On September 22-28, we had a group of eight participants come to the Willow Creek Ranch, in Central Wyoming. Participants came as far as Belgium, Connecticut, Michigan, Kansa, and Colorado as well as Wyoming and Montana. Three of the participants came from one of my previous workshops, which I consider a huge compliment.
Wyoming weather in September can be iffy, but then again, any time in Wyoming can be iffy. This fall was no exception, but the weather was beyond our wildest hopes.
In 5 days of shooting, we had everything from bright sun, to light overcast, to grey, to amazing clouds, to rain, and on the last day, an incredibly beautiful snowfall. The snowfall is pretty rare this time of year, but what a way to cap off the workshop! Looking at the pictures, one would think we had spent the entire fall there.
The cowboys were bringing the cattle down from the mountains, and we had several opportunities to photograph them from faraway, and close-up. We rubbed shoulders with them before breakfast, during the day, and far into the evening! We camped out one night, at the original Hole-in-the Wall camp, where Butch Cassidy would hide out.
And our camp was not exactly a “roughing it” type of camp. When we arrived, after photographing some of the many petroglyphs that can be found throughout the ranch, we came into our camp where cowboy tee-pees, wall tents, chuck-wagon, and a huge fire-pit were in full operation. My one and only non-photographic job, was to go arounds and find out how everybody wanted their steaks cooked…
On of the local cowboys who had an encyclopedic knowledge of local and regional history, filled us in on Butch Cassidy, The Sundance Kid, the Johnson County Cattle Wars, as well as the Sioux Trail, which goes right through the 57,000 acre ranch.
After supper, we got rained on a bit, but were all happily congregated underneath the chuck wagon fly. Our cowboy-historian pulled out a guitar and played non-stop for hours. And he seemed to know about every song that has ever been written.
The owners of the Willow Creek Ranch had just finished remodeling a small airplane hanger into a meeting room. They were just putting on some final touches the day before the workshop began. These touches included a 60″ flat screen TV and a Blue-Ray player. There was a huge boardroom table that allowed 9 of us to completely spread out with our laptops and equipment, and fresh fruit and drinks at the bar in the corner of the room. My main concern were that the chairs, the high-backed, tilting, swiveling kind, would be the key to the workshops demise, as these were just too comfortable for words.
It did not take long for all of us, workshop participants, ranch owners, cowboys, cooks, crew , and a couple of other visitors to become one big happy family. Not an exaggeration.
The lengths our hosts took to get us around and make us happy was beyond expectation. Very caring, giving people. They even had two of the most beautiful little girls I have ever seen that mingled and helped and were more grounded than many adults I know. Great models and powerful purveyors of great ranch deserts.
I had wondered how people would react to a bunch of crazy photographers, taking umpteen billions of photos of the cowboys. I don’t know how well I would do with 9 cameras trained on me off and on for 5 straight days, but they genuinely enjoyed it.
The last night I took all the participant’s favorite work, organized it into an impromptu slide show with music, and we all gathered (photographers, owners, daughters, cowboys, cooks, and a couple of other guests), and had had a final photo-presentation. Everybody loved it. I was very proud of my group, and was asked by literally everybody to send them a CD so they could share it with their friends and family.
And nobody really wanted to leave on the last day.
***Next year, 2014, I plan to two more workshops in this same location.
Spring, ( which is often June in Wyoming), is being planned at the moment, but we hope will involve a day of branding, a day of Rodeo (or two), a visit to the luxury Hole-in-the Wall camp where we will have the option to overnight, and more.
Fall workshop will be fashioned after this year’s.
*** No horseback riding is required. It could be arranged, and might become a totally separate workshop at some point, but the best way of covering a lot of ground in a little time, tracking the cowboys who are moving cattle, and carrying any equipment is by a ranch truck and small hiking method. To immerse yourself into your photography in this workshop, is to concentrate on one thing only. Honing your photographic skills.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information, and/or if you would like to be notified of future photo workshops.
This years workshop photos can be seen at