A True Rocky Mountain Photographic Adventure

To all of you photographers out there, whether you are just starting out, or you are pretty skilled in your photography, we want to highlight our Summer and Fall Rocky Mountain Photography Workshops coming up in July and September!

NOW IS THE TIME TO REGISTER!!

(lodging options are filling up fast!)
EARLY REGISTRATION DISCOUNTS STILL AVAILABLE!

As one of last year’s  Rocky Mountain Photography Workshop participants said, it was “truly an unforgettable experience.”   Over the years, many of our participants have made similar comments, some returning 2, 3, even 4 times!

We go as photographers and we come back as good friends.
It happens every time! 
Gain great skills, create some great images,
and share in this fun experience.

We go to a lot of excellent photography locations at the best times when the lighting is optimal and when wildlife photo opportunities are most likely, but also a part of the fun is simply being around others who love photography.  Plus Kevin will be there to help you with camera settings and suggestions on how to get the best shots.

We have a great time together!  The shared experience of getting up early and going out into this magnificent national treasure called Rocky Mountain National Park, hiking together, photographing wildlife, waterfalls, mountains, and sunrises makes the experience truly memorable.

I have included a few photographs (below) of some of our previous participants enjoying this fun experience.

I hope you’ll join us for the fun and adventure!   The 2019 Rocky Mountain Photography Workshops are close to full, so now is the time to be signing up! 

CLICK HERE to learn more about the workshops and to register.

  • “The workshop was outstanding because we had total access to Kevin and Gail’s knowledge and experience in photography. We were presented with multiple shooting locations and lighting situations from which to learn. Kevin was always available to provide advice and help resolve any problems with camera settings or answer questions. The availability of daily photo reviewspermitted one to make any adjustments to shooting techniques before the next day. This was the most hands-on learning experience I have had and I look forward to more with Kevin.”

“A 5 star experience from beginning to end…”

  • “This workshop provided a broad depth of experiences in the RMNP because Kevin is so knowledgeable about the area and about the best way to photograph it. I really appreciated the care given to maximize each student’s experience, no matter their skill level. I will definitely consider taking other trips with Kevin and Gail.”

  • “Could not be happier with how the workshop turned out. Everyone involved was so nice and easy to get along with. Kevin was an excellent teacher – patient, explained well, relaxed and never felt rushed or that I may be holding others back. It was very rewarding and would highly recommend Kevin’s workshops!!”

  • “Kevin is a natural-born teacher and superbly facilitated the group while providing one-on-one attention. I learned a lot without feeling overwhelmed with technical details and had fun in the process. I highly recommend this workshop!”

  • “This exceeded all my expectations!”

  • “The natural beauty of RMNP was enhanced by Kevin’s knowledge of the park and locations that were custom picked for great photographic shots. Kevin’s calm, patient and knowledgeable teaching style meant that everyone, at whatever level they were at, felt comfortable asking questions, making mistakes, learning from them and then getting immeasurably better pictures as a result. The improvement in my photography from Day 1 to Day 4 was unbelievable. I came thinking the auto settings on my camera really took better pictures than I did, and I left seeing and believing that the pictures I now understood how to take were vastly superior to anything the camera could capture in auto mode. It was a 5 star experience from beginning to end.

  • “This is a workshop you can’t afford to miss! I came to the workshop with a goal of never using Auto settings again… I achieved that and more. Kevin is such a great teacher and is able to work with photographers of all levels. He made everyone comfortable, I am from Virginia and did not know anyone in the group (as were several others) by the end of the work shop I had made a group of new friends! We were able to get so many landscape and wildlife pictures. The whole experience was amazing. I’m ready to sign up for the next workshop! Thank you Kevin” 

  • “The Rocky Mountain Summer Photography Workshop was an amazing experience! The success of the workshop begins with the organization and preparation of the instructor. Kevin and Gail were superbly organized and prepared! It was a treat to be lead to the best spots at the optimum time of the day to photograph the spectacular beauty and wildlife in the park. They demonstrated great flexibility and adaptability in meeting the needs of the group with the ever changing clouds, weather, and wildlife. It was also an incredible learning experience having a photography professional available to coach and instruct on the best methods for creatively composing a scene, capturing stunning images, and the correct use of a wide range of photographic equipment. Not only can I wholeheartedly recommend this workshop, but I’m already scheduled for a Rocky Mountain Fall Photography Workshop with Kevin!”

