lake superior photography workshop location for sunriseI offer Lake Superior photography workshops, photography courses and one-on-one and private small group photography instruction in Grand Marais, Minnesota, Lutsen, Minnesota, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Badlands.

I’m a fulltime outdoor photographer and outdoor educator with over 25 years of experience. I’ve been teaching workshops since 2006. You can find testimony about my workshops below the workshop descriptions.

My workshops combine classroom time, field time at stunning locations and an image review. Using this combination, I teach you how to master your camera, exposure, filters, how to see and how to capture better photos, how to make better compositions and specific techniques for the subject matter. I find that this combination of teaching tools hits multiple learning styles which helps reinforce the learning process. Experiential learning allows you to quickly learn skills that would take months or years to learn from books or lectures.

When teaching I break down topics into their component parts to give you an analytical workflow and that workflow helps you increase and free your creativity. On my workshops, you not only learn about making great pictures, but you’ll also learn how to look at the photo on your computer, identify why the image works and identify how to make it pop while processing it.

During my workshops, I teach:

  • How to master your camera settings using either aperture priority or manual settings.
  • How to see and how to capture better photos and how what your camera sees differs from what you see.
  • How to make better compositions. Going beyond the typical techniques so you gain an understanding of not just the techniques, but why the techniques work, so that you can arrange compositional elements organically in your photos.
  • How to use my method of composition called Juxtaposition in Landscape Photography to create fine art landscape shots.
  • How both balance and visual flow are more important than specific compositional techniques.
  • Background/foreground relationships at different focal lengths and how that relationship can create a stronger landscape photo.
  • Bolder Lightroom processing to maximize the visual impact through emphasizing the flow and reducing flow interruptions.
  • A concrete field technique for determining the proper exposure using your histogram.
  • How to use filters to maximize the exposure range of your image, for long exposures and to make colors pop without looking supersaturated.

Shortcut the learning process and learn techniques that can improve your photography.

The small group size (limited to 10 to 12 people) ensures that you’ll get plenty of one-on-one time. If you want more one-on-one time, I offer personal and private small group workshops for you and your friends. I also make sure that my workshops are fun, because learning should be fun.

Because these workshops take place in a wilderness context, I hold your safety as my top priority. I’m a WMA-certified Wilderness First Responder and I’m an experienced wilderness guide with formal guide training and the proper permits where required to run workshops. On my workshops, I get you to the best locations while minimizing the risks.

Find this year’s workshops below, and if you have other questions email me at I personally answer every email I receive.

Minnesota Photography Workshops and Lake Superior Photography Workshops Schedule

2015 Workshop Dates

2015 North House Folk School Photography Classes – 1.5 day classes

2015 Grand Marais Art Colony Classes

.full-width-551b45ca770f5 { min-height:100px; padding:10px 0 10px; margin-bottom:0px; background-color:#f6f6f6; } #background-layer--551b45ca770f5 { background-position:left top; background-repeat:repeat; ; } .full-width-551b45ca770f5 .mk-fancy-title.pattern-style span, .full-width-551b45ca770f5 .mk-blog-view-all { background-color: #f6f6f6 !important; }


  • I stopped at Gooseberry Falls on my way home Sunday and took a few pics. I confidently walked down all those stairs carrying my tripod and camera, set up in just the right spots and took some fairly decent photos! It was a testiment to how much I learned over the weekend at your Waterfall Workshop! I had never used a tripod, I didn't know how to mount my camera on one, and NEVER shot using manual mode! At the beginning of Friday's shoot I had this sinking feeling. I struggled with my tripod, had difficulties putting the filter on the lens, needed help with camera settings (scene vs. aperture mode) and couldn't answer your question about 'F stops'. However, due to your calm, knowledgeable, and patient teaching style, I learned. You never once talked down to me or appeared to be irritated with my lack of experience. You skillfully explained photography concepts in a way that 'made sense' and I was able to easily apply this knowledge in the field. Also, you didn't hover, but were ALWAYS available for questions. It was a perfect learning environment! The workshop more than exceeded my expectations! I went in to it wanting to feel more confident using my camera and the new filter, but came out learning much, much more. The resources provided were very helpful too. The composition lecture was my favorite part. I now look at and take photos with a new analytical perspective keeping composition in mind. I'm still feeling the post-workshop zen today! :) Thank you Bryan for a fantastic experience! It was a (photographer's) life changing experience for me!

    Lori, Crystal, MN
  • Thank you Bryan for teaching me how to create the many pictures I have of Grand Marais and surrounding area.  I have now been shooting with more confidence and so enjoy being able to share those experiences with others.We hope to once again join you on another workshop, maybe in the spring .. our club is talking!

