San Juan River Running Workshop • 
— May 19th to to 27th, 2006 —

This workshop takes you to the only river in Navajoland
that can be rafted: the San Juan River.

This workshop is opened to all photographers regardless of camera format or level of experience

River Morning
Linhof Master Teknica 4x5, 75mm, Fuji Provia

I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed the workshop.
It was a great group of people who participated, your location choices were excellent
and I greatly appreciated your concise but very pertinent guidance and comments.
I learned a great deal.
Nothing was forced, there was no intimidation (except self-imposed), and everyone shared
unreservedly of their knowledge, work examples, and suggestions for better photography.
It was a wonderful mini-community that evolved in that short time.

John Sorce, April 2004 Antelope Canyon participant
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Announcing an exciting River Running workshop in Southern Utah with Alain Briot and Natalie Briot
Natalie and I are announcing a new and uniquely exciting 9 day river rafting photography workshop to Southern Utah, including 8 days on the river. This workshop will take us to very rarely photographed areas that are only accessible by boat. We will be rafting down the San Juan River with professional river guides.

Our expedition isoutfitted by the most knowledgeable river running company in the area. It will be a charter trip, opened only to 12 workshop participants. No tag alongs will be admitted. Only us! And this unique adventure will be tailored to our photographic needs with guides who know where the most photogenic locations are, the best times to be there, and the best places for sunrise and sunset. If this workshop has your name on it, if you want to spend a full week with like-minded photographers, improve your photography skills and build a truly unique portfolio, read on.

Along the San Juan River
Canon 1DsMk2, 35mm

1- Your Workshop Itinerary

Day One - May 19th, 2006 -- Orientation and dinner in Bluff
We will meet you in Bluff, Utah, on Thursday May 18th in the afternoon (the exact time and place of this meeting will be emailed to you after your register). During this initial meeting we will introduce each other and listen to the orientation given to us by the river guides who will accompany us during our river running photography workshop.

After orientation we will have dinner as a group in an original Trading Post in Bluff. This will be the opportunity to get to know each other and to start discovering the culture of the Southwest and more specifically of the Sand Juan River. Dinner will be served by Navajo waiters, and the trading post is decorated with Native American artifacts and artwork. The adobe and wood-posts construction merge with the artwork to create an ambiance you will not find anywhere else.

After dinner we will spend this first night in Bluff, Utah, at the location of your choice (a list of lodging facilities in Bluff will be emailed to you when you register).

Day Two - May 20th -- First day on the river
We will meet in the morning at the river running headquarters where you will be able to park your car for the duration of the workshop. The group will then depart in a van from Bluff to the launch ramp four miles out of town. The river rafting workshop begins as the river meanders past orange and black streaked sandstone outcroppings. We will spend the first three days photographing and rafting the San Juan River.  

Below Chinle Wash
Canon 1DsMk2, 24mm

During our journey we will explore and photograph world-class petroglyph panels and Indian Ruins.  The San Juan River was used by prehistoric cultures, which included the Basketmakers and the Anasazi, for thousand of years, and they have left numerous ruins, rock art panels, and other traces of their presence remains to this day.   These are only accessible from the river, making them very difficult to access.  As a participant in this unique workshop you will be among a small group of privileged photographers who will be able to see these vestiges of the past in person. 

Needless to say, the photographic opportunities are stunning.  John Sexton created many of the images in his book “places of Power” in this exact location and we will be visiting many of the places he photographed.  Our guides, as well as Alain and Natalie, will also give you information on the history and archaeology of this area, providing you with all the knowledge you need to both understand and appreciate this unique, and little-photographed, region.

Soon the boats pull into shore and we take a short walk to a site once inhabited by ancient desert farmers, the Anasazi. Large oval steps ascend the cliff wall and petroglyphs appear around every corner. Down river a short distance, lunch is served under the cottonwood trees at the famous Butler Wash petroglyph panel with plenty of time to examine this extensive group of mysterious images.

After more floating the group walks to River House, an 800-year-old cliff dwelling. You can spend time amid the round walls of a kiva where dried corn cobs remain with bits of pottery. This hike can be extended by exploring the nearby benchlands for more sites and another large kiva.

Camp is pitched in the late afternoon on a sandy beach amongst the cottonwoods and giant sagebrush. The guides prepare dinner, complete with appetizers and dessert. Sunset and campfire, then it's off to sleep in a tent or out under the stars.

Traditional Navajol food, prepared by a local Navajo resident, will be served for lunch and dinner.

Anasazi Gold
Linhof Master Teknica 4x5, Rodenstock 210, Fuji Provia

Day three - May 21st -- Second day on the river
First light finds the guides in the kitchen making coffee and fixing breakfast. Gear is repacked, the boats are loaded, then our river journey continues.