  • “Thanks for another spectacularly successful workshop in Rocky Mountain National Park! The conditions were even more challenging than last Summer, yet everything progressed flawlessly. We were at the right place at the right time to capture some incredible images. Thanks for everything!”

  • “I am a true beginner to photography. I took Kevin’s Photography 101, which I highly recommend for beginners, which explained a lot of the technical side of photography. I am a hands on/visual learner and being able to apply what I had learned in the 101 class at this workshop really helped me be able to take better/sharper pictures. Kevin is an extremely thorough and patient instructor. This workshop provided fantastic learning opportunities everyday with breathtaking views. I look forward to the next workshop.”

  • “Attending a workshop with Kevin is absolutely wonderful… so wonderful in fact that I did the same workshop twice. Kevin is very knowledgeable of the park as well as techniques to make us capture the best photos we possibly could. Kevin is very patient, kind, funny, passionate about teaching others how to take the best photos, considerate, extremely organized, etc. You won’t find a kinder, patient, and talented person to not only plan an awesome itinerary for the group, but to also be a tour guide of the park and provide facts about the different sights… AND provide constant photographic tips and instructions and reminders that were extremely helpful. Thank you Kevin. The workshop is worth the expense.”

The Bottom Line

Register for this workshop.  You will be glad you did!  You’ll end up with new photographic skills, great images, wonderful memories, and new friends.  But you need to register NOW.  Lodging options are filling up rapidly and space is limited!  Click on this link to learn more about the Summer and Fall workshops!




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Let’s See Your Wildflower Shots and Locations!

If you have been out photographing the Texas wildflowers, email  with your BEST shots from this year (no more than 3) and please let us know where you found the best wildflowers!

We’ll then post your photos along with the locations you listed so you can help others get their own great shots before wildflower season winds down.


Rebecca Marburger took these shots in the woods in her back yard in Weimar!


Sarah Lieser reports:  There are some pretty flowers around the back roads of Austin and Washington County this year. Also, there are some pretty spots on the back road, Meyersville road, in front of an old white church.


Brandi Pierce reports:  These were taken off of Sam Bass Road in Round Rock.


I spent a little time at Inks Lake State Park on Saturday (3/30/19)  Some of the wildflowers appear to have “peaked” a few days prior. Still was a nice trip. Here are a few random shots. – Kevin Gourley

This final image was looking down on a Bluebonnet and then the image was taken into Topaz Glow for a little post-processing enhancements.

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Featured Photographer: Dr. Sandy Hurwitz

In our Featured Photographer series, we highlight the work of our former and current students!

Your Name: Dr. Sandy Hurwitz

Type of Camera: I shoot both a Nikon D800 and a Canon 5D. I host friends and family on our ranch and love getting new folks into wildlife photography. Being somewhat familiar with both brands enables me to better help newer shooters and helps me learn from experienced ones. My primary lenses are an old Canon 600mm prime and a newer Tamron 150/600mm variable. 

What do you love to photograph the most?
Wildlife / Nature –  I live on a ranch in South Texas which is one of the most diverse eco-zones in America. Our flowers bloom at least nine months of the year, our vibrant bird populations change seasonally and our temperate climate provides year round shooting.  In the Spring, Summer and Fall I concentrate on birds and wild flowers. In the late Fall and Winter I focus more on deer and other wildlife. Sunsets and landscapes are, of course, year round. The best thing about outdoor year round shooting for me is not the changing fauna and flora but the changing light. I never get over my fascination with lighting. 

What is one thing you have learned that has improved your photography? 
I basically use one quality camera of each brand and a very limited number of lenses. Every camera and every lens has its own characteristics and it  takes a long time to truly understand the fine nuances of individual pieces of equipment. I also almost always shoot in M mode which enables me to eliminate variables while giving me maximum control. With wildlife, you seldom can can move yourself or the subject to get better lighting or composure. Almost every image I capture or more importantly fail to capture is unique, you don’t get second chances. The benefit of multiple cameras, lenses and settings does not, in my experience, compensate for quicker reflex time and equipment familiarity in producing the maximum number of quality images. 

