Photography Workshop Guest Post: Vincent McMillan on TGL Peru 2012

nikolaGuest Post, Peru, Trips

Clouds hover at the base of Huyana Picchu as it towers over the ruins of Machu PIcchu in Peru.

Travel Photography Workshop in Peru with The Giving Lens is “Honestly Incalculable”

The Giving Lens Participant and Toronto Photographer Extraordinaire Vincent McMillen talks about this time with TGL: Peru.

When I first read about The Giving Lens, I heard about it through Colby Brown on Google Plus. I looked at the cost of going and realized I could make ends meet. I figured learning from the best in the business wouldn’t hurt as I really wanted to learn more about photography and diversify my landscape portfolio. What I actually got in return was beyond valuable.

The volunteer aspect of the trip really intrigued me. That part sold me on applying for the trip. I loved the idea of spending time with Picaflor House Community and volunteering our time to help grow awareness for this fantastic NGO. Instead of just travelling to a third country and photographing it; being a part of it and helping people who live there was much more rewarding. Having the opportunity to photograph Machu Picchu was also a big bonus while I was there too!

What The Giving Lens provides for you is honestly incalculable. At first it’s strange telling people at home you’re going to meet with a whole bunch of people you haven’t met in some distant land to take photos. But when you get there – wow! The fun never really stopped. My group immediately bonded – it was like hanging out with old friends all over again. I learned how to take better pictures from everybody. I soaked up everything like a sponge. I asked (and asked and asked) so many questions while I was there so I wouldn’t stop learning. I helped when others asked me questions. We were all there to make a difference; providing expertise, knowledge, and thoughts made the entire experience better.

I’d never hesitate to travel with The Giving Lens. Simply being there to help make a difference really makes you a better person, photographer and a human being.

We are still taking Applications for our TGL: Peru 2013 trip, to jumpstart a Photography Club at Picaflor House and make the journey up to Macchu Picchu once again! More Info Here! 

Photography Workshop Guest Post: Vincent McMillan on The Giving Lens Peru 2012

Photography Workshop Guest Post: Vincent McMillan on TGL Peru 2012

Photography Workshop Guest Post: Vincent McMillan on TGL Peru 2012

Image by Vincent McMillan of Machu Pichu

Photography Workshop Guest Post: Vincent McMillan on TGL Peru 2012

TGL Nicaragua: From the Road, #4

nikolaFrom the Road, Nicaragua, TripsLeave a Comment

The landscape around Granada Nicaragua is a photographer’s dream. Where else can you find a pristine lake, a lagoon in a volcanic crater, and not one, but two volcanos within miles of the town centre?

Well, The Giving Lens Nicaragua team is quickly realizing what makes Nicaragua such a unique and beautiful place. After yet another sunrise at Lake Granada, the team kept experiencing the region’s natural marvels with the photography students of Empowerment International by visiting the amazing Volcan Masaya for a sunset tour. Unlike most active volcanos, the Volcano Masaya is continuously emitting carbon sulfur dioxide gas, which gently sweeps through the Santiago crater, positioned perfectly in front of the western sunset. This unique geological feature creates the perfect storm for photographing the sunset. The smoke from the crater helps light the cloudy sky on fire as the sun dips below the horizon.

Silhouettes were the lesson for our participants to teach the student photographers. The children were all smiles as they practiced photographing their friends, the TGL Team, flowers and far off mountain ranges as silhouettes under an unbelievable sunset that made the sky come alive with orange and red.


Here, TGL Nicaragua Trip leader Varina Patel, and Empowerment International photography club president, Rafa, find interest in different scenes as the Nicaraguan sky lights up.


TGL: Nicaragua: From the Road, #3

nikolaFrom the Road, Nicaragua, TripsLeave a Comment

The TGL Nicaragua team at Laguna Apoyo!

Another day, another sunrise.

The Giving Lens Nicaragua team started day three of our workshop by doing what this team has come to love: waking up early. Every photographer knows the best light is at sunrise and sunset, and we have continued to introduce the photography students at Empowerment International to this concept. And the best part? They love it!

This is now the third photography workshop that The Giving Lens has done here in the quaint and beautiful town of Granada, and we are constantly amazed at the improvements the students continue to make. They are now shooting in manual mode, and understanding the connection between shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. But what we have really noticed is they have continued to train their eyes. The compositions and subject matter has grown leaps and bounds. They also understand that these photography skills can be used in jobs other than that of a professional photographer. Juan Jose, a 17 year old long time student at EI, can’t wait to use his photography skills in his future career as a chef. It looks like we need to add a food photography course before the week is over.

Here is the TGL Nicaragua team, lead by Jay and Varina Patel, and their Empowerment International students posing for a group photo after a sunrise shoot at Laguna De Apoyo .


The TGL Nicaragua team at Laguna Apoyo!

The TGL Nicaragua team at Laguna Apoyo!

TGL Nicaragua 2013: From the Road, #2

nikolaFrom the Road, Nicaragua, Trips

juanita gets her photo, taken by Varina Patel

While The Giving Lens workshops are filled with adventure, beautiful photography, award winning instructors, and unique opportunities that you would not normally experience as a tourist, it also has helping aspect, as we always work with a non profit in the countries we visit.

TGL Nicaragua is the first of our return workshops, where we continue to teach the photography club of Empowerment International skills that will not only apply to their photography, but also, help them become successful adults. During our first workshop in July 2012, the teams came home with hundreds of photos of the students and and their families. We promised the kids and their families that the next time we came to see them, we would bring them prints to always have and cherish.

This morning, we began to fulfill our promise with the help of our 2013 team. At 6am, we found ourselves in the barrio at the students' homes, getting a taste of the daily lives of their families. With the loud call of the roosters and the smell breakfast being cooked, while the children awoke and started their days. As we went home to home, we helped hand out the prints that were generously donated by our sponsor, SmugMug. You can read more about Smugmug's providing high quality prints to hang in the EI Gallery in a guest blog post by on Smugmug's Blog.

The children's faces lit up as they saw themselves with their parents and siblings in beautiful 4×6 prints. Most of these families don't have many, if any, photos of themselves, let alone family portraits taken by some amazing photographers. It goes to show just how meaningful photography can be.

Here, Empowerment International student Juanita proudly displays a photo of her washing her sister's hair, taken by trip leader Varina Patel.You can read Varina's experience on the last trip, and the story behind this photo, on her amazing blog.

juanita gets her photo, taken by Varina Patel

juanita gets her photo, taken by Varina Patel

photography and post by Michael Bonocore