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Thread: Backcountry Photography Workshops

  1. #1

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    Backcountry Photography Workshops

    I have been thinking about some unique business ideas lately and am wondering the interest large format photographers might have to attend a sort of backcountry photography expedition. My thoughts are to guide and porter camping equipment into some of the more remote regions of America's landscapes for the purpose of achieving some unique perspectives instead of the common road-side photographs. The photographer would carry his or her own photography equipment while camp gear and food will be via porters/guides/pack goats/llamas/horses to specified backcountry campsites.

    I know from my short 5 years or so photographing with a 4x5 that carrying this equipment, plus camping gear, food, water, etc. tends to be somewhat of a burden when traveling long distances (although it can sometimes be rewarding in a strange way...) Obviously, regulations must be considered for National Park guiding, but other regions (Wind River Mountains come to mind) suffer fewer regulations and restrictions covering this sort of activity. Would anyone be interested in this kind of trip? If you enjoy shooting in remote backcountry regions, do you think that this type of service would enhance your creativity?

    Thanks in advance for any ideas comments any of you might have.

    Cheers,
    Jansen

  2. #2

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    Re: Backcountry Photography Workshops

    Consider the liability aspects.
    Wilhelm (Sarasota)

  3. #3
    Drew Saunders drew.saunders's Avatar
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    Re: Backcountry Photography Workshops

    I wonder if there are existing backcountry guiding companies that could do custom trips? They'd have all the logistics and liability worked out, or at least mostly worked out, and you'd just have to work with them on figuring out the extra logistics (and liability, someone's always gotta sue somebody for something) that are particular to a LF photo trip.
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/drew_saunders/

  4. #4
    Milton Tierney's Avatar
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    Re: Backcountry Photography Workshops

    Check out http://www.barnbaum.com/workshops/index.html. I know there are others, but can’t remember them……….to many little gray cells hitting the bug light.

  5. #5
    lenser's Avatar
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    Tim from Missouri
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    Re: Backcountry Photography Workshops

    Sounds like some of the Seirra Club outings that Ansel Adams was so fond of. I only wish I could jump in the car and head for wherever you could set one up this weekend!!!!

    Tim
    "One of the greatest necessities in America is to discover creative solitude." Carl Sandburg

  6. #6

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    Re: Backcountry Photography Workshops

    John Sexton does (or did) this sort of thing for a couple areas, Don Kirby does at least one I know of in which llamas are used to carry the equipment. There are also all sorts of commercial photography guides in or near popular photography areas (e.g. Far Out Expeditions in Bluff, Utah which I've used for finding and photographing lesser known Anasazi ruins and they're great). An acquaintance of mine does one or two Antarctica tours/expeditions for photographers each year to the tune of something like $20,000 a person and he's booked up a couple years in advance. I mention these only to show that there's certainly a market for this kind of work.
    Brian Ellis
    Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you do criticize them you'll be
    a mile away and you'll have their shoes.

  7. #7

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    Re: Backcountry Photography Workshops

    Actually for decades many large format photographers have used horse packer outfits to do exactly what you are considering minus the group aspects. In fact many such packers advertise that service. What you would be adding is a guide to bring them to good locations and then point them to the best local scenic spots. A once a horse packer drops a photographer off at Scenic Lake, the photographer is on their own to hike about the local area and find the best shots. A guide service might instead also guide them to such places once up there, I have to wonder how many accomplished photographers would really ask for any scene locating help beyond the travel logistics of getting to the zone. Well some certainly would be clueless but any accomplished landscape photographer that normally worked by road accessible sites ought to do well on their own. My guess is one would have many more client prospects advertising such a service with the young DSLR crowd.

    There are certainly few large format photographers going into the backcountry even on horseback so photographers as I have a huge advantage in potential material to work versus those that cannot. Such a service doesn't bother me competitively as horsepackers are pretty much confined to near trail areas while there is far more crosscountry terrain beyond trails in our western wildernesses like in my below pic that one needs to carry on ones own back to reach. Best of luck.


  8. #8

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    Re: Backcountry Photography Workshops

    Thanks everyone for your responses and opinions. We're thinking of doing some trial runs this Autumn in Wyoming and only charging friends and others interested to cover our costs. We have access to pack goats, which seem to be the most cost-effective and environmentally friendly pack animal.

    I agree that the DSLR crowd is likely my target clientele. And as I am certainly not adverse to that fact, I think it would provide a fantastic service to those ULFers out there.

    -J

  9. #9

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    Re: Backcountry Photography Workshops

    I think an experienced local guide could be invaluable. The value add is not so much in leading photographer clients to "the local spot" but in providing background historical and interpretive information.

    Anybody with the desire and money can hire a team of pack mules or, with a strong back hump his kit in to the backcountry...it just takes money and a certain amount of determination. Gathering information on an area's natural history takes time...which is something people with a lot of money value very highly....there's never enough time.

    Further, I think that Wyoming, while no doubt a place of inestimable beauty, is probably too tame for the domestic market. It might however, appeal to the foriegn tourists?

  10. #10
    Don Nelson
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    Re: Backcountry Photography Workshops

    Quote Originally Posted by jgunderson View Post
    .... Autumn in Wyoming .....pack goats, which seem to be the most cost-effective and environmentally friendly pack animal.-J
    Pack goats is certainly appropriate for the DSLR crowd.

    Do you have something a little bigger for the ULF group? I'd think the pack goats might balk at a some of the lenses.

    Actually your idea has merit. Choose a place that has some great image possibilities. You'll do well.
    If you can get up into Montana, take a look at the Chinese Wall in the Bob.

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