Today will be spent exploring the Chinle Wash, where painted rock art and cliff dwellings hide among the rock alcoves. Author Tony Hillerman calls Chinle Wash "Many Ruins Canyon" in the mystery novel Thief of Time. This is a fascinating canyon, with numerous photographic opportunities, and we have scheduled our itinerary so that we can spend a full day exploring and photographing it.

Camp that evening will be in the same location as the night before to allow us to explore the Chinle Wash for an entire day

Day Four :  May 22nd -- Third day on the river
We will get back on the river on day four. The fun rapids of 8-Foot, Ledge, and Gypsum are on this stretch of river. After a mid afternoon stop in the small town of Mexican Hat for more ice we enter the deep entrenched meanders of the Goosenecks. Time permitting, the group can scramble over the saddle of the Mendenhall Loop to see an old prospector's cabin. Camp this night is near Mendenhall Loop.

Day Five :  May 23rd -- Fourth day on the river
The day is spent drifting through the Goosenecks where the river has carved a snaking canyon through multicolored limestone layers over a thousand feet deep. Camp will be at the base of Honaker Trail.

In the San Juan Wilderness
Canon 1DsMk2, 18mm

Day Six:  May 24th -- Fifth day on the river
For the young at heart, the trek up Honaker Trail is well worth the effort. Built by a prospector, the trail is still in good condition and provides magnificent views of the river and the canyon. For ambitious hikers who want to "rim-out," the panoramic view from on top spans the Four-Corners region, including Monument Valley.

Our camp spot depends on how much time, if any, is spent at Honaker Trail. There are several options, all great, including Ross Rapid or John's Canyon.

Day Seventh :  May 25th -- Sixth day on the river
The morning's excitement includes running Government Rapid, then by midday or early afternoon we arrive at Slickhorn Gulch, our last camp. A large side canyon with springs, pools and hanging gardens, Slickhorn is a popular favorite with San Juan River runners.

Camp that evening will be at the mouth of Slickhorn Gulch, thereby giving us half a day or more to explore and photograph Slickhorn.

Day eight :  May 26th -- Seventh day on the river
On day 8 we will travel from Slickhorn to Oljeto Wash, then spend the day exploring Oljeto Wash. This is a truly fascinating canyon that we could only get a tantalizing glimpse of during our 2005 trip. This time we will make camp at the mouth of Oljeto, thereby making it possible to spend most of the day exploring and photographing there.

Sunrise along the San Juan
Canon 1DsMk2, 70-200 lens

Day ninth :  May 27th -- Eighth day on the river
The last 17 miles are perhaps the most beautiful of the trip. The towering red cliffs and Cedar Mesa sandstone are punctuated by the alluring side canyons of Grand Gulch, Oljato, Wild Steer and Whirlwind. Our destination of Clay Hills near Lake Powell is reached by early afternoon where Wild Rivers vans will transport the group back to Bluff, a 2 1/2-hour drive.

Our river journey will end at Clay Hills, just above Lake Powell. After unloading our gear we will be driven back to Bluff by van.  The workshop ends when we arrive in Bluff.  At that time, you are free to depart Bluff.  Or, you can decide to spend one more night in Bluff and, depending on the group’s choice, have dinner with the workshop participants that evening.

Anasazi Ruin, Chinle Wash
Canon 1DsMk2, 70-200 lens

2-Important things to keep in mind:

May 19th to to 27th, 2006

Meeting place:
Bluff, Utah

Closest airport:
The closest airports are Cortez and Durango, Colorado or Farmington, New Mexico.  Cortez is approximately a 1 hr drive from Bluff and Farmington 1.5 hr. There is no airport in Bluff, at least not one that will provide connecting flights with large airports.  You will need to rent a car and drive to Bluff from either your home location or the airport of your choice.

The first night lodging is in Bluff.  All other nights are spent along the river. The last night will be spent in Bluff unless you drive back immediately after the end of the workshop.

Maximum number of participants:
12 photographers

About the San Juan River
The San Juan River is a fairly "mellow" river as far as river running goes. It does not have any major rapids therefore we can expect a pleasant and leisurely float trip. The San Juan is not considered a white water river. This is good news for us since it means less risks for our camera gear and more opportunities for photography. The map below shows the general area we will be exploring:

Desecration Panel
Canon 1DsMk2, 18mm

What is included:
All food, lodging and transportation to and from the river and for the whole duration of the workshop once we are on the river
- Personalized photographic instruction by Alain and Natalie Briot as well as detailed information on the history and prehistory of the area we will be visiting

