For the 6th year in a row, High Sierra Workshops is proud to offer our highly-acclaimed, immersive Ultimate Travel Photography Workshop. After five years based on a ship visiting multiple countries in a short time span, for 2015 we change gears for a week-long immersive academic course in culturally-rich Havana, Cuba. And in a first, the small group of 15 students will be lead by three instructors, each providing a professional specialty and niche lessons in the small group environment.

Teams of five students will pair up with a different instructor each day, practicing their photographic craft through the cultural exchange and people-to-people opportunities on the streets of Old Havana. The three areas of focus include: the cultural travel photography genre that captures the time and place; extensive people photography based on environmental and cultural interaction; and, studies and observations of the rich urban architectural culture of Old Havana.

PlaceholderImage_1x400Transparent  WHEN: FEB. 26 - MAR. 4, 2016
  TUITION: $1500

Light-duty, trails w/noticeable inclines/elevation changes, time away from hotel

PlaceholderImage_1x400TransparentCOURSE LEVEL OF INSTRUCTION:
 Level IV — Specialized:
Highly intensive, small group courses that focus on a specialized genre or medium within the photographic industry.

COURSE CAPACITY: Minimum 10 students, maximum 15


The Ultimate Travel Photography Workshop specialty-level workshop course in Havana, Cuba addresses these academic & cultural curriculum topics, each taught by a single faculty member:

The focus of instruction in cultural travel photography is to capture the essence of a location, be it a city, cafe, market — all the places that a community's culture can be found. Daily assignments require capturing a package of photos that reflect the cultural immersion, interaction and understanding of Havana. Instruction is integrated in with the other two key curriculum topics.

Integral to any cultural exchange is the interaction with the local people. The focus of instruction will include not only the technical merits of capturing environmental portraiture and people photography, but also the cultural considerations, sensitivity and communication that is critical in the success of people-to-people interactions. Instruction is integrated in with the other two key curriculum topics.

Just as the people themselves are the living component of a city, the structures, streets, and plazas they have designed and constructed reflect a rich history and culture. Through critical instruction, you will gain an awareness of and appreciation for the historic urban fabric and city form that is Old Havana. Instruction is integrated in with the other two key curriculum topics.

Students will work in three teams of five participants. Each team will work separately with each of the three instructors several times over the week. The rotation/pairing of the three teams with the three instructors are three different Collaboration Groups (A, B, & C). Each team field session includes hands-on cultural interaction and study coupled with photographic instruction and execution. After team instruction, students breaks for individual application of lessons, to regroup at end of field session for a small team "Post-Session Reflections & Revelations".

NOTE: "Post-Session Reflections & Revelations" are a critical component of the UTPW learning experience. Students share their personal experiences from the field, focusing less on the photographic successes and more on the academic successes as well as problems encountered, so as to foster a group learning environment where everyone learns from each others mistakes.


DAY 0 (Sat. 8/22):
Arrival day, no class, no field session. Optional evening gathering.
DAY 1 (Sun. 8/23):
Course starts at 9am with orientation & cultural sensitivity lecture. Afternoon team field sessions with instructors (Collaboration Group A). Evening group gathering.
DAY 2 (Mon. 8/24):
Morning team field sessions with instructors (Collaboration Group B). Afternoon team field sessions with instructors (Collaboration Group C). Optional evening independent session/assignment work or group
"Post-Session Reflections & Revelations".
DAY 3 (Tue. 8/25):
Full independent production/assignment work day. Optional evening independent session/assignment
work or group "Post-Session Reflections & Revelations".

DAY 4 (Wed. 8/26): Morning team field sessions with instructors (Collaboration Group A). Afternoon team field sessions with instructors (Collaboration Group B). Optional evening independent session/assignment work or group "Post-Session Reflections & Revelations".
DAY 5 (Thu. 8/27): Morning team field sessions with instructors (Collaboration Group C). Afternoon team field sessions (Collaboration Group A). Optional evening independent session/assignment work or group "Post-Session Reflections & Revelations".
DAY 6 (Fri. 8/28): Morning team field sessions with instructors (Collaboration Group B) Afternoon team field sessions (Collaboration Group C). Optional evening independent session/assignment work or group "Post-Session Reflections & Revelations".
DAY 7 (Sat. 8/29): Full independent production/assignment work day. Optional independent/small group field sessions with instructors. Evening group gathering.
DAY 00 (Sun. 8/30): Departure day, no class, no field session.

Group A: Team 1 with Mariant, Team 2 with Meyer, Team 3 with Hulbert; Group B: Team 1 with Meyer, Team 2 with Hulbert, Team 3 with Mariant; Group C: Team 1 with Hulbert, Team 2 with Mariant, Team 3 with Meyer.

