2016 Photography Retreat in Costa Rica: July 21-28

Click here to see photos from the workshop!

OakCreekCanyonPool-20150907-AME-7371Images communicate information. When anyone can take a photograph and share it in real-time, we look for images that stand out, that capture the essence of the moment, and that are rich in meaning. We are organizing a 7-day collaborative “photo retreat” for 6-8 individuals with complementary experiences who share the goals of:

  • improving their abilities to compose and execute quality photographs;
  • developing new skills in post-production;
  • and learning from one another.

We are inviting collaborative individuals with a wide range of skill levels, backgrounds, and complementary interests in different types of photography – nature, landscape, news, portrait, architecture, abstract, etc. – to join us for this retreat.

Participants will jointly design a series of assignments over the 7-day period and will take part in daily critiques of final images chosen for each assignment. Each person will be responsible for developing at least one topical “assignment”; through consensus, the group will choose which assignments to work on during the retreat. Topics we have been thinking about so far include (alphabetical order):

  1. Forest in motion
  2. Portraits (including macrophotography)
  3. Landscapes and nature portraits
  4. Lines, shapes, and the architecture of nature
  5. Low-light/back-lit photography
  6. People in and part of nature
  7. Still lifes

We envision that this experience will be an excellent opportunity not only for field biologists like ourselves who want to improve their skills in photography but also for (semi)-professional photographers who have little field experience. For example, field biologists who are interested in improving their photographic skills and techniques will learn new methods and ideas from studio photographers, while studio photographers who are interested in gaining experience and practice with nature photography will have the opportunity to learn from professional field biologists who can provide interpretation of the natural surroundings.


The retreat will be held at the Finca Bellavista Tree House community in southern Costa Rica (http://www.fincabellavista.com/). The accommodations are rustic but beautiful and the grounds will supply many opportunities to challenge ourselves with our photographic assignments. We will fly in and out of San Jose and will organize van travel to and from Finca Bellavista. All participants (including the organizers) will be responsible for their own travel (international airfare), accommodation, and in-country expenses.

We have booked the Casa Mariposa at Finca Bellavista for the week. Lodging cost will range from $45/night/person (if we have 8 people) to $100/night/person (for only 2 people). We’ll bring in our own food, and share the in-country transportation costs.

If you have any questions about this retreat or are interested in joining us, please contact Aaron Ellison (aellison@fas.harvard.edu), or Sybil Gotsch (sybil.gotsch@fandm.edu).

The photos on this page are all by Aaron Ellison. See more of his work here
Some of Sybil Gotsch’s photographic work can be found here


Click here to see photos from the workshop!