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Trifecta of Photo Workshops: Polar Bears, Tornados & Rock Stars

By Albert Chi—

There are hundreds of workshops worldwide covering different aspects of photography, but these are unique because they meet three important criteria. First, they’re in unusual venues in the U.S. or Canada. Second, attendance is limited to no more than six and, finally, all are led by experienced and outstanding photographers who are pros in their respective specialties.

Dawn Wilson: Go Eye-To-Eye with Polar Bears

Image © Dawn Wilson

Dawn Wilson’s nature photography workshops feature intimate encounters with wildlife. As one of today’s top female nature photographers (and an avid Red River Paper user), her workshop goals for her attendees include helping all participants with composition, teaching about animal behavior for better photos, instruction on how to create visual and emotional impact, and understanding camera techniques. Her excellent skill set provides a wide variety of photography instruction, including guidance for camera equipment, Photoshop and Lightroom, and how to capture the best images of birds, bears and landscapes.

One of her most exciting nature workshops (they’re all excellent) gives participants the opportunity to photograph Polar Bears and learn about these fascinating animals—the only bear, by the way, that will stalk and hunt humans. Never fear, though, you’ll be well protected as you go virtually eye to eye with these magnificent beauties because, unlike other similar workshops, this one is limited to five attendees who’ll travel in two SUVs on the ground—no looking down at the bears from high above or sharing noisy and uncomfortable vehicles with a crowd. You’ll get truly up close and personal for extaordinary images.

Image © Dawn Wilson

After meeting in Winnipeg, Manitoba, the group will fly with Dawn to scenic Churchill,  along the southern coast of Hudson Bay, to spend six days in the bears’ world , where you’ll watch and photograph them as they wait for the water to freeze so they can go out to hunt for seals, their favorite meal.  The landscape is stunning with rocky coasts, snow-covered tundra and boat ruins to frame your shots. In addition to polar bears, anticipate also having opportunities to photograph red fox, arctic fox, willow ptarmigan, snowy owls and other Arctic wildlife. (See RESOURCES, below, for links to more information.)

Ron Risman: Chase Tornados and Wild Storms

Ron Risman, known for his stunning time-lapse celestial images has, for the past nine years, been running  star-shooting workshops at desert locations out west and is one of most knowledgeable teachers of that subject around. He’s been a photographer for many years and a professional for the last 13, with an impressive list of clients.

Image © Ron Risman

For a change of pace, he’s is now offering a unique outdoor workshop experience that combines adventure and esthetics: storm chasing. Yes, while others will be heading in the opposite direction, you can have the thrill of chasing tornados and other weather phenomena to capture images that few others ever will. Ron says his mission is to provide photographers with an unrivaled workshop experience and this certainly promises to be one.

Called Storm Chase 2022, it’s a nine-day workshop and photo adventure. Six attendees, will be barrel through Tornado Alley in a custom van—right when the clash of air masses from the winter and spring seasons collide. It’s a rare opportunity to capture supercell thunderstorms, lightning, mesocyclones and tornados. You’re bound to return with electrifying images. Risman makes sure of that by partnering with the industry’s leading, and most experienced, storm chasing team—along with meteorologists—to make sure you’re in the right place at the right time during your eight exciting chase days.

Image © Ron Risman

Before you set off, there’ll be n additional day of classroom instruction and, of course, Ron will be along on your adventure to give advice and counsel. Throughout the week, additional classroom sessions on post processing and other topics will be given both in the field and while traveling in the van, which is equipped with a high-definition flat panel TV allowing for on-road instruction as well as letting you keep your eyes on the radar as you chase each storm. (See RESOURCES, below, for links to more information.)

David Bergman: Shoot Rock Stars at Live Concerts

David Bergman, one of Red River Paper’s Pros, has had a 30-year illustrious career as a photographer, but he once studied to become a musician until he found  his fellow students would pay big bucks for pictures he shot of them. His decision to change careers proved propitious; he went on to become top pro, with multiple Sports Illustrated magazine covers, Olympics assignments, and then back to his love of music as the official photographer for the Bon Jovi band, traveling worldwide with them on music tours.

Image © David Bergman

Now doing the same for Luke Combs, he has special access to their concerts and invites you to join him in the photographer’s pit, just inches away from the action. If you can’t afford a blast into space with Branson or Bezos, shooting from the pit will give you the same exclusivity at a fraction of the cost because you’ll be shooting images that no ordinary photographer could ever hope to capture.

What’s unique about Bergman’s Shoot From The Pit: Live Concert Photography workshops, is that they are small (five participants ) and are easy to get to because they’re held at more than 25 big arena locations in all over the U.S. where the band is currently on tour. Once attendees arrive, Bergman holds a four-hour workshop session where he goes over everything you need to know about concert and action photography, including subjects like how to nail exposures in changing lighting conditions, working with crew and celebrities and more. Then the group puts everything they’ve learned into practice at the show.

Image © Ron French, attendee at “Shoot From The Pit Workshop.”

Once in the pit, attendees spend the night shooting two bands before photographing Combs’ headliner. Bergman will be with you to answer questions and make suggestions throughout. Workshop participants can move about freely to get different angles; just don’t lean on the stage or you may get stomped on by one of the performers (really, you’re that close.) David is an excellent (and personable) teacher and usually brings some equipment you can ogle (he’s a member of the prestigious Canon Explorers of Light which gives him access to a lot of photographic goodies).

When it’s over, you’ll have had an experience better (and safer) than a space shot. You’ll remember it for the rest of your life and have a fantastic collection of images to show for it. (See RESOURCES, below, for links to more information.)


Dawn Wilson’s workshop details.

Read more about Dawn  in this previous blog profile.

Ron Risman’s workshop details.

Read Ron’s  three-part blog article on how to do celestial photography.

David Bergman’s workshop details. Red River Paper Blog readers can get a $100 discount by using the promo code: redriver100

Read  David’s blog piece about working with Bon Jovi’s Band.

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Original Publication Date: August 30, 2021

Article Last updated: September 15, 2023

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