BugShot 2020 in Wonderland

We are excited today to announce BugShot 2020! This year’s insect photography extravaganza will be held June 18-21 at the amazing Archbold Biological Station in Florida.

The BugShot crew is, unusually, returning to the site of a previous workshop. In 2012, we held our second ever workshop at Archbold. The station remains one of my favorite venues, an exceptional eco-conference center, adjoining a large and active natural history collection, embedded in one of North America’s richest native ecosystems, the subtropical Florida scrub.

Click to register.

If you are already part of our community, we’d love to see you again! If you are new, we’d love you to join!

***Update (3/19/2020): We are monitoring the situation with the ongoing Covid-19 epidemic. At present we are keeping the event open, but will likely know in April if BugShot 2020/Florida will proceed as planned or be postponed***

BugShot returns to California – May 9-12, 2019

I am very pleased to announce my return to the fabulous BugShot photography workshops!

This May we’ll be in the stunning Anza Borrego desert in southern California, a landscape that typically resembles Mars but in rainy years bursts into a flurry of life and color. And this has been an exceptionally rainy year! We expect a full buggy explosion.

Click to register.

BugShot is now eight years old. What started as a one-off weekend course in St. Louis has grown to an international community of nature and photography lovers. If you are already part of our community, we’d love to see you again! If you are new, we’d love you to join!

2016 BugShot Insect Photography Workshop: May 12-15 in Austin, Texas!

I am extremely pleased to announce the 2016 BugShot Insect Photo Workshop! The event will be held for the first time in Austin, Texas, and will be instructed by Piotr Naskrecki, John Abbott, and myself. Our 3 1/2 day event will cover basic techniques in macrophotography in the field and in the studio, methods for working with live insects, and advanced techniques in focus-stacking and high-speed flash.

"Solenopsis invicta - fire ant worker"
A focus-stacked image of a red imported fire ant, one of many subjects and techniques we will cover in Austin.


As usual, our location is a site of considerable natural beauty, with rustic lodging and classrooms on site, with nearby hotels for those who prefer more upscale accomodation. We will be at McKinney Roughs Nature Park, a 1,900 acre tract of woodlands, meadows, and canyons. These workshops are a real highlight of my year, not just for the nature and the photo nerdery, but for the community of wonderful people that has coalesced around the BugShot events. If you haven’t been yet, you should try to this year. We’d love to have you!

BugShot 2016 Registration

Last year’s California workshop sold out within a week, so if you’re thinking of attending, you may need to sign up quickly.

***Update (December 19, 2015): BugShot 2016 is sold out. Stay tuned for our next workshop!

Some links:

BugShot 2015 Photography Workshop Schedule



I am very, very pleased to announce this year’s insect photography workshops! Based on popular demand, BugShot visits the west coast for the first time- to California’s lovely Hastings Natural History Reservation– while our annual Belize adventure features a new instructor, the widely-acclaimed photographer Nicky Bay. Here’s the schedule:

May 7-10 – BugShot 2015 – Hastings Natural History Reservation, California – [$710/770 – register online] SOLD OUT

August 5-12 – BugShot/Belize 2015 – Ian Anderson’s Caves Branch Jungle Lodge – [preview] – [$3249/3449 – register online]

These workshops are a highlight of my year. We spend time in beautiful natural areas exchanging photography and entomology tips, but the best part is the happy community that has sprung up around our workshops. If you haven’t been yet, you should try to this year. We’d love to have you.


Ant Course 2015: Arizona

Arizona’s Chiricahua mountains, site of the Arizona ant course.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock (actually, not a bad place for a myrmecologist), you have heard of Cal Academy’s famous “Ant Course”. This week-long intensive workshop on the taxonomy of our favorite animals has been running once per year for over 10 years now, and nearly everyone of a certain age who works in myrmecology has taken it, taught it, or both.

This summer’s course returns to its roots in southeastern Arizona. Space is limited and the course nearly always sells out, so apply early and apply hard. Click on the course flier below for more details, or visit the website.



ANT COURSE 2015 August 6-16, Southwestern Research Station (SWRS), Portal, AZ, USA More info:

DEADLINE FOR APPLICATION: April 1, 2015. Apply Here:

ANT COURSE will be taught at the Southwestern Research Station (SWRS) in Portal Arizona ( The Station is centered amid the richest ant fauna in North America.

PARTICIPANT ACCEPTANCE CRITERIA. – ANT COURSE is open to all interested individuals. Priority will be given to those students for whom the course will have a significant impact on their research with ants. An entomological background is not required. We aim to include students with a diverse interest in biology, including ant systematics, ecology, behavioral biology, genetics, and conservation. The high instructor to student ratio will allow students to receive individual attention. ANT COURSE is presented in English and limited to 30 participants.

COSTS. – Tuition for the 10-day COURSE is $475 for current students and $675 for non-students (including postdocs). In addition, the Southwestern Research Station (SWRS) fee for this period, covering dormitory room and board, is $670. Transportation costs between home and Tucson (air) or SWRS (auto) are to be borne by all participants.

SPONSORS. –California Academy of Sciences and Museum of Comparative Zoology.

