This guided 7-day photo education tour of Utah’s Mighty 5® National parks gets you out in the field to experience the stunning landscape of Utah and master your photography skills at the same time! Under the direct supervision of a professional photographer, Charlie Kessner and Rachel Ross, this comprehensive course will deep dive into everything from planning the shot in your mind, to taking the shot in the moment, and making the shot in the digital darkroom. No matter your level of experience this all-inclusive luxury experience is the photo education trip of a lifetime. Over 7 days and 6 nights, your relationship with your camera will deepen and help reveal your inner artist all while staying in the best hotels and resorts in Utah and witnessing some of the most beautiful countryside America has to offer, both in front of and behind the lens.
Golden Light in the Mighty 5® Photo Adventure
Day 1: Fly Into The Salt Lake City International Airport
Your guide will meet you in a luxury 15 passenger coach at the Salt Lake City Airport and transfer you to Salt Lake City.
Your lodging for the evening will be the Hilton City Center, a beautiful and modern 4-star property located in the center of downtown Salt Lake City.
A welcome reception will be held over dinner at the Blue Iguana Salt Lake City where you will get to meet your instructors and other participants as we dive into our personal experiences with photography and get an understanding of everyone’s skill level.
After dinner, we will break out into our first class in the conference rooms at the Hilton. In this course, we will talk about the itinerary for the week and answer any questions that guests have. We will also cover camera navigation and the basics of exposure variables and how they influence the resulting image.
We’ll get a good night's sleep and prepare for the amazing adventure ahead.
Day 2: Green River • Moab • Canyonlands • Arches
Meet in Lobby at 7 am to head to breakfast and coffee at The Rose Establishment. Over our meal, we’ll go over the itinerary again and discuss the guest's desired outcomes for the trip.
After breakfast, we’ll get in the van and take a beautiful scenic drive making our way from the Salt Lake Valley surrounded by the towering green Wasatch Mountains to the dry red desert of South Eastern Utah.
In the van, we’ll jump into a deeper lesson on exposure and discuss how we choose to make decisions when we’re navigating outside of “automatic” mode. We’ll also take a look at digital workflow and get comfortable with how to import, edit, and export images on your computer.
We’ll break for lunch in Green River, Utah at the acclaimed Tamarisk Restaurant.
After lunch, we’ll gain a view of our first subject, Mesa Arch, in Canyonlands National Park near Moab, Utah. We will be revisiting this amazing feature tomorrow morning for sunrise so we’ll spend some time discussing planning, logistics, and composition.
Midday, we’ll check-in at the brand new Four-Star HooDoo Moab, Curio Collection by Hilton.
We’ll do a take out dinner in the late afternoon as we set out to Arches National Park to do our first sunset class together at Window Arch. After we shoot we’ll have a brief introduction to Astrophotography as the light fades into night.
Day 3: Canyonlands • Capitol Reef • Goblin Valley
Early rising this morning to revisit Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park for an epic sunrise photoshoot. After the shoot, we’ll head back to the hotel to check out and have breakfast at the Eklectica Cafe on our way out of town.
Back in the van to transport us to our next stop Capitol Reef National Park view the scenic highway 24 that skirts the eastern edge of the San Rafael Swell. Enjoy sweeping vistas as the landscape changes dramatically as we move through Waterpocket Fold. In the van, we’ll talk about “Composition, Contrast, and the Histogram” and have a chance to put all of these elements together in mini shoots at the magnificent Goblin Valley and Factory Butte on our way to a true gem hidden in the center of the state, the one and only Cougar Ridge Lodge in Torrey, Utah.
Refresh and recharge before we head back out for a special class on nailing a sunset and a deep dive into astrophotography in no better place than Capitol Reef National Park - a Dark Sky Association’s Gold Tier awarded park.
Day 4: Torrey • Boulder Mountain • Bryce Canyon
Late start today, breakfast will be catered by the Wild Rabbit at Cougar Ridge Lodge. Class at the lodge on “Digital Workflow and Having a Vision in Post” over the course of the morning. Soak up the lodge experience.
Leave the lodge by noon to head over Boulder Mountain and into Grand Staircase Escalante continuing along National Scenic Byway 12 on our way to Boulder, UT.
We’ll stop in Boulder, Utah, and pause for an incredible meal at the world-famous farm-to-table experience that is Hell’s Backbone Grill. After lunch, we’ll continue our journey through the desert and have a class on “Exposure Bracketing and HDR” as we make our way to Bryce Canyon National Park for a shoot at sunset.
