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Sports Illustrated Honors Dean Smith Through the Lens of Summit Workshops’ Founder Rich Clarkson

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The world of sports is mourning the passing of Dean Smith, who died February 7, 2015 at the age of 83. Smith was called a “coaching legend” by the Basketball Hall of Fame after an illustrious career that included 36 years as the North Carolina Tar Heels men’s basketball coach. Though he is best known for his days coaching the Tar Heels, Smith grew up in Kansas and attended the University of Kansas, playing basketball and eventually coaching as an assistant. Summit Workshops’ Founder Rich Clarkson had the rare priviledge of traveling with the team as a photographer while attending the University of Kansas,  where he occasionally roomed with none other than Dean Smith. Clarkson also had the rare priviledge of following and photographing Smith’s career from player to head coach.

Sports Illustrated has recently released their Dean Smith  Special Tribute Issue, and it includes several of Rich Clarkson’s favorite images from throughout Smith’s career. Thank you to Sports Illustrated and Director of Photography Brad Smith for creating a truly memorable issue and allowing us to share an excerpt from it.


through the lens


dean smith

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Former sports workshop student lands photo in Sports Illustrated magazine

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In the summer of 2014, Gary Lloyd McCullough came to Colorado Springs to take part in the Summit Sports Photography Workshop. It was there that he met the esteemed faculty and staff that would help take his photography to the next level. The former Summit student utilitized those tips and information and landed a photo in the “Leading Off” section in Sports Illustrated magazine.
© Copyright Gary Lloyd McCullough

© Copyright Gary Lloyd McCullough

In McCullough’s own words, he describes the Sports Photography Workshop as well as the faculty and staff that provided him with the information and tips necessary to accomplish the now-published photograph.
“Arriving in Colorado Springs for a week of what is the world’s most respected sports photography workshop, I was overwhelmed.
Vendors, industry leading photographers in numerous specialties, publishing gatekeepers, and living legends like the workshop founder, Rich Clarkson — you don’t want to miss anything including late-night cavorting with sports photography trailblazers.
I came to the workshop with an idea for a first-ever sports photo opportunity, making an image of a live NFL game from underwater.  Off-season improvements to the Jacksonville Jaguars home field included two pools from where fans are able to watch the game through a Plexiglas wall.
I specifically received shot-making advice for this idea from:
  • Jody Grober, Director of Professional and Commercial Sales at Roberts Distributors with advice as to where best to rent the underwater housing.
  • Deanne Fitzmaurice, awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography in 2005, expounded from her personal experience to expect obstacles and persist despite setbacks.  (The team’s management told me “no” to access to the pool at least six times.)
  • Mark Terrill, Associated Press photographer with unparalleled innovation with remotes shared how lenses work underwater and how water affects focus.
  • Chip Litherland, award-winning photographer based in Sarasota, Florida, who gave me insight as to gaining access.
  • Brad Smith, Director of Photography for Sports Illustrated, answered my emails and calls to guide my photo into publication. It would take much more room than I have to list all the instructors, vendors, and fellow students that encouraged me and shared experiences and insights in regard to creating this image. The July 2014 Summit Sports Photography Workshop made this image happen; the first underwater images of a live NFL football game.  Summit also provided me with a dream come true in seeing my first image published in the print version of Sports Illustrated.  It will appear in the “Leading Off” section of the December 8, 2014 issue.
Thank you Mr. Clarkson and crew.  I certainly got more than I expected from my week with you.”
-Gary Lloyd McCullough


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This year we have brought some alumni back to the fold of the workshops to assist the faculty and staff throughout the week as a chance to come back and increase their education and networking through the Summit Series.

Mark Mahan, Sports ’12 & Lighting ’14, had some great insight into his mentor experience: 

I had a great time coming back to Summit Sports Workshop as a mentor.  I attended in 2012 as a student learning skills and concepts that gave me the confidence to call the photo editor at the local paper when I returned home.

Attending the workshop helped open that door, through which I was able to go on and become a regular free lancer for the newspaper.  I wanted to come back to the Sports workshop because it felt like a safe place, a place where people love photography and want to improve their craft.  It also gave me a chance to measure my growth, reconnect with faculty, get out of my comfort zone and renew my vision.

The best part of returning to the workshop were listening to faculty give critiques of the student images and seeing what the faculty presentations in the evenings.  I love to see other photographers look at images and talk about what works or what doesn’t.


