THE STORY OF MY PHOTOGRAPHY INSTRUCTION CAREER

Way back in 2003 when I threw my hat into the professional photography ring, and launched my Vagabond Vistas Photography venture, it never crossed my mind that one day "teaching" would be a significant part of what I did for my livelihood. Lo and behold, a year or so after Vagabond Vistas was born, a local artist friend in North Trenton (NJ) asked me if I would be interested in teaching some of his acrylic / oil painting students a few things about "photography". Before I could give it much thought, I found myself accepting his proposal, despite having never taken a photography class in my life, let alone tried to teach someone else how to create good photographs.

Ecuador Photo Tour with Vagabond VistasEcuador Photo Tour with Vagabond Vistas© Copyright David Simchock It was also at this time that I realized how little I really knew about the art form known as "photography". What was I getting myself into? Not only was I questioning why I had taken on the task to design and teach a workshop, but I began to question my decision to embark on a career as a professional photographer!

But, never one to shy away from a challenge, I decided that if I was going to teach photography, I better get my act together, and figure out what the heck I was doing as a pro, and then figure out how to translate my knowledge and skills to others. To put together my first workshop, I literally started with a blank sheet of paper, and then hit the books and began searching the web deep and wide. It didn't take me long to put together what I thought was a solid game plan for my future students. Of equal importance, I found myself gaining confidence in my own capabilities as a photographer. 

In the end, the workshop went fairly smoothly (apart from a small handful of questions that I fumbled through), and my students were all very happy with our experience and with how much that had learned. We covered the basics of camera operation, touched on compositional techniques, and did some field work in Trenton, Princeton, and Philadelphia. Little did I know at the time, but this "field work" would plant the seed for what would become my "photo tours" offerings that would complement my classroom-based workshops. Today, my photo tours are an integral part of the modern Vagabond Vistas -- now appropriately called, "Vagabond Vistas Photo Tours".

In retrospect, taking on this special project was one of the most gratifying and most important decisions that I made since labeling myself a professional photographer. Not only was my inaugural attempt at teaching photography a success, but I found that I thoroughly enjoyed the act of instructing others how to be better photographers. In fact, to this day, I can honestly say that I am as passionate about teaching photography as I am about creating photographs. Some day, I will write an instructional book about photography. Some day.

Of ultimate importance, the process of learning how and what to teach others about photography has made me a much more competent and confident professional. I'm the first to admit that I still learn something new every time I go out shooting, but isn't that the beauty of the arts? No matter how much you know (or think you know), and how good you or others think you are (or how popular you appear to be on social media), there are always more avenues to explore in order to expand your creative comfort zone. Life behind the camera is good. And, it's always getting better!

Vagabond Vistas has gone through some changes over the years, with many modules being added to my repertoire of workshops. My tours have included itineraries in New York City, Philadelphia, the Delaware Valley, and are now based in the Asheville, North Carolina region. I've also conducted a few major multi-day events, not the least of which were in the Andes Mountains of Ecuador, and in Venice, Italy. Though I've had Vagabond Vistas on "hold" for a couple of years due to other demands on my professional and personal life, at the time of writing this (January 2018) I am working on an all-new Vagabond Vistas website, and hope to re-launch the business come Spring 2018. Emphasis will be on a selection of tours based in Asheville and the surrounding mountains, as well as a few international multi-day tours. Currently under consideration are Morocco (including the Sahara Desert), the Faroe Islands, the Galapagos Islands (Ecuador), Peru (including Machu Picchu), and the Montreal Jazz Festival (covering the art of music photography).

Listed below are all of the options being offered for my photography instruction. Once the new Vagabond Vistas site is on line, all event registrations will take place on that platform. In the mean time, please contact me for further event details, availability, and registration. 

PHOTO TOURS

My photo tours are as educational as they are fun. They are perfect for locals and tourists alike, providing a mix of tips and tricks for more effective camera operation and composition. I not merely a "tour guide". In addition to showing folks the best locations, my time is spent sharing my knowledge of the craft, holding nothing back.

Come spring, I will be offering the following photo tour itineraries:

  • The Asheville Urban Trail (Downtown Asheville)
  • Asheville River Arts District
  • "Pics and Pints" (Asheville South Slope, mixing photography with our popular brew pub scene)
  • Land of Waterfalls tour
  • Blue Ridge & Great Smoky Mountains landscape, nature, and wildlife tours
  • Coming in late 2018: Morocco (Marrakesh / Sahara Desert)
  • Looking forward to 2019: Faroe Islands / Copenhagen; Venice; Galapagos Islands; Montreal Jazz Festival


PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOPS

My workshops are classroom-based events ranging from one to five sessions, taking place throughout the year as my schedule permits. Modules include:

  • DSLR Camera & Lens Operation (5 sessions -- my most popular workshop)
  • Photographic Composition - How to "see" the world
  • Taking the Fear Out of Flash
  • Getting the most out of your Mac
  • Megapixels and Megabytes (Resolution and File Types)
  • Introduction to Digital Workflow
  • Group Image Critiques
  • Concert & Festival Photography


PRIVATE INSTRUCTION & CUSTOM GROUP EVENTS

Though my group events are quite popular, even more in demand are my one-on-one private sessions. Consultations typically take place on weekdays, but evenings and weekends are possible as well.

Why private instruction?

  • Personalized:  The material covered is customized to the specific needs and interests of the individual client.
  • Pace:  We proceed at a pace you are comfortable with.
  • Efficiency:  There are no distractions from other students.
  • Flexibility:  We can go wherever you would like to go, not worrying about physical limitations of group members.
  • Diversity of Material:  Topics include anything offered in my workshops and tours, and more, combining sit-down instruction with field work, and with image critiques.
  • Customized Group Work:  Gather your own group for a personalized event with your friends.
  • Mentor Program:  We can design a medium- to long-range program to set you on your path to photographic excellence. Fee discounts are available for such packages, starting at five 2-hour sessions.


VAGABOND PHOTO WALKS - WNC MEETUP

Finally, for those who aren't interested in the formalities of workshops and tours, you can join my popular Vagabond Photo Walks - WNC MeetUp. Two or three times per month, a group of photography enthusiasts get together to roam the streets of Asheville or the surrounding towns with our cameras. These events aren't so much instructional as they are sociable and enjoyable, but I do drop a few pointers here and there for whoever is listening! And, it's FREE to join, and events are FREE as well! The photo walks are a fantastic way to meet like-minded creative people, practice your craft, and pick up a pointer or two from a professional - me!

To join, you need to open a MeetUp.com account. Registration can be done here: Vagabond Photo Walks - WNC MeetUp

Once you become a member, you will receive group updates and announcements regarding upcoming events. We hope to see you soon!

I <3 Vagabond Vistas!I <3 Vagabond Vistas!