Photo Workshop: Wyoming's Cowboy Country

  • Trip Type: Photography
  • 7 Days | Round-trip Jackson Hole
  • Group Size: Max 25

Expedition Details


Capture the essence of a uniquely American culture during a photography workshop in Wyoming’s cowboy country with National Geographic photographer Jay Dickman. From our base at the beautiful CM Ranch, get ensconced in the traditions of the Wild West, photographing wranglers at work, horse drives, and lasso-tossing cowboys. Work on portraiture during photo sessions with cowboys, and shoot images of horses galloping across the sage-brush fields against the red hills of the Badlands. Then head behind the scenes to document the excitement of a Friday-night rodeo.

This workshop is led by National Geographic photographer Jay Dickman and professional instructor Jeff Vanuga, and is designed for amateurs who are interested in improving their digital photography. All participants must bring a digital SLR or mirrorless camera, a laptop computer, and software for organizing and presenting images. The workshop is limited to 25 participants.

The following is our planned itinerary; however, the schedule is flexible to allow for spontaneous photographic opportunities.

Trip Highlights

    • Work on a wide range of techniques from portraits of cowboys to action shots of wranglers gathering horses to sweeping landscapes of grasslands and rocky plateaus.
    • Stay at the beautiful CM Ranch, where you can enjoy a range of fun activities in your free time, from horseback riding and fishing to swimming and hiking.
    • Go on a photo shoot at a local rodeo.
    • Document the everyday lives of cowboys and cowgirls on early morning and late afternoon photo shoots at the ranch and in the surrounding countryside.

Itinerary - 7 Days

Day 1 — Jackson Hole, Wyoming/Dubois

Arrive at Jackson Hole Airport, and meet the group for the drive to CM Ranch in Dubois. Established in 1927, the ranch is nestled in the Wind River Valley and surrounded by the Absaroka Mountains and the vibrant red hills of the Badlands Wilderness Study Area. Settle into your log cabin and enjoy a welcome dinner tonight. After dinner, your instructors will present a selection of their photographs. Learn from Jay how a National Geographic magazine article is made, and then receive your first assignment for the next day’s early morning shoot.
CM Ranch (D)

Day 2 — CM Ranch

Rise early and head down to the corrals to photograph your first assignment as the wranglers gather horses in the early morning light. After breakfast, meet up for an orientation and our first edit-and-critique session. Jay will review the editing process, with a focus on good workflow techniques, followed by a critique of the images captured this morning. After lunch, take advantage of the ranch’s amenities, then meet later in the afternoon, as the light improves, for your afternoon assignment on stopping motion, panning, and blur techniques. The ranch provides plenty of opportunities to practice your hand at taking action shots.
CM Ranch (B,L,D)

Day 3 — CM Ranch

Hone your newly acquired photo techniques on an early morning photo shoot of ranch hands at work against a backdrop of glorious rock formations. After breakfast, we’ll continue to perfect our skills at capturing the essence of ranch life as cowboys run the ranch’s horses. Later this morning, we’ll all gather for an edit-an-critique session followed by a presentation by Jay after lunch. In the early afternoon, enjoy a hike or go horseback riding. In the late afternoon light, we will gather for today’s assignment focusing on the use of the natural elements dust and wind to capture the spirit of the American West. Our subject for this assignment is a horse drive with cowboys roping cattle.
CM Ranch (B,L,D)

Day 4 — CM Ranch

Portraiture is the focus of today’s assignments. A morning shoot offers the perfect opportunity to capture natural-light portraits of cowboys and their horses in the early golden light. After breakfast we’ll edit our images followed by a critique of our best photographs. After lunch, Jay will give a talk on how lighting and reflectors can be used to enhance your images, as well as further discussion on proper portrait techniques. Take time this afternoon for a swim, or head out on a short fishing excursion before we gather for a late afternoon portrait session with ranch staff as our subjects.
CM Ranch (B,L,D)

Day 5 — CM Ranch

After breakfast, review and critique yesterday’s images and discuss today’s assignment: light and color. Take advantage of free time after lunch for a hike or a swim, and meet later in the afternoon to work on ways to successfully combine the essential photographic elements of light and color in your images. Cowboys riding horses against a dramatic backdrop provide our subject for this assignment. Return to the ranch by early evening for a barbecue dinner.
CM Ranch (B,L,D)

Day 6 — CM Ranch

Rise early to photograph our final first-light shoot on the ranch, practicing your new skills. Then we’ll share images at the final edit-and-critique session. Cap off the workshop with a trip to the Friday night rodeo in Dubois. Enjoy special access to the venue and capture shots of broncos, barrel-racing cowgirls, and other classic rodeo events.
CM Ranch (B,L,D)

Day 7 — CM Ranch/Jackson Hole

After breakfast at the ranch, the workshop concludes with a final presentation of the best photos taken during the week. Then return to Jackson Hole Airport for your flight home.


This expedition is not currently being offered.

Featured Expedition Moment

Activity Level


Travelers should be in good health and comfortable walking or standing for extended periods of time. Daily activities may include city walking tours, visits to sites, game drives on bumpy roads, or easy hikes.

Click here for a description of all activity levels.

What To Expect

This workshop is led by a National Geographic photographer and a professional instructor and is designed for amateurs who are interested in improving their digital photography.

All participants must bring a digital SLR or mirrorless camera, a laptop computer, and software for organizing and presenting images. The workshop is limited to 25 participants.