Upon arrival, we’ll have some free time after we check into the Bryce Canyon Lodge and meet again before sunset.
After our shoot at Sunset Point, we’ll gather and have our first collective editing session. Everyone will be able to follow along with the instructors as we dive deep into our creative workflow selecting our top 5 favorite shots of the trip so far. After our editing session, we’ll go over everyone’s photos and have a group critique of everyone's favorite work, giving everyone a chance to see what is working for each other and ask for and receive feedback from each other and the instructors.
Day 5: Bryce Canyon • Zion • Springdale
Bryce Canyon Lodge's premier location within the national park gives us the perfect set up to jump into the sunrise with minimal logistics. Simply wake up and walk out a few hundred yards to the rim of the canyon and set up for a sunrise you will never forget as the soft light breaks upon the hoodoos. After our shoot, we’ll have breakfast at the lodge and head out to our last national park, Zion. In the van, we’ll have an open discussion for students to ask any clarifying questions or express skills they would like to learn.
Upon arrival at the luxurious and tranquil Cliffrose Springdale, Curio Collection by Hilton in Springdale, Utah, we’ll have lunch together at the Anthera Restaurant and then have a free afternoon to enjoy the property and catch up on editing. In the early evening, we’ll head out for a special hike to the incredible Canyon Overlook to shoot the sun setting over the majestic Zion canyon.
This evening we’ll get together and talk about the best tips for shooting inside slot canyons to prepare for tomorrow’s adventure. The world-renowned, Zion Narrows or Antelope Canyon in Page, Arizona.
Day 6: Zion • Antelope Canyon • Page
Wake up early for a trip world-renowned Zion Narrows without another soul in sight. Due to our permit with the park, we will be able to get out on the trail much before anyone else on the shuttle. Guaranteeing photos with the least amount of people present in the river. Shoot the majestic virgin river with the best morning light in the world.
After a great morning, we’ll change out of our river gear and meet for lunch at one of the multiple great spots in the area. Have the afternoon off to get out and explore the town of Springdale. Meet back at the Cliffrose Springdale, Curio Collection by Hilton for our final dinner together.
Post-Covid times (if antelope canyon is open)
We’ll head out early this morning to give enough time to comfortably arrive in Page, AZ for our photo tour of Upper Antelope Canyon. You’ve given it your all this week to learn and fine-tune the way you see your camera and capture the world of light around you. Enjoy the rewards of your hard work by entering one of the most sought after places to shoot photos of in the world and have the confidence of knowing that even under the pressure of time, you will be able to nail the shot that you’ve been waiting for.
After the tour of the canyon, we’ll have lunch together in Page and have an easy afternoon reviewing the content of the course and spending our last afternoon together.
We’ll shoot our final sunset back in Zion on the banks of the Virgin River as the Watchman guards the town of Springdale catching the last rays of sunlight.
Our final group dinner will be at the fantastic Rosita’s Santa Fe Kitchen.
Day 7: Departure To St. George Or Las Vegas Airports
On our last morning together, we’ll have a final session of editing and students will choose their top 3 photos from the trip for our last group feedback and critique session.
We will then travel to either the St. George Regional Airport or McCarren International Airport in Las Vegas for departure.
Transportation from Salt Lake City airport until drop-off at either St. George Regioual Airport (SGU) or the St. George Shuttle to get you to the Las Vegas International Airport.
Luxurious 4-star Lodging - Featuring Hilton Curio Collection Hotels
Welcome Meal & Closing Meal
2 Full Meals a Day at some of the best eateries in the state
Snacks (special dietary requirements are happily accommodated)
15+ hours of hands on classroom instruction from a professional photographer and educator
20+ hours of hands on in the field instruction from a professional photographer and educator
Round the Clock access to a professional photographer and educator for hands on guidance in the moment to capture:
5 Sunset Photoshoots
2 Sunrise Photoshoots
At least one Astrophotoshoot (Night Sky)
1 photo tour through Antelope Slot Canyon OR the Zion Narrows
Everyday informal feedback sessions
3 professional feedback/critique sessions
Entrance into all National Parks
6 Month Subscription to Adobe Lightroom & Photoshop or Skylum Suite (Luminar 4 & Aurora HDR)
A large professional print (unmounted) of your favorite photo taken on the trip
Transportation to from St. George, UT to Salt Lake City and/or Las Vegas International Airports