Successful photography courses don't happen by accident. They are the result of experience, planning, knowledge and, perhaps most importantly, a tutor's ability to teach and inspire.
When I began leading courses full time in 2005 I soon learned that a good photographer does not necessarily make a good teacher. More than a decade further on, and after leading 150-plus courses, I feel I have now developed my teaching skills enough to create courses that are a unique, fun and inspiring experience, while also providing landscape photographers with a structured framework for instruction, learning, and self-expression.
I'm keen to make the distinction between a structured course as opposed to a photo tour or photo walk. These days there are plenty of trips on offer that will rush you around from location to location, perhaps with ten or more photographers in the group all jostling for position, many trying to take exactly the same shot.
I prefer an alternative approach for my landscape photography courses that involves a significantly smaller number. In my case it’s never more than five.
Over the years I have found this smaller group size to be ideal as it allows each person to have the time and space to gradually develop their own photographic style while also learning new technical and compositional skills.
I build review sessions into the itinerary so we look at the images each photographer has made out on location and during this critique the group share and explain the different approaches and ideas behind their work.
The consequence of opting for an individual rather than generic approach is that each photographer then makes a rewarding set of photographs that are unique to them, and not the same as everybody else.
But more importantly, they leave with a higher level of individual expertise than when they arrived. Plus the creative pleasure of self-expression they then achieve from their photography after the course increases too, which is what I think it's all about in the long run.
The individual teaching, combined with the satisfaction that comes from using your imagination rather than lining up to imitate others, attracts more than 100 photographers each year to my courses, with many returning for the fourth and fifth time as they look to develop their photographic style further.
Many have been kind enough to explain why in the feedback section below. If what you read appeals to you, please get in touch and I'll look forward to you joining us out on location and taking the next big step on your personal photographic journey.
Thank you for such an enjoyable, stimulating and thought provoking course and also for your encouragement and patience. I learned so much. You have a natural ability to teach, and you probably don't realise yourself how inspirational your teaching style is.
I wanted to say a huge thank you for the past few days. I have learned such a lot and have been filled with enthusiasm. Thanks again for being supportive and giving me the confidence and belief that I have the potential to produce some good images.
The course was undoubtedly value for money. This was my third and I have signed up for a fourth, which speaks for itself.
Thank you for such an enjoyable course. For you to have inspired so much creativity in me despite the best efforts of the weather is nothing short of miraculous. I have discovered a whole new way of looking at my photography and can't wait to develop my technique. If I could, I would join you on another course tomorrow! Thank you once again for such a wonderful experience.
Given the expertise of the tutor, the full day program, the individual attention to each photographer and the well chosen locations - then Garry Brannigan's courses are simply the best value for money anywhere.
Thanks again for an absolutely fabulous course. It was a marvellous few days in every way: as ever brilliantly organised, lots of support and helpful feedback, impressively comfy berth, good conversation and food.
I have spent my professional life either receiving or planning and delivering professional development courses; Garry Brannigan's course was probably the best. Actually, probably could be deleted from the sentence.
I wanted to thank you again for yet another excellent course. There is no doubt that your courses are the best I have been on.
I very much like the small group size and I really appreciate the individual attention you give to each person and the way in which you encourage everyone's unique eye on the landscape. I also find it immensely helpful that you are prepared to say not only when an image has worked and why but also when you feel it hasn't, and why. This feedback has been invaluable in the development of my own photographic eye. I have come away from this latest course inspired and with an increased confidence in my own image making.
The intimate group size creates a relaxed atmosphere, more akin to a group of individuals with a shared passion for photography rather than a course. The amount of time you are able to spend with individuals is superb and your enthusiasm and promotion of self-expression in our photography is a joy.
The time and thought you put into your courses shines through, particularly your knowledge of the area and how to make the most of the location regardless of the conditions. I've been on three courses now and your style of tuition and advice always seems to inspire the best in my photography.
I have to take my hat off to you Garry as this course has again highlighted for me how much time, effort, consideration and determination you give to your courses. In particular how much time you dedicate to researching locations for all weathers, conditions, lighting and times of day. You seem to know just where to take us to make the most of whatever weather and lighting we get and that must have taken a vast amount of your time in a location such as Inverpolly. I really appreciate this aspect that you bring to your courses.
I learned on this course the reason why Garry Brannigan's courses are booked up so far in advance...it is because he is a great course leader. The days are full and very instructive and Garry spends a great deal of time working one-to-one with each of the photographers.
I liked the flow of instruction covering the complete process from visualising an image, getting it in the camera in a form which makes it as print friendly as possible and then taking that image from the camera through the computer and on to paper. This was for me the real winning formula for this course and has taken my understanding to a new level. The critique and review of the individuals' photographs was instructive and helped me determine what to look for in a good shot.
Just a quick note to say how much I enjoyed the course at the weekend. It's easy to see why you have so many people who return on subsequent courses! The big positives for me were the support you gave all of us and then your ability to gently guide and give feedback on the results in a way that was always very constructive.
I like the fact that at some point every day I will get one-to-one tuition, not just a quick five minutes, but some quality time. I also like your patient approach in that you get me to think about what am I trying to achieve and then giving, if necessary, some advice, both technical and compositional, on how I might achieve that. The locations were superb too, you had obviously researched the area very well.
Books and DVDs had left me exasperated and had created more confusion than clarity, so I appreciated your common sense understanding and clear explanation of important matters. I liked the relaxed atmosphere and the way the teaching was based upon the needs of each individual as opposed to a generic plan for all. Thank you for an introduction to grown-up photography. The course was worth every penny.
Just want to say a very big thank you for a most wonderful time. It was hard with the weather, but you kept us all motivated and keen and pushed us all into making some great shots! You work so very hard and have such patience and enthusiasm. The days we had together will be with me for a very long time, to inspire and motivate me.
You have a wonderful knack of being able to raise my self-confidence in landscape photography and inspire me to keeping trying to take better photographs. Thanks to you I have a much deeper appreciation of the need to spend more time in composing a photograph that captures what the landscape is telling me, and not just a record of a day out.
In simple terms, what made the course so special was your enthusiasm, your willingness to freely impart your knowledge and advice. Plus the respect, patience and understanding you showed to us all.
I can't really express how much I enjoyed the week, it was definitely the best experience I've had with you, and it also speaks volumes about the group too. As always, I have learned an awful lot in a short time.