I think anyone that has attended a Summit workshop could benefit from being a mentor.  The best way to perfect a craft, in my opinion,  is two fold, one is practice, and the other is giving back.  Being in a place where having more experience than attendees but not to the level of faculty refreshed ideas I had heard before as well as spawn new ones.The first time I attended the amount of information and the schedule were almost overwhelming, and to be able to go back and hear with a fresh set of ears was incredibly helpful.  And besides, it it the best week with nearly no sleep of the year!  A special thanks to Rich, and all the faculty for creating such a unique place to learn photography that is not only theory, but that applies in the real world.


Jen Edney, Sports ’04 , Adventure ’08 ’11 & Nature ’06 ’13, also had some great things to say about her time with the mentorship:

Every time I have come to a workshop as a student or, in this case, as a mentor, it has only RedigD_2pushed me forward in the right direction. Whether it’s learning to use a DSLR for the first time (I had never touched or seen one before my first workshop!) learning a new lighting technique, pitching a story or how to best utilize social media in marketing my business, i’ve always come away re-inspired and charged up. For me, it’s a chance to check in with myself to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of my business.


The people & relationships built are what I enjoyed most. The camaraderie, passion, inspiration and stimulation is what I love about this workshop. Everyone is there for a reason and it shows throughout the week amongst the faculty, staff and students. The unique thing about the Summit Series of Workshops is the emphasis not only on soaking up all you can throughout the day with photo shoots, critiques and class time, but also on social time, interaction with the faculty, staff and students.
To me, that time is priceless and one of the most important aspects of the workshop.This community has helped so much in my growth both as an individual and professional. I believe in paying it forward and giving back to the community, in this case, with my time and what I’ve learned over the years. Being a Summit Mentor is a great way to stay involved, to continue to inspire and be inspired by this amazing community.



NPPF Launches The Rich Clarkson Founders Scholarship

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>>>From NPPA.org


Photojournalist, editor, and NPPA past president Rich Clarkson. Photograph © 2011 by Joey Terrill (www.joeyterrill.com)

DURHAM, NC (September 29, 2014) – The Board of Directors of the National Press Photographers Foundation today is pleased to announce the creation of a new annual scholarship, The Rich Clarkson Founders Scholarship.

“The Foundation is so honored that Rich Clarkson has chosen NPPF to establish a scholarship in his name,” Foundation president Tom Hardin said today. “Rich is the most important voice, mentor, and leader that photojournalism has known.”

The first Clarkson Founders Scholarship $2,000 stipend will be awarded in mid-2015, Hardin said. As with most NPPF scholarships, the deadline for entry will be in early March of each year through the Foundation’s Web site.

“On the eve of The Foundation’s 40th anniversary, the Rich Clarkson Founders Scholarship is a testament to his commitment to photojournalism education,” Hardin said. “This scholarship will enable future generations of student photojournalists to commit to professionalism, excellence, and generosity as practiced for so many years by Rich Clarkson.”

Executive director Chip Deale also offered NPPA’s thanks to Clarkson for this new educational opportunity.

“The leadership of NPPA and I join with the foundation in expressing our gratitude to Rich Clarkson for his generosity that has made this new scholarship possible,” Deale said. “Rich is one of visual journalism’s true legends, and the scholarship will ensure his lasting legacy to a profession to which he has contributed so much in so many ways for such a prolonged period.”

There will be a three-person scholarship committee established to choose the Clarkson scholarship winner, Hardin said. The selection committee will look for a person whose work ethic demonstrates the highest level of professionalism and leadership as a photojournalism student. As with all NPPF scholarships, applicants for the Clarkson scholarship must be enrolled in an accredited 4-year college or a university, either as an undergraduate or graduate student.

For 25 years Clarkson was the director of photography for The Topeka Capital-Journal. He also led the photography and art departments at The Denver Post as assistant managing editor/graphics, and he was National Geographic magazine’s director of photography and senior assistant editor in the 1980s.

Clarkson has been a contract and contributing photographer for Sports Illustrated magazine throughout his long career. More than 30 Sports Illustrated covers have displayed his photographs – the first in 1964. This year in Dallas he photographed his 59th NCAA Final Four Men’s basketball championship. Through the years Clarkson has captured the dramatic and storytelling moments at sporting events, especially at college basketball and track and field competitions, and he has covered six Olympics as well.

Today Clarkson leads the publishing and photography company Clarkson Creative, headquartered in downtown Denver. Almost 25 years ago Clarkson founded and continues to run the very successful Summit Workshops that feature some of photojournalism’s most successful photographers and visual artists on the faculties.

