Photo Workshop:
Conservation of Reptiles

in Saguaro National Park

Reptiles of Saguaro National Park

Arizona is home to 107 species of reptile including 13 species of rattlesnake (Genus Crotalus)–more than any other state in the US. And the further south you go in the state, the more species you find. About thirty species in total are found in Saguaro National Park, Tucson Mountain District. That’s right across the street from the headquarters of The Biodiversity Group. We have 9 species of lizard, 6 species of snake (and 3 amphibians) in our literal backyard of 2.5 acres. This is our staging area and studio location for this workshop.

You can join us to photograph this incredible diversity. We will focus on in-situ photography, but with plenty of opportunities for both studio work and processing with Lightroom. By the end of the workshop, you will have the shots and training to contribute photos to iNaturalist as a citizen-scientist to, and have at least two photos ready for printing and display in a gallery showing in Tucson.

 Includes exhibiting your images in a Tucson gallery!

Since we’re all about Conservation Photography, and getting things done with our images, we have arranged for a showing of your images for a month in a Tucson Gallery. In this way, we can support the park’s mission of conservation while also introducing the world to the fascinating world of reptiles. And by the way, it’s also a great way to showcase your work–you can expect thousands of visitors to come through during the month of the showing.

Crotalus tigris, tiger rattlesnake
Tiger rattlesnakes (Crotalus tigris) are one of the common species in Saguaro National Park. Photo by Paul S. Hamilton.


Dates: September 6-10, 2017

Location:  Saguaro National Park, southern Arizona, USA, and surrounding areas. Studio work at TBG headquarters in adjacent community of Picture Rocks. We have obtained special permission to road cruise the national park roads at night, which are usually closed to visitors.

Leaders: Paul S. Hamilton, Conservation Photographer and Founder of TBG will be your guide and resource. Ross J. Maynard, naturalist and photographer, will be working with you on animal posing, set design, and will serve as snake handler-in chief.

Subjects: Rattlesnakes, desert iguanas, and about thirty other species of reptile. Desert tortoises and Gila monsters will be photographed as available. Subjects will be photographed both in-situ and in studio conditions. Landscapes and invertebrates will be photographed opportunistically–and there will be plenty of opportunities!

Cost: $950; Optional $100/night accommodations at Crickethead Inn

Skill Level: Beginner to Professional

Maximum Participants: 8

Safety: Only highly trained personnel will handle venomous animals, and only with appropriate gear. We will make sure that photographers stay a safe distance from animals while getting the best opportunity for great photos! Since we are working in the desert, sun protection and water are mandatory for all participants.

Physical exertion needed:  Moderate; ability to walk with gear at a slow to moderate pace in warm weather on uneven terrain for three hours at a time. Expect temperatures of about 70-90 degrees F.

Included: Four nights and three days instruction, reptile handling, lunches and dinners, transportation on site, studio setup. Also two 8×10″ mounted prints for the exhibition.

Excluded: Travel to site, room, breakfast, gear. You might want to bring knee pads to get some of the best shots of ground-dwelling creatures!

1) Optional pre-workshop training day 1:00PM noon to 4:30PM on September 6. Subjects covered in the pre-workshop may include topics such as experimental depth of field, continuous lighting methods, advanced processing methods, and more, depending on requests from participants.
2) Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum for captive and semi-wild subjects on September 10.
Contact us for pricing and availability.


Wednesday, September 6
6:00-8:00PM: Welcoming reception at TBG headquarters with snacks, beverages, and opening presentation.

Thursday, September 7
8:00–11:00AM: Hike at “Black-tailed Rattlesnake Wash”–the best spot to photograph black-tailed rattlesnakes
11:00AM-2:30PM: midday break for lunch and rest
2:30-5:00PM: Studio and computer work
5:00-6:30PM: Dinner
6:30-8:30PM: Night walk at Black-tailed Rattlesnake Wash

Friday, September 8

8:00–11:00AM: Hike at Panther Peak
11:00AM-2:30PM: midday break for lunch and rest
2:30-5:00PM: Studio and computer work
5:00-6:30PM: Dinner
6:30-8:30PM: Night walk at Panther Peak

Saturday, September 9
8:00–11:00AM: King Canyon Trail and Wash
11:00AM-2:30PM: midday break for lunch and rest
2:30-5:00PM: Studio and computer work
5:00-6:30PM Dinner
6:30-8:30 Road cruising for snakes in Avra Valley

Sunday, September 10: AM Departure

TBA: Gallery Opening at Tucson Gallery

Sonoran desert lightning storm
Our workshop runs in monsoon season, where there is both the best chance of seeing herps, and offers some spectacular opportunities for landscape photography. Image by Paul S. Hamilton.

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Refund Policy

If you have made an error in making your donation or change your mind about contributing to TBG, we will honor your request for a refund made within 5 business days of your donation. To request a refund, call 520 647-1434 (US). Refunds are returned using the original method of payment, except cash donations will be returned via check. If you made your donation by credit card, your refund will be credited to that same credit card.

Refunds for any products may be made within 15 days of receipt of item(s), upon item return. Call 520 647-1434 for arrangements.

Refunds policies for activities such as workshops and internships are given on the application pages for those activities.