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!



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!



The night photography almost ruined my vacation – A cautionary tale


February was a gear heavy month on the blog, predominantly focused on pre-release shooting with the new Fuji X-Pro2.   I wrote my 5 part review series on the X-Pro2, and also published an interview with one of the official Fuji Guys.  It was a great month and I am so thankful for my relationship with Fuji Canada.  Now that the X-Pro2 is out in the wild I’m really looking forward to getting back to talking about the art and craft of photography for a little while.

Readers of this blog will note that March has been light on content.  This was mostly because I travelled to Amsterdam for a week of photography.  I am editing the photos from that trip right now, and will have a 3 part series coming in the next few weeks from that amazing city.  Before that, however, let’s talk about one specific evening I was out shooting in Paris last summer, and how my love for the art and craft of photography almost ruined what was, up until then,  a perfect vacation.

I should point out as we start that this night was an anomaly for me.  I lead an incredibly fortunate life, full of amazing travel and photographic opportunities.  I work with people I love, use gear I love, and get to share my work with family and friends.  I am incredibly thankful.   Consider this a cautionary tale then on the importance of maintaining perspective, because when you lose perspective it usually works against you.  Let’s get started…

The photo at the top of this post was taken from the  Pont Alexandre III in Paris, looking out toward the Eiffel Tower shortly after sunset.  I love this photo, to me it speaks to the romantic beauty of Paris.  When people view it they often comment any how beautiful that part of Paris is, how peaceful it must have felt to stand on that bridge that night, and how it must have felt amazing to be all alone and watch the tower light up.

Photography can be an illusion though.  A skilled photographer makes photographs, not just takes them.   The actual experience of taking this photo was very different from the experience described above, and that’s what I’d like to talk about.

On this trip to Paris one of the things my wife and I wanted to do was to have a picnic on the Champ de Mars, the grassy strip that runs below the Eiffel Tower.  As we drank wine and ate bread we would watch the sun set behind the tower and I would occasionally click the shutter to grab a beautiful image.  This picnic was also going to be held on my birthday, so it was going to be even more special.  I had a plan.

Due to some low clouds and rain early in the trip we had to postpone this picnic, so when we finally went it was toward the end of our stay.  We got off the Metro and I was totally excited for this night, which I knew would be full of awesome.  I could see it all in my mind.  I had a plan.

Walking up to the place where we were going to sit I was immediately caught off guard by the fences running around the entire area, by the grass that no longer seemed to be there, and by the large festival tents that were erected.  Indeed, the entire area was closed to prep for an upcoming event.

…I was crushed.

I had this whole evening planned and had anticipated it for so long that truth be told I was frustrated by this turn of events.   Now, I love photography.  It brings me joy, and my portrait subjects will tell you that I laugh non stop on my shoots because of that.   As I watched the sun fall though, for what was bound to be a perfect sunset, I found myself scrambling in my mind to pick a new location to shoot before “the night was wasted”.   From my pre-trip research I thought of the  Pont Alexandre III, and set off on the 20-30 minute walk at what could only be described as an angered pace… dragging my poor wife along with me.

It might surprise you to hear this, but artists can take themselves way to seriously sometimes.

Shocking, I know.   Let’s look at the facts for a second though…

I was still in Paris.  I was still with my beautiful wife.  I still had a bag of amazing gear over my shoulder.  There was still a beautiful European sunset falling right in front of me, yet I had fixated so much on one specific plan for the evening that I disregarded all of that when the plan fell apart.  This night reminded me that taking ourselves and our art too seriously almost always ends in failure.  I am human of course and we all have bad days, so I am ok with the fact that it happened and I’m not shy about sharing this story with you.

Back to the story…

Walking fast, I’m sure I went past at least a dozen beautiful photo opportunities along the way:  The Eiffel Tower framed between buildings, a garden, street photographs, beautiful people who I would have usually asked to make a portrait of, etc.  I was in damage control mode to try to save this evening and still get my “trophy shot” for the night.  I stopped seeing as an artist.

We arrived on the bridge, I set up on a tripod and got the photo above framed.  I felt better, and it  was now merely a matter of waiting for the right light as the tower lights came on and the light in the sky fell.

It turns out though that I wasn’t the only person who knew about this bridge and this view.  Amazing, I know, that other people in the most visited city in the world would also know about a scenic vista.  I’m actually talking about hundreds of people.  By the time the light was perfect I had to obsessively ask people to hang back out of the way while I clicked frames.  Sometimes it worked, sometimes they ignored me completely.  I think I got 12 decent frames and that was it, we were overwhelmed and I gave up.  And, let’s not forget that my poor wife, the amazing rock that she is, was waiting patiently the whole time while I destroyed our evening trying to get the perfect photograph.

This should have been a hilarious evening full of calamities (which, in hindsight, it was).  My frustration over the loss of my initial plans made me completely forget why I create art though…

Because it is fun, it is joyful, and it brings pleasure to my life.  Being an artist is such a gift.  I create because I love the process.  Every now and then it is good to be reminded of that.

Since that night 7 months ago I have travelled to Seattle, Las Vegas, and Amsterdam for the purposes of travel photography.  I have shot weddings and portrait sessions.  I have shot a lot of street photography, and that night has been a good reminder to always love the process… ultimately it is just as important as the final product.

Next on the blog, a three part series from Amsterdam.

Until then,