In 1972 Clarkson received NPPA’s highest honor, the Joseph A. Sprague Memorial Award, for his lifetime of contributions to photojournalism and the organization. He was also the recipient of NPPA’s Robin F. Garland Educator Award in 1978. At the University of Kansas, his alma mater, Clarkson received distinguished recognitions including the William Allen White Medal and the Fred Ellsworth Award, which is the highest Alumni recognition given instead of the school awarding honorary degrees. He graduated from the college with a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1956. And among his many career awards and recognitions, in 2011 Clarkson was a Lucie Awards Honoree for his achievements in sports photojournalism. And in 2013 Clarkson’s book “Greatest Photographs Of The American West” won the top award from the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.

Clarkson is one of four Founders of the National Press Photographers Foundation, which was established in 1975. He is also a past president of the National Press Photographers Association, serving in that office in 1975 and as vice president in 1974. Clarkson headed NPPA’s Council of Presidents, and in 1995 he created NPPA’s Gala 50th Anniversary Celebration in Washington, DC.

As a mentor and industry leader, Clarkson is known for hiring many of today’s most creative people, each exhibiting great people skills and a high degree of energy and passion. Whether at the intern level or for top publications, Clarkson’s legacy is to select photojournalists for their ability to learn, discover, and practice good journalism.

Michael Forsberg: Moving Slowly to Capture the Swift Fox

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Author: Coburn Dukehart, Photographer: Michael Forsberg

Photographer Michael Forsberg is a patient man. A very. Patient. Man.

This trait came in extremely useful during an assignment to photograph swift foxes in the Buffalo Gap National Grassland in western South Dakota. Forsberg visited the prairielands multiple times over a three-year period to capture images of the tiny canids, which are about the size of a house cat.

This involved an extreme amount of lying and waiting in photo blinds—small camouflaged tents that he could barely sit up in. He would enter the tent before sunrise and stay there until the sun went down, sometimes even spending the night. And he very rarely shot photos.

Picture of swift fox
“They don’t like human presence, so you have to let them come to you on their terms, not the other way around.” PHOTOGRAPH BY MICHAEL FORSBERG

An excerpt from his field notes:

Conata Basin, Buffalo Gap National Grassland, South Dakota.
Agate west and Agate hillside den sites

  • 5:00 am. Summer solstice. Rain and no sunrise. Winds out of the north 20 mph and gusty. No foxes up and no movement on the prairie dog town minus a few horned larks shuffling in grass. Their calls sound like the tinkling of little bells. A lone pronghorn doe that bedded down overnight on the p-dog town is facing south chewing her cud.
  • 8:30 am. Rain stopped but winds continue. No foxes.
  • 11:00 am. No foxes.
  • 1:30 pm. Still no foxes…
  • 4:00 pm. Finally. A fox pup pokes its head out of the den and looks my way.

And so it went for more than 100 days in the field, over the course of three years, as he slowly built a collection of images showing the playful pups and their predator parents in their natural environment. (Check out the video at the top of the page.)

Picture of a swift fox and her pups
A swift fox mother is seen with her pups in the Buffalo Gap Grasslands National Grassland in western South Dakota.PHOTOGRAPH BY MICHAEL FORSBERG



For more of Michael Forsberg’s incredible journey, and to view the video of the elusive Swift Fox, visit:

 PROOF at NationalGeographic.com

A Sneak-Peek at the Upcoming 2014 Adventure Workshop

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The 2014 Summit Adventure Workshop has arrived!

Starting on September 20, students from around the world will gather in the beautiful town of Jackson Hole, Wyoming to begin what will be for many of them an absolutely unforgettable experience.


Adventure students have the pleasure of being taught by some of the world’s best adventure photographers and instructors, including: Keith Ladzinski, Corey Rich and Lucas Gilman, among others.


In addition to being in the presence of professional and inspirational photographers, Summit Adventure students will also be in the presence of incredibly talented athletes. Whether it’s photographing a rock-climber on the edge of a cliff or a kayaker rowing through rushing rapids, students will be thrust right into the action where they can get the best view of the adventure.


For continuous updates and student-taken photos from the Summit Adventure Workshop,

follow us on social media:

Instagram – summitworkshops

Twitter – @summitworkshops

Facebook – Summit Series of Photography





How to Create Amazing Urban Landscape & Street Photography Images

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A stitched panorama in a city can make a great scene!

Many of us live in cities nowadays, in fact almost 80% of the world’s population lives in, or near, a large city. While it is fantastic to be out in nature, photographing the remote seascape scenes or the snow capped mountains, that is not possible for most photographers, everyday. That might mean that you don’t photograph for weeks at a time. As you probably know by now, to make big improvements in your photography you need to practice, practice, and practice some more.

