ABOUT US

Suzanne Mathia and Derek von Briesen invite you to join them in exploring the limitless photographic possibilities of the American Southwest. These two award-winning landscape photographers have been living, photographing, and teaching in the American Southwest for almost two decades now and with their joint venture Southwest Perspectives, they are combining their talents to offer a full schedule of reasonably priced, highly instructional photography workshops in the most iconic and beautiful locations in the Southwest.

"Drawing on our own and our students previous workshop experiences, we have developed an innovative instructional approach that emphasizes creative vision, technical skills and artistic sensibility. Our workshops are small & personable, choosing to focus on one-on-one instruction. We never include more than eight people on any workshop; with two instructors this insures that there will never be more than four students per instructor.

"Essentially, what we teach are the fundamentals of shooting like a professional landscape photographer. You'll learn the basics and not so basics of exposure, focus, and composition: proper f/stops and focus distance to achieve classic sharp focus throughout as well as selective focus when appropriate; the use of RGB histograms & exposure compensation to insure optimal exposures for the highest quality files; and a variety of compositional techniques--diagonals; "X" marks the spot; the frame-within-the-frame; top down, left-right flow; leading lines; background/ middle/foreground proportional relationships--that will expand your creativity as you begin to visualize the variety of different perspectives in every scene.

"Our principal goal is for you to leave our workshops as markedly improved landscape photographers. In addition to our field instruction, we also utilize multi-media presentations for demonstrations and participant critiques. We are both self-taught and are more than happy to pass on our wealth of information about available books & websites that will allow you to continue your growth long after our last sunset together. You'll be able to join with your fellow workshop participants online in our Southwest Perspectives Participants Galleries where you'll be able to post your images, give & receive valuable feedback, and share your images easily with your families and friends.

"We also take a very flexible approach to the variety of skill levels and desires of our different participants. Some folks prefer the ease and compact portability of today's high quality point & shoot digital cameras and we can certainly instruct you on how to maximize your results from these amazing cameras!!

"We also realize from our own experience that some photographers come to destination workshops highly skilled and are simply looking for quality guiding to world-class locations and for the most part are comfortable on their own. Because your safety is our top priority, once you've demonstrated you can handle the terrain safely we're happy to leave you alone to get your shots.

"All participants will receive as much (or as little!) instruction as they desire. But rest assured, we'll make sure everyone is aware of the very best photo opportunities at the very best times . . . at all times!

"Beautiful images are a combination of great locations and perfect conditions. We'll transport you to the most iconic and hard-to-reach locations in the Southwest at the best times of the year, with the most up-to-date and accurate weather forecasting available, to insure the very best conditions possible.

"Our small workshops offer us the opportunity to venture to some of the less traveled but exquisitely beautiful locations in the Southwest. We have spent years exploring and scouting & as a result our destination workshops will always provide a level of expert guiding unsurpassed.

"Lastly, our workshops provide the utmost in convenience, comfort and value. All our workshops are set up so that participants can save on car rentals. Our vehicles are late model 4x4 SUVs, comfortable and agile. From the time we pick you up, we handle your transportation & lodging so you'll be free to focus on the most important thing, your photography!!

"We appreciate your interest in our photography workshops and look forward to meeting and spending time with you. We're very serious about our roles as photography instructors but hopefully we don't take ourselves too seriously!! Workshops can be hard work, and laughter can be as important as caffeine to the sleep-deprived. As we say often, you can sleep on the plane!!

"We hope you'll join us . . . for some seriously fun photography!!"


Suzanne & Derek
TESTIMONIALS
Southwest Perspectives Photography Workshops Reviewed by Lance Bell on Jan 6. I attended the "Moon over the Monument " workshop in September and all I can say is fabulous, fabulous, fabulous. Suzanne and Derek was are gracious hosts filled with a terrific amount of knowledge that was evenly distributed out over the four days. Beginners to trophy hunters could be fully engaged in this workshop. As a large format guy I came away with many new approaches to image capture for my switch over to digital. Again all I can say is don't miss the next Southwest Perspectives workshop. I know I will not. Rating: 5.0
I

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My first workshop with Derek took place at Havasu Canyon, camping over a period of four days. Derek was extremely thorough with regard to his pre-workshop instructions. He took great care in explaining what gear would be needed for the workshop (both photographic and non-photographic), conditions to be expected, and several additional helpful hints that would guarantee a successful venture. Derek had everything planned out in advance, and there wasn't a single glitch during the course of the workshop (being an engineer by trade, I can appreciate a well-planned excursion). This made for a thoroughly enjoyable and productive four days. I came away from this workshop with incredible images of one of the most beautiful areas that I have ever encountered. None of this would have been possible without Derek sharing his knowledge and expertise.

My most recent workshop with Derek occurred in early June 2009. We spent four days in and around the Sedona area, shooting iconic locations as well as some less-traveled areas that they had previously discovered. Unlike the Havasu Canyon trip, this workshop did not require overnight camping. This allowed for plenty of shooting time, and also several additional lessons in post-processing techniques. Our days began at 5:00 am and lasted well into the early evening. Again, I came away from this workshop with some beautiful images (several of which are now framed and decorating the walls of my home), as well as a greater knowledge of processing techniques and treatments.