    Jackie, International Falls, MN
  • The pictures I took with your help were incredible ... especially the sunrise shots over the lake.  I love landscapes with vast expanses of water or sky but I've never been able to capture that love in a picture until you showed me how to bring it all together.  I've been so fascinated with the sunrise photos (playing with them in LightRoom) that I haven't really looked at the pictures we took in the state park.  I learned more in that one morning on the shore of Lake Superior than I've learned in half a dozen photography workshops at various venues in the Twin Cities.

    Paul, Minneapolis, MN
  • The workshop absolutely met my expectations.  Setting the photography aside, just being able to experience the winter atmosphere up on the North Shore made it worthwhile for me.  But being able learn and practice a few new techniques, and simply being around other people who share a passion for photography made it that much better.  I came home on a "high" and am still feeling it now 3-4 days later. Thanks again for creating such a unique and enjoyable workshop experience.  You are not only a great photographer, but you genuinely have a passion for sharing your knowledge with others and creating a high caliber experience for your participants.  Given the time and expense that workshop participants are expected to invest, you more than deliver a great ROI. I came away from the experience with some good pictures, new skills and great memories.  Well done! Best wishes --- I hope to see you again!

    Dan, Lake Elmo, MN
  • A great workshop, Bryan, and a perfect mix of field work, tutorial, and critique. And for this native Californian, a terrific discovery of a gorgeous area. There's a lot more beauty in the Upper Midwest than what we residents of the Right and Left Coasts tend to refer derisively as "flyover country."

    Craig, Walnut Creek, California
  • This was my first photography workshop. I was particularly impressed with how Bryan was able to explain the processes we practiced in a manner such that us rookies can understand. I will definitely sign up for future workshops.

    Steve, Shoreview, MN
  • Loved the workshop! I have no suggestions to make it better. –

    Carla, Edina, MN
  • I spent a delightful (albeit freezing!) afternoon with Bryan while he patiently tried teaching me how to use my Nikon. Considering I started out not even knowing was aperture was, I ended up taking some pretty cool (said tongue-in-cheek) pictures of the Cascade River Falls and the ice surrounding it. If you have taken a class with Bryan, then you know how fun it is to learn from him. If not, add it to your list of things to do - it was a great experience!

    Cheryl, Twin Cities, MN
  • It was amazing from all aspects. It had everything; answers to my queries, unknown beautiful locations, technical tips.

    Sourov, Kolkata, India
  • I liked the workshop a lot and I recommended it to everyone. I improved my technical skills and I have better understanding about composition. Before the class I was taking pictures using only Aperture Priority. During the first day of the class I learned how to set the correct exposure using Manual seatings only. In the next 2 days of the class I was using Manual all the time including making adjustment to accommodate 10 stops ND filter, with Polarizer and even sometimes 3 stops Grad Filter (stacking three filters together). Also, I started using the Live View and the rear AF button on the back of the camera. The format of the class was perfect for me. I liked a lot the balance between classroom work where I was learning new techniques and then going to the field to practice what I just learned. I really appreciate that during the class room work Bryan helped me to set up my camera with specific settings to optimize the quality of the landscape pictures. Thanks to his help later in the field I didn't waste anytime to make camera adjustments. My camera was ready to take Landscape pictures and I had the knowledge to set the correct exposure. I own the 4 photography books from Kelby but Bryan's class helped me to see the big picture and to have better understanding of the important elements (specially exposure, composition and Lightroom processing), the balance between them and most importantly how to use them to express my vision.

    Pavel, Hudson, WI
  • I really enjoyed the Fall Photography Workshop. Prior to your class the only thing I knew about composition was how to spell the word. Now I have a clear path to follow when framing up an image. Down low at 24, select a great foreground then emphasis it, finally connect it to the background.  Your passion for what you do makes you a very special kind of teacher, what you do comes the heart, that said, it was very easy to walk away from your workshop with skills that will greatly improve my images. As a relative new comer to the DSLR world it was just what I needed. Can't wait to get back out around San Antonio to test my new skills.

    Jeff from San Antonio, Texas
  • This morning, I was running along the lakefront in downtown Madison as the sun was about to pop over the horizon. I found myself looking around for where I would set up a tripod if I had it with me, and what options I had for something interesting in the foreground. I definitely look at sunrises differently since taking your workshop!

    Michael from Madison, Wisconsin
  • This was my second workshop with Bryan and each time my photography has noticeably improved.  I love Bryan's approach to composition and image structure and it's really helped my landscapes.  If you want to get some great shots and have a good time as well, I highly recommend Bryan's workshops.

