How to Put On A Wildlife Photography Workshop
By Marina D'Abreau Denny, Extension Associate
The number of recreational wildlife viewers in the United States has increased by 9% since 2001. Almost 72 million people 16 years and older contributed more than $55 billion to the nation’s economy on activities and equipment related to feeding, observing, and photographing wildlife.
Hosting a photography workshop will introduce you to a diversity of individuals, each with varying degrees of expectations for the encounter. Many will be content simply to be out in nature, learning about the local flora and fauna, and exploring the surrounding environment. Others will be more focused on getting that perfect photo, which may or may not happen. Either way, if you do your homework and plan appropriately, everyone will walk away with a positive experience.
Things to Consider
Before deciding to hold a nature photography workshop, make sure you have the expertise, ability, interest, and property suitable for the task. Some things to consider include:Your Knowledge
- What do you know about photography?
- Will you be leading the workshop, or will you bring in an expert?
- How do you find an expert?
- Will the expert provide an indoor training session on equipment prior to heading into the field?
- Will the expert offer a critique session after you return from the field?
- What makes your land special?
- What wildlife might you encounter?
- Do you have spots in mind that would work well for photographers?
- Is there shelter in case of inclement weather?
- Can you offer lodging or partner with another business for lodging?
- What skill levels are you targeting?
- Will you provide transportation to photography sites or will you travel by foot?
- What ages will you target?
- Will you allow children?
- Will you provide snacks and drinks?
- How long is the workshop? Half-day? Full day? Overnight?
- What time of day will it start?
- What are the benefits and disadvantages to each option?
- How many people can you host?
- How much will you charge?
- What are your potential costs/expenses?
- Will you offer refunds for people unable to attend or for cancellations due to inclement weather?
- Is this activity covered under your existing liability insurance?
- Will you purchase special event insurance?
- Have you clearly marked any potential dangers on your property?
- Will you require participants to sign a liability waiver prior to the workshop?
Promoting the Nature Photography Workshop
Once you’ve decided to actually put on a workshop, you’ll need to iron out the details and advertise it to generate interest. The following are some details that should be included in your advertising and marketing materials.Who is running the workshop and what is their expertise?
- Provide information on the experience and skill level of the workshop leader. If you’ve got an expert running the workshop, promote their expertise and provide examples of their photos.
- Specify the type of workshop (landscape, wildlife, birds of prey, in-the-field, in-the-classroom, sunrise, sunset, or a combination of these).
- Explain what they will learn (how to frame a shot, how to take action shots, lighting issues, how to select the appropriate equipment, how to edit photos, etc.) and whether there will be a critique session.
- Manage your customers’ expectations. Discuss the skill level you are targeting (amateur to professional) and the terrain you will be traversing (many hills, 3-4 miles of hiking, rugged trails, etc.)
- State the expected size of the workshop and the minimum number of people needed to put on the workshop.
- Small (2 to 10 people) – recommended for the best experience by both the host and the attendees.
- Medium (11 to 30 people) – minimal one-on-one interaction; additional help may be needed.
- Large (>30 people) – No personal interaction; additional help needed.
- For multi-day workshops, provide detailed itineraries listing where you will go and what you expect to see.
- Provide a list of “might-sees” so attendees have an idea of what to expect and can do their homework beforehand
Explain the configuration and cost of the workshop.
- All inclusive – All costs (instruction, lodging, meals, and transportation) are included in the price
- Lodging included – Price covers the costs of instruction and lodging. Attendees will be expected to pay separately for meals and transportation.
- Instruction only – All other costs will be at the discretion of the attendees.
- Clearly state your policies on payment, cancellation, liability, and refunds
- Provide registration and contact information. If you have a website, list the address. A website is a great place to put detailed information that can't fit on a brochure or flier.
View a sample flyer (JPG)
Additional Information to Send to Participants
Send your registrants detailed information prior to the workshop in order to prepare them for the trip and to help manage their expectations. Some of this information might include:
- A liability waiver. If you require workshop participants to sign a waiver, send it to them in advance of the date so that they have time to read it over and return it to you.
- A list of wildlife they may expect to view and photograph.
- A list of recommended equipment to bring or appropriate attire (bug spray, knife, cold weather gear, notebook, rain gear, etc.).
- Detailed information on the property and any special spots (historical sites, wildlife blinds, lakes, Mississippi River, etc.).
- How to contact you with questions (email, phone, etc.).
Additional Helpful Sources
- Abhat, D. 2012. More People Seek Wide-Open Spaces: FWS report shows increase in hunters, anglers, and wildlife watchers. The Wildlife Professional, v6 n4, 38-39.
- Aiken, R. 2009. Wildlife watching trends: 1991-2006 A reference report. U.S Fish and Wildlife Service Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program Report 2006-3.
- Boyd, K. 2012. The Ethics of Wildlife Photography: Sticky Questions for the Digital Age. The Wildlife Professional, v6 n4, 34-37.
- Cordell, H. 2008. The Latest Trends in Nature-based Outdoor Recreation. Forest History Today 15(1).
- Wildlife Management Institute. 2012. Wildlife-Related Recreation Report Shows Increase in Participation. https://www.wildlifemanagementinstitute.org