lake superior photography workshop location for sunriseI offer the premiere Lake Superior photography workshops, photography courses and one-on-one and private small group photography instruction in Grand Marais, Minnesota, Lutsen, Minnesota. I also offer workshops at national parks including the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Theodore Roosevelt National Park (ND Badlands), and the Badlands National Park.

I’m a professional outdoor photographer and outdoor educator with over 25 years of experience. I’ve been teaching workshops since 2006. You can find testimony about my popular 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 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 see and how to capture better photos and how what your camera sees differs from what you see.
  • 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.

My photography workshops help you shortcut the learning process, and you will learn techniques that can improve your photography.

The small group size 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.

Note: All workshop participants receive a discount code for Singh-Ray Filters and Smugmug.

Minnesota Photography Workshops and Lake Superior Photography Workshops Schedule

2016 Photography Workshops

2016 North House Folk School Photography Classes – 1.5 day classes

Final Payment


  • I had an AMAZING time in the Smokies.  It was by far the best class and best group I've been with.  I'm going through major withdrawals this week being back in the office as my desk job...LOL...

    Carolyn from Des Moines, Iowa
  • If you are looking for the true North Shore photographic experience, Bryan Hansel Photography is a great option. Bryan lives in the area and has an encyclopedia of stunning location options for all conditions. I just completed Bryan's Fall Color workshop. Mother Nature was a little slow in revealing herself this year, but Bryan's leadership got us in front of amazing scenes, and with some color! The Bryan Hansel experience included several comprehensive classroom presentations tailored to provide the participants with the information on how best to photograph the type of scenes we were going to find during the workshop. Bryan also made certain we were utilizing this information in the field. If you want top notch landscape opportunities with an experienced leader, choose Bryan Hansel Photography. I am going back.

    Gary from Verona, WI
  • I attended Bryan’s Milky Way Over Lake Superior workshop, it is the first workshop I took with Bryan. Bryan’s knowledge of the Milky Way and night sky along with the locations he took us to make this workshop great. He shares with you the ways to learn the night sky, find the darkest areas in the US, how to process your images etc. to help you continue to get great night images after the workshop. He is enthusiastic, patient, has an energetic love of photography and is open to suggestions to try different things and get the images you want while on the workshop. I can’t wait to take another one of his workshops!

    Bonnie from Green Bay, WI
  • Thank you so much for a wonderful workshop. I'm hooked! It was so hard to come back home after being part of something so fantastic. In fact, it is difficult to articulate how truly amazing this experience was for me.  Your Night Sky Photography workshop exceeded my expectations in every way. You are a master teacher with the patience of a saint! I appreciated how you were able to help every participant regardless of the individual skill levels including me, a very beginner. My goal of just one great picture of the night sky was met on the first night. Your knowledge of photography and the locations helped us all capture beautiful photos every single night. I am now confident enough to try to scout out locations and take photographs on my own. In fact, I did just that on my first night home. I feel so lucky to have had this opportunity and cannot wait for my next workshop with you! Thank you for making this a memorable experience!  

    Lindsey from Duluth, MN
  • What a fabulous experience! Bryan blends the art and science better than anyone I know!

    Tom from the Twin Cities, MN
  • Bryan provided amazing opportunities for top-notch images. His expertise and selection of stunning locations are a winning combination. Thank you for a great experience. I feel as though my work improved because I had time to practice at optimal locations using your suggestions. The most take home photos ever!

    Bonnie from the Twin Cities, MN
  • This workshop was a highlight of the year for me. Experiencing and photographing northern lights was something I will never forget. Bryan's knowledge of the area and spots to photograph is top notch.

