Grand Canyon Rafting Photography Retreat with Colleen Miniuk-Sperry/CMS Photography (August 25-September 2, 2019)

Grand Canyon Rafting Photography Retreat with Colleen Miniuk-Sperry/CMS Photography (August 25-September 2, 2019)

Grand Canyon Rafting Photography Retreat with Colleen Miniuk-Sperry/CMS Photography
August 25-September 2, 2019
Cost: $3995/person
Limited to 15 participants (co-ed) - 5 spots left

Register now at

Are you ready for THE trip and photographic adventure of a lifetime?

Join professional outdoor photographer and instructor (and river addict) Colleen Miniuk-Sperry on this 9-day photography retreat, where we’ll spend 8 days/7 nights exploring the Colorado River as it weaves its way through the majestic Grand Canyon on a motorized, single-boat private charter with the best commercial guides on the river, Hatch River Expeditions . (We’ve added an extra night based on previous participant feedback. More river time = more photography time!)

We’ll kick off this grand journey with an introductory presentation on the evening of August 25 at the Cliff Dwellers Lodge. To help you prepare and make beautiful images of your journey through the canyon’s embrace at both a leisurely contemplative approach and a faster “grab-n-go” pace, Colleen will cover specific techniques such as (but not limited to):

  • Identifying effective lighting conditions (shadow and highlight)
  • Composing for scale, balance, and visual impact
  • Telling a compelling visual story through single and multiple images
  • Photographing the night sky (far away from light pollution!)

Then, on the morning of August 26, we’ll pack our gear into dry bags (provided) and then travel with Hatch to the put-in at Lee’s Ferry. From there, we’ll explore 188-miles (to Whitmore Wash) by boat and foot, chasing the light and marveling at ancient ruins, slot canyons, waterfalls, and exhilarating white-water rapids through each of our own lenses. No two days minutes seconds on the river are alike! We’ll balance fun activities like swimming in the Little Colorado River, splashing in waterfalls, and hiking to ancient ruins with our photography pursuits.

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you have expectations that we’ll be “nailing” iconic locations like Nankoweap, Little Colorado River, Elves Chasm, Deer Creek Falls, etc. in “perfect” lighting conditions, this is not the trip for you . While I work closely with our boatmen to arrange visits at classic and lesser-known photogenic locations in the best light possible, our 8-day itinerary will simply not enable us to see it all at its best (we’d need years and years for that…). Due to the spontaneity of a multitude of variables outside our control, we cannot guarantee stops at any specific location. Besides, I philosophically believe making creative, storytelling, and meaningful images comes from within and incorporates, but does not depend, on external factors. A great photographer can make the most in every lighting situation and in any location, not just the iconic ones…and that’s exactly what we’ll be learning how to do–and doing–on this trip! And because of the spontaneity, each photography retreat is different from year to year!

Along the way, we’ll enjoy spectacular camps on beaches or ledges while dining on delectable meals like eggs benedict and bacon, burritos, chicken and tuna salad sandwiches, ribeye steaks, pork chops, homemade mashed potatoes…and divine desserts like chocolate cake, Oreo pudding, and cheesecake! Although we’ll work together as a team to set up our camp each night using a “fire line,” our personally-selected Hatch boatman and swamper know just how to spoil us for our efforts.

Then, on the morning of September 2, our group will be helicoptered out to Bar 10 Ranch, where we’ll then board a small plane and return to Marble Canyon late morning to conclude the retreat.

To get an idea of what you might see and experience, visit Colleen’s private gallery of photographs from her three previous trips: (use password: rivertime)

Physical Requirements:
Best suited for active, sure-footed participants who are capable of hiking up to three-miles roundtrip on uneven, rocky, and uphill terrain while carrying a limited amount of their gear. All outings are optional, and those with more limited mobility or physical restrictions can opt to stay closer to the raft. Per Hatch:

“We are happy to accommodate a wide range of physical challenges and medical conditions. Neither previous whitewater experience nor swimming ability is required. Being in good physical condition will enhance your enjoyment of the trip. Here are some minimum requirements you must be able to meet to safely enjoy your journey:

  • Ability to hold onto the raft while going through whitewater. Ropes are provided throughout the raft for hand holds.
  • Capable of climbing onto and off of the raft. There will be about a 2 foot step up/down from the raft to the beaches. Please note that some surfaces may be wet and slippery.
  • Comfortable walking on uneven terrain. Trails in Grand Canyon are not regularly maintained. Also sand beaches are the norm for camp sites so make sure you are comfortable walking across the sand inclines.
  • Able to carry your own personal gear to and from camp. The maximum weight for personal gear is 25 pounds.”

Workshop Includes:

  • Single-boat charter trip strictly limited to 15 participants (most commercial motor trips are two boats, or 32 people)
  • Complimentary night stay on August 25th at Cliff Dwellers Lodge (double occupancy; limited single occupancy available upon request for $65 extra. Contact Colleen directly to determine availability.)
  • Photographic instruction/presentation on August 25th
  • Your dinner and drinks on the evening of August 25th at Cliff Dwellers Lodge
  • Breakfast on the morning of August 26th at Cliff Dwellers Lodge
  • Two first-class Hatch River Expedition guides, who will share insights about the geology, history, and river legends (some of which might be true!) along our entire journey
  • Hatch coffee mug
  • All meals and beverages during rafting trip (except for sodas and alcohol)
  • All camping gear while on the river: camp chair, three-person tent for two people, camp cot, sleep kit (ground cloth, sleeping bag, pillow and twin flat sheet)
  • Helicopter ride out of the Canyon from Whitmore Wash to Bar 10 Ranch on September 2nd
  • Fixed wing plane ride from Bar 10 Ranch to either Marble Canyon, Las Vegas, or Page on September 2nd
  • Overnight parking at Marble Canyon at the Hatch facilities next to Cliff Dwellers
  • Grand Canyon National Park permit & park entrance fees
  • An invitation to join the closed "CMS Photography: Workshop Alumni Forum" Facebook group

Workshop Excludes:

  • Transportation to/from the Cliff Dwellers Lodge in Marble Canyon
  • Personal gear - clothing/photographic
  • Soda and alcohol during the rafting trip (you may purchase your own either on your own or through Cliff Dwellers Lodge)
  • Guide gratuity for the boatman and swamper (Hatch suggests 8-10% of trip cost)
  • Trip insurance

Spouses, significant others, friends, and family members who are not photographers are also welcome to join this trip as paid participants.

A $500/person non-refundable deposit is required to reserve a spot on this trip. The final balance is due on or before April 1, 2019. Reserve now by Adding to Cart and completing the registration information at

Cancellation Policy - Exclusive to this Trip:
All cancellations must be provided in writing. Due to the nature of this trip, the deposit and final payment are non-refundable . Should you need to cancel at any time, if your vacated spot happens to fill prior to the retreat, then a full refund of all monies paid will be granted, minus a $250 administrative fee.

There are no exceptions to this policy. CMS Photography strongly encourages you to purchase trip insurance to protect yourself in the event of unexpected circumstances preventing you from attending our workshops.