This summer I had the opportunity to spend a week in Santa Fe, New Mexico, taking a photography course with Santa Fe Photography Workshops. This was the first time that I have invested in my photography, and pairing that with a chance to visit one of favorite places in the United States, well, I couldn’t turn down the class.
Santa Fe Photography Workshops holds courses in at a retreat center run by a Carmelite Monastery. The rooms are all suites and very comfortable. Breakfast and lunch are provided by a fantastic local caterer. Most importantly, the classes are taught by wonderful photographers. The class I chose, Seeing Light, was taught by Tony O’Brien, who brought his 40 years of experience to help us grow.
Our first assignment, on our first evening, was to take pictures of light and shadow. I was sitting in my rook, studying the wall, things on my desk, even the floor, looking for interesting pictures, when, all of a sudden, I looked out of the window and saw the amazing colors of the sunset behind the mountains. I rushed out to take some shots, and stayed outside, using the building lights in the growing darkness to take full advantage of the evening colors and shadows.
The next day we were sent out in small groups with two goals; to take photos of reflections, and to take portraits. I was teamed with two other students, and we made our way to Canyon Road. The area we visited is home to many art galleries and restaurants. We walked along looking for the best places to take our photos, using windows, gardens and artwork as backdrops.
Day Three was supposed to include a trip to the town of Chimayo, but I threw out my back, and I was stuck in town. After seeing a chiropractor, I took a walk through Old Town Santa Fe. I was still looking for reflections and portraits, along with the play of light and shadow.
On the fourth day, we had a real treat and opportunity. The workshop arranged the use of ranch out in the desert, along with seven models. Over four hours, we were able to walk around the grounds with the models, using a barn, a saloon and some rock outcroppings to frame our shots. It was an amazing day, and something I had never had the chance to do before.
Our last day gave us the following assignment - Go to the Plaza in Old Town, stay there for one full hour, and take only two pictures. It was a great exercise in observation and allowing the picture to come to me.
Seeing Light was an amazing chance to observe and work with excellent photographers, talk about choices and methods, and have my work critiqued. If you want to seriously increase your skills as photographer, I strongly recommend taking classes, and I can put Santa Fe Photographic Workshops high on the list of experiences that you might try.