Note: The information below is primarily for our domestic instructional tours. For our international tours, scroll to the bottom of the FAQ for suggestions on how to get more specific information on those.
Why should I attend a program with Awe & Wonder Workshops?
We teach you how to create inspiring and memorable pictures. What you learn is more valuable than any filter or new lens (though they might be useful). You learn how to see more creatively and how to translate that vision into a final image that has powerful impact. We make it easy to learn techniques and concepts that you will take with you every time you walk out the door with your camera.
What sets you apart from other workshop companies?
Awe and Wonder Photography Tours is run by two professional photographers, – who happen to also love teaching. Our collective teaching experience totals about 30 years. We have editorial, commercial and fine art experiences, and we draw from this deep well to provide you with whatever technical and artistic help you need. With our help, you’ll visually stretch and grow, and have a great time in the process, immersed in photography and the shared passion of fellow enthusiasts.
Our groups are kept to 12 people typically, to ensure that you get our attention and help.
What will I learn?
You will learn whatever you need to learn – and then some – when you attend. If it’s about making better exposures, or better compositions, we can help with that. If you want to learn to see light and use it well, we’re there to help you do that. If you’re struggling with basic technical stuff, we can help! If you want to push more into a more abstract approach, we can suggest ways to do that, too. In short, with our small groups and two leaders, you will have the one-on-one guidance you want to help you move towards a new level of seeing and creating photographs. You will come away with the tools and ideas to create compositions that engage your viewers.
What happens on an Awe & Wonder Instructional Tour? And, What’s the difference between a tour and a workshop?
First, workshops typically have much more classroom lecture time with daily critiques of images – and a lot of time “out of the field”, whereas tours often are responsible for just getting you somewhere (hopefully at the right time of day) and letting you photograph either on your own or as a group, but without instruction. Our instructional tours offer a unique balance of getting you to the right places at the right time of day/night, giving you plenty of time to make your pictures, and helping you make them with on the spot suggestions and ‘live’ critiques through the LCD. In short, you get to see more places and create more pictures while still improving your eye and technique. (We do offer classic workshops and we state which is which on each listed program).
Our leaders are also instructors, and are always on hand to help you the moment you need it. We also share how we see through our lenses and from our position as a way to guide you into thinking of new ways to see for yourself.
Our instructional tours creates an opportunity to meet with people who are totally immersed in photography. Time spent as a group is a valuable way to stimulate your own creative energy and to share ideas, techniques and enthusiasm. Leaders will spend time with each participant individually and as group throughout the course of the trip.
We begin the first evening with a brief orientation and introduction, then we present a program designed to get your creative juices flowing – to help you shift into gear for the program. While photographing, we’ll keep our discussions focused – no pun intended – on how to make the most of the location we’re visiting. We talk ‘shop’ in the field in informal sessions and socialize during breaks and meals.
Note: As workshop instructors, it’s our job to give you the information you need to help you improve both technically and aesthetically with your photography. As tour leaders, we are responsible for getting you to the right places at the right time,– and we’ll be there to help you see the potential of each place if it’s not obvious! We choose locations not only for their potential for stunning photographs but also for the opportunity to challenge you visually and technically.
When we arrive at a location, the choice is still yours: you can wander off to make your images, or you can stick close and get whatever help you need or ideas that rub off the conversations around you. We’ll have midday breaks, during which time we are also available for any technical help, too.
What equipment do I need to bring?
Everything! Well, almost – essentially, each participant needs a camera (DSLR preferred), lenses that range from wide (20-24mm) to long (200-300) and in between. Also a macro lens is very useful, or a screw-in close-up diopter that fits a telephoto lens. We highly recommend (but it is optional) bringing any filters you have, including polarizing, graduated neutral density, and solid neutral density filters, if you have them. Before you buy, please contact us to be sure you purchase the appropriate filters. Other equipment will be listed on the what-to-bring information email you’ll receive once you have signed up.
What should I wear?