As an instructor, I find Derek to be very out-going and approachable. While some instructors may not be very forthcoming because of potential "competition", he's very open and doesn't "hold back" in his instruction. He answers all questions in great detail, while also passing on some of his "tricks of the trade" without fear of competition. I have come to admire him both for his skills as a photographer and for his being a general "good guy". As such, I have come to consider Derek a friend.

No matter one's photographic skill level, he or she will come away from Southwest Perspectives workshops with enhanced skills and a greater appreciation for the art of photography. Some of the best images in my portfolio have been obtained during these workshops. I would not hesitate to recommend Derek to anyone seeking to improve his or her photographic skill set.

Mike Ganz - Northlake, Texas

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"We hired Derek for a day of photography lessons and shooting in and around Sedona, Az and we could not have been more pleased! Derek was the gracious host and has the rare talent to explain his camera techniques to both "left and right" brain people. He easily described his thought processes on topics of focus, exposure compensation and composition at each location we shot and what he would "see" as a professional photographer. We left with a deeper understanding of the techniques behind the camera and what is required for a gallery quality photo.
Derek is a National Geographic published photographer along with other publications and you could not find a better day or workshop photographer in the area!"

Steve & Kendall Campbell - Houston, Texas

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"I had such a great time this weekend and feel like I learned a lot. Now I need to go out and take some more photo's to solidify everything you taught me. You are an excellent teacher and very patient which is great."

Kristina Lindsey - San Diego, California

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"Hi Derek, Well, I'm finally home and almost recuperated from my trip. Thank you for all your efforts to get me up to speed. I had a fantastic time and enjoyed myself, even though you almost left me at Basha's! I got some nice photos which I'd like to share with you, but I need your snailmail address, if you don't mind. I would also like the web addresses for those sites that have f/stop and shutter speed charts when you get a chance. I'm still thinking that sometime around the beginning of November would be a good time for another class. The Fall colors should be starting about then. Let me know if that will work out OK for you.
Thanks mucho, Randi"

Randi Newbill - Seal Beach, California

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"It was with the help of our guide (and friend) Derek von Briesen that we explored the many wonders of the area. Derek's knowledge of the canyon was instumental in leading us to locations that we'd never found on our own. If you're ever in the area and find yourself in need of guidance, I'd highly recommend him. Derek's a very talented photographer based out of Sedona, AZ.

Guy & Tami Schmickle - Bayfield, Colorado

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"Hi Derek,
It's so great you have such a wonderful passion about your work (and life). It's obvious that you would do a lot of what you do for free, as you have done with me. Thankfully you don't have to (enclosed is proof!). This trip was worth every penny. Your spirit, your creativity, and your talent are priceless.
Mahalo,"

Jim Powell - Maui, Hawaii

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"Thank you Derek for a most wonderful weekend. I've really learned so much from you. Thank you for sharing your gift with us. I look forward to more visits to your beautiful home of Sedona.
Mahalo,"

Erin McNally - Lahaina, Hawaii

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In the early part of May of this year I had the opportunity to work with Derek for three days in the Sedona/Oak Creek Canyon area of Arizona as a private student. My goals were to learn as much as I could about the shooting and computer processing of professional landscape images.

Derek was just superb! He was a tireless instructor. We would be on site by 5am and would be working until 8pm when there was no more light. He taught me many components of shooting in the field, both simple and complex, subtle and basic. He started from my skill level, was adaptive to gaps in my knowledge, and was able to move as fast as I could go. His knowledge of photography, geology, meteorology, and the local geography was extensive. He also was extremely helpful with computer applications and generous with his time in helping me get started with Lightroom. He is detail oriented, patient, and meticulous without being a micro-focus instructor.

In terms of his interaction style, he is easy to be with, casual and relaxed in his mood, but still serious in what he is doing. He is warm, genuine, and gregarious.

What else can I say other than he is very bright and totally fun.

Sincerely,

Susan McClees - Phoenix, Arizona

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I would like to comment on my personal experience on a photo expedition that I attended with Derek. First of all I would like to say that Derek is a very personable individual, he was fun to talk with and shared his experiences in life creating a friendship during the excursion. His equipment knowledge was impressive and aided me with my use of Nikon equipment and others with Canon. His expertise in the field was thrilling, allowing me to capture some of the best images I have in my collection. The great thing about Derek, is that he is very humble, and tactfully makes suggestions making me feel comfortable about my areas for improvement. The small class size allowed me ample one-on-one time, but we all learned from him as a group as well. At the end of the shoot, we looked through the photographs on my laptop and selected the best photos, which helped me immediately reinforce the value of the techniques I learned that day. He actively volunteered his experiences and best practices working with Photoshop and various techniques to get the best output results. I would heartily recommend Derek to any level of photographer, even professionals looking to improve their expertise creating landscape and fine-art photographs.

Matt L. McLenon - Prairie Village, Kansas