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Fall 2014 Photography Masterclass — Storytelling in the Cypress Hills

December 16, 2013

Event: Fall 2014 Photography Masterclass — Storytelling in the Cypress Hills
Instructors: Royce Howland and Peter Carroll
Dates: September 5 – 10, 2014
Duration: 5 nights, 6 days (4 full, 2 partial)
Highlights: Based at Historic Reesor Ranch with locations around the Cypress Hills; special location shoots booked
Travel on location: Shared group transport
Group size: 6 participants maximum
Fee: $2,795 CDN (+ 5% GST for Canadian residents) per person single occupancy room; early bird price $2,595 CDN (+ GST) for registrations confirmed by deposit before March 1, 2014
Deposit: $500 CDN
Includes: All transportation on location, plus accommodation, meals, instructor fees, and location access fees
Not included: Flights or other transportation to or from Reesor Ranch
To register or for questions: Contact Royce Howland (royce at vividaspect dot com) or Peter Carroll (PeterCarroll at shaw dot ca)

Enchantment, Cypress Hills, by Royce Howland.

Enchantment, Cypress Hills, by Royce Howland.

I’m very pleased to announce the continuation of the masterclass series first started 3 years ago. In the early Fall of 2014, I will join with my good friend and accomplished photographer Peter Carroll to co-lead what promises to be an exciting photography experience. Working in the wonderful Cypress Hills region, we will take a small group of photographers into an opportunity to grow creatively through a combination of learning and photographing. Along the way, we’ll have a lot of fun as well!

This masterclass is open to intermediate and above photographers. Ideal participants have a decent level of proficiency with their cameras and digital processing, but want to move beyond that — to expand their personal creative expression while learning and photographing in a unique location. The purpose of the masterclass is to help participants set creative goals, and provide frameworks for improving their photography with a specific focus on visual storytelling. We’ll use seminars, field exercises and image portfolio review sessions to achieve these goals. With a small group, two instructors who work well together, and an intensive event plan, the group will be able to put a concentrated focus on creative development.

Why Attend the Masterclass?

There are three key reasons why you may want to join Peter and me on this masterclass. First and foremost is that you’re a photographer looking to make a significant commitment to, and see serious progress with, your own personal creative expression. You’ve come to realize that the most exciting frontier isn’t new cameras, digital processing techniques or getting votes on social media… not that there’s anything wrong with any of these. But you’ve decided that personal creative expression is your real goal, and these other things are just means to an end — visual storytelling.

Cypress Hills, by Peter Carroll.

Cypress Hills, by Peter Carroll.

Second, Peter and I have worked together in this vein, and we’re both very passionate about creativity and storytelling in photography. We believe 100% that the best images are the best because of the clarity of artistic vision and intent that went into them, and because the resulting photographs pull viewers in with compelling stories. We’re also very excited at the prospect of introducing our ideas and passion to others so that they can make their own creative breakthroughs as well. We’re not going to serve up pat answers, or settle for taking the obvious trophy shots. Aesthetics do matter, and we’ll talk about them. But we’re going to dig deeper and ask tougher questions as we seek creative challenges.

Third, we’re going to be operating in a fantastic area. Our base for the masterclass is Historic Reesor Ranch and the surrounding Cypress Hills. Reesor Ranch is a working ranch just over on the Saskatchewan side of the border, operated for 5 generations by the Reesor family. We’ll meet the Reesors and learn from them about the ranch and the area. Our lodgings and most meals will be at the main ranch house, a beautiful arts & crafts style structure amongst the other buildings on the property. Beyond the ranch, we’ll be surrounded by rolling grasslands, forests, lakes and hills of the Cypress Hills, merging outwards into vast prairie lands. Since the area is a dark sky preserve, at night we’ll be underneath a canopy of stars that provide a light show all their own. This is a distinctive place of understated beauty and long history, and we will explore it to tell visual stories during the masterclass.

Masterclass Structure

The formal structure of the masterclass rests on three key activities: seminars, field work and image reviews. The seminars will be classroom sessions where Peter and I provide key concepts on creatively approaching your photography. These sessions will be pragmatic, but we’re not going to simply provide “the 3 rules for …” kind of material. Instead we’re going to talk about concepts (illustrated with plenty of examples) that each participant will need to bring into their own personal vision and style, in order to make their own work in their own way. The seminars are not about recipes for how to make an image look a certain way. Rather, they’re about why to make photographs, and what photographs each person wants to make… and the creative mindset needed to make it happen.

Along the way there will be a lot of details and ideas shared, but the seminars will provide key topics forming a core structure around which to organize the many details. The three primary seminars are:

  • Making stronger photographs
  • Finding the essence of a photograph
  • Storytelling with photographs
Cypress Hills, by Peter Carroll.

Cypress Hills, by Peter Carroll.

In the field, we’ll do a combination of free shoots where each participant can do their own thing, as well as targeted assignments. The assignments will provide either goals or techniques to guide participants in photographing in a way that applies some aspect of the frameworks given during the seminars. The primary goal of the masterclass is learning and creative development. But make no mistake — with the locations where we’ll be working, everyone will have plenty of opportunities for making great storytelling images.

The final formal component of the masterclass is the image portfolio reviews. In a supportive and constructive environment where everyone is focused on creative development, this is a chance to see pragmatic ways to make stronger photographs and build storytelling into photography. We’ll have at least two scheduled sessions to review and improve the work during the event. This cycle of learn-apply-review will help the learning opportunity to be more tangible, and create a great take-away from the experience.

We’ll have plenty of other opportunities for learning through informal discussions. We’ll be traveling and eating together every day, and the dynamic of these small-group events usually involves a constant flow of ideas. Peter and I will do our best to schedule a few breaks throughout the event, but in all honesty it’s going to be an intensive several days. Make sure you’re well-rested when you arrive! 🙂

Join the Masterclass!

If you’re a photographer who’s eager for an opportunity to develop your creative expression in a small group setting, and the idea of visual storytelling intrigues you, then this could be an ideal event for you. Peter and I believe that the small group size, learn-apply-review format, intensive focus and great locations will make for a fantastic experience.

Bring your creative goals and desire to learn, bring your enthusiasm for visual storytelling, and bring your motivation to embrace creative challenge. Join us for the Fall 2014 Photography Masterclass — Storytelling in the Cypress Hills!

For more information, see also:

Til the Cows Come Home, SE Alberta, by Royce Howland.

Til the Cows Come Home, SE Alberta, by Royce Howland.

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