2019 Photography Workshop Schedule

I am very excited to announce new dates in 2019 for my street photography and travel photography workshops.  Next year will be my 24th year as an educator, up to and including teaching at the college level, and there are few things I love more than the process of helping a student achieve their goals.  I can’t wait to spend 2019 with you, doing what I love the most… teaching!

I am also very excited to announce that, for the first time, early bird pricing will be available on all workshops until January 31st, 2019!

Street Photography Workshops:

Street photography is an incredibly satisfying way to document the world around you, create new art and to express your vision as an artist.   Unlike portraiture or landscape photography that is often calculated and planned, street photography requires you to constantly observe, be fluid, and be ready.

What does this all mean for me?  It means that the world is a stage and that there is beauty on the streets waiting to be captured.  A good street photographer knows how to become part of the streets, how to blend in, and how to capture those rare but beautiful decisive moments that happen.  They understand that street photography is simply about capturing life.

A good street photograph tells a story.

My goal with these 2.5 day workshops is to help you find your own vision as a street photographer,  to enhance your creativity and to give you the tools to make the images you see in your head.  During the workshop you will learn about:

  • The history of street photography
  • Legalities and ethics
  • How to prepare yourself and your camera for a day on the streets
  • Considerations for crafting story-telling images
  • How to work effectively with light and shadow
  • Composition
  • Techniques for shooting candidly
  • Techniques for approaching strangers and making portraits on the street
  • Editing and post processing

Along the way you will gain confidence, have fun, make new friends and capture great images!  Throughout it all, I will be there right beside you offering advice and feedback.

Here are some of the things previous students have said about their workshop experience:

“Practical and inspirational are the two words that describe my feelings about the workshop I just completed. An evening of theory and classroom instruction. Then a day and a half of shooting to have lots of time to implement the theory and techniques. Then a half day of image review.  Small group and individual instruction. Ian keeps checking in encouraging you. I increased my confidence and now have a great set of techniques and compositional elements to work on. Workshop started and stayed on time. No wasted time. I highly recommend taking Ian’s workshops.  Thanks again for a great weekend. I hope to see you on the streets sometime.”      – Paul

“I found the course to be fantastic and totally worth the weekend!  I really enjoyed the interaction with the other students and seeing the pictures.  Their feedback was so valuable to my development as it allowed me to gain perspectives otherwise not available in the private workshop.  Thanks!”    – Jeremy

“Ian’s style of teaching is easy to understand and I found him to be accessible to me and to everybody.  I especially appreciated how he set aside time for each student, since that personal touch is what I am looking for when I take any sort of class. I liked how he “set us free” on Sunday to wander on our own and put what we’d learned to some independent use. I also was impressed at how he clearly explained some of the features of the Fuji X100T/F that I had not understood, even though I’ve had my camera for 18 months and tried to school myself on its various features. The possibilities are endless with this camera in my hands.  I knew that BEFORE this weekend, but AFTER the weekend I’m even more certain the investment was money well-spent.  What can I say??  A huge thank you, Ian.  I love your approachable and organized teaching style and look forward to meeting up with you again down the road.”      – Susie

“Truly excellent workshop. The skills I acquired over the weekend resulted in four of my favourite urban images, photos I would never have have taken prior to the workshop.”      – Doug

The following 2019 street photography workshops are available for registration (click each link for more information and to register):


ALL OF THESE WORKSHOPS SOLD OUT IN 2017 and 2018, SO DON’T HESITATE TO BOOK EARLY and capitalize on the early bird discount!

Travel Photography Workshops:

Travel is a wonderful thing. It allows us to discover new places, to meet new people, to experience new customs and, of course, to make new memories. As photographers we are exposed to so many opportunities to create art while traveling that it can often be overwhelming: What gear should I bring?  How do I plan my shots? What time should I be on location? How do I tell the story of this amazing place I am visiting? These questions, and many others, will be answered at a workshop series I teach with Spencer Wynn entitled, “The Story of a City”.

In these workshops we will visit a city together for 5 days.  During this time you will be taught by two veteran photographers and educators as we explore everything the city has to offer.  We will get up early to photograph the sun rising behind iconic landmarks.  We will shoot throughout the day, capturing street images and the important detail shots that help you tell your visual stories.  We will shoot through sunset and blue hour and, most importantly, we will enjoy the company of like minded artists as we make beautiful images.

