On Location

The Poetry of Place: Travel Photography Revisited

with Dan Westergren

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Course Description

When traveling to a beautiful place like northern New Mexico, photography can be a straightforward experience: Find a beautiful scene, point camera, take picture. In this workshop we explore how to move beyond a literal representation and create visual poetry. Much like written poetry, the goal is to create photographs that can evoke a specific emotional response in the viewer.

We start our journey in the classroom with Dan showing examples of different ways that he has chosen to photograph travel destinations all over the world in his work for National Geographic. Then we have a probing conversation about the best ways to discover our feelings about a place and how they can be leveraged to make photographs that have meaning. Throughout the week we travel together to several iconic New Mexico destinations where we work to combine our personal observations with the signature aspects of these places.

Subsequent mornings are spent in the classroom critiquing the pictures we made and discussing ways to make truly memorable photographs, taking the photographic experience to a deeper level. Although this approach does not depend on a deep technical knowledge of how our cameras work, time is spent in the classroom and on location learning what we need to make our cameras an ally in the quest.

There is always more than one way to photograph a travel destination. Our goal for the week is to truly examine our feelings for a place and inject them into the scene, creating a more complete picture.

Additional Information

Amateurs, Advanced Amateurs
What You Should Know:

Working knowledge of digital workflow. Participants must be able to download, select, and transfer images to their own jump drive for class each day.

Creative Vision, Nature & Landscape, Portraiture, Travel Photography
Dan Westergren

Dan Westergren has spent three decades producing images as a National Geographic Society photographer, photo editor, and social media strategist. As Director of Photography at National Geographic Travel, he developed a photographic aesthetic that defined the magazine’s visual impact in print, digital, and social media.

Dan helped launch the popular National Geographic Traveler Photography Seminar series and contributed to the program as it grew from four events the first year to more than 38 scheduled annual events. He personally presented ten seminars each year and served as a key point of contact for thousands of NatGeo Travel readers. Dan is an experienced teacher leading numerous photography workshops for Santa Fe Workshops and as a National Geographic expert, sharing his love of photography with travelers in all corners of the globe.

As a photographer, Dan has shot stories on all seven continents, including expeditions up Mt. Kilimanjaro, Mont Blanc, and the Matterhorn. His defining moment at the National Geographic Society came when he stood at the North Pole, after skiing the last degree of latitude, to produce photographs for a Traveler story. Though exhausted, Dan reflected on the organization’s history of visual excellence and proudly claimed his place in the National Geographic Family.

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