I’ve been studying the portfolios and testimonials of other workshop leaders, and felt that the best way to remedy my annoyance at some of them was to provide positive feedback for the ones who actually know what they’re doing.
In an occupation where professionals are increasingly under pressure to switch from stock photography to teaching workshops, a competitive edge too often favors skills in photoshop, marketing, or self-promotion. Yet, there are still a few workshop leaders who are genuine masters of their art. Of these, Shoot the Light happens to be among the cream of the crop. Not only does Chas have, arguably, one of the most comprehensive and beautiful portfolios, but he has a rare knack for being able to share it. In the field, Chas does not give a couple intuitive tips, take the best spot available, and spend the rest of the day collecting shots for his website; instead, he actively makes recommendations to each individual and is more than willing to assist with questions. In the middle of a shoot, he may even stop and explain how to predict the behaviors of wildlife, or give a lesson on using flash. Somehow this does not prevent him from snapping off a few 5-star shots through the course of an explanation.
Indeed, it can be frustrating when you realize that Chas’s recycle bin resembles the “highlights” page of most above-average amateurs (and professionals, for that matter); but no matter how often you participate in a Shoot the Light Workshop, you are sure to improve your own techniques each time. One of Chas’s most important lectures is “Visual Design in the Field”. If you thought you had a “good eye” before, this course will show you how to select angles, backgrounds, and photographic paradigms you hadn’t even considered. Even at locations where photography has become near-cliche, such as the grizzlies at Brook’s Falls, Homer and its bald eagles, or Bosque del Apache (where geese come to see flocks of photographers), Shoot the Light produces images that are head-and-shoulders above the rest.
Apart from these examples, Chas provides some of the more unusual opportunities available, from a month-long safari in the Arctic to photographing tigers in India. Formerly best-known for his marine work, Chas even has an underwater workshop, focusing on the manatees of Crystal River. Meanwhile, his wife Sherri is extremely efficient at making arrangements and returning calls and emails–another truly rare quality among photographic workshops. Regardless of whether you join Shoot the Light in Russia or Japan; Yellowstone in the dead of winter, or in a relaxed summer setting in the Michigan lakes, you’ll be glad to be part of the experience. I highly recommend Shoot the Light and look forward to many workshops to come.