Living in a city has its own scenes that are great to photograph, this is why street photography is such a popular genre of photography. These urban landscapes can not only be interesting, but you can make some very powerful images in an urban or city setting. Here are some pointers on how to create amazing urban landscape and street photography images.

1. Urban landscapes are the same as rural landscapes

Ok, not visually maybe, but in the way you approach them. In traditional landscape photography you will use a leading line to draw the eye into the scene. You will make sure that there is foreground interest that holds the viewers eye. You will usecomposition guidelines to set up your shot. This is all true for urban landscapes too. Visually design your scene as you would when you photograph a landscape scene. Be sure that the scene has a good background, a strong mid ground and a compelling foreground. This is not a rule, but it will help when you set up your shot.

2. The mundane becomes unusual

We have all seen pretty much all the objects in a city. The fire hydrants, the mailboxes and the scenes all look familiar to us city dwellers. In urban landscapes it’s not only about the architecture or the street scenes, it is about making those well know objects look different or interesting. Think of the time of day that you photograph. Late afternoon sunlight, warm light can make a fire hydrant or mailbox look somehow magical. Graffiti can look gritty, textured, and interesting in the soft light. Look at how you can change the angle or lines in a normal scene. Come froma different angle and see how that change makes all the difference to making mundane objects seem different.

Look for a way to make mundane scenes look different

3. Textures and close up

Every city has literally thousands of different textures, including: walls of buildings, cobbled streets, paved walkways, wooden walkways, benches, grass, the list goes on.

…to view the rest of this article, visit digital-photography-school.com

5 Camera Checks Before you Release the Shutter to Produce Amazing Shots Consistently

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Experience has the ability to make us wiser with our actions and choices. As a photographer, I have made mistakes in the past because of which I missed out on awesome photo opportunities. If only I was more careful, I could have avoided such situations. While some of these chances are inevitable – those where you wish you should have brought your tripod, or when your lens should have had a longer reach, some can simply be avoided by having some quick checks. Making sure of certain settings before and after a shoot as part of your workflow can go a long way.

Here are five checks you should develop a habit of before you start taking photos. The post also explains what happens if you fail to do so.

Photo by Cubmundo

1. Check the Shooting Mode

If you use different shooting modes from time to time, it is best to make sure you’re using the right one before you start some serious shooting. I normally switch between Aperture Priority and Manual Modedepending on what I intend to shoot. I don’t have a problem when I intend to use Manual, since I already know I will be using 2 dials to change aperture and shutter speed. The problem is when I think I’m in Aperture Priority Mode but I’m really using Manual. I adjust the aperture dial, but the shutter speed doesn’t follow.

It’s quite obvious when this happens since you’ll see in your viewfinder that the number on the shutter setting doesn’t follow, although if you don’t take notice, you might end up with either an underexposed or overexposed image.

Unless your shooting mode dial has a safety lock to keep it from accidentally switching, use only one mode, and don’t let others touch your camera, make sure that it is set to your preferred mode all the time.

Photo by Ian Muttoo

2. Look at the ISO

I don’t know about you, but most of the time, I don’t want to think about my ISO setting too much. During the day when there is enough light, all I want to care about is whether to use wide or shallowdepth of field, or freeze and stop motion, or other techniques. I simply keep my ISO at my preferred low sensitivity setting to keep things in detail. The only time I touch it is when I find the need to do so – either when a grainy shot looks better, or if I need to push for a little more exposure.

But what if you were using a high ISO the night before since you’re looking at getting more exposure? Then suddenly you need to shoot something very interesting at high noon. If you forgot to switch back to a low ISO, chances are you’ll end up pretty frustrated that you didn’t remember that you changed it last night since your shots look pretty noisy when you would have wanted detailed ones. Always have the habit of returning to a low ISO and change as needed.

Photo by darkday.

3. Is There Any Exposure Compensation?

When your metering system is acting strange one culprit can be exposure compensation. Maybe you forgot that you were using +3 stops the last time when you were taking photos of snow so it wouldn’t look gray. Now it’s making you wonder if you forgot what you’ve learned in basic photography since your camera is causing your street shots to look overexposed.

….To view the rest of this post, visit lightstalking.com

Using Composition to Create More Powerful Portraits

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As part of my series on portrait photography, in this article, I will discuss composition, one of the most important aspects of creating a good portrait image.

F11A6332 1

  • Are there any laws regarding framing a portrait?
  • Can I leave hands, fingers, or part of the head out of the frame?
  • Does a portrait have to include a face?

