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Gale Perry - The Light Fantastic Photo ToursNot Worth The Money

I booked what was advertised as a photographic workshop in Death Valley, California, with Gale Perry d/b/a The Light Fantastic, based on the satisfied comments from former clients on her website. The "workshop" was 3 1/2 days and cost $585.00. I learned that there were going to be 10 people total at this "workshop" and had high hopes that I would gain some better knowledge of my digital SLR camera, and photographic techniques, along with making new friends that had similary interests. The group did not mesh well with each other, and Ms. Perry's comment to me after the workshop, was that she had no control over "group dynamics." When I did not have the equipment that she suggested that we bring for the workshop, due to the expense, and my limited budget, she did not try to work with the equipment that I had, preferring to spend her time with those in the group that had better equipment. When I asked questions of her, she seemed exasperated, gave short, clipped answers, with no explanation of the reasoning behind what she was telling me. She seemed exasperated that I did not have a good working knowledge of my camera, and at one point stated to me "you don't know how to use your camera, so I am just going to set it on manual" and left it at that. When we were not shooting at locations of her choosing, we were viewing photos that each of us had brought to show our skill level. This did nothing to go over the exsiting conditions that we had encountered that day, tricks of the trade, what to look for, how to change settings for different conditions, etc. I was so disappointed, that on the third day, I left the group and headed out to take pictures on my own. I have never been so disappointed in a "workshop" or a supposed instructor in my life. I saved for three months to afford this disaster, and when I e-mailed Ms. Perry about my perceptions of what I perceived went wrong in her workshop, I was totally dismissed, and she blamed me for not asking enough questions. I can't believe that as she told me she has "repeat business" if she treats all of her participants the way I was treated. You may have a good experience with her, but I did not, and absolutely would NOT recommend her to anyone.


  • Sh
    sh0826 Mar 18, 2017

    Dear AuntieM141,

    I am sorry to hear your experience wasn't a good one. I have attended few of Gale's workshops years ago and I can see why you are frustrating with her style.

    Photo workshops are expensive and Gale's workshops are actually on the lower end. Having said that, it's really not worth your time and money to learn how to use your camera in a workshop because there are tons resources, either online or in a local community school can learn about very basic knowledge of camera functions and photography principles.

    The reasons for me to go to photo workshops are,
    1. I am too lazy to scouting the location so I paid someone to take me to the right location and the right time because that's 50% of what a good photo take.
    2. For image reviews, I get to see what other people see that I am not seeing when we are all in the same location the same time. That helps me to think differently.
    3. Learning from others on what other workshops have they taken and recommend or how they edited their images.

    Gale can be moody sometimes and maybe she is just simply not a right fit for your needs. I have similar experiences with other photo workshops I have taken on in the past but I have learned just enjoy the time while you are on location whether you stay with the group or left the group to be on your own because you don't know if you would ever go back..

    0 Votes
  • Je
    Jean Ray Aug 18, 2015
    This comment was posted by
    a verified customer
    Verified customer

    Totally unfair to blame the instructor when you haven't bothered to rven learn the basics of using the camera. Yes, most group instructors will give SOME assistance in understanding camera settings, etc., but a group photo tour is not the expect detailed instruction in the basics. If you don't understand basic camera settings and have a working knowledge of exposure, stay home and take a basic class. Gale is a wonderful instructor, has a thorough knowledge of the areas she covers, and is a lot of fun! Someone wasn't prepared and blamed the wrong person!

    0 Votes
  • Ch
    christine_m Mar 09, 2015

    I've taken five workshops with Gale from Light Fantastic Photos Tours, including the Death Valley tour. All of them were excellent, and Gale gave me enough instruction that I came back with great photos and a better knowledge of composition. On a couple of tours people didn't bother to learn how to use their equipment ahead of time, which is never good, because it takes time away from the instruction on composition and lighting. You can't expect an instructor on a tour to teach camera basics, there is no time to do so. Gale sends a list of items to bring, and if you don't bring what is required then you won't get many of the photos you would otherwise get. You don't have to have a top of the line camera to take the classes or take good photos, but you do have to know how to use the camera in order to get good results. I'd recommend to AuntieM141 to take a basic photography class to learn how to use her camera and learn the basics of aperture settings, shutter speed and exposure compensation before she invest in any tours. She'd be much happier with her experience if she did so.

    0 Votes
  • El
    elkhornsun Jul 29, 2012

    To not have either an adequate camera or to have bothered to learn how to use it before the trip say it all. This person wanted to pay $545 and get personalized instruction on how to do the basics with her camera instead of spending a couple days shooting with it before the trip. No instructor can force feed knowledge to a passive student. Learning takes doing and AuntieM141 is too lazy to engage and then wants to blame her problems on others.

    0 Votes
  • Ph
    photog_fan May 04, 2011

    It is unfortunate that AuntieM141 had a poor experience on such a high quality photo tour. I was on the same tour with 9 other attendees and can, without hesitation, attest that AuntieM141 is completely in error with respect to her comments and complaint about the quality of the tour or the tour leader. I do not question that AunteM141 did not enjoy herself however perceptions are principally based on her personal failure to participate, attend the photo venues and bring the minimum required photography equipment necessary to produce quality work. Death Valley provides amazing photographic opportunities and the expertise of veteran Death Valley photographer Gale Perry is a phenomenal resource for the beginner, advanced amateur or professional photographer. I personally witnessed Ms. Perry provide on-going composition assistance, technical expertise and unique explanation of how to shoot each area on arrival at the photo opt. Special attention was given to every attendee that wished her professional support. Furthermore we were on location at the best photo opts for the best light. Beyond these efforts by the photo tour leader it is the photographer’s ability, attitude and desire to apply themselves that will produce satisfactory results. It goes without says that Light Fantastic has many satisfied clients and this year’s Death Valley photo tour is no exception. I have been on 40 plus photo tours with a number of professionals and am always impressed by the scouting research and attention to detail that Gale Perry puts into her photo tours. I would highly recommend Gale Perry and Light Fantastic to any photo enthusiast.

    0 Votes

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