Wild Horse Photography Workshop – Northern California

January 08, 2018 / Elk Creek, California

Have you ever wanted to attend our wild horse photography workshop at Montgomery Creek Ranch? Now you can! We’re officially announcing the dates of our spring workshop: April 12-15! 2018 marks our third year organizing the wild horse photography workshop and we thought you might like to know exactly what the adventure is all about.

About the Ranch

Let’s start with the ranch. MCR is a wild horse sanctuary and wildlife preserve near Elk Creek, California, spanning over 2,000 acres. More than 200 wild mustangs run freely here in a landscape of long valleys, rolling hills and steep ridges. Led by Ellie Phipps Price, the team at MCR is dedicated to raising awareness about the disappearing population of America’s wild horses and burros, and providing a safe place for people to connect with horses.

Our wild horse photography workshops are a complete and unmatched experience. At Montgomery Creek Ranch, you are completely immersed in the natural environment of the wild horses and cuddly, friendly burros. The landscapes are breath-taking; the wildlife is exactly that- wild and free. Our workshops take place all around the ranch in the natural environment of the wild herds. That’s right- direct access to wild, untamed horses on safe, protected land. It’s my idea of heaven.

What to Expect during the Photography Workshop

During the four-day photography workshop, you’ll be led on guided tours of the ranch by founder Ellie Phipps Price and equine photographer Tara Arrowood. We keep the number of participants limited and all skill levels are welcomed and encouraged to attend. The cost is $2500 and includes all meals and lodging. All you have to do is get yourself to the ranch and we’ll manage the rest.

All workshop attendees stay in the bunkhouse – all private rooms with en-suite bathrooms. Families are welcome to share rooms as there are multiple beds in each room. Anyone who shares a room is given a discount. The bunkhouse also has a communal kitchen and comfortable living room with TV, tons of movies and of course, wi-fi. Every morning, breakfast food is available for preparation in the kitchen. Lunch is prepared and served in the “Experience Room” where we have mid-day classroom instruction. Each night, a warm, healthy dinner is prepared and waiting in the kitchen after a long day of the great outdoors. We’re not roughing it in tents, people. The bunkhouse accommodations are really nice and we have the images to prove it.

The bunkhouse is a short 10-minute drive from MCR. The rough roads are filled with wild turkey, quail, hawks, elk, wild horses and buffalo. Beauty in nature all around. Transportation from the bunkhouse to the ranch is arranged for each day of the workshop. We drive, you just keep taking in the scenery.

Here’s the bunkhouse…

Now that we’ve covered the bunkhouse, let’s show off the beauty of the ranch. Here’s MCR in the morning light. We arrive, bundle up and get in the ATV searching for the herds. Sometimes we get close, sometimes we take in the scenery and the horses in the distance. And sometimes you can get really really close! Our goal is to get you in front of the horses as much as possible and in the best light possible.

Classroom Instruction

During the times of the day when the light is not perfect, we have classroom instruction. All skill levels are welcome. The entire class can be customizable to the skill level of attendees. We’ll teach everything from copying and managing your images, basic image optimization- composition, enhancing, sharpening, turning images to black and white, removing unwanted items from a photo- to more advanced techniques like changing your backgrounds and adding textures. Sometimes we even invite a halter trained mustang into the room for a little photoshoot! The Experience Room is our lunch room, classroom and place to store all of your equipment. It has air-conditioning and heat and a refrigerator full of refreshments! As we mentioned, our main goal is to get you out on the ranch in front of the wild horses as much as possible. But the Experience Room is the perfect spot to regroup, lunch and offers plenty of opportunities for one-on-one coaching.

Moving the Horses

While out on the ranch, we’ll be in the heart of the action among the horse herds. We have many years of experience with the horses and are able to gently maneuver the herds if needed. They’re well acquainted with us and will naturally move around the ranch. All we have to do is follow their lead.

We’ll place photographers in the most optimal locations- whether passing by the herd or getting right in the middle of it. When the horses settle, we can drive the ATV into the herd, and get up close to the horses. Sometimes, the herd just runs in the most perfect location and we observe and keep clicking!

The Burros

One of my most favorite things about MCR are the nine burros. They arrived on the ranch in July 2015 from Route 66 in Arizona. Two Jacks (males) Simon and Lambchop and Three Jennies (females) Aretha Franklin, Eta James and Tina Turner, with two babies – BB King and Clarence. Since 2015, two additional babies, Jocko and Havanah, were born on the ranch. For more about the arrival of the burros in 2015, click here.

The burros pretty much stay to themselves on the ranch. You often see the ‘ears’ before you spot the actual burro. As you can see they are super friendly!

All Access

Our wild horse photography workshops are all about a complete experience. We access all parts of the ranch using 4-wheel drive ATV vehicles. There’s so much wildlife to see – owls, hawks, elk, turkey and pigs. A little hiking might be necessary to get to some scenic spots. And if it’s really hot, we have two reservoirs on the ranch and a large one on the adjacent property (East Park Reservoir) where you can jump in and cool off! Generally, it’s best to dress in layers and be prepared for all weather conditions.

Hopefully after seeing all the fun in our blog entry, you’ll want to join us for one of the upcoming wild horse photography workshops. We host the workshops twice a year- spring and fall- and love having photographers from all backgrounds join the group. The official spring dates are April 12-15, 2018.

If you’re interested, please contact info@montgomerycreekranch.org for more information or to reserve your spot. Upon signing up, we’ll email you all the basic information about the workshop and a list of what to bring. (Camera, laptop, power cord, lens cleaner, etc.) Two weeks before the workshop, we’ll send you the final course outline and any other pertinent information. And if you need any more convincing on whether or not to come on our wild horse safari, feel free to check out the highlights from our 2016 and 2015 wild horse photography workshops. Hope to see you at the Ranch!