Epilogue: Visionary Moab

The Visionary Moab group before Balanced Rock, Arches NP

The Visionary Moab group before Balanced Rock, Arches NP

Guy and I concluded our Visionary Moab photography workshop just under a week ago.  It was another successful workshop with a great group of participants, and it’s a strong testament to our program and teaching when 50% of the participants are returnees (thank you, Bob, Paige, Ron, and Tina!). Visionary Moab explored fifteen unique locations and provided great shooting opportunities with diverse subject matter. Everyone in the group was able to enjoy the three mile roundtrip walk to the world famous Delicate Arch (in Arches NP) for a sunset shoot (great job, guys!). Although we visited a few well known locations (Delicate Arch, Grandview Point), our focus is otherwise on placing participants in less obvious, quiet, and photographically rich environments where one can stretch their skills and creativity. Daily shoots were combined with field classes, field exercises, portfolio assignments, and classroom time where we examined the tools and techniques to creating our art.

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Guy instructs

The core tenets of the Visionary program are intended to induce a quiet and thoughtful practice into ones work. Some educators and photographers engage in a “spray and pray” approach to image making. Visionary workshops recommends the exact opposite: slow down, quiet the mind; be completely present and in this moment; consider and deliberate; quality over quantity. Spray and pray is a mindless path to lucky captures and editing nightmares; quiet and thoughtful deliberation is a path to creative imaging and expression.

In the Window before sunrise

In the Window before sunrise

Free yourself from external influences: bills, obligations, and chores will pollute your experience every time if you allow. Bring your baggage to the field only at the risk of failure-to-see. Photo buddies are fun to hang with but can provide obstacles to photographic growth; practice working in solitude (quiet your mind).

Be observant of your entire surroundings. Take visual inventory of your “materials”, of what you have to work with to create your images. Compose away from the camera and viewfinder; use your mind and vision (photographer Edward Weston stated “composition is the strongest way of seeing“). Don’t get locked into the arbitrary 2:3 or 4:5 aspect ratio of your camera. Your camera has no brain; use the one you’ve been gifted with.

Guy instructs during one of our classroom sessions

Guy instructs during one of our classroom sessions

Be an expert; know and photograph your subjects better than anyone else. Honor, love, and dignify; meaningful relationships with your subject matter will often result in compelling and sincere photographs. There are no shortcuts to artistry, but there is a direct correlation between input and output. If you love photography and strive to become a better photographic artist, do more of it and make it more than just a spare-time pursuit; make it your life.

Our next Visionary workshop takes place November 21-26 in Death Valley and we hope that you’ll join us for stimulating and inspirational discussions and engaging photography in one of the planets most extraordinary places!

You’ll find eight additional images from Visionary Moab below this entry…

You are visiting the blog of fine art landscape photographer Michael E. Gordon. For additional photos and information, please visit his official website. You can also find Michael on TwitterFacebook, and Google+.

We enjoyed everywhere the beautiful aroma of Mahonia...

We enjoyed everywhere the beautiful aroma of Mahonia…

Yucca, wide open

Yucca, wide open

Mesa Arch?

Mesa Arch?

Sweeping sandstone

Sweeping sandstone

Reflected light

Reflected light

We explored and photographed lots of rock art

We explored and photographed lots of rock art

Guy, Ron, and Tom discuss the detailed rock art behind them

Guy, Ron, and Tom discuss the detailed rock art behind them

Washer Woman Arch

Washer Woman Arch

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Announcing Visionary Photography Workshops

Guy Tal and I first met each other about ten years ago shortly after he’d left California for Utah. During the ensuing decade, we shared together many wonderful photography expeditions to extraordinary places and discussed at length our goals, philosophies, and hopes for nature and landscape photography as fine art. Despite our differences, we shared many commonalities and philosophies and began to plan our first workshop. In 2004, we hand-picked a select group of photographers for a free Grand Staircase-Escalante NM (Utah) workshop where we could test and vet our curriculum. It was a wonderful start with a great group of photographers, and we’ve since spent the last eight years teaching, guiding, and inspiring scores of photographers at all levels while continuously refining our philosophies and teaching methods. In 2011 we began hatching a refined Visionary concept, and in February 2012 offered our first (sold out) Visionary Photography Workshop in Death Valley National Park. It was a tremendous success, and it prompted us to consider additional offerings in new locations.
The success (or failure) of a photography workshops hinges on its leadership and planning. After eight years of teaching and guiding, we had heard the horror stories from our participants about bad workshops and bad leadership, and desired to never have our names associated with similar stories. Meticulous planning is part of every Visionary workshop. There is no “figuring it out” as we go along, no details are left uncoordinated, and we don’t use our workshops to build our own portfolios. We take great pride in the Visionary program we’ve put together, and we hope you’ll join us for a Visionary Photography Workshop in 2013.
You are visiting the blog of fine art landscape photographer Michael E. Gordon. For additional photos and information, please visit his official website.