These changes may be due to a change in circumstances within any venue hosting the workshop, inclement weather, impassable roads, flower or fall color conditions, fire, flood, etc. Any change made to a workshop schedule will be done only to ensure our participants receive the best workshop experience possible.
Is a photo workshop for me?
If you enjoy making friends with a number of new people from all around the country who all have the same interest in photography as you, then yes, a photo workshop is for you. If you want to learn more about photography and improve your photographic skills in a fun-loving and supportive environment, then yes, a photo workshop is for you. If you want to travel to amazingly beautiful and photographically stunning locations without ever having one worry about where to go and when to photograph, then yes, a photo workshop is for you. If you want to arrive back home with a smorgasbord of amazing images to share with your family and friends, then yes, a photo workshop is for you. Or if you simply like photography and want an excuse to get away, then YES, a Natural Connections Photo Workshop is for you.
What are the benefits of participating in photo workshops?
- Our weekend workshops will provide you with a plethora of photography-related information. These programs are designed to impart information, but most of all to get get the creative photographic juices flowing.
- Our longer workshops are a Distinctive Vacation - not everyone thinks to take a photo workshop for a vacation, but it is indeed a great choice. Amazing locations, amazing photos, amazing people and just plain having fun. What could be better??
- Travel With Others - often individuals are looking to take a vacation, but don't want to travel by themselves. A photo workshop is the PERFECT answer to this dilemma. None of the insecurities of solo travel are involved with a photo workshop. We go to great locations, show you great photo opportunities, and you get to do it with others around you - others who are looking for the exact same adventure as you.
- New Friends and New Contacts - there is no better way of getting to know other photographers than taking a photo workshop. You will meet and develop relationships with people you would have never thought could enter your life. Plus, it is amazing how much participants end up learning from each other as well.
- NO RESEARCH NECESSARY! - This is a great one...all you have to do is sign up and get yourself to the location. After that, it is all taken care of. We do all of the research necessary to get you to the right place at the right time. Just concentrate on your camera and the gorgeous scenery around you. The places we take you to are places that you would not necessarily find on your own. And the photos that result will reflect that.
- Education - Sure, you could plan a vacation to some of the wonderful places yourself. You could go through all of the trouble to find out where to be at the right time, but what you don't get from that is the assistance of a knowledgeable and skilled instructor who can help you with your questions in the field - questions that affect your photography at that decisive moment. On our workshops, we are there for you. No worries....if you panic in the field, we are there to help you work through it and to help you capture the best images you possibly can.
- Feedback - on our extended workshops we give constructive and immediate feedback on your daily photo shoot results. With multiple instructors reviewing your images you will receive constructive comments and guidance on how to make your images even better.
What is a typical day like during your workshops?
This will depend on the location and length of the workshop.
1-day workshops generally will begin at 9am and end by 5pm, although times may vary. These workshops will not have any 'classroom' instruction as all instruction will be in the field as a group or one-on-one as we shoot.
Weekend (or 3-day) workshops include four field shooting sessions and often class time as well. They run from 3:00pm on a Friday to Sunday at 3:00pm (sometimes they will run on different days of the week). We typically have one shoot the first evening, an AM and PM shoot the next day and an AM shoot on last day...followed by a final critique session on the last afternoon. Typically class time includes some lecture on photographic topics and also feedback via photo critique. This can vary according to the specific workshop, but this is the general flow of the weekend.
On the longer workshops, generally 5 days, the session will start with an introductory meeting and either an AM or PM shoot depending on what time that particular workshop begins. Each morning will have an AM shoot, then you will have the opportunity to eat and fill up with caffeine. There will be 2-3 class sessions on these longer workshops and will generally be worked into the early afternoon while the light isn't as good. In the late afternoon you will find yourselves once again back out in the field for a sunset field shoot. After this shoot, the evening will be yours to do with as you wish -- eat, socialize, download, process images - or dare we say, even sleep. In more remote locations we may try to include one night shoot during the workshop - although we can't guarantee conditions suitable for a night shoot on every workshop.
These are the general outlines for most of our programs. Some workshops and seminars may deviate from this pattern a bit depending on the amout of activities planned, the information presented and the need for travel during the workshop.
Do your instructors shoot during the workshop?
Our workshops are about the students - period. Our instructors will not do shooting for their own purposes during the workshop. In our opinion, any workshop company that allows otherwise is simply not a professional outfit.
You will, however, see the instructors with their cameras out from time to time - but there are several reasons for this. 1) Often it is helpful for the instructor to set up and shoot for instructional purposes. 2) Your instructors often photograph the activities of the students during the workshops for promotional purposes and/or to prepare a fun farewell sideshow to be shown on the final day.
What camera equipment should I bring?
This tends to be the million-dollar question these days as new and improved camera models are announced faster than you can recharge the battery to your old one.
We will say this now, and you will hear it from your instructors time and time again - It isn't the camera - it's the photographer. The very basic amount of necessary equipment is a camera with at least one zoom lens, your camera instruction manual and a sturdy tripod. With that said, there is a general list of equipment that will help you make the most of any photo workshop:
- DSLR or 'mirrorless' camera body(s) with various interchangeable lenses (zoom lenses work well - wide angle and telephoto)
- Macro lens or close up filters for close up work
- Lens shades for all lenses
- Filters - *circular polarizer, split neutral density or *circular neutral density filters
- Camera backpack or photo bag - something comfortable to carry your equipment for up to two miles
- Spare camera batteries and battery charger
- Multiple memory cards
- Card reader
- Instruction Manuals - every camera is different and your instructor will need this to help you with camera-related questions
- Tripod (head and legs)
- Camera and lens cleaning supplies
- Cable release/Remote
- Rain cover for camera and lenses - we do not stop shooting for inclement weather, so be sure to bring a waterproof cover for your camera - nothing fancy needed, large ziplock bags will even do.
