A repeat of several successful April and October sessions from last year, this high-energy workshop, a benefit for the American River Conservancy, takes place on Saturday, April 29, at Wakamatsu, in Gold Hill, a few miles north of Placerville. This large ranch, on the National Register of Historic Places, was the site of the first Japanese settlement in North America. For about 150 years, it was also the site of a working ranch owned by one of El Dorado County’s well-known families, the Veerkamps. Today, now managed by the American River Conservancy, it is the site of a sprawling old farmhouse, The Graner House (after one of the pioneering families), huge barn and milking barn. Close by the farm buildings is a large pond and the 10-acre South Fork Farm, where organic produce is raised.

Staying true to a western motif to honor the ranch heritage of this beautiful site, we’ll be bringing in several models plus props, and showing you how to take advantage of natural lighting conditions for gorgeous portraiture. As per a request from one of our previous participants, we’ll also work in some techniques for handling bad light. Rodney (the old man pictured below) will try to join us, too. We may also use subtle flash for that professional touch; we’ll just see what the day and the light brings. Flexibility and staying in tune with your models are keys to high-quality portraiture, and we’ll walk you through all of this. You’ll have hands-on help from Betty Sederquist and Kathy Durrett, both veteran portrait photographers and long-time instructors.

The Schedule

All skills levels are welcome. If you’re new to portraiture, come at 10 a.m. for a formal slide presentation on the nuts and bolts of this fascinating subject. As time permits, we’ll show you some post processing Photoshop techniques that take your portraits to a professional level. Lunch (provided) takes place at 11:30 a.m., and at about noon we’ll get going with our models. Since we’re at the ranch at the height of spring bloom, we may even find a few wildflowers to distract us. Depending on interests, energy and inclinations, we might shoot into “magic light” time, as late as 6 p.m. The event will take place rain or shine. If we have a lot of rain, we’ll do our work inside the farm buildings.

What to Bring:

Camera, camera manual, tripod (if you have one) and a sense of fun. Dress comfortably.

How Much:

The workshop costs $135 (we’re including lunch, donation to ARC and other overhead costs). Please enroll through the American River Conservancy. Contact Julie Andert directly at ARC for enrollment information. The workshop is limited to ten photographers and is first come, first served. Minimum age: 14.


The ranch is located on Cold Springs Road about two miles south of Coloma (you’ll get more directions when you register). Cold Springs Road can be accessed via Placerville Drive in Placerville. From Sacramento/Folsom, take the Ponderosa Road exit from U.S. 50, cross north over the freeway, turn right on North Shingle Road, which becomes Lotus Road. Follow this road about eight miles to Gold Hill Road (Sutter’s Mill School is on the left) and turn right on Gold Hill. Continue on Gold Hill Road about four miles to Cold Springs Road and turn left at the four-way stop sign. Go north on Cold Springs Road to the ranch, which will be on your right. If you reach Gold Trail School, you’ve gone about a quarter of a mile too far.