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About Sheography™

August 2010 BOW Group PhotoI started teaching photography workshops in March 2008 (after spending four years as a volunteer workshop assistant). While most of the trips I led were co-ed, later that same year, I began teaching with the Arizona Wildlife Federation's "Becoming an Outdoor Woman" (BOW), a program that offers adult women the chance to learn about the outdoors in an all-women environment.

 

After just a few months of teaching, I started noticing that the women in my BOW "Outdoor Photography" classes were learning differently than the ones in my co-ed sessions. Not better or worse, just differently. In the BOW classes, the women were openly sharing their challenges, asking more questions, and offering their fellow classmates a helping hand. And they were having loads of fun and laughs in doing so. Having been a workshop student myself back in the day--and as a teacher who loves AHPW Pagehelping others learn--I appreciated the supportive, non-competitive environment the all-women's sessions facilitated.

 

I loved the vibe so much so that I pitched the idea of having multi-day women's only photography workshops with Arizona Highways Photography Workshops (AHPW, who I was leading co-ed trips with). It took some convincing (specifically that women could indeed travel on our own safely...) but we celebrated our first "Women's Photography Retreat" in 2011 at the Vermilion Cliffs. Since then, enthusiastic and adventurous women from around the country have attended these workshops and explored­–through their own lens–some of Arizona's most spectacular natural wonders like the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Page, Sedona, Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, and Valley of Fire State Park.

 

Grand Canyon Rafting

After 2016, I decided to take a sabbatical from AHPW to, among other things, start offering my own all-women's photography workshops under my new brand, Sheography™. The first official group of "Sheographers" rafted and photographed the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon in May 2016--and what an epic way to kick off this new endeavor!

 

While we gather because of our collective interest in photography, nature, and travel, I hope to encourage each Sheographer on an individual level--to help each woman build confidence, feel self-reliant, and express herself in her own unique way, no matter her age, background, or skill level when she begins one of our workshops.

 

Since 2011, the all-women's workshops have helped inspire photographic growth, personal development, wanderlust, and life-long friendships. And Sheography™ aims to continue that, to help you become "the woman you were meant to be through the art of photography and adventure."

 

About Your Instructor: Colleen Miniuk-Sperry

Colleen Miniuk-Sperry in AcadiaGrowing up in Ohio, Arkansas, and Illinois, becoming an outdoor photographer or writer never crossed my mind...

 

In 1997, armed with a Bachelor of Business Administration-Computer Information Systems degree from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor (GO BLUE!), I moved to Phoenix, Arizona to begin a 10-year project management career in software development at Intel Corporation.

 

Initially as an outlet to corporate life, I began making photographs of the Western landscapes in late 2001 during my "Introduction to Photography" class at the Chandler-Gilbert Community College. Two years later, I started selling my photographs at art shows across Arizona. In 2006, I had my first photograph published in a magazine. Then, in February 2007, I left the grey cubicle walls of Corporate America to pursue a full-time career in photography and writing. Now, I can't imagine life wandering without a camera or a notebook in hand!

 

My publication credits include National Geographic calendars, Arizona Highways, AAA VIA, On Landscape, National Parks Traveler, and a broad variety of other publications. I have also served three times as an Artist-in-Residence with Acadia National Park. (You can see my work on my CMS Photography website at www.cms-photo.com)

 

Colleen_Sand AngelI'm just as excited to help others learn photography as I am making my own images, so I've proudly led photography workshops for my own company, CMS Photography, as well as outstanding organizations like the Arizona Highways Photography Workshops (AHPW), Moab Photography Symposium, The Nature Conservancy, Arizona Wildlife Federation's "Becoming an Outdoor Woman," Through Each Others Eyes, and for numerous private clients. 

 

In hopes of encouraging others to enjoy the Great Outdoors beyond workshops, I have authored the award-winning guidebooks, Wild in Arizona: Photographing Arizona’s Wildflowers, A Guide to When, Where, & How (1st and 2nd editions) and Photographing Acadia National Park: The Essential Guide to When, Where, and How. I also authored the instructional eBook, Seeing the Light in Outdoor Photography and Colleen doing a handstandacted as the publisher and editor for Wild in Arizona: Photographing Arizona’s Wildlife, A Guide to When, Where, & How. I hope to publish my first memoir/travel adventure story, Going with the Flow, in addition to other photography-related titles, in 2019.

 

I believe learning never ends, and so I'm proud to be an active member and the Secretary on the Board of Directors for the Outdoor Writers Association of America (OWAA), an organization I served as the interim Executive Director during the first half of 2017. In addition, I am a member of Women Writing the West.

 

When I'm not photographing, writing, or teaching, I enjoying camping, stand-up paddleboarding, hiking, making sand and snow angels, taking adult ballet lessons, playing my flute, sipping Chardonnay or gin, reading, laughing, goofing off, wandering, and wondering...my life's motto is "You can sleep when you're dead." I intend to make the most of the short time I have on this Earth, helping and inspiring as many people as I can to do the same along the way...

 

(I promise I won't make you do a handstand or a sand angel on a Sheography™ adventure...but you should try both at least once in your life...)