2015 INSTRUCTORS : Brian Fisher (Coordinator), California Academy of Sciences; Stefan Cover, Museum of Comparative Zoology; Flavia Esteves, California Academy of Sciences; Bob Johnson, Arizona State University, Tempe; Josh King, University of Central Florida; John LaPolla, Towson University; Jack Longino, University of Utah; Corrie Moreau, Field Museum of Natural History; Scott Powell, George Washington University; Andrew Suarez, University of Illinois; James Trager, Shaw Nature Reserve; Walter Tschinkel Florida State University Tallahassee; Phil Ward, University of California Davis; Special Guests: Raymond Mendez, Howard Topoff.

BugShot 2014: The Aftermathening

The group in front of Reynold’s Mansion, antennae extended. (photo by Ian Wright)

I have returned from coastal Georgia and from another spectacular BugShot workshop! Once again, the annual event surpassed my expectations. It wasn’t just the gorgeous natural environment, either, or the discovery of the extremely enigmatic Zoraptera. It was an extraordinary group of enthusiastic participants who made this workshop worth doing.

Rather than recap the festivities myself I will leave you in the capable hands of participants. I’ll update the list as more material works its way to the internet.



If you feel you missed out by not attending, don’t worry! We have our next event coming up in September in Belize.


Insect Photography Workshop, July 13, 2014, Cairns, Australia

Heteroponera relicta, Queensland, Australia

I am pleased to announce a one-day insect photo course in tropical Cairns this July, in association with the much-anticipated IUSSI social insect meetings. We’ve already filled a third of the 30 spots, even though the event was announced not even 24 hours ago. If you’re thinking of participating, you will need to sign up soon: 

July 13 Insect Photo Workshop in Cairns

This day-long course will help you improve your macrophotography skills with an emphasis on creative lighting and composition, and will include both indoor studio sessions and outdoor practice with live subjects. The workshop is aimed at an intermediate level. Participants should bring camera equipment that allows for close focusing and manual control of basic operations like aperture & shutter speed. Recommended equipment includes digicams with a macro filter (such as a Raynox macro adapter), and SLR cameras with a macro lens capable of 1:1 magnification. External, off-camera flash (such as wireless or cord-tethered) is strongly recommended.

Tentative Schedule:
9:00 Welcome
9:15 Methods of Magnification (presentation)
9:45 Creative Lighting & Flash (presentation)
10:30 Break
10:45 Mini-studio demonstration (practice)
12:00 Lunch & Discussion
12:45 Composition (presentation)
1:00 Outdoor practice in small groups (practice)
3:30 Closing

Registration fee is $95 for IUSSI participants, and $145 for general participants. Lunch and snacks are included, along with bus transportation to and from the convention center. Enrollment is capped at 30.


Insect Photography Workshop: Sapelo Island, 22-25 May 2014



It occurs to me I’ve not yet mentioned the upcoming BugShot workshop on this blog.

So. BugShot!

This macro photography mini-conference has been a highlight of my year since I organized the first one in St. Louis in 2011. Every summer, 30 or so insect photography enthusiasts gather for a long weekend in a natural setting to trade tips on gear, hunt for local arthropods, and most importantly, hang out with like-minded insect nerds. The instructors are always some combination of myself, John AbbottThomas Shahan, and Piotr Naskrecki, but I use the term instructor loosely. BugShot has become more of a conference and less of a pulpit, and the instructors invariably learn a great deal from the people who attend. I owe much of my progress in recent years to the interactions I’ve had with others at these events.

BugShot has been to Missouri, Florida, and Belize; our next stop this May is a pristine coastal island in Georgia, Sapelo Island. Astoundingly, we’ve secured an actual mansion to host our event.

Mansion. Check.

Ocean. Check.

Insects. Check.

Insect Nerds. Check.


Pogonomyrmex badius, the Florida harvester ant, is one of many unusual species we’ll encounter at BugShot/Sapelo Island.

One final reason to attend, though, is one I hadn’t anticipated when we started and one that is significant for both aspiring scientists and aspiring photographers. Because of the varied people who participate, a blend of creative and entomological professionals as well as enthusiasts who work in other fields, BugShot has turned out to be not just a fun weekend but an intimate professional conference.

These small gatherings are excellent places to make connections, start collaborations, and pick up techniques for reaching career or artistic goals. BugShot has been a professional stepping stone for a lot of people. I’ve seen BugShot alumni photographs in calendars, books, gallery shows, research papers, newspapers, high-traffic website, and conference advertisements. Some have even started local workshops. It makes an event organizer proud.

If you’d like to join us this year, we still have a few spaces left. Details are at the link:


The happy crew at BugShot 2012 in Florida. Photo by Josh Mayes.

Photography Workshop at IUSSI in Australia, July 13. Interested?

Oecophylla smaragdina, Cairns, Australia

For those of you attending IUSSI in July and interested in ant/wasp/bee/termite photography, it is looking  likely that I will be able to run a 1-day insect photo workshop on July 13th, in Cairns, the day before the conference begins in full. The workshop will be aimed at a novice/intermediate level, so point-and-shoot cameras are welcome.

If you are thinking you might attend, please let me know. I need an orders-of-magnitude estimate of the size of our group to begin planning a schedule and to arrange a venue and catering. Thanks!