What to Bring to a Photography Workshop

One of our master instructors, Brian Rueb, wrote up a great guide for anyone looking to join one of our photography workshops (or any outdoor photography workshop or photo shoot). We hope you get a lot of use from this guide...

By Brian Rueb

We get asked this question ALL the time, and while conditions change from location to location, and even from day to day, there are a few pointers we like to give our students to help ensure they have the best experience, and get the most productive time as possible on our in-field workshops.

1 - Bring your camera.  If you have two bodies, bring both. We shoot digital, and all our instruction is based on digital SLR cameras. However, if you have a favorite point-and-shoot or old film camera you like, go ahead and bring it along. If time permits, you can use it as well.

2 - Bring lenses. The goal is to cover a range from very wide (17-20mm)  to zoom (100-400mm).  While most of our workshops deal primarily with landscape images that cover the 17-70mm range, it's not uncommon for people to see wildlife on outdoor workshops (even those not specifically planned towards wildlife). When that happens, having a lens that covers the 200-400mm range is very handy.

We also encourage you to bring other lenses you own, like a macro, or a fish-eye, if you have them. There are always endless creative possibilities to be found on an Aperture Academy workshop...and we have the space to hold all your gear...so why not bring it? If you think you can ONLY bring two lenses, then cover as much of the 17-200mm range as possible with your lens choices.

3 - Bring a tripod.  A tripod is a necessity for ALL our workshops.  It can be windy in many of the areas we visit, so the sturdier the tripod, the better.  If you haven't purchased one yet, you can e-mail our instructors and ask for recommendations. We would be very happy to assist you in selecting a tripod that is perfect for you. 

4 - Bring filters.  We do a great deal of work with filters in our workshops, so, if you have them, bring them, and we will show you how to get the best results from using them. We do have a few extras that can be loaned out, but we're so sure that you'll love what you see that you'll want to have your own!

The filters we use most on our workshops are a circular polarizer and a (3 or 4) soft-step graduated neutral density (GND) filter. We also use filters such as straight neutral density filters, which will help us get longer exposures in all times of day. However, if you can only buy two filters, get a GND filter (soft step is preferable) and a circular polarizer. 

5 - Bring extra batteries.  At least 1 or 2 extra batteries. Cold temps and long exposures can drain batteries very quickly (some camera models more than others). There is no worse feeling than arriving at the last spot of the night for sunset and having a dead battery! 

6 - Bring extra memory cards.  Our instructors will show you the benefits of shooting in RAW format, which many photography students haven't done. RAW is a better format method for photography, but it takes up more space on a memory card, so having multiple memory cards will be to your benefit and allow you to shoot a lot more.

7 - Bring layers, and good shoes.  We can't control the weather, which is a bummer. But we want to make sure you stay comfortable, so bringing layers of clothing you can add when temperatures and wind conditions turn chilly is a good idea...as well as having layers you can take off if it gets hot. And don't forget to wear good, comfortable walking shoes!

8 - Bring a lunch, or money for lunch. On our 2- and 3-day workshops, we will provide one lunch and one dinner for the class (check out our infamous Crockpot Legend to see how this got started).  On our 1-day workshops, we stop for lunch at a local eating establishment where you can purchase food or eat any food you have brought for yourself.

Even if you plan on purchasing lunch, having a few snacks to eat throughout the day will keep your energy levels up...which will be important. Trust me, you will shoot ALL day, and snacks will help!

9 - Bring your sense of adventure. Our goal is to teach you more about photography. We want to tailor it as best as we can to what it is YOU want to learn. Our other goal is to help you come away with some good images, as well.

Since, as stated previously, we can't control weather conditions, sometimes the itinerary may need to be suddenly updated. On the flip side, sometimes we can add things to the itinerary that weren't originally planned because of great conditions, or an eager group. The point is, come ready for anything.  We plan everything as best as possible with 1st, 2nd and even 3rd options...and will do everything possible to ensure you're in the best places at the best times to get amazing images.

10 - Bring your brain. You are definitely going to learn, so come ready for it!  You might even want to write down the questions you want to ask our instructors, so you don't forget them in all the excitement. Another good tip: make sure you read the workshop details before you arrive on location, so you know what to expect, and what to bring. Also, don't forget to check the weather forecast so you're aware of a possible storm or temperature increase. If you show up with a brain ready for learning, we promise we'll fill it up with as much information as you desire!

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