High Sierra Workshops began leading private photography trips into the Sierra Nevada range in 1992, as an extension of the photography classroom at various colleges and universities. Only a few years later, the small group instruction with a focus on the visual component was introduced and has been the mainstay ever since.
Original workshop offerings focused on the flagship location: “Yosemite Valley in Spring”, along with the off-shoots of “Yosemite in Winter” and “Yosemite in Fall”.
By the end of the decade, “Death Valley National Park”, “Lake Tahoe” and the “Eastern Sierra & Owens Valley” workshops were added to the workshop calendar.
The new millenium saw High Sierra Workshops branching out beyond the geographic boundaries of the Sierra Nevada range, with the introduction of the “Big Sur” and “Redwoods of Northern California” workshops.
In addition, 2004 saw the transition to digital photography in the workshop instruction, striking a balance between the classic film approach of 35mm, medium-format and 4×5 field cameras with the demand for a digital component.
In 2008, High Sierra Workshops branched out even further, partnering with Nikonians Academy to extend the workshop offerings to a dedicated, passionate and enthusiastic organization of photographers. The highly-acclaimed “Visual Thinking” lecture on the mental challenges and approach to ‘seeing’ photography was introduced, along with the first workshop offering outside the boundaries of California: “Alaska: Denali National Park”, in 2009.
In 2010, High Sierra Workshops partnered with the Semester at Sea study-aboard program to create the inaugural “Ultimate Travel Photography Workshop”. Sailing aboard the program’s former cruise ship converted into a floating college university campus, the workshop visited 9 Caribbean countries in 14 days, focusing on aspects of travel photography, cultural sensitivity and street photography.
The second annual “Ultimate Travel Photography Workshop” sailed in 2011 with a mix of wildlife, travel and cultural photography instruction as the workshop participants explored 11 ports of call in 7 countries in Central America, along with the well-documented Timelapse Transit of the Panama Canal.
A significant expansion of workshop offerings began in 2012 with a “Timelapse Photography” workshop in San Francisco, an “Urban Photography” workshop, dual “Macro Safari” workshops, the “Santa Ynez Wine Region”, “Premiere Wedding Photography”, along with the return of the “DLSR Video” workshop and the third annual “Ultimate Travel Photography Workshop” to Central America and Galapagos, in a continued partnership with Semester at Sea.
The 2014 calendar year closed out one of the busiest years for High Sierra Workshops. Our "5th Annual Ultimate Travel Photography Workshop" was a complete sell-out, with what many hailed as the best final show ever produced for the workshop: Expanding Horizons. The addition of a new workshop, "Digital B&W Zone System" was also a success, selling out in just one month, while the second year of the "Advanced Photography: Zen of Thinking" workshop required two sections, both complete sell-outs.
As we move forward into offering an even greater depth of workshops with an incredibly talented roster of instructors in the years ahead, we can only look back a few decades to our humble beginnings and remember that it all started in a little valley.
Our goal is to keep providing new, original workshop offerings with at least two new workshops each year. For 2015, we've added a fine art visual adventure to the surreal Salton Sea, taught by Brooks Institute of Photography faculty member Chris Broughton, as well as a new offerings by Michael Mariant: a fun three-days photographing the trains over Donner Pass and the Feather River Canyon (a true railfan's dream!) and a three-day journey around his native soils of Lake Tahoe with a morning at the famous Reno Hot Air Balloon Races, co-taught by fellow Tahoe native and photographer Keri Oberly.