Brenda Tharp and RMSP’s Callaway Gardens Workshop

With over 25 years of photographic experience, long-time RMSP workshop leader, Brenda Tharp, is one of our most accomplished nature and fine art photographers & instructors. She’s back with us again in 2011 leading our Callaway Gardens: Georgia’s Springtime Palette workshop. I spent a few moments with Brenda in order to give our readers some insight to her storied background. Also to discover what she might have in store for our participants at Callaway Gardens this spring.

Would you mind giving us a brief synopsis for those of our readers who may not be familiar with your life’s work: i.e., education, photography/teaching experience, other interests?

I’ve been teaching workshops and leading trips since 1985. I’m self-taught, with workshops and seminars adding to my knowledge of photography over the years.  I studied under National Geographic photographers in various workshops, studied with Dewitt Jones, and Sam Abell in workshops they gave too.

How did you first become interested in photography?

My father was always interested; he built the house with a darkroom in it and eventually taught me how to develop film and make prints. He never used it, ironically, but I sure did! We both went to various local workshops on nature photography, book development, and shared photography on our backpacking trips.

Who were/are  some of earliest influences photographically and/or artistically?

Eliot Porter, Ansel Adams, Walker Evans, then more contemporaries – Sam Abell, William Albert Allard, Dewitt Jones, Arthur Meyerson, Jay Maisel, Stephen Wilkes, Chris Johns, Jodi Cobb. Various painters, too.

What it is that you find the most satisfying when sharing your love of photography with others in a teaching environment?

First, the joy of discovery – both in finding the beautiful in the world, the interesting things to photograph, and second, the joy of self-discovery – the things we all learn about ourselves when we connect with the world around us. When teaching it gives me great joy to see someone opening up to their inner creativity.

How long have been with instructing for RMSP programs and how did that first come about?

Since 1998, I proposed a workshop to Jeanne and Neil and they went for it. I’ve taught in Yosemite NP, Capitol Reef NP, Arizona deserts in Spring, and the Smoky Mountains. All of them were wonderful adventures in exploring each area to find the essence of them and capture that.

For anyone reading this who may be considering attending the Callaway Gardens workshop, what kind of advice would you give in terms of equipment or supplies that may come in handy while doing so?  Any creative tricks or tips you could share that would be beneficial to this experience?

Definitely a macro lens, close-up filters, extension tubes, but also wide angles and telephotos.  The gardens offer a variety of scenes and subjects to use all ranges of focal lengths. A sturdy tripod, and one that can get very low to the ground. Remote releases, flash, diffusion disc are also essential. I’m holding my tricks and tips for those who attend the class – we’ll be discussing in depth techniques for macro and intimate landscape as well as special effects created in-camera, and in the computer, for creating expressive images of nature.

Finally, what would you say to any potential photographer that is considering joining you in March for your workshop there?

Do it! Gardens are a wonderful place to capture all the designs of nature and the weather/atmospheric conditions. The gardens will be fresh green with Spring’s blossom colors. We’ll be having a great time sharing tips and techniques amongst the group, all with the collective goal of making memorable images.


 RMSP’s Callaway Gardens: Georgia’s Springtime Palette takes place March 26- April 1, 2011.


One thought on “Brenda Tharp and RMSP’s Callaway Gardens Workshop

I’m enjoying this blog with some nice submissions, however have you ever considered a detailed post on flowering shrubs or bushes? I’d be very happy to help you with your research if you are interested, or do you think this is a bit out of your area of expertise?

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