Josh Neukam from As You Go, Photo! designed an 11-day photography workshop tour that he will guide this summer. Get to know him better in this two part interview.
For the first part, find out how his passion for photography came about, his choice of equipment and all that you can learn about photography during the tour.
What is your photography gear?
Ah, the gear question. I know it’s an important question for those who want to join our tour, but one thing all photographers probably agree - the person behind the gear is just as, if not even more so, important as the gear itself.
I’m a loyal Canon guy, but not the kind that thinks Canon is the only option. I happened to cut my teeth on Canon equipment as per a Best Buy salesman’s recommendation and haven’t turned back since. Though, there really are so many good options out there right now.
While I’m enjoying my new R mirrorless, my favorite camera right now is still my 7D ii. It’s so quick to focus, full of features, and has great ISO performance for a crop sensor. But I’m not sure I can pick a favorite lens... it’s like comparing apples to oranges. But I will say my 24-70 2.8 L stays locked and loaded most often, and my 70-300 L is probably my next most used. Maybe next time it’s better to ask more specifically... what’s my favorite prime, UWA, etc.? Haha. And I should add that lately I’ve really been enjoying drone photography with my Mavic Pro. That’s a whole new world of photography for me!
How long have you been a professional photographer?
Because my early interest in photography (2008) was merely to have quality family photos, I naturally began to fill my bag with prime lenses and external flashes and began to grow my skills with portraiture. I then began to do this kind of photography professionally in 2014, focusing on senior and family portraits, and wedding photography.
Prior to and during this time, I had a residential construction company and was afforded opportunities to travel across the US, Europe, South America, and Asia. It was during this time that I really developed skills for a wide variety of photography genres such as landscapes, nature, architecture, people, astro, etc. Out of these experiences birthed the idea for travel photography, specifically, photo workshop tours!
Your incredible tour this summer includes six specific photography workshops! What are they about?
Our six workshops will cover a variety of photography genres.
#1 Landscape Photo Workshop atop Wuzhi Mountian
The first will be a Landscape Photo Workshop atop Wuzhi Mountain between Guilin and Yangshuo, overlooking a breathtaking landscape at sunset.
#2 Flash and Light-Painting Photo Workshop on the Li River
Our second will focus on both portrait and landscape, and a little bit of flash and light-painting as we spend time capturing the rare traditions and customs of the cormorant fisherman on the Li River in Yangshuo.
#3 People and Culture Photo Workshop at Basha Miao village
Our third workshop takes us into the Basha Miao village, the last registered group of the Chinese to still make and use guns. This will be a People and Culture Photo Workshop in the form of a photo walk through this well-preserved village.
#4 Long-Exposure Photo Workshop at the Seven Small Bridges of Guizhou
Our fourth workshop will introduce Long-Exposure Photography as we enter the beautiful Seven Small Bridges of Guizhou. There you can take your pick where to practice, either near the jade-colored river and small waterfalls, or the modern-lit, multi-colored caves.
#5 Long-Exposure and ND filters Photo Workshop at Nine Dragon Waterfalls
Our fifth will be at the Nine Dragon Waterfalls northeast of Luoping, in Yunnan. We’ll build on our knowledge of Long-Exposure Photography and learn about ND filters against what some call the most beautiful waterfalls of China.
#6 Astro/Night Photo Workshop at Stone Forest
And our final will be an Astro/Night Photography Workshop near the incredible UNESCO World Heritage Site, Stone Forest. And we’ll have plenty more stops for photo opportunities! I will also be available for some personalized, one-on-one coaching all along the way.
These workshops are designed for all skill levels and all kinds of equipment. Really. While I recommend using a DSLR, SLR, Mirrorless, etc., someone would be able to come with just an iPhone if they wanted! There are apps that allow nearly complete manual control of modern cell phone cameras.
Whether it’s tips on composition or technical aspects, there is something that can benefit all kinds of photographers. We’ll begin with the basics, learning the different camera modes and their value, working our way to complete manual mode understanding and real-world usage. We’ll introduce other technical aspects such as focus points, focus modes, white balance and kelvin, and using the histogram and your camera’s built-in exposure meter. If you aren’t before you come, you’ll definitely leave this trip with a comfortable understanding of aperture, shutter speed, and ISO, what’s commonly called, the “Exposure Triangle.”
We’ll learn about framing, rules of composition, creative perspectives, and even staging. We’ll be introduced to the use of tripod, flash, and filters. We’ll talk about location scouting and I’ll even recommend some great photography apps that can help no matter where you are in the world. We’ll also learn about hyperfocal distance and some rules and formulas that can help determine settings.
Wow! So many things to learn in such amazing places. So what level does a person have to be at?
That’s a great question. As I said earlier, all skill levels are welcomed. If you just bought your first DSLR, come and you will learn by leaps and bounds in this 11-day crash course tour. If you’re a seasoned amateur who is looking for improvement, come and focus on the workshops that will improve your weak areas the most. I've heard many seasoned photographers acknowledge they’re really good at one genre of photography, but running out of creativity and don’t know where to go from here. I’ve found the best way for me to improve is to challenge myself in my weaknesses. That’s when I really understand my camera and grow the most.
And all of these workshops are entirely optional. If you feel comfortable with the skills being introduced and really just want to come for the adventure and to build your portfolio, that’s ok, too! One of the great advantages of this kind of tour is having a group of photographers looking at the same subject matter with different eyes. I love seeing the artistic and creative variety that comes out in each person’s work! No matter who comes on this tour, they’ll certainly be proud and grateful to have come away with an amazing and diverse portfolio, the thrill of an incredible road trip in southwestern China, and sharpened photography skills that will only be a great benefit for years to come!