    Scott from Mounds View, MN
  • I just had the opportunity to take one of Bryan's spring waterfall workshops. Before signing up, I had read many of his newsletters, his teaching strategies and student testimonials. It was important to me that if I was going to spend the money and time to do this, that I find an instructor who was interested in how/what we were learning, rather than taking us to a pretty spot and then going off to do his own photography. Having been a teacher myself for 34 years, it was evident right away that Bryan was passionate about both the teaching of photography and photography itself. He was able to get a feel for what level everyone was at and teach to it. It didn't matter if you were a beginner or a more advanced photographer, I think everyone was able to walk away feeling successful with many new ideas and techniques to improve their photography. There was a good mix of classroom, in the field, and image review time. Interaction and support from fellow classmates was also invaluable. This is the best learning experience I've had in years!

    Judy from Winnipeg, MB
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • What I learned will take my photography to a new level.

    Sid from Greenwood, Mississippi
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • It was amazing from all aspects. It had everything; answers to my queries, unknown beautiful locations, technical tips.

    Sourov, Kolkata, India
  • 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
  • Loved the workshop! I have no suggestions to make it better. –

    Carla, Edina, MN
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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

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 12-14, 2016, February 19 to 21, 2015
Cost: $349
Sign up and 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 16-17, 2016
Cost: $199 ($189 for members of the Friends of Neal Smith Wildlife Refuge)
Sign up and 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 22 to 24, 2016, April 29 to May 1, 2016 (if first fills)
Cost: $349
Sign up and More Info: Spring Waterfall Photo Workshop Details.

CCC shelter in Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Spring in Theodore Roosevelt National Park Photo Workshop

May in Theodore Roosevelt National Park is when the park comes back alive from a long winter. The golden grasses contrast with the spring green cottonwood trees. The bison and wild horse have calves and the landscape is bathed in fog and golden light. Come experience the park that made President Roosevelt the man he was.

Dates: May 19-22, 2016
Note: If you arrive the 19th, we’ll have a sunrise shoot on the morning of the 20th.
Cost: $500
Sign up and More Info: Spring in Theodore Roosevelt National Park Photography Workshop

bison in the Black Hills.

Badlands and Black Hills Photography Workshop

The Badlands and Black Hills Photography Workshop starts in Badlands National Park. We’ll split our time between the Badlands and Custer. Once in Custer we’ll photograph the Black Hills. Destinations include Badlands National Park, Scenic, Custer State Park, the Needles, Sylvan Lake, Spearfish Canyon and depending on conditions Bear Butte.

Dates: June 22 to 26, 2016
Note: If you arrive the 21th, we’ll shoot the sunset that night.
Cost: $799
Sign up and More Info: Badlands and Black Hills Photography Workshop

wild flower

North Shore Wildflower Photography Workshop

In the middle of June, the wildflowers along the north shore of Lake Superior peak. The lupine are starting to appear and the lady slippers bloom. In past years, I offered this as a one day workshop and in one day, we often photographed as many as 30 to 40 unique wild flowers in bloom. The common request was to make the workshop longer. It’s now a full weekend of wild flower photography.

Dates: June 17 to 19, 2016
Cost: $349
Sign up and More Info: North Shore Wildflower Photography 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 3 to 7th, 2016
Cost: $699
Sign up and 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 27 to October 2, 2016
Cost: $750
Sign up and 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 20 to 23, 2016
Cost: $599
Sign up and 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 4 to 6, 2016
Cost: $349
Sign up and More Info: Gales of November Photography Workshop

moonset over the Badlands National Park

Early Winter in 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 4 to 6, 2015, December 2 to 4, 2016
Cost: $549
Sign up and 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

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: Not running this in 2016. Join me for a 5-day Badlands/Black Hills workshop instead. Or come to Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
Cost: $550
Sign up and More Info: Spring in the Badlands Photo Workshop

milky way photography workshop student taking pictures

Milky Way over Lake Superior Night Photography Workshop

Join me for a 3-day field workshop and learn how to photograph the Milky Way above Lake Superior and the inland lakes and stream of Cook County. This Minnesota photography workshop takes place in one of the darkest places in Minnesota and one of the darkest places in the world.

Dates: This workshop will not run in 2016. Register for the Northern Night Skies instead.
Cost: $499
Sign up and More InfoMilky Way Photography Workshop