I will answer these questions that my students often ask. It is important to keep in mind that as in all aspects of art, there are no “rules” or “must dos” here, because you can do anything as long as it works for you. So, I will describe techniques that work for me and I hope that they will work for you, resulting in much stronger portrait photography portfolio.

What is a good portrait?

A good portrait is an image of a person that manages to tell a story. A good portrait evokes emotion. A good portrait tells us something about the person in the image, and composition is a key element that helps us create a storytelling portrait.

How can I create a storytelling portrait with the help of composition?

I think good composition is a combination of the scene on the ground and the scene within your head. It combines the available with the desirable.

Here are a few examples of portraits I made recently (using natural light only) with explanations of the thinking process and goals in terms of composition. As Ansel Adams said, don’t forget that every image has two people behind it. the photographer and the viewer. So you might not feel the same emotions as I do with the images I created. But that’s okay, because photography is both an art and a science.

Choosing how much background to include

F11A3496 Exposure 1

Focal length 24mm

I met this boy cutting Paprika in rural Cambodia. It was summer vacation and he was there with his family and other villagers. What’s my visual narrative in one line? “Small boy, big work.”

I immediately knew two things: one, the background is a significant element and two; I wanted to capture the boy working alone. So, I started with the background and decided on a high angle in order to capture this “mountain” of Paprika. It was important for me to show the boy’s entire body with some space above his head so that the viewer could compare (remember my one line story?) the size of the boy to the size of the work.

I even included that basket in the composition to add balance to the entire frame. After I set up my composition, I waited about 20 minutes to capture the boy looking up. I knew that if he was working with his head and eyes down, the whole story would fall apart. I think the wait was worth it.

…..To view the rest of this post, visit digital-photography-school.com

Finding Great Photographs Close to Home

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You don’t need to take expensive and exotic trips to make good images. So if staying at home is more your thing then a few simple ideas can help you create beautiful images. What you might view as commonplace and bland can still be photographed in an imaginative and skillful way to produce an image that shows a far more striking aspect of the subject or scene. I am not suggesting you get all creative with software manipulation either. I am suggesting explore your imagination and creativity; perhaps push your technical boundaries a little and this will further enhance your photographic skill.


The ability to take an everyday scene and construct from it a superb image will require your application of some or all of the following:

  • vision to see the various elements that might be included in an image
  • concentration and time to develop the idea and assimilate all the components
  • awareness to recognize the potential of a color, shape and form
  • observation to study the scene and time enough to mentally collate the aspects of the image and to try them out in camera
  • willingness to try something new

This skill of making the mundane magnificent is not dependent on the type of camera and lens you use, it works with anything. My particular interest is nature and wildlife, but the skill can readily be applied to most of your chosen genres of photography.

Getting started

To start you should be looking for a spark or catalyst to kick off the mental process. This can be anything that takes your fancy such as color, shape, pattern or motion.

Once you have selected your particular environment, and isolated some elements for a composition, then take some time to arrange and rearrange them in your mind. Walk around, kneel, lie down and test different perspectives. Work the opportunity and let the image evolve, don’t rush it. You may get a few strange looks in certain circumstances, but that is the price you pay.

Something simple like a field of rapeseed (or field of other flowers or crops depending on where you live) is a common, beautiful, bright yellow sight which also heralds the arrival of summer. The endless fields of yellow can be monotonous, but they can provide you with a colorful subject in their own right, or a backdrop for a smaller subject. You can use the color, the size of the field and the detail of individual flowers. Look about for a subject, choose a perspective and include other elements such as: blue sky, clouds, a tree, a car, a sunrise or sunset, or all of the above. Let the image unfold.

Finding subjects close to home

The images here are all taken this year, with this article in mind, all within a couple of miles of my house. This is to demonstrate that there is much on our doorsteps that might keep our photographic needs satisfied, well some of them at least.

Choose any patch of grass on a dewy morning and have a look for a good collection of dew drops and try a backlit shot. The sparkles and perfect shapes of the droplets make an intriguing subject. Here I have turned the image into a black and white just to emphasize the shape and patterns, but often you’ll want to keep the lovely green of the grass.

001 Dewy Morning in the Grass

Garden birds are probably the most accessible wildlife for you budding nature photographers. With some simple skills you can go beyond just taking a record shot, but can create lovely images. Place a bird feeder in a good position, with a decent background, and a thoughtfully placed perch and sit back and wait. Change the perch and change the background at will and you have a whole suite of different images available to you.

……to view the rest of this article, visit digital-photography-school.com

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