    Jeff from Minnesota
  • What I learned will take my photography to a new level.

    Sid from Greenwood, Mississippi
  • Really enjoyed the Smoky Mountains Photo Workshop. Bryan took us to amazing spots and spent time teaching us the the correct way to capture them.

    Barb from Andover, Minnesota
  • Gales of November is a workshop definitely worth your time and investment. Bryan’s 1:1 hands-on approach showed me new things about my camera’s operation as well as taught me how to see what I’m looking at differently. I came to this workshop with little experience using filters and as an aperture-only shooter. I finished this workshop being comfortable and confident shooting in the manual mode and with a new understanding about filters and how to use them to enhance my images. Bryan’s teaching style creates a non-threatening environment encouraging participants to take risks and have fun.

    Wayne from St. Paul, Minnesota
  • I have taken three workshops with Bryan. He finds exciting locations and his enthusiasm for each area allows me to see great photo opportunities. He is patient and very knowledgeable, his teaching style has made me a better photographer.

    Barb from Andover, MN
  • Great workshop. Thought I was in way over my head but in actuality I learned tons. Bryan answered all of my questions. I will attend more workshops.

    Jana from Wadena, MN
  • I'd like to thank you again for an unforgettable weekend. The ice trees were a chance of a lifetime to shoot. Your laid back teaching style is excellent, as well as your sense of humor and willingness to hang out in the severe cold for as long as people wanted to shoot. I learned so much! I can see why your shoots book up quickly. Hope to see you again soon.

    Jeff from Forest Lake, MN
  • Are you a cold weather person, a photographer who enjoys the beauty of winter, if so, Bryan Hansel’s Lake Superior Winter Workshop is for you. Bryan takes you to some of the most beautiful places in and around Grand Marais, Minnesota. Bryan’s knowledge of exposure, technique and composition will enable each student to walk away with wonderful, inspiring photos which you will enjoy taking and showing to everyone.

    Eric from Minneapolis, MN

Photography Workshop Descriptions

winter photography workshop image

Lake Superior Winter Photography Workshop

In the winter, the combination of all day golden-hour light, sea fog, ice and open water make Lake Superior’s shoreline and tributaries the premier winter photo destination in the Midwest. The best month to photograph the area is February, because the sun sets and rises over Lake Superior and the rivers are solid ice which allows for exploration. During the workshop, we hike up the frozen river valley’s during the day and spend time on the shore at sunrise and sunset. You also learn how to keep your camera running in the cold. This one always fills up quickly, so we often add a second session.

Dates: February 13-15, 2015, February 27 to March 1, 2015
Cost: $329
More InfoWinter Photography Workshop details

Des Moines Photography Workshop at Neal Smith photo

Des Moines Photography Workshop at Neal Smith Wildlife Refuge

I’m teaming up with John Gregor of ColdSnap Photography out of Two Harbors, Minnesota to run a Des Moines Photography Workshop at Iowa’s Neal Smith Wildlife Refuge. The refuge has great classrooms, a bison herd, elk, tallgrass prairie, oak savannas and sedge meadows. We’re staging this workshop at a perfect time to kick off your spring and having multiple instructors will give you different perspectives and takes on photography.

Dates: April 11 -12, 2015
Cost: $179 ($169 for members of the Friends of Neal Smith Wildlife Refuge)
More InfoNeal Smith Wildlife Refuge Photography Workshop in Des Moines, Iowa

One of several waterfalls at Stairway Portage in the BWCA near the Gunflint Trail. BWCA, Minnesota.

Minnesota Spring Waterfall Photography Workshop

In April when winter’s snowpack melts, it rushes down Lake Superior’s tributaries and over the numerous waterfalls.  The waterfalls thunder, the narrow canyons fill and the ground shakes from the excess water.  No other time of year allows for the dynamic photography of waterfalls along Lake Superior.
Dates: April 24 to 26, 2015, May 1 to 3, 2015 (if first fills)
Cost: $329
More Info: Spring Waterfall Photo Workshop Details.

badlands photo workshop

Spring in the Badlands Photo Workshop

May in the Badlands is a time when the life is returning to the park, the grass starts to green and some wild flowers start to appear. On this Badlands Photography Workshop, we’ll spend three days photographing the park from sunrise to sunset. If the weather looks favorable, we’ll photograph the Milky Way one night.