Advice you’d give to others wanting to grow in their photography skills:
Have fun! Find your passion and pursue it intensively. Push your limits to avoid getting into ruts. Most importantly, always have a coach. You never outgrow your need for one. The better you become, in fact, the more you need a coach. Olympic athletes are the best in the world but how many of them show up at the Olympics without a coach? Workshops combine all of these in one neat package…. coaching, concentrated shooting, new experiences, social interaction, travel and fun. I always come back a better photographer and a better person when I attend one. 

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Learn: Organize and Edit Your Photographs

Adobe Lightroom Classic CC     SOLD OUT!
This is an excellent program for importing your photos from your camera or memory cards to your computer and then organizing the, narrowing down to your best shots and then doing adjustments / edits to improve the images.   My Lightroom Classic CC Workshop is four 3-hour sessions, a total of 12 hours of very hands-on learning.

Adobe Photoshop CC Only one space left!!   
When you want the ultimate control in editing, to do anything possible with an image, to retouch, perfect, enhance, and even create new images that are composites from multiple images, Photoshop is the tool to use.  My Photoshop Class is six 3-hour sessions, a total of 18 hours of very hands-on learning!

 

 

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Featured Photographer: Mary Burns

In our Featured Photographer series, we highlight the work of our former and current students!

Your Name: Mary Burns

Type of Camera:  Olympus OMD EM1

What do you love to photograph the most?   I love photographing landscapes, sunrises, sunsets, wildlife – pretty much anything outdoors!! We travel to Rocky Mountain National Park 4-5 times a year and just can’t ever get enough of the total beauty of the area! With each visit I try to step out of my box and try new settings, new locations, wide angle, macro, pretty much just about anything goes!!! Our daughter and SIL are expecting their first baby (our first grandchild!) this summer so I’m now experimenting with newborn photography!!

What is one thing you have learned that has improved your photography?    I’ve learned so much over the past couple years, quite a bit of technical info as well as creative info, from taking a class and doing a workshop with Kevin – best money ever spent, hands down!!! By taking his workshop and getting his one on one help every day during the workshop helps to ingrain the information learned to become more instinct than having to stop and think, “What am I doing and what do I need to do to get the best shot?” I’ve also learned it’s OK to make mistakes because that’s how we learn!!

Advice you’d give to others wanting to grow in their photography skills: My advice to other want to be photographers is to find that one person that makes learning the art of photography easy for you – for me it’s Kevin Gourley!! The other piece of advice I’d say would be to don’t limit yourself to one type of photography, branch out and explore all types – you may find there are multiple areas that interest you!!!

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Featured Photographer: Don Story

In our Featured Photographer series, we highlight the work of our former and current students!

Your Name: Don Story

Type of Camera:  Nikon D500

What do you love to photograph the most? I love to photograph architecture, especially unique buildings old, historic or modern, landscapes of all types, flowers, automobiles and aircraft. My interests are varied in that I try to look at the world around me as though I am looking through the viewfinder on my camera. We see more than the camera does but only the camera and photographer capture a moment in time that lasts for as long as technology allows. The ability to capture a moment in time and the never ending challenge to learn to do it well are the motivation and reason I love photography.

What is one thing you have learned that has improved your photography? Gaining a better understanding and appreciation for light, natural and artificial in its many forms, colors, intensities and direction. Learning when light is good and when it can be better and when we need to wait for the right light. Understanding that photography is all about light. 

Advice you’d give to others wanting to grow in their photography skills:   First, never stop learning. There is always more to know and understand but choose what you need to know based on where you are in your photographic journey. Second, learn the basics of photography that are independent of your camera. Third, learn your camera’s settings from the basics to as advanced as you want to go with its capabilities. Forth, learn from others who share your interest and try new things. I have benefited greatly from books, videos, on-line courses but most significantly from other knowledgeable photographers sharing their experience and knowledge. Share your photographs and ask for feedback but stay true to your vision. There are a few absolutes in photography but it is an art.

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Photographers: What will be your 2019?

As 2018 comes to a close and we are taking down our Christmas trees and putting away lights and decorations and the festivities are winding down, what do you have in store for 2019?

Some people make “New Years Resolutions” but I tend to not worry about doing that.  I DO reflect on what I am doing with my life and the direction I am heading and re-assess my priorities.