What is not included:
- Drive to and from Bluff from either your home base or the airport of your choice
-First night lodging in Bluff
-Last night lodging and dinner in Bluff unless you drive back immediately after the workshop
- Sleeping bag, sleeping pad and tent. You can bring your own or can rent these from the river running company. information on how to rent camping gear will be sent to you after you register.
- Guides Gratuity

Things to remember:
- Bring clothing suited for a variety of temperatures, from cold mornings to warm afternoons. Also be prepared for potential rain and for getting wet on the river.
- We will be photographing at 5000 to 6000 feet elevation on average. Normally the only problem you can expect is a slight shortness of breath. However the higher elevation is something to keep in mind if you live at sea level or you are prone to encountering physical difficulties at higher elevations.
- The exact itinerary can vary depending on the river level, weather, group ability and interest.
All hikes are optional. You can do as many or as little hiking as you want. The choice is yours. While hiking will take you to places you cannot see from the river, there is plenty to do and photograph whether you do the hikes or not.
- You will be asked to wear a life-jacket at all times while on the boats

San Juan Reflections
Canon 1DsMk2, 24mm

3-How to protect your camera gear from water
Your camera gear will be subjected to water and sand damage during this trip unless it is securely protected. Waterproof ammo cans will be provided by the river running company.  However, these ammo cans are not padded and may not accommodate large cameras.  A great alternative is to carry your gear in a Lowe Pro Dry Zone 200 Waterproof Camera backpack (or equivalent).

The Dry Zone is unique because it offers a fully water tight design. It consists of the inner camera bag compartment and  then an outer waterproof enclosure which the camera bag fits into.  Each compartment has its own zipper.  The camera bag compartment is very similar to the other bags that Lowe  makes. It consists of a well padded bag with adjustable dividers with a zippered lid. This in turn fits inside the waterproof enclosure which  is made from ballistic nylon sealed by a waterproof zipper. The last  part of the Dry Zone 200 consists of a shell that fits over the waterproof  enclosure and provides shoulder straps, a waist strap and some additional  storage pockets. The dimensions of the camera bag are 14.5”Wx11.5”D x19”H

A day on the River
Canon 1DsMk2, 70-200mm

4-Cost and registration:
The cost of this once in a lifetime river rafting workshop is only $3995.

To reserve your seat in this workshop:

1- Download and return the emailable PDF Workshop Registration Form or
2- Email us at or
3- Call us toll free at 800-949-7983 (or 928-252-2466 )

We accept Visa, Mastercard and American Express. A receipt will be mailed to you the day after your registration has been processed. As you can imagine seats in this unique workshop are going to be in high demand so to be fair with everyone reservations will be made on a first come first served basis. If this workshop is for you, if you have been thinking about building up your portfolio, becoming more serious about your photography, or if want to visit very rarely photographed locations which offer exciting photographic possibilities: sign up now.

If you have any questions before registering, click here to send us an email inquiry or call us at 800-949-7983 or 928-252-2466 . We look forward to assist you with your questions.

5-About Alain and Natalie Briot
Alain Briot specializes in creating large format, fine art landscape photographs for display in home, offices and public spaces. His work is part of thousands of private and public collections in 138 countries worldwide and in all 50 states. Alain has been photographing since 1980 in Europe and since 1983 in the United States. Alain has 6 years of experience teaching photography and communication courses at the graduate and undergraduate level at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona and at Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Michigan. He has 20 years of experience photographing the Southwest and Utah's Canyon Country, the fascinating region we will explore during this river rafting workshop.

Natalie Briot is a certified Art Teacher. She has been teaching since 1992, first in Houghton, Michigan, then in Chinle, in the heart of NavajoLand, starting in 1995. Natalie loves teaching and specializes in helping her students fulfill their vision through visual exercises. Natalie is extremely patient and attentive to `er students' needs.

We will take you to each of the locations shown in the photographs on this page so you can bring back your own photographs from these amazing places! The detailed itinerary on this page lists the specific locations we will visit along the San Juan River.

The Kachina Panel
Hasselblad 500CM-CF, 60mm Distagon, Fuji Velvia 100F

6-The four unique and exciting aspects of this workshop:

1- You will be working under the guidance of not one but two instructors: Alain, professional large format photographer and Natalie, painter and Certified Art Teacher.
You will be working with two professional instructors who both have intimate knowledge of the San Juan River and of each location where we will be taking you. Having two instructors plus one guide per boat for such a small group is a huge benefit. It means that you will literally get one-on-one attention. This will result in much faster skill improvements than if you were working either on your own or as part of a large group.

Natalie and I also have a widely different teaching style. I focus upon taking photographs, finding the best light and the best composition possible and then framing the scene, calculating the exposure and so on. Natalie, on the other hand, takes a more relaxed and less driven Approach, focusing on helping you build visual skills one at a time and completing your Photographic Skills Enhancement Exercises in a constructive manner. As I said before (and I cannot say it enough) Natalie is very patient and very dedicated.

