The Photographic Landscape of the Wrangells

with David Shaw: September 5-10, 2014

Outdoor photography is an artistic pursuit that celebrates the world's wild places and has the power to encourage conservation. This program will utilize the Wrangell Mountains Center's (WMC) summer base in McCarthy to explore the mountains and historic sites of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve. In early September, the autumn colors should be at their peak, making this an ideal time of year for photography. Additionally, nights will be dark enough that we may have the chance to view and photograph the northern lights (weather and conditions permitting, of course). This course is designed for those who want to take their photography to a new level. While we will cover the technical aspects of image-making, the emphasis will be on creativity, and making unique and beautiful images in wild places. 

 Photo by David Shaw

Photo by David Shaw

 Photo by David Shaw

Photo by David Shaw


 David Shaw

David Shaw

David Shaw is professional outdoor photographer, writer, wildlife biologist, and naturalist guide. His photography and writing have appeared in hundreds of magazines, calendars, websites, and advertising campaigns around the world. In 2013, he was recognized as Artist in Residence at Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve. Additionally, he has an M.S. in wildlife biology from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. He leads several wilderness trips in Alaska's Arctic each year and regularly guides birding and photography trips as far afield as Central and South America and Antarctica.


Participants should plan to arrive in McCarthy in time to get settled and enjoy dinner at 6 pm on Friday, September 5th. The workshop ends after breakfast on Wednesday, September 10th. Each day of the workshop, will include time in the field, discussions of technique, composition, creativity, image critiques, and group and independent assignments.

Location and Venue: 

 Exploring a field of dryas at the toe of the Kennicott Glacier.  Photo: Nathaniel Wilder

Exploring a field of dryas at the toe of the Kennicott Glacier.

Photo: Nathaniel Wilder

The WMC is a private nonprofit institute whose mission is connecting people with wildlands through art, science and education in the Wrangell Mountains. The course is based at the WMC's headquarters in the Old Hardware Store in McCarthy, Alaska. The town of McCarthy is set in the heart of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, the largest national park in the U.S. Over 23% larger than Switzerland, Wrangell-St. Elias is world renowned for its wild landscapes, high peaks, massive glaciers and rivers, healthy ecosystems, and dramatic scenery as well as its unique cultural history.

McCarthy is approximately a seven-hour drive from either Anchorage or Fairbanks. It is possible to fly or arrange shuttles from Anchorage to McCarthy, and occasionally we can help arrange carpools for students, though we make no promises. McCarthy and neighboring Kennecott, a national historic landmark, are situated within the Kennicott Valley (note the different spellings between the natural features and historical features.) McCarthy and Kennecott serve locals and travelers alike as a gateway to world-class backcountry opportunities and amazing front country hikes and walks (including access to the Root Glacier); the Kennicott Valley also provides a window into some of the most unique chapters in Alaska's history and an authentic, lively contemporary community.

Meals and Accommodations:

 Lunch at the Old Hardware Store  Photo: Nathaniel Wilder

Lunch at the Old Hardware Store

Photo: Nathaniel Wilder

Lunch and dinner will be provided and shared communally; workshop participants are responsible for the breakfast meal, except on the last day. Breakfast can be purchased from a limited number of local vendors or participants can bring breakfast provisions to store and cook in the Hardware Store facilities. Hot water will be provided for coffee and tea. Every effort will be made to accommodate dietary needs and restrictions with advance notice. Primitive camping is available at no cost to workshop participants. The private site is located just a short walk away from the Wrangell Mountains Center campus. Those who camp are welcome to store gear and food, borrow bear barrels, and use our rustic shower and other facilities at the Hardware Store. WMC staff will direct you to the campsite and orient you there upon your arrival.

 Other lodging options within McCarthy include the full service McCarthy Lodge and Lancaster's Backpacker Hotel, located just down the street. The Kennicott River Lodge and Hostel is another great option outside of town; it's a short bicycle ride or twenty minute walk each way. If you bring a vehicle with you, Currant Ridge Cabins is located on the McCarthy Road about three miles from the road's end; it's about a half mile walk between the parking area there and the Old Hardware Store. Free shuttles run between the river and McCarthy on a rotation with limited hours. If you bring a camper in or would otherwise like to camp out with your vehicle, there are two commercial campgrounds near the end of the McCarthy Road that will accommodate you without advance reservations.

Cost: $625/person; current WMC Members receive a 10% discount (not applicable to the early bird discount). The workshop price includes lunch, dinner and optional camping and food storage facilities. 

 Register: To register for this workshop, please fill out the attached form with a $75 deposit. If you prefer you may also mail in your registration and a check (download .PDF). Balance is due 30 days prior to workshop start date. Write to or call 907-242-0515 with any questions.