This specialty-level workshop has specific prerequisites and requirement for all students that must be adhered to in order to complete participation in the course:

As with all past UTPW courses, extensive pre-workshop discussions and lessons occur in online forums several months before the workshop begins. Participation in these pre-workshop discussion forums is MANDATORY. Failure to participate in the forum discussions and provide requested academic and planning content will result in being cancelled out of the workshop course. Participants MUST understand that this is not a vacation or photo tour.

All participants are required to develop a "Shooting Game Plan" (SGP) during the pre-planning discussions. The SGPs are critical to not only the success of the workshop course academics but also your photographic experience in country. SGPs requite extensive online research and development, outlining a shooting game plan for each day, of areas/topics/cultural issues that the photographer wishes to visually explore. These SGPs will be reviewed and vetted by the instructors to ensure that a suitable photographic and cultural vision is in place for each SGP.

As this is not a beginner-level photography class nor one that teaches how to use your camera, the course requires each participant has a complete understanding of one's camera operations, controls & functions; particpant must be competent and capable to execute the standard photographic principles of exposure & composition (including but not limited to understanding the proper uses of aperture priority, shutter priority and manual exposure); participant must be able to understand and communicate with their instructors at a level of experience beyond beginner photography (including, for example, photographic terminology such as: open up, close down, depth of field, rule of thirds, perspective control, etc). EPISODES:
All participants must watch the episodes of on content matter specific to this workshop course, as directed by their instructors. While the episode titles might reflect subject matter that is basic or rudimentary, all participants must watch each requisite episode as it is expected you will be knowledgeable and fluent on the concepts presented. (Each episode is comprehensive and short, about two minutes in length.)

All students need to be able to understand the instruction presented by the instructors, based off of the principles in the episodes listed below. For this course, your instructor has requested that you watch and familiarize yourself with the following episodes: SEASON ONE: Episodes #1 - #14

Michael Mariant is a travel & documentary visual journalist based in California. Following several years as a newspaper photojournalist and desk editor, Michael moved away from local and regional coverage and up to wire service photography. For over a decade, Michael has been a contract photojournalist for The Associated Press, responsible for coverage of the Central Coast of California along with sports and entertainment assignments in Los Angeles, notably anchoring the agency’s coverage of the Michael Jackson trial from 2003 to 2005.  Michael is also the consultant & multimedia coordinator for the Semester at Sea study abroad program, providing lectures & instructions to the college students while shaping the direction of the programs multimedia efforts in video & still photography through social media. While still taking on editorial and Associated Press assignments, Michael has shifted his shooting focus to commercial video & his B&W landscapes. Outside of shooting, Michael leads educational travel photography workshops as well as university & industry lecture engagements.

View Your Instructor's SlickPic Gallery  |  Your Instructor's Website

MUG_PaulMeyerPaul Meyer is the Director of Academics, a workshop instructor for High Sierra Workshops, and a senior faculty member at Brooks Institute of Photography. Paul was ten when he began documenting his family in Hawaii with his first camera. Photography became his career when he started working at a Navy sponsored research and development laboratory while still in college at the University of Hawaii. Paul received a second bachelors degree, this time from Brooks Institute of Photography and headed to New York in the early 80s. There he assisted some of the finest commercial photographers in the world before returning to the West coast. Five years assisting and shooting in Los Angeles led Paul back to Santa Barbara where he accepted a full-time teaching position at Brooks Institute in 1990. Paul's work has been published in a number of magazines including American Photo and has been exhibited in Santa Barbara at Brooks Institute and the Contemporary Arts Forum. Paul loves to travel and has been fortunate enough to go around the world — twice! — with Semester At Sea, as well as having taught at the Light and Life Academy in Ooty, India.

Your Instructor's Website

Bio_Mug_RickHulbertRick Hulbert is an international award–winning and published architect, urban designer, and photographer. Rick has been a frequent 
lecturer, teacher, and seminar panel participant on four continents. He has been named a Fellow in the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, which is among the highest honours that can be bestowed upon a member. He is a
 former President of the Architectural Institute of British Columbia. Notably, Rick is also an Academician in the Royal Canadian Academy of the Arts, one of the youngest members ever to be elected to that august body. As an architect, Richard has won design awards or has had his works published each and every year for the past 35 years. Rick’s educational philosophy includes the following notions: Adults learn more from storytelling than from memorization; Learning is heightened when key principles can be related to a humorous event; and, Effective learning arises when knowledge is self-discovered with directed input, as opposed to “taught”.

Your Instructor's Website

The island nation of Cuba is located in the north Caribbean, near Florida and Mexico. Havana is located near the north-west corner of the island.

José Martí International Airport, Havana Cuba (HAV). 

The airport is served by 35 airlines, offering daily service from several European, South and Central American cities, in addition to major cities and tourist destinations in Mexico and Canada.

José Martí International Airport is located about 15km southwest of Havana. Transportation solutions from the airport to Havana will be reviewed in the online discussion forums for all registered course participants.


