Award-winning photographer offers animal photography class

A one-day old cria stands by her moth at Black Wolf Ranch in St. Ignatius. (Photo by Pam Voth)

By Pam Voth

Award-winning photographer Pam Voth is teaming up with the Rocky Mountain School of Photography to offer students a chance to learn animal photography skills in very unique settings in Western Montana from Sep 30 – Oct 2.

Voth coined the term “Barnyard Safari” to describe the Adult Education weekend-long class she developed to help students learn and practice the skills needed to photograph animals in an environment that guarantees they’ll be available models, but also offers some of the same challenges photographers might encounter when heading out into the field on their own to try to get wildlife photographs.

“I love photographing animals of all kinds, whether it’s dogs and horses close to home, or tigers and monkeys in India,” Voth says. “Anytime I’m looking for animals, I’m on safari. I really wanted a way to share my enthusiasm for photographing animals with people who’d like the chance to practice together in a fun and beautiful setting.”

During this shoot and critique format class, she intends to teach skills including capturing expressions, photographing behavioral interactions between individuals, how to photograph herds and flocks and how to tell stories through images.

One of the most important things she wants to teach is how to engage in any type of animal photography in a way that will not harm or disturb the subject.

“We always need to take into account how our own actions or presence may affect or alter an animal’s behavior,” she says.

Voth visited several farms and ranches in the Bitterroot and Mission Valleys before choosing the two locations to launch this new type of photography workshop. On the first day, students will visit ABC Acres in Hamilton, a permaculture farm that focuses on regenerative agriculture practices, healthy living systems and ecological design. Cattle, chickens and pigs are out on open pasture, eating, resting and living the way nature intended.

Owners, Tim and Sarah Southwell, are committed to sharing their passion for permaculture and are actively engaged with educating people about their projects through farm tours and a very active website where there are always fresh videos and blog posts about what is going on at the farm.

In addition, they’ve just launched a Farm Stay program that will allow visitors to enjoy overnight stays in comfortable accommodations as they experience the rhythms of sustainable life at ABC Acres.

On day two, photography students will be introduced to an entirely different type of animal and style of shooting when they visit Black Wolf Ranch in St. Ignatius. Owner, Wendy Tyler, will be on hand to help create the best opportunities to photograph her herd of over 200 fluffy and amusing alpacas against stunning views of the Mission Mountains.

Black Wolf Ranch is dedicated to raising alpacas that will produce the highest quality fiber for yarns that are used by artisans across the world to produce high end textiles and garments. They offer both an on location and online store as well as cabin accommodations for people wanting to enjoy overnight stays on the ranch.

Voth plans to continue to explore and add more locations for future Barnyard Safaris next Spring and beyond.

“The long term goal is to help people discover a connection to the natural world through careful, thoughtful observation and photography of animals,” she said. “Even though we definitely know we’ll see animals, there’s still a wild card about what exactly they’ll be doing, so that introduces a perfect amount of randomness into the whole experience that can simulate what a photographer might want to consider when they are out on their own trying to get wildlife images.”

Voth is an award-winning photographer and filmmaker based in Missoula who offers photography workshops and expeditions to groups and individuals in Montana and other wild places around the world.

She works with commercial clients in the hospitality and tourism industries. Her editorial and commercial images have been published in national and international publications ranging from The New York Times to the National Geographic Channel.

Rocky Mountain School of Photography is a family-owned school of photography based in Missoula, Montana. The school opened its doors in 1989 and has, since the beginning, taken a people-first approach to education.

ABC Acres is a permaculture farm located in Hamilton, MT whose approach to permaculture includes sharing ideas and techniques with the community through farm tours, workshops, social gatherings and permaculture design classes.

Black Wolf Ranch is an alpaca ranch located in St. Ignatius, MT whose focus is on raising alpacas that yield the highest quality fiber for use in yarns to make textiles and garments.

For more information, contact Voth at 406-546-2999