BugShot 2011: Improve your insect photography with John Abbott, Thomas Shahan, and Alex Wild

I am pleased to announce BugShot, a first-of-a-kind weekend workshop for arthropod photography. The event is a photography course and weekend retreat scheduled for Labor Day Weekend 2011 (September 2-5) at the Shaw Nature Reserve outside of St. Louis, Missouri. We have chosen a long weekend and a central location to make the event as accessible as possible and have limited enrollment to 35 to keep the participant/instructor ratio manageable.

Depending on how the event unfolds, we may make BugShot an annual event similar to the famous Ant & Bee Courses, with rotating instructors and locations.

[download announcement] | [register online]

Who should attend?

  • Entomologists who aspire to improve their photographic skills for work or pleasure
  • Photographers who wish to learn arthropod- specific techniques
  • Naturalists & gardeners who enjoy the little things outdoors
  • Bug bloggers & bugguide.netters who’d like to spice up their online imagery
  • Anyone looking for an excuse to hang out at the beautiful Shaw Nature Reserve for a long weekend

Attendees are assumed to have an understanding of simple camera functions, including shutter speed & aperture, and should be able to operate the basic controls of their equipment. The course is geared towards SLR equipment, but most topics will also be applicable to digicams that offer manual control of important functions.

We are offering up to three registration fee waivers to current students, please email me (alwild [at] myrmecos.net) for details.

Who are the instructors?

We have arranged an instructor list that spans a diversity of photographic styles.

  • John Abbott, from Austin, Texas, is an expert on dragonfly biology & insect action photography
  • Thomas Shahan, of Oklahoma, is a master of close-up arthropod portraiture
  • Alex Wild is…me.

What will you learn at BugShot?

  • Macro-& microphotography equipment
  • Digital asset management & workflow
  • Composition
  • Lighting & flash
  • Working with live insects
  • Special techniques: focus-stacking, time-lapse & video
  • Field sessions in prairie, woodland & aquatic habitats
  • Evening photo-sharing presentations
  • and more!
click to register for BugShot 2011

77 thoughts on “BugShot 2011: Improve your insect photography with John Abbott, Thomas Shahan, and Alex Wild”

  1. You know, I live only 10 minutes from Shaw Nature Reserve.

    I can’t tell you how excited I am to not only take this course, but also finally have the chance to meet you in person. It’s a date!

  2. We’re excited to have you there, Ted!

    You know, the way your own photography has progressed over the past few months I imagine you’ll have a good bit to contribute to the group, too. Plus, your knowledge of the local natural history will be invaluable.

      1. Yes, I’m going north again this summer (Nunavut AND NWT this time, yay!), but I’ll be back by the time the course starts. It’s more the 20-hour drive and making sure I’m back by the start of the fall term that’s prohibitive – and the fee (boo, :() But, maaan, seriously, this would just rock my world!!!

        1. If your schedule allows, note that we’ve reserved three spaces for student scholarships in the form of fee waivers. I can’t promise you’d get one, but let me know if you’re interested.

          That’s one reason behind the cost of registration. We’re having full-paying attendees subsidize 3 students.

    1. We’d love to have you, Adrian! The more experienced photographers attend BugShot, the more this thing will become a bug photography mini-conference instead of a mere workshop. That’d be way fun.

      1. Thank you for the offer, but my current personal situation doesnt allow for it just as much as my wallet. If there is a BugShot 2012 it will definitely earn a place on my calendar. =)

  3. This looks like a lot of fun, a great opportunity to meet others, and a great opportunity for me to up my game in the quality of my photography and my own understanding of what I’m doing with my camera. I think I may have get my teacher/grant writer fingers going regarding this opportunity!

  4. Woohoo! I am actually able to come and I’m SO excited to have the opportunity to learn from you all! I am unfortunately (hopefully) going to be about 2 weeks past being a student when the workshop starts so I suppose I’ll be paying full price… Totally worth it though. Can’t wait!

  5. Brad Williamson

    This looks like fun. I don’t see any cancellation policy. Based on your comments thus far, it looks like you will fill up soon. I’d like to reserve a spot but that is a bit of a ways off. Right now, I think I’ll plan on it but it would be good to know if there is a reasonable chance to cancel.


    1. Thanks for reminding me! I had a hard time figuring out how to set the cancellation details on the hosting site.

      Policy as follows:
      -full refund, minus $10 processing fee, if cancelled before July 15th
      -50% refund if cancelled July 15-August 15th
      -20% refund if cancelled after August 15th through event

      1. Thanks, I figured you had something in mind so this rookie went ahead and registered….I’m looking forward to it.


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    1. I’d actually thought about Sagehen for BugShot, Faerthen, but opted for a more central location. It’d be a great spot for a smaller photo workshop, though. I might be visiting UC Davis some time in the next year; if so, let’s talk about it.

  11. Will we receive a schedule for the days of the Bug Shot? I will not be living at the Shaw Reserve and need to know when to be dropped off and picked up.


  12. I’m sorry to say that I will not be able to join you all for the Bug Shot over Labor Day. Is there any chance of a refund? If not, may I transfer my registration to a friend?

    Wishing it were otherwise.

  13. I was looking at the FAQ’s on the Shaw Nature Preserve website and to my surprise we need to bring our own bed linens and towels. This creates a problem for me since I’m flying in from Florida. Any way around this?

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  15. Pity i live in rainy England rather than sunny America, I’d love to go to this so much, my inspiration has come respectfully from Thomas’ photos on Flickr and i thank him for that.
    It has given me the chance to embrace nature so much closer, which i’v been so passionate about from a young age.

    Have a great time everyone, a life time experience awaits !

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  19. I know that I am asking for a lot, but it would be great if you could share some of the knowledge shared in the Bugshot workshop with those of us arthropod photography buffs not living in the same continent. 🙂

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  27. Oh, how I wish I’d known about this! And John Abbott too? Found out after the fact from a blog post from Dragonfly Woman. Please keep me on your mailing list for next year. I will be there 🙂

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    1. Indeed there are plans to do more! I wasn’t sure that we’d hold a Bug Shot 2012, but given the overwhelmingly positive response to the first one we’re going to make sure it’s at least an annual event, maybe more.

  30. Hello Alex,

    I have a degree in environmental and forest biology (with 101% emphasis in entomology/evolution/ and chemical ecology 😉 and I was wondering if you have any plans to do a workshop/class in the DC area? Perhaps in Virginia (Northern VA)?I’ve checked your website and the pics are just speechless! I have a Nikkon Coolpix that my wife got me two X-mas ago. I like the pics quality but nothing remotely close to yours…Good luck to you and keep taking amazing shots!


  31. if you have an email list i’d love to be added so i can attend future events. i work with hines emerald and other dragonflys but struggle with photographing them. look forward to attending future events!!!

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