The following 2019 travel photography workshops are now available for registration (click each link for more information and to register):

The story of a city – St. John’s edition:  May 6TH TO 10TH, 2019
The story of a city – paris edition:  june 3rd TO 7th, 2018
the story of a city – toronto edition:  july 15th TO 19TH, 2019

We would love to have you join us on one of our photo adventures!

If you have any questions about these workshops, or anything else at all, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me through this site (a link to the contact form is in the main menu).

I look forward to working with you in 2019!



Shooting Through Changing Light

It is safe to say that I am not a morning person.  Honestly, if you told me that my only options were to wake up early, or have a non-anesthetic root canal, I would probably hesitate before I gave you my final answer.

Morning light creates so many wonderful photographic opportunities though, so from time to time I will suck it up and head out on 3 or 4 hours of sleep to shoot.  Such was the case this past summer, when I taught a 5 day travel photography workshop in Toronto with my teaching partner Spencer Wynn.  Sunrise was around 6:30am that week, so we were up shortly after 4am quite often to ensure that we were on location and ready to shoot well before that time.

My favourite thing about these early morning shoots is watching the light change as the sun rises.  In just a short period of time it can go from total darkness, to pre-dawn light, to sunrise and finally to full daylight, each phase offering a completely different look for our images.  Let’s take a look at a series of photos I made one morning in Toronto, time stamped to see how the light changed throughout the 90 minutes or so that I shot (from 5:56am to 7:28am).

(Note:  all of the images in this series where shot in Fuijfilm’s Provia film simulation, using the daylight white balance setting.  The photos have had minimal cropping / straightening, a few exposure corrections and they have been sharpened.)


This was the view that greeted us as we arrived on location, the famous Toronto skyline set against an eerie glowing pink sky that reflected off of the water.  We started shooting immediately, working the scene to find the best composition while the night sky still had this glow:


The sky was brightening quickly however, washing away the wonderful pink hues that were present only minutes before.  I often focus less on the sky and more on detail shots when this happens, in this case photographing silhouettes of the morning cyclists and joggers on the bridge.  It is probably the street photographer in me, but I always find compositions more interesting when I can add in a human element:


I especially love how images like these look in black and white:

When the sun finally made its appearance behind the Toronto skyline the light changed yet again, the rising sun bringing a new colour palette with it as it rose higher and higher in the sky:


When the transition from night to day was complete we looked for other shooting opportunities underneath the bridge.  I fell in love with the geometric shapes and the interplay of light and shadows that we discovered, and then a bird flew into the frame creating an opportunity for an interesting image:


We finally made our way back to the van, tired but excited about the beautiful sunrise we witnessed that morning.  On the way back, however, we couldn’t resist stopping on the bridge to play with the architecture one more time:


When shooting a skyline or cityscape we often head out with one main image in mind.  Changing light brings us so many options though, so it is important to keep working the scene, keep responding to the light and, most importantly, keep making images.  Just keep shooting!

I think my favourite image from the morning is this one:

I love the colours, I love the static elements (the instantly recognizable Toronto skyline framed by the bridge) and I love how the cyclist adds an interesting human element to the scene.

If you are new to this kind of shooting, I highly encourage you to spend a few hours on location shooting through changing light… it is a lot of fun.  And, if you are interested in shooting in this exact location in 2019, definitely consider joining Spencer and I on our next Toronto workshop!

The Story of a City – Toronto Edition



p.s.  This is the fourth and final post from my time in Toronto this year.  Up next on the blog, a lot of new street photography from the streets of Vancouver!

A Storytelling Approach to Travel Photography

Many years ago, when I first started combining my love of photography with my love of travel, I focused heavily on shooting cityscapes and landscapes.  I would head out before sunrise, find the best shooting angle, set up my tripod and wait for the right light.  If people were in my composition I would wait for them to move before taking the shot (I may have even photoshopped one or two of them out over the years).  I was making “postcard images”, so heaven forbid somebody got in the way of the Louvre, the Manhattan skyline, or that beautiful meadow with the rolling hills that I was photographing.

The irony of this is that I have always loved people, from my former work as a paramedic and portrait photographer to my current work as an educator, presenter and street / wedding photographer.  People truly define a culture:  They make the buildings.  They create the art.  They make the food.  They breath life into cities and the countryside.  Honestly, it is impossible to tell the story of a place without also creating images of the people themselves.

