J Günther PhotographyPrivate Photography Lessons | Fine Art Prints
“Frequently asked questions…”
Q: What is your experience in photography?
A: I love what I do. For me, photography started when I was a kid, well over 60 years now. My first camera was a Brownie Box camera circa 1910! (I still have it) But in 2002 after a couple of life-changing events, I got into photography full time. I started mainly with landscape and travel photography. Along the way, I have shown my work in various shows, mainly in the prestigious Sausalito and the Saratoga Art festivals here in California. I have done everything from, architectural, real estate, corporate head-shots, advertising stills for TV, web, and print. Additionally, I’ve done tabletop product photography, weddings and a horde of miscellaneous jobs here and there.
I Started conducting “In the Field” workshops and tours in 2010 and in 2014 I became the first Group Leader for “NANPA” – North American Nature Photography Association’s San Francisco Bay Area Meet-up program. Volunteering my time leading groups of 20-30+ photographers on outings and other educational venues was a great honor. However, my own business began to take precedence and in 2016 I stepped down to focus on my workshops and private lessons full time.
My passion is to be outdoors and doing photography. I’ve been all over the iconic western US as well as southeast Asia (Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore) and Europe. I enjoy being with like-minded people searching for that special “image”. I like going out when others are coming in… For me, the weather isn’t an issue, as on a very chilly sunrise in the Alabama Hills I met Christophe Cassegrain, an outstanding & well-known French photographer who said to me, “there isn’t bad weather really, just bad clothes”. A profound statement to which I adhere. I’ve shot in sub-zero to extremely high desert temperatures and enjoyed every nanosecond.
Along with my journey, I was and still am mentored by Marv Miller who himself was a student and friend of Ansel Adams. This for me has been an incredibly wonderful experience and a close friendship continues to this day.
Q: Why should I take your workshop or private lesson…?
A: Taking a workshop (not just mine) is something I suggest and encourage you to do. Whether you are starting to develop a passion for photography or want to brush up on new techniques you will gain valuable knowledge and insight. I offer quality and attentive guidance without the “tour bus” or “rushed” feeling. Rest assured I am not the guy who will tell you to “stand here, set your camera to F/8, ISO 100 and shoot when I tell you…” Rather I will describe what I like about the location we’re at and make a technical and artistic recommendation. I will then encourage you to look for a composition that you like. After all, it will be your photograph. I evaluate your point of view and at that point, I will coach you in the steps required to best make your photograph. This method gives me the opportunity to learn your style and then guide you in recognizing and achieving your own particular goals. I use technology in the field to give real-time visual feedback to my clients. As photos are taken I can instantly review them and make suggestions showing you a large rendition of your image immediately, even do a quick edit to give you a taste of what that image can look like say, converted to black & white! It’s been highly praised by my clients.
Q: What is a typical workshop or private lesson like?
A: Photography is all about the way you use light, shapes, and texture. In nature, the best light is typically in the morning and late afternoon. Quite often on my workshops we gather well before sunrise and shoot well into the night. We typically meet in the morning near our first objective where I lay out plans for the day based on real-time circumstances. We will move about the area during the day taking advantage of conditions and breaking for lunch at a convenient time. Multi-day workshops feature a much wider gamut of photo opportunities, instruction and often much larger geographical territories. During Multi-Day workshops, I set time aside for image review and editing suggestions. Additionally, I offer image review and tutorials after my workshops continuing a relationship with my clients (now friends) in their on-going photographic evolution.
Q: I took a workshop before but there were so many students the instructor hardly paid attention to me, I felt left out…
A: Oh have I heard the horror stories!… My Private Lessons are just that, you and me spending some time together with me passing on what I know. My workshops have no more than six participants. In either case, this offers more time on location and more of a relaxed atmosphere, making it more conducive to creativity. Sometimes I have an assistant, but in any case, I am able to pay attention to everyone. It is extremely important to me that you have a quality experience and that you spent your time (and money)well. Maybe that is why so many folks keep coming back for more. Also, I don’t take my own images while conducting workshops. In your company, it’s not time for me to take my own photos. I can do that on my own time, not yours. I do have my camera at the ready for instructional purposes however the whole purpose is for you to learn on your own gear. I really enjoy watching the new relationships that are formed among my clients as well as myself. I’ve met some super interesting people and have made a lot of new friends!
Q: Do you offer private (one to one) custom photography workshops?
A: Sure do and it’s quite popular! In fact it is now the majority of my sessions. I offer a series of Lesson Plans from basic to advanced. Check out my page that discusses the topics and such here
Q: Who takes your workshops?
A: All kinds of folks. I have absolute beginners as well as longtime professionals from other photographic disciplines. All at the same time! The best part is that aside from my guidance, conversations evolve and many viewpoints are shared.
Q: When I take a photograph it just looks blah, like any other snapshot…
A: As Ansel Adams once said, “you don’t take a photograph, you make it”. That’s so true… Making a photograph entails thinking about it. You need to have some concept of what you want, how to get it, and what you want to do with it. I’ll teach you that.
Q: But I don’t have a fancy camera…
A: No, you don’t need a fancy camera. But you do need to know how to operate the one you have. Today’s digital SLR, Micro Four Thirds cameras, even smartphones are very capable. For the type of photography I teach, you will prefer to have one of these and a good tripod. Note: if you are thinking about getting a camera, rent a camera and join a workshop. That way you can see what works and what doesn’t. I will gladly assist you in making choices. You will save a lot of money in the long run!
Q Do you show me how to edit and print?
A: I offer online classes for my clients in post editing techniques. However, my workshops are about getting the image. I concentrate on getting you to the place and at the right time to get the “shot”. On multi-day workshops, we take time to share and critique your images. I like to continue the relationship and review your images via the Internet after the workshop has finished where I offer guidance and tutorials.
Q: Do people take the same workshop again?
A: Yes they do! I’m proud to say many people who have participated in my workshops have come back for more! If nothing else the continued relationship involving photo critique and editing suggestions has made for great friendships. Also many times there is so much to photograph that a re-visit can pay off quite nicely. For example, my Point Reyes workshop offers a continually changing environment, there’s always something to see. And, if you missed “that shot” the first time, you can try again and most likely be more successful. I’ve been visiting the area for the last fifty years and I am yet to be tired of it.
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