Dates: May 14 to 17, 2015 (arrive on the 14th)
Note: If you arrive the 14th, we’ll have a sunrise shoot on the morning of the 15th.
Cost: $499  (A nonrefundable deposit of $100 is due at registration. The remainder is due 30 days before the workshop.)
More Info: Spring in the Badlands Photo Workshop

night photography workshop location

Northern Night Skies: Night Photography Workshop – 5 day

Cook County, Minnesota on the north shore of Lake Superior is 92% public and undeveloped land. With a summer population of about 10,000 people mainly living near the shore of Lake Superior, there isn’t much in the way of night pollution. When it’s dark out, the stars fill the sky, the Milky Way is bright and because of our proximately to the magnetic north pole, we get northern lights more often than other areas at the same latitude. August generally has clear nights or nights with lightning and thunderstorms, and this night photography workshop takes advantage of those clear summer nights. For five days, we’ll work on capturing night images and learning how to process them.

Dates: August 12 to 16th, 2015
Cost: $699
More InfoNorthern Night Skies: Night Photography Workshop

Oberg Sunrise

Minnesota’s North Shore of Lake Superior Fall Photography Workshop

During late September, the hills and shoreline surrounding Lake Superior turn a mix of fiery red and yellow. The combination of the dramatic shoreline and moody fall weather makes the north shore the best photography destination in Minnesota. During the workshop, we’ll visit the best locations to capture fall colors, visit a maple syrup factory and drive roads that will literally take your breath away. During the workshop, you’ll learn compositional techniques, how to use several filters and how to control your camera to capture stunning fall photos.

Dates: September 23 to 27, 2015
Cost: $750
More Info: Minnesota Fall Photography Workshop

picture of my Smoky Mountain photography workshop sunrise

Great Smoky Mountains Photography Workshop – Fall

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of America’s greatest and most majestic national parks. During the fall, weathered ridges covered with fall colors literally stretch as far as the eye can see. Streams run down all the valleys and traverse a diversity of biomes. The northern forest intermixes with the southern forest in one of the biologically richest places on the planet. We’ll spend three days immersed from dawn to dusk photographing the fall colors on the peaks and in the streams.

Dates: October 22 to 25, 2015
Cost: $549
More Info: Great Smoky Mountains Photography Workshop

Waves wash against the Grand Marais, MN Lighthouse.

Gales of November Photography Workshop

November is the stormiest month on Lake Superior. It’s the month with the best chance of capturing this inland ocean showing off its explosive nature. I lead you on a learning experience to some of the most beautiful out-of-the-way locations for making great storm and lake images. Workshop time is divided between the classroom – learning about metering, manual camera controls, lighting, composition – and the field. Evenings are spent peer reviewing the day’s images. Although there will be some classroom time, expect to spend most of this workshop in the field.

Dates: November 6 to 8, 2015
Cost: $329
More info: Gales of November Photography Workshop

moonset over the Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park Photography Workshop

The landscape in South Dakota’s Badlands National Park feels like something out of a futuristic movie. Rugged Badlands formations seem to rise abruptly out of the grassy plains and rise into a crisp sky. When standing at overlooks, the terrain unfolds before your eyes. Your eyes follow the lines carved by water for 10s of 1000s of years. December in the Badlands is a time of transition and the perfect time for photography. On this Badlands Photography Workshop, we’ll spend three days photographing the park from sunrise to sunset.

Dates: December 3 to 6, 2015
Cost: $499
More infoBadlands National Park Photography Workshop

The sun rise lights clouds over Lake Superior and Artist's Point. Grand Marais, MN.

Individual and Private Photography Workshops

I offer personal Minnesota photography workshops and Lake Superior photography workshops targeting your learning needs. The workshops are hands-on in the field. We’ll visit a location and spend time on subjects that you need help with. I’ll teach you my approach to photography and by the end of the workshop, you’ll have the skills that will improve your photography. Select a half-day or a full-day workshop.

Price: 1 person: $225 half-day / $375 full-day
2 people: $280 half-day / $480 full-day  ($140/$240 per person)
3 people: $330 half-day / $585 full-day  ($110/$195 per person)
4 people: $380 half-day / $660 full-day  ($95/$165 per person)
Half-day: A four to five hour private photo workshop starting before sunrise or leading up to sunset. Midday lessons are also available.
Full-day: We meet before the sunrise and shoot for around eight and nine hours or shoot eight hours leading up to sunset. In the winter, that might mean that we shoot both the sunrise and sunset. Total lesson time runs between eight and nine hours.
Weekend: Contact me for special full weekend workshops for four or more people.
Required down-payment: Full payment. 50% of the total is nonrefundable but may be transferred.
More info: One-on-one photography workshops and small ground photography workshops

Contact Us

Send me an email and we'll get back to you, asap.