Magic of Cowboys & Cattle Photo Experience
Location: Gold Canyon, Arizona (near Phoenix)
This incredibly scenic and fun event is hosted at a real working ranch nestled quietly among the foothills of the famous Superstition Mountains, an easy 45-minute drive from the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.
Magic of Cowboys & Cattle Photo Experience
Located against the stunning backdrop of the legendary Superstition Mountains on 5,800 acres of pristine Sonoran desert in Gold Canyon, Arizona, lies the very special D-Spur Ranch.
A decades-old, authentic working ranch with some of the most spectacular scenery in the Valley of the Sun, the D-Spur will be our incredible setting for your Magic of Cowboys & Cattle Photo Experience!
Next event: January 2020 (registration coming soon)
Includes abundant instruction, lunch, dinner and use of our portrait photography equipment.
The Superstition Mountains are an incredible and storied icon of Arizona. Situated just east of Phoenix adjacent to the Tonto National Forest, this ranch is located right at the foothills of these amazingly beautiful mountains. The morning light can be especially stunning here and offers outstanding opportunities for landscape photography!
The ranch is amidst some of the most incredible cholla ("cho-ya") cacti fields, peppered with huge saguaro cacti, prickly pear, ocotillo (o-ko-tea-yo), fragrant creosote, and so much more. The desert fauna here thrives and offers incredible texture, layers, focal points, and drama to your landscape photography.
One of the signature highlights of this event is the stunning silhouette photography opportunities that we work to capture each dawn.
Cowboys and/or cowgirls and their horses ride up onto a saguaro-peppered ridge to create dramatic scenes that beg to be photographed! We often experience a variety of skies each morning that create unique and stunning silhouettes. All of this is done right from the ranch so that it's physically easy for you to capture these moving images.
Between the head of Longhorn cattle and horses that are at the ranch, there is always something the ranchers are doing to care for the livestock.
We will seek opportunities to photograph activities that may include feeding, shoeing, branding, herding, riding, roping, free-range cattle, riding, and/or horse training. These are all activities that are commonly conducted here. They make for abundant opportunities for both photography and learning about the ranch lifestyle.
An extra bonus: The cowboys, cowgirls and other ranch hands are happy to visit with you teach you more about what they are doing and why! These experiences make for memorable and compelling photography!
If portrait photography has never been "your thing," or if you want to learn but are apprehensive about the whole process, this is a unique opportunity that will change the way you think about portraits and photographing people!
Learn the basics of environmental portraiture (i.e., real people in their authentic environments). We'll help you fall in love with portraiture in a whole new, fun, easy and supportive way!
Learn important basics of portraiture:
• Simple posing techniques for men, women, and groups
• Natural light and simple one-light (flash) techniques
• Additional, easy-to-learn techniques to create stunning portraits
The "models" are awesome!
You'll have a special opportunity to photograph a wonderful group of professional reenactment actors who embody the 1870's, back when Arizona was just a territory! Their attire is meticulously period-accurate, right down to the clothing, buttons, spurs, pocket watches, hats, clothing and more! They also are incredibly knowledgeable about the local history and will share fascinating stories about Wyatt Earp and his wife, Mattie (who is buried near the ranch), the gold mining, Tombstone, AZ, and a variety of other lore that makes this area so incredibly special and historically significant.
This is how learning portraiture should be -- fun, stress free, authentic and abundantly supportive!
We'll teach you even more about how to photograph portraits while having fun doing so. Even if you've had "no desire" to do portraits in the past, we believe this session will change your mind about the experience and give you confidence to take beautiful portraits of people in a low-stress, no-pressure atmosphere filled with laughter, learning and sometimes even good-old-fashioned cowboy shenanigans!
Choose from hundreds of authentic antiques and vintage western-themed items to create your own original flat-lay photography images! Flat lays are a fun, creative way to create images, posters, greeting cards, advertising, prints, and infinite other purposes for your gorgeous, innovative images.
We provide you with an assortment of beautiful backdrops onto which you can create stunning compositions using antique spurs, ropes, hats, chaps, guns, 1800's currency, tarnished silverware, lanterns, horse shoes, an 1877 Winchester rifle (replica), a saddle, wagon wheel, whiskey bottles from the 1800s, books from the 1800s, tools, horse tack, weathered barnwood, rustic cowbells, binoculars, vintage documents and much more!
We will also provide you with supportive instruction and techniques to maximize the quality, look and feel of your images.
With the D-Spur Ranch located adjacent to the Tonto National Forest, the 5th largest national forest in the United States and the largest in Arizona, wildlife and birds are commonly seen during the workshop.
Birds regularly spotted at the ranch include Harris' hawks, Gambel's quail, curve-billed thrashers, Anna's hummingbirds, phainopepla, ravens, cactus wren, roadrunners, and more.
Exploring the property at the ranch or in the vicinity can also turn up javelina, coyote, bobcat, mule deer, a variety of reptiles, desert cottontail, and others who reside in the desert foothills of the Superstition Mountains.
The Magic of Cowboys & Cattle is truly different from your typical photo tour or workshop. It's an immersive experience!
• Join us at the campfire for local legend and singer/songwriter, Steve Holmquist, for incredibly beautiful campfire music during dinner.
• Watch Cowgirls Forever chef, Barbara Kennedy while she prepares an authentic chuck wagon style meal for us over an open fire. The food is beyond amazing and so are the photo opportunities while she's cooking, western style!
• Consider an optional guided horseback ride through the desert! Whether you are a beginner or advanced rider, this ranch will take great care of you and show you places in the desert you can only get to on foot or horseback!
The entire experience is designed to bring out the best in your photography while immersing you in the rich culture of the cowboy and ranch life - right in the heart of the Wild West!
• Dinner Friday night, Lunch and dinner Saturday, Lunch on Sunday, plus refreshments & morning coffee each day
• Flash photography gear and related peripherals are provided for portrait sessions
What's not included:
• Breakfast (the hotel will provide it for those who are staying at the Best Western Gold Canyon)
• Photography equipment (e.g. your camera, lenses, etc.)
• Lodging (optional rooms are available on a first-come-first serve basis at the Best Western Gold Canyon, which is about a 10 minute drive from the ranch.)
• Optional horseback ride (contact the ranch directly to schedule this service)