This is more than a once every year event though. I think we are sometimes doomed to fail if we think we’ll somehow magically make everything right on January 1. Things often start out good, but by February 1, how many of us have already failed in keeping our New Years Resolution? 

Rather than a once-a-year thing, let’s just make it a once-a-day thing. If we fail in some way today, let’s just strive to make tomorrow better. Or don’t even wait until tomorrow, let’s start now.

When it comes to photography, I know so many people who have grown in their photographic and artistic skills by choosing to do the work to improve.  Photography is so multidimensional.  It is not just about understanding shutter speed and aperture and ISO and depth of field, and focus points, and all that other techno-jargon.  That is just a starting point. We also must understand light and how it is the single most important ingredient in every photograph. And then there is composition and other artistic factors, not to mention creativity and personal expression. Then there are the computer skills involved with software tools such as Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, etc. 

There is SO much to learn to master this craft of “photography” in today’s digital world that it can sometimes seem overwhelming. 

My advice to you is to simply start from where you are and push to do more, whether it is to better learn your camera’s features, or study composition, or light, or creativity.  Just start somewhere. The main point is that you will only grow in your skills if you start working at it now.  Keep at it every day. Challenge yourself. 

Especially important, I encourage you to push yourself to the point of failing. Get out of your comfort zone, to the point of failure, and then learn from your mistakes.  I totally believe the best way to learn something is to fail and then learn from your failure. At least that has been my experience. The lessons I learned through failure are the lessons I’ll never forget.

If you need a “coach” to help guide you in a direction to become a better photographer, don’t hesitate to contact me (). I am more than happy to talk to you and help you assess some “next steps” in your pursuit in becoming a better photographer.  Let’s meet and talk sometime!

Remember, I offer a variety of classes throughout the year, and I also offer private instruction where we can focus on your specific needs.  If you’re into studio photography, or want to learn about it, I am happy to even let you rent my studio space for a supervised photo shoot where I’ll help you get the best shots possible.

Let’s explore opportunities for ways I can help you in 2019!

Also, note: I have a group that intermittently meets on Monday evenings at my studio, called the LifeInsights group.  It is totally FREE to attend.  We do book discussions, and anyone is invited.  Our next session is Better Than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits” by Gretchen Rubin.   We’ll meet on Monday Nights 7pm-9pm   January 14, 21, 28  Feb 4,11.    Click Here to learn more.

I wish you all a wonderful 2019!

Oh, and by the way, I have several classes starting soon in 2019 that are still open for registration and if you sign up by December 31st, you can SAVE UP TO $100!  And note my Rocky Mountain Photography Workshops still have space available with special offers that can save you up to $400 if you sign up soon!

Kevin Gourley

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Dare to Make This World Better

Any of you who have participated in my photography classes know, that I am an absolute believer that each of us can make this world a better place. 

You can even use your photography skills to make this world better by serving the community, whether it is volunteering for some nonprofit community organization or taking on some personal project to help others.  I occasionally post volunteer opportunities on my website.  

I believe we all have opportunities to make this world a better place, even through simple actions.  Actually, you don’t even necessarily  have to seek out those opportunities.  I believe those opportunities find us. We just have to be aware and open to the possibilities.

For example, if you volunteer at an animal shelter, you could volunteer to photograph the animals to help them find loving homes.  Or you could volunteer to photography homeless individuals and families like we did last year. The opportunities are endless.

These opportunities go way beyond just photography. With some friends, we decided to create a group at my studio that meets on Monday nights to discuss different books, TED talks, etc. and share our various insights.  It is open to anyone, and we’ll be starting a new session in January. The group is called LifeInsights, all are welcome.

An Example of Someone Who Is Making the World a Better Place

Over this past year, I had the privilege to meet and photograph Darius Pettway at my studio.  I just finished reading his book “A Chance To…” today.  From the moment I started reading, I could not put it down.

Darius was so open and honest about his tough life journey growing up on the streets of Detroit, and his persistence to overcome adversity and pursue choices that ultimately have led him to help at-risk young adults by providing them with tools of leadership, self-empowerment and conflict resolution to unlock their hidden potential.


To be honest, by the time I reached the end of his book, I was deeply moved and had to wipe away a tear.  I am so extremely proud of Darius in all that he is doing. I respect him so much.

