The 411 on Basic Photography in Monterey, CA

Hoffman-Brouse-HeadshotIn 2017 RMSP instructor Lynn Hoffman-Brouse will be holding a version of our Basic Photography workshop in Monterey, CA. For the past several years, she has led this course in the Texas Hill Country, but the time has come to switch up the scenery! I caught up with Lynn to get a bit more information about the flow of the workshop, and to get the answer to the pressing question of whether or not Steinbeck’s Cannery Row will be required reading for this course. Read on to find out!!!



You’ve been teaching a workshop for RMSP for years, called Basic Photography in Texas. But in 2017 you will be leading this course in Monterey, CA. Why the change of venue?

We were in Fredericksburg, Texas for over 6 years. Texas Hill Country is a great place for the Basic Photo class, but for 2017, we decided to change things up a bit. We thought a new location might excite more students from other parts of the country. Also, I think we ran out of Texans! Sometimes change is good, for students and teachers!

Will the course content change at all from the Texas-based workshops you’ve done in the past?

Of course, the locations will change, but we will still photograph a wide array of subjects. The course content will remain essentially the same, but I will add more elements of landscape to the class, since the area is full of beautiful scenic vistas, beaches and man-made landscapes.

What experience do you have in the Monterey area?

I grew up in California and so visited the Monterey area often. The drive up and down the California coast is one of the finest ever. I love the variety of photographic opportunities to be found. The ocean, of course, is amazing, but move inland and there is just as much beauty to be found.

I understand the course title is “Basic Photography,” but can you tell our readers what exactly that means? How basic is basic? What topics will you cover?

We begin at the beginning, going over all camera’s functions, then move on to covering basic and advanced exposure. After that is done, we get to the fun stuff, design, light, and learning to see photographically. I usually plan additional lessons based on what we’ll be focusing on that day- a photographing people lesson before a trip to Fisherman’s Wharf, for example, or a landscape lecture prior to visiting Point Lobos or a discussion of long shutter speeds to get that beautiful water effect. I am always available in the field and actually can be a bit of a pest, always asking to look at compositions or to see images that have already been taken. By the end of the class, students have moved from Program mode snappers to image makers. They leave excited about what they can do with their cameras.


Walk me through the workshop. Photographically, what will you focus on throughout the week, and where? (For example, will you teach macro techniques on the beach, composition lessons on the boardwalk? What will your lectures cover?)

We begin the week in the classroom, learning the basics. There is always practice afterwards, so for example, after the exposure lesson, we’ll go outside and do some exercises using all the controls. I normally do a little demo and then send everyone off. The best way to learn is to do it yourself. For the first couple of days, we also gather in the meeting room after the location shoots for questions and problem solving.

After the first two days, we’ll photograph every morning and evening, with time in the middle of the day for critique and lecture. The critiques are really important. Students can tell how much they’ve learned when a late week critique focuses on those small things that really make photos pop, rather than simply looking at exposure and simple composition.

What locations do you plan on visiting with participants? And since we both know people will ask, is Cannery Row on the agenda? Will you make Steinbeck’s Cannery Row required reading before this course?

Of course Cannery Row will be on the agenda. Also Carmel, a lovely town with great photo galleries. There is the Aquarium (which will be a challenge but loads of fun) and Fisherman’s Wharf. The beaches and Point Lobos are spectacular. No required reading but, hey, if you haven’t read Cannery Row, you certainly should. I went through a long Steinbeck phase as a teenager and maybe it is time to revisit him!

Monterey has an incredible underwater photography scene. Any plans to take your group below the surface?

I don’t think we’ll have time for any camera dunking … now a boat ride? That might be fun.

There must be a certain photo op you are excited about. Maybe the boats in the harbor at sunset? In the aquarium? What location rises to the top on your excitement meter?

The great thing about the Basic Photography workshop is that we photograph all different kinds of subjects. The idea is to expose students to the whole world of photography….people, landscapes, still life, architecture and in this one, sea life! That said, I am excited for some AM and PM moments at Point Lobos!


What can participants expect to walk away with – photographically – after this course?

Students will leave confident with their equipment. Rather than letting the camera make decisions for them, they will control the look of their images. They will begin to see in a way of their own. I hope they’ll want to explore all types of photography and go home excited about the possibilities. I want them to try new things and take chances with photography. Go for those “motioney” shots, get in really close, be more abstract, play with image making. Photography is fun and it’s even more fun when you can make the picture you imagined.

Any last words for people considering this course?

I love teaching Basic Photography. The variety of locations, the amount of learning, the camaraderie that develops over the week is amazing. I am really excited about this move to Monterey too. What an amazing place to learn and to photograph. I promise you’ll leave tired, but exhilarated about continuing your photography. If you want to learn in one of the most beautiful places anywhere, this is the workshop for you.

hoffmanlynn-2041205Any photo or travel tips for people who are already registered? (ie: it’s an ocean environment. How should they deal with salt water on their gear?)

Don’t drop your camera in the water! But seriously, bring cleaning cloths and pay attention to salt spray, etc getting on your lens. Wipe often. Carry a shower cap in your bag to cover your camera from spray. I always take them from hotels! Honestly, I don’t think this will be a huge issue. We’ll be on the ocean but not necessarily IN the ocean. As for weather, it can be changeable; layers of clothing are a must, maybe throw a beach towel in just in case! You will definitely need a tripod for the landscapes. I recommend getting a good one. I’ll teach you how to use it and, believe me, a good tripod is way easier to use than a cheap one.