Richard Bernabe - Great Smoky Mountains Workshop

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First, let me give you a little insight as to how I found Richard's workshops online and why I chose to attend his nature and wildlife workshops.

Just over a year or so ago, I came across Earth & Light. Not only were the images beautiful, but the website itself felt pleasant and inviting. Within 15 minutes, I "Liked" his Facebook page and followed him on Twitter. Needless to say I was very surprised when he followed me back on Twitter. From that day on, and even to this very day, I looked forward to hearing from Richard socially. It didn't happen very often, but when it did, it was worth the wait. As the days and months went by, Richard's social presence was always consistent. He wasn't trying to sell me a bunch of concepts and stuff - He wasn't retweeting and sharing a bunch of social non-sence related to photography - He was simply keeping in touch with his fans, and simply allowing his stunning images to speak for themselves. So that's why I chose to attend his four-day Great Smoky Mountains Workshop, and for the record, I'm going to attend several of his other workshops in the coming months and years.

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I had a great time all four days; I met some wonderful people and developed some new social friendships. Richard is not only a great photographer, but also a great teacher with a gifted vision for image composition. The best photography related money I ever spent! Do yourself a favor and INVEST in some of the workshops Richard offers, or any workshop for that matter, before you buy that next lens or body. At a minimum, I will attend one of Richard's workshops every 12 months.

As a participant, I witnessed how Richard approaches each and every scene - I was able to learn a couple of cool tips about my particular camera - learned why Richard would shoot a particular shot one way versus another by playing with exposure. However, what I wanted most, and received, was the opportunity to watch and listen to Richard teach others and guide them through the scene - I wanted to see, feel and hear his thought process to capturing an image.

If you are considering this workshop, here's a few helpful tips:

  • Patience - must have and bring with you each and every day - not much excitement during the midday
  • There's no need for you to be a morning person, but make sure you won't have any problems getting up very early in the mornings
  • Punctual - must be on time all the time and keep in mind that your lateness affects nine other people.
  • Richard knows this park inside and out - for the most part you will always be the first to any area and get the prime spots
  • Be respectful to the other photographers in your group while on location - others will run off on their own and walk in and out of your composition - others will lock down into some good spots on location and sometimes even ruin one of the best compositions of a scene and never move from that spot - understand that what the field of view could include if someone in your group is using a wide angle lens
  • Richard allows everyone within the group to pick who wants to drive and who doesn't - the goal here is to limit the total number of cars following Richard. So don't be scared to meet new people - the fewer cars ten people and gear can get into the better
  • This is not a workshop on how to use your camera - Richard talks about his shooting style from time to time, and if your confused about a concept or setting(s) Richard offers his help 
  • It's not that Richard drives fast, but it's the fact that he's driven around this park countless times versus the cars following him - if you choose to drive, be able to keep up with Richard - he does pull over when he notices a car missing
  • There's plenty of time to chat with Richard and he's always available, so don't be afraid to ask questions
  • While you are on location, there's no history lesson or background stories, so do your homework before you go or purchase some small eBooks online if you are interested. I think Richard has something like this on his website for sale
  • The closest Starbucks is 30 miles alway, so the worst part of the workshop for me was waiting five days to get a Starbucks
  • Depending on your situation, Richard my try to convince you, your group and the locals that you look like some dude by the name of Chris Rock - so be careful 

If you should have any questions about this trip and workshop from a participant perspective, use my contact form