**Note: The above listed equipment is not an all-inclusive list nor is it a mandatory list. Bring what you have - although you may want to invest in the minimum of a circular polarizer if you don't currently have one.
What if I don't have a camera with interchangeable lenses?
In order to get the most out of the workshop, we recommend that participants have a DSLR or 'mirrorless' camera with interchangeable lenses - but it is not required. Numerous participants have brought high-end superzoom point and shoot digital cameras and have achieved very good results. At the very least, the camera should have the ability to manually change mode settings (program, Sutter priority, aperture priority, manual) and be mounted onto a tripod.
Do I have to bring a laptop?
We highly recommend bringing a laptop for your private use and for use during classroom lecture and to prepare images for critique sessions. It is not mandatory that you bring a laptop, but you won't be able to get as much out of the program if you do not. A portable external hard drive for image backup is a good idea as well.
What other gear would be helpful to bring?
- Pocket Flashlight or Head Lamp
- Cushion or Knee Pads
- Hand towel for wiping off wet cameras
- Field Notebook and Pen or Pencil
- Larger Notebook for Classroom Sessions
- Water Bottle
- Bug Spray
- Change of shoes
- Snacks - energy bars or other snacks for while in the field
What kind of clothing should I bring?
We have many different locations for our workshops, but there is one common theme that binds them all -- you need to wear layers. What this means is that you should bring a variety of clothes for any weather. Although this makes packing a little more cumbersome, you will not regret having too many articles of clothing with you. In many of our locations, your day can start out in freezing temperatures only to climb to 80 degrees by late morning or noon. Below are examples of the types of clothing to pack:
- 2 jackets - one weatherproof light to medium weight and one weatherproof heavy weight
- Warm clothing to wear in layers - short sleeve shirts, long sleeve shirts, hooded sweat shirts, fleece (NOTE: in very cold weather avoid wearing cotton as much as possible - cotton does not wick away moisture from the body like other synthetic fabrics and can contribute to hypothermia.)
- Coverings for extremities - hats, gloves, scarves, ear coverings, warm socks, WARM and WEATHERPROOF hiking boots or hiking shoes with good tread. Regardless of where you are or the type of shoes you wear, they must be comfortable as you will be spending a lot of time on your feet.
- Cargo pants - these are a great help in the field. The pockets are highly useful for holding gear and accessories and keeping them handy while you're in the field.
- Waterproof Clothing - we do not stop shooting just because it is raining. You will need some sort of means of staying dry - and so will your camera. The best waterproof clothing is a waterproof jacket or jacket shell with a waterproof hood. Umbrellas can work but are cumbersome when dealing with photography equipment.
I'm scared I will be the only one there who isn't an expert in photography.
Absolutely not! You will find every skill level present on these workshops. We create an environment where the beginner is free to mix with the advanced shooter. All questions and concerns are answered in a supportive and encouraging manner. There is never a 'dumb' question on our workshops. We are happy to have anyone at any level. It is our ultimate goal to make sure that every participant goes home with more photographic knowledge than when they arrived to the workshop.
What can I do to prepare myself for the workshop?
At a bare minimum, if you are not an experienced photographer, there is one thing that will help you immensely. Hold your camera in your hands. Turn it on. Make sure there is a memory card it in. Open your camera manual and read it cover to cover. Whatever the manual refers to, find it on the camera -- push the button, flip the switch, turn the dial. This is the single best way to learn your camera. It will help you immensely in the field. Whatever you do, do not let the first day of the workshop be the first day your camera has been out of its box.
Even if you have been shooting for a little while, you may want to at least review how to change certain key things on your camera - know how to change your shutter speed, ISO and aperture at a bare minimum. Even if you don't yet understand how all of these elements interact, you will at least know how to physically change them when the time comes.
Also, many of our workshops can be a touch physically demanding. We don't hike for miles and miles through the wilderness, but many of the workshops will include some hiking in high altitudes. Add to this long days and heavy camera gear, and most participants will experience some sort of fatigue. If you live a sedentary lifestyle, you will want to exercise a little for at least a few weeks prior to the workshop. Walking for a few miles per day should do it. If you have physical limitation, make sure you discuss this with us before signing up for a workshop. We would rather be up front about the amount of physical exertion on the trip than have a participant be unhappy because they physically can't do some of the shoots they have paid for.
Where are your 6-day destinations?
We have many different destinations to visit and a number of future destinations in the works. Current and future destinations include, but are not limited to:
Great Smoky Mountains National Park - Townsend, Tennessee
Arches National Park - Moab, Utah
Glacier National Park - Montana
Death Valley National Park - California
Colorado's Fall Colors - Ouray, CO
Monument Valley - Utah/Arizona
Fall on the Coast of Maine - Bar Harbour
Washington's Palouse Region - Colfax, WA
Mt. Rainier National Park - Washington
Yellowstone National Park - Wyoming
Grand Teton National Park - Wyoming
Coast of Oregon
Coast of Maine
Acadia National Park
Charleston, South Carolina
St. Augustine, Florida
What if I have more questions?
Do not hesitate to contact us at email@example.com or call 678-227-3781.