NOTE: Complete and comprehensive travel details, including dates of arrival/departure and instructions on making your flight reservations, will be reviewed in the online discussion forums for all registered course participants.

For the Ultimate Travel Photography Workshop: Cuba, workshop participants will be making hotel reservations at their choice of a list of recommended hotels, centrally located in Havana.

NOTE: A detailed list of hotels along with reservation details will be reviewed in the online discussion forums for all registered course participants. The hotels selected will be both centrally located to adjacent Old Havana as well as in close proximity to each other. The hotels selected will offer varying levels of service and comfort, with respective levels of cost, ranging from $400 to $1200 for the eight nights. Participants will be required to make their own room reservation based on personal preferences.

NOTE: The date of arrival (Sat. Aug. 22) and departure (Sun. Aug. 30) for the workshop/hotel reservations are set (as the workshop course begins at 9am on Sunday, Aug. 23) and can not be changed; participants MUST adhere to the arrival and departure dates.

In order to balance the various individual meal and budget preferences, time is allocated for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day at one of the various dining establishments in Havana and near the workshop locations. Some of the selected hotels do include meals.

While we will eat as a group, meals are the individual responsibility of each workshop participant. Each dining establishment is chosen to provide a wide variety of meal options to satisfy multiple dietary preferences.


The 2015 Ultimate Travel Photography Workshop Registration is full. Please email us to be placed on a waiting list.


Cancellation Policy:

In order to ensure availability for those on our waiting list, all workshop cancellations will have the following fees applied:

Cancellation up to and within 60 calendar days prior to workshop start date:
Full refund of workshop tuition; no cancellation fee (Refund applied within 3 business days of cancellation notice)

Cancellation up to and within 30 calendar days of workshop start date:
Refund of workshop tuition minus $100 cancellation fee (Refund/fees applied at conclusion of scheduled workshop; waived if workshop seat booked prior to workshop start date)

Cancellation up to and within 7 calendar days of workshop start date:
No refund of workshop tuition (Waived if workshop seat booked prior to workshop start date with applicable refund applied at conclusion of scheduled workshop)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. Q: How big is the group? How many students are there in the workshop?
    A: This workshop is strictly limited to only 15 participants with three instructors, to ensure the one-on-one educational environment.
  2. Q: Is there a deadline to sign-up for this workshop? Does it sell out? Will you add more room if it does?

    A: No, there is not a deadline to sign up for the workshop. However, space is limited. And the Ultimate Travel Photography Workshop does sell-out every year, as it is popular course! We inevitably receive emails from those who waited until it was too late, inquiring if more spots can be added. Unfortunately, to keep the small group size and to ensure the critical one-on-one educational environment between the instructor and student, we do not add additional seats.

  3. Q: Is there any special camera gear I need to bring?

    A: There is absolutely no requirement on which camera you bring. All cameras will work within the workshop curriculum.

    We do not recommend bring a full-sized tripod, as they can be cumbersome in the field for travel photography and difficult to travel with on airplanes. If additional stability is necessary, we recommend a small monopod, a small travel tripod, or a hand-made bean bag support or one you could purchase.

    As for lenses, we do not recommend a specific lens or set of lens for the workshop, as that is always dictated by one’s own personal preferences and budget.

    We do say that, in general terms, you will  need a wide angle lens to medium-length lens to long telephoto lens for the workshop. Essentially, something in the range from ~16mm on the wide side to ~200mm on the long side. How you choose to fulfill that is at your discretion. Would an 18-200 work? Absolutely. Would all prime lenses work? Absolutely. Do I need a 400/2.8 with a 2x tele-convertor? No.

    In regards to carrying your camera equipment, a small photo backpack, waistbelt and/or chest harness (such as those from ThinkTank) is recommended as it will be much easier to carry your gear in this manner than with a bulky camera bag. When packing and choosing your gear to bring, remember one thing: keep it simple and light!

    While not required, a small flash can be included in your equipment bag as small flash will be a optional topic during the people-to-people photography instruction. However, the emphasis will be on natural light; a small flash is NOT required.

  4. Q: What about non-photo gear? What do I need to bring?

    A: In the non-photographic equipment, a hat and sunscreen is a must. And as the weather in the fall can be humid, warm and wet, plan accordingly.

    A flashlight is REQUIRED as there are minimal street lights and there roving blackouts are common.

    There is a comprehensive packing list and additional important details available to all registered participants on the workshop’s private discussion forum.

Logo_DidYouKnow65px(transparent)Did you know that HSW offers GROUP DISCOUNTS? Groups of 3 or more participants receive a 5% discount on tuition, while groups of 5 or more participants receive a 10% discount on tuition.
Plus, intermediate and advanced-level workshops are limited to only five participants, so your whole group can exclusively attend a workshop course together!
CONTACT US TODAY to schedule your group on any of our workshop course offerings.