Over time I also came to appreciate the importance of the detail shot.  When I thought of places I have travelled to, I realized that it was often the little details that I remembered the most.

When you think of Paris, the Eiffel Tower comes to mind, but so do the love locks.  When you think of Seattle, the Space Needle comes to mind, but so do the fish mongers and their seafood in the market.  When you think of New York, the Empire State building comes to mind, but so do the pigeons in the parks.  It is these little detail shots that round out our architectural images and people images.  It is the little details shots that fill the gaps in a story.

Coming home from a trip is really when the work begins for many of us.  Our minds are full of wonderful memories, our hard drives are full of new images that require editing and processing, and our brains are racing to decide how best to present our new work.

This should be a purposeful process, driven by the following question:

“What story do I want to tell?”

An image, just one singular image, can sometimes hold an entire story within its borders.  It is arguably easier though, and often more impactful, to tell a story through a series of images.  Visual storytelling of this nature is an art form unto itself, one understood by journalists the world over.

You might take the following into consideration when deciding which images to include in a visual story:

  • Do I have establishing shots that set the scene (often taken from a higher vantage point or with a wider lens)?
  • Do I have medium shots (images that are close enough to make out all of the details, but wide enough to show the relationship of the objects within the frame)?
  • Do I have close up and details shots (images that tend to focus on one element, such as a pianist’s hands)?
  • Do I have portraits (traditional mug shot or environmental portraits, candid or posed)?
  • Do I have action shots?
  • Do I have reaction shots (i.e.  people watching the action)?

Once you have selected and processed your final images it is important to play with the arrangement and sequencing to determine how to tell your story in the best way possible.  Maybe you should start with a wide establishing shot to set the scene, then take the viewer inside the place you are documenting with a series of medium shots.  Perhaps you are documenting an artist at work in his or her studio so you show an environmental portrait, several action shots of the artist at work and finally a detail shot or two of the art itself.  There are no hard rules to this of course, it is all in what you want to say and how you want to say it.

If you can, I find it helps to print your work while you are doing this.  There are few things more impactful in the visual arts than looking at a beautiful series of printed images.  Printing also allows you to view your story in a more physical manner, to hold the images in your hands, to spread them to out if need be and to make any changes as required.

If you don’t have the opportunity to print and hang your finished work at least make a book through one of the online services.  Our work is important, it deserves to be so much more than a series of digital ones and zeroes on our hard drives.

The wonderful thing about taking a storytelling approach to your photography is that it can be done anywhere.  Pick a spot in your home town and approach it like a journalist.  Perhaps it is a bakery, the local fair, or a nearby artist’s colony.  Perhaps it is a tattoo artist or a busy neighbourhood near the water.  Dedicate time to shooting there, but with the focused goal of telling a story about the place that you visited.  The lessons learned from doing this will translate directly into your next trip.

Another excellent way to improve your visual storytelling is to seek out critique, honest feedback, from somebody that you respect.  Be open, be receptive, take notes, and then internalize the parts of the feedback that resonate with you.  Getting fresh eyes on your work is a great way to make you better for the next story that you set out to tell.

All of the images in this post were made during a workshop I teach with fellow Official Fujifilm X Photographer Spencer Wynn, called “The Story of a City”.  This is a 5 day workshop, most recently held in Toronto, that is focused on creating storytelling travel photography.

During the workshop we shoot cityscapes and landscapes, we make portraits, we take detail shots, we shoot a little street photography… all of it done with the intention of telling a story.  Lecture and shooting assignments are combined with discussions over coffee about photojournalism and how to improve your vision.  At the end of the workshop each student presents their story from the week, both to celebrate success and to receive feedback on their work.  It is a wonderful workshop that we truly love teaching.

The Story of a City workshop series will be traveling to the following locations in 2019:

  • St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada:  May 6th – 10th (this trip will also include a special day spent photographing icebergs).
  • Paris, France:  June 3rd to 7th
  • Toronto, Canada:  July 15th to 19th
  • Winter location to be announced

If you are interested in any of these workshops please watch this site for more details coming very soon.  Early bird discounts will apply and enrolment is limited (5-10 students max depending on the location, but always with two instructors).

Until next time, here are a few more images from the Toronto workshop!