Evening gowns and tuxedos be gone! Our workshops are outdoor adventures, so you’ll want to dress accordingly – and in layers, so you can adjust to changing weather conditions and temperatures, on any of our programs.
Foot gear: We see such a variety of foot gear on our trips and while it’s up to you, we strongly suggest good, solid gripping footwear when your attending any programs with potential wet, slippery rocks (seacoast, forests with streams). We also suggest knee-high rubber boots to enable you to stand in water for different viewpoints, or water shoes. Again, those should be very gripping for secure footing.
Rain gear: A raincoat is a ‘must’ for some workshops, less so for others. You’ll be sent a more itemized list to help you plan when you sign up.
You can also buy rain gear for your camera, and it’s daunting how many options there are out there! We just love the simple rain sleeves you can buy for under $12. You can get one here.
What happens in bad weather?
There’s an equation many of you might not have learned in school. Bad Weather = Great Photos! Many times, we’ll be out in stormy weather, provided it’s not putting you or your equipment at great risk. Great pictures happen in the moody light of fog, snow, rain and mist. But if it’s too bad, we’ll head inside and have a sharing round-robin discussion on photography, art, technique and more. If forecasted weather is severe, we reserve the right to cancel the workshop for the safety of all participants. This has never happened, however, thankfully!
Does the workshop price include lodging or meals?
Our domestic instructional tours do not include lodging or meals, typically. We reserve a block of rooms for our students and upon registering you will receive information for securing the room in your name.
We do provide breaks for meals and we encourage group eating as a great way to share and get to know your fellow participants. We are after all on a group trip for the camaraderie of sharing our photo passion. (If you have special dietary requirements, please let us know and come prepared. Not all locations we go to have a lot of options…)
Do you provide transportation?
We generally do not supply transportation for our domestic instructional tours or workshops. We do however encourage car-rental sharing and are happy to put you in contact with others interested in sharing a rental. We expect everyone to carpool once the program has begun, to minimize our impact on the environment and to facilitate parking in areas where we might not fit more than four cars, Please come expecting to share your car with others or to jump in and share someone else’s.
Can I bring some one who’s not a photographer?
We love that your companions want to travel with you – and we welcome them in the field and when we dine. However, because we undertake some liability for everyone in attendance, if they plan to join you on location, we ask for payment of 40% of the normal registration fee. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this policy.
How does payment work?
We only ask for a deposit, with a balance due typically 120 days prior to the program. You have the option of initially paying the deposit or the total amount. If you have a balance due, you will be billed for the remaining balance no later than 80 days prior to the start date of the tour. You can pay in one of two ways: using the link we’ll provide you for paying via Paypal (3% charging fee included), or you can mail a check payable to Brenda Tharp Photography, at 1536 Parker Drive, Santa Rosa, CA 95405.
What’s your cancellation policy?
Registration for a program includes a deposit at the time of booking in order to hold your spot. In general some of this fee is refundable up to 30 days before the workshop, minus certain charges. View our full cancellation policy here.
Our programs require a minimum of participants. In the case of under-subscription we reserve the right to cancel the instructional tour, in which case your registration will be refunded or transferred to another program of your choosing. We also reserve the right to conduct the program with one instructor if enrollment is low.
More questions? Please contact us here.
Most of the questions and answers above also pertain to our international tours when it comes to what you’ll learn, how you should prepare, etc.
However, all other matters are specific to the individual tours – such as meals, transportation, etc., and you should find all that information on the specific tour page. Each international tour is individual in how it’s organized and conducted. We work with several operators for these and there are different logistics for theirs.
For cancellations, which apply only to international tours conducted directly and solely by Brenda Tharp Photography/Awe and Wonder Photo Tours, please View our cancellation policy here.
Please visit the individual page for each international tour for more information.
You may be redirected to their site, where all the admin-related information resides. We’re hear to help if you have any problems, but please read all the information first from them on their site as usually it’s all there…