As he says in his message at the end of the book, “It is not where you start as much as it is about how you finish.” Darius had a tough start, yet he has overcome so much, to shape him in to the leader he is today.

I encourage you to support Darius in his Youth Leadership Conferences, and buy his book and read it. His website is wallsoflife.com.

Each of us have opportunities to make choices that will make this world better for us all.

Go out and make this world better. 

Kevin Gourley

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Seeing Past the Blur at Christmas

Hi friends,

I don’t know about you, but when it gets to this time of the year, it seems like life gets to be so hectic. Once we get into the second week in December, it’s like time somehow accelerates.  The checklist of things to do gets longer, with shorter time to get them all done.

People are busy shopping, waiting in long lines, shopping on Amazon, mailing packages, buying supplies at the grocery store… (wow, the baking goods aisle at the grocery store was packed with people today).  Neighbors dropping off gifts of cookies.  Driving through the neighborhood looking at Christmas lights.  Friends going to homes and caroling. A fruitcake might arrive in the mail. We go through the “routine” of the holidays one more time. 

Of course now we apparently can’t listen to “Baby It’s Cold Outside”, on the radio but that whole thing has backfired, at least for me, because now I can’t get that song out of my mind!  But I digress…

Anyway… 

Regardless of your religious background (including no religious affiliation at all), it is hard to not get caught up in the magic of this time of year.  People of various faith traditions observe different holidays.  The days of Hanukkah have already ended, and Christmas is just about here.  We celebrate in different ways, religious or not.

We say “Happy Holidays,” “Happy Hanukkah,” “Merry Christmas,”, “Seasons Greetings,” and we put a smile on our faces.

I love Christmas, but I hate how I end up feeling “rushed” through this season.  I would enjoy it more if I could just hit the pause button and briefly take it all in… the memories that are being made at this moment, the family get-togethers, and everything else happening around us.

Unfortunately, sometimes it all feels like just a blur, as these times woosh past.  And then seemingly in an instant, we are taking down a Christmas lights and a tree, putting away decorations, and embark on our journey into a new year.

My hope for you is that you can enjoy these holidays. Find peace in whatever way you need peace, find comfort if you are feeling lonely or have lost a loved one in the past year (I know how hard that is).  If you are going through a hard time, I encourage you to do something brighten someone else’s life and I bet it will brighten your life as well. At least I have sure found that to be true in my own life.

I know this is supposed to be a blog about photography, but I honestly can’t seem to separate photography from “life.”  Our life experience so much shapes how we see the world around us, and that affects the photographs we create.  So my best photography advice is to see past this “blur” and photograph those special important moments you’ll want to remember.

I was listening to some of the Christmas classic songs on the radio in my car on the way home earlier, and I started feeling so sentimental as I reflected on my life, and the memories of Christmases past, and then I started thinking about how blessed I feel in my life.  My photography business is more than just a business to me.  Photography is something central to who I am. And words could never express how much I have grown to love all the people who have passed through my studio and through my classes over the years.  You are truly wonderful people and I am grateful beyond words for you all.

Through the diversity of all of you, I have come to truly appreciate you all, especially in our differences.  My friends of other faiths, I love how you live your faith.  My atheist friends, I appreciate how you sometimes challenge me in my beliefs, and I am actually grateful for that.  My Christian friends, I am grateful for the love you have shown me over the years.

As some of you might know, I am a Christian.  Having spent the first half of my life agnostic (and sometimes atheist), I definitely can see how people come to different conclusions about matters of faith and religion.  I have found a “home” in Christianity. At its core, it is what makes sense to me, and honestly it has reshaped my life so much, and my life is better for it. And my friends at my church feel more like family than just friends. I could not imagine my life without them. 

An Invitation: If you don’t have a church home, or even if you don’t have much interest in “church” at all, but would like to go to a Christmas Eve Candlelight service somewhere, my church is Bethany United Methodist Church in NW Austin.  If you might be interested, here is a link to the Christmas Eve Services info. If that’s not for you, that’s totally ok.  I just thought I’d extend the invitation.

Regardless of how you observe these holidays, my hope is that it is something more than a “blur.” I hope you find peace.

To all of you, my friends…
I love you.  

Most sincerely,
Kevin Gourley

 

 

 

 

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Kevin Gourley Photography Workshops, Austin, TX – Austin Photography Classes