photography workshops

Teaching, and learning, insect photography in Colombia

A bug's-eye view of the "Fotografía de Insectos" course in Ibagué, Colombia, July 14-16 2012

Several months ago I received a brief note from eucharitid wasp specialist Aymer Andres Vasquez asking if I might want to lead a photography workshop for Colombian entomologists.


Of course! Biologically, Colombia is arguably the world’s richest country. And- shame on me!- I had never visited. So Aymer and I assembled a 3 day event for last weekend to cover the basics of exposure, lighting, composition, and specialized techniques like time-lapse and focus-stacking. As my Spanish is más o menos (y más menos que más), I was worried about how we’d go. I shouldn’t have been. The enthusiasm and warmth of the 20-some participants carried me and my unsteady Spanish through the weekend.

This female eucharitid wasp was cooperative enough to lay an egg in front of us while we used her as a demonstration of Canon's MP-E macro lens.

What a lovely, kind, and diverse group of people! We had a tremendous time, and the participants managed to take some remarkable photographs. As is typical of these courses I ended up learning at least as much as I presented. Video tips from a videographer, parasitoid biology from the hymenopterists, color composition from the more experienced photographers among us, and (of course) tips on the tastiest national beers.

our happy group

With any luck we’ll arrange another Colombian workshop soon. As this one went so well, I’m keen for more like it. If you are interested in a photo workshop in your country or town, drop me a line.

An Umbonia treehopper is the perfect insect for photography practice: it has both charisma and the habit of sitting entirely motionless through several iterations of lighting and backdrop.

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] 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