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Guest Blog: Wildlife Photographer Juan Pons (Part 2)

By Published June 2, 2021


7 Tips To Optimizing Your Adventure Workshop Experience

As I prepare for my upcoming Photo Adventure Workshops to locations like Antarctica, Cuba, Costa Rica, and Yellowstone, I feel it would be helpful to create a list of suggestions on how to make the most out of attending these excursions. 

The photo adventures I lead are so rewarding, yet they’re not advertised as leisure vacations. These are WORKshops. They’re intended to test and improve your skills in some of the most awesome places on earth. These excursions are not only an investment of time and money, more importantly, they are an investment in yourself and in your artistic development.

By maintaining a positive outlook, fostering great group camaraderie, and by understanding your vision for the trip, you ensure a successful adventure. Based on my years of experience as a Professional Wildlife Photographer, here are 7 things for you consider to optimize your next workshop experience:

1. Start with The Right Attitude

This may seem simple, but I believe it’s the most important piece of advice I can give you. Always keep a positive outlook, a real desire to learn, and an open mind to fully benefit from your experience. Be patient and courteous to both your workshop leaders and fellow participants- you are all there for a common purpose. Immerse yourself, go with the flow, and be up for anything.

2. Be Observant

No matter what stage of photography you’re currently at, everyone has something to learn from attending a workshop. One of the fastest and most effective ways to hone your craft is by observing how others work within a scene. There is certainly much to learn from your workshop leaders, but also from fellow participants. Study how everyone is setting up their shot, and ask them about their process.

Effectively working within a group, requesting feedback, and drawing inspiration from photographers of all backgrounds can greatly enhance the workshop experience.

3. Ask Questions

First and foremost, don’t hesitate to ask questions, no matter how basic they may seem. Asking questions helps create dialogue on aspects of photography that some participants may have never known or considered. You are attending a workshop to learn, help your instructors and comrades help you!

4. Envision What You Hope To Get Out Of This Workshop

Decide what you want to get out of the workshop, whether it’s a specific image you want to make, a photo technique you wish to strengthen, or are just looking for inspiration. Make sure you communicate these wishes with your workshop leader. Visualizing what will make this workshop a personal success will help both you and your instructor make it a success.

5. Familiarize Yourself With The Destination

It’s often said that the more you learn about something, the better you can capture it in photographs. From personal experience, I’ve found this to be very true. Today, more than ever, we have access to an incredible amount of resources online.

Consider utilizing Google Maps, hiking apps, guidebooks, and community forums for relevant insight. Take advantage of your instructor’s knowledge of the region. Learn as much as you can about your destination, the natural features, the wildlife, the weather, and more.

6. Know Your Equipment

It’s important to practice with your gear before you find yourself in the field. Most photo workshops are designed to further your photographic skills, not to show you the basics of your camera’s operation. Don’t be hesitant to ask questions about a particular aspect of your camera, but have a basic understanding of its functions.

Be sure to familiarize yourself with your camera’s basic settings and its menu options. What kind of lens do you need for this adventure? Will you need to use light modifiers to achieve your vision? Practice setting up your tripod and working with your camera in your own backyard before you go. Bringing the camera manual along is also a good practice to have.

7. Dress Appropriately

Wearing the wrong clothes can turn a fantastic workshop into a miserable experience. For my adventures, I customarily provide a list of recommended gear and clothing to wear appropriate for the location and the expected- and unexpected- weather. Research your destination, look at the weather forecast, and plan accordingly.

Learn the art of layering, as that is crucial in maintaining comfort while exercising patience in the field. Consider your extremities, and bring what serves an essential purpose. Make sure you have spares of the most essential items, such as gloves, hats, sunglasses.

For some, attending a workshop is  a once in a lifetime opportunity, while others are more fortunate and are able to attend a diverse number of workshops across the globe. Regardless, you want to make the most out of every single workshop you are fortunate enough to attend. By employing these techniques listed above, you’re utilizing your time and opportunities to the fullest. And most importantly, your images will reflect that!

Apply the knowledge you’ve learned from my articles and KelbyOne seminar by joining me on an adventure of a lifetime. My newest dates for excursions to Yellowstone, Costa Rica, and Alaska have just dropped on my website here. My South Georgia and Antarctic Peninsula workshop in October 2022 has just a few spots left, so reserve your spot while you still can. If you have a bucket list destination you’d like to suggest I go next, email me at info@juanpons.org.

Be sure to also check out my YouTube channels here, where I produce gear reviews and educational seminars on anything and everything photography.

Best of luck on your adventures!


You can see more of Juan’s work at JuanPons.org, and keep up with him on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.





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