Working with both of us, and being exposed to our two teaching approaches, will be a pleasurable and effective experience for you. While I will focus on technical photographic aspects as well as on composition and finding the best photograph, Natalie will focus on helping you with your exercises, with answering questions and with providing additional information on a variety of topics.

2-We will take you to some lesser known locations which we discovered after years of exploration.
We know many little known, or completely unknown locations which we discovered during our explorations in this area. We will be taking you to some of these locations. Of course, knowing me and my work you know that I will choose locations that offer the most exciting photographic opportunities! Visiting these locations is dependent on water level, weather and trail conditions so we may have to adapt our itinerary based on nature's unpredictable variables.

3-You will be practicing Photographic Skills Enhancement Exercises daily
In my 9-part article series on Aesthetics in Photography I introduce my Photographic Skills Enhancement Exercises. This concept is based on approaching photography as an activity in which visual training is necessary. This approach is based on conducting specific exercises designed to allow you to practice your photographic skills.

While my articles describe these exercises and provide you with the theory behind them, my workshops are designed to go much farther by providing an environment where you can apply the skills you learned in my articles under the guidance of Natalie and I. Natalie is very personable, very patient and very attentive to everyone needs. I know you will love working with her.

Of course, you can get as little or as much instruction and input as you want. If you prefer to focus on your own work you will have all the time needed to create your images. Just let us know and we will work with you to provide a learning environment tailored to your needs.

Mists of the San Juan River
Canon 1DsMk2, 70mm

4-You will enjoy a visit led by instructors intimately familiar with Southern Utah's Canyon Country and with river running
This is a definite advantage for you and the guarantee of an enjoyable visit. As you know Natalie and I have lived in Chinle for 7 years from 1995 to 2002 in the heart of the Canyon Country. On top of that I I have personally been exploring, hiking, river running and of course photographing Southern Utah since 1983. I have 21 years of experience exploring and photographing this specific area.

Our intimate knowledge means that we will be able to provide you with a unique introduction to the area and to historic and prehistoric Indian cultures, including the Anasazi, whose dwellings and rock art offer a photography subject sought after by photographers world wide. Our knowledge, and our guides' knowledge, will make your trip as safe as it can be.

7-Instructor Availability
We will be helping you and photographing with you from sunrise to sunset, with a break for breakfast and lunch, during the entire duration of the workshop. Since this is a river running workshop our availability will be greater than during our other workshops. If you are looking for a workshop which gives us the maximum number of opportunities to interact or consult with us one on one, this is it!

8-Cancellation policy:
All monies are non-refundable. If you cancel participation in this workshop your registration fees may be transferred towards registration in another Beaux Arts Photography workshop under certain conditions. Transfer of fees to another workshop is not automatic and is decided solely by Beaux Arts Photography as a courtesy. We reserve the right to decide whether to transfer your fees to another workshop or not. You must register for another workshop within one year from the starting date of the workshop you originally registered for. Participants transferring from another workshop will be registered for this other workshop in excess of the regular number of participants. We can only accept two transfers per workhop. If you decide to attend a higher priced workshop, or if the workshop fee has increased, the difference in cost between the two workshops will be charged to your credit card when you notify us that you want to sign up for this other workshop. Your registration is guaranteed only when we have payment in full. We reserve the right to change this policy at any time.Workshop fees can only be transferred to another workshop and cannot be used towards purchase of a product such as mats, portfolio cases, CD or DVD tutorials, prints, portfolios, or other. Workshop fees cannot be transferred towards purchase of the Mastery Workshop DVDs. If this workshop is cancelled by us you will receive a full refund.

9-Liability Limitation
Beaux Arts Photography,, Alain Briot, Natalie Briot, guides, and cooperating agents aim to provide every participant a safe, educational, and enjoyable experience. We act solely as agents for you regarding accommodations, special activities, and travel, by any means, and assume no liability for any act, error, omission, injury, loss, delay, mishap, or damage to persons or property arising from any cause during the course of the workshop or in transit thereto. We can accept no responsibility for losses or additional expenses due to delay or changes in the services to be provided. We reserve the right to change our arrangements should conditions necessitate, or to cancel any aspect of the workshop due to exceptional circumstances. In the event that we deem it necessary to cancel the workshop we will provide a full refund which the participant(s) acknowledges as full and final settlement. In the event of a workshop cancellation airline tickets, car rentals and hotel reservations associated with participation in this workshop will not be refunded. We recommend you purchase refundable airline tickets and make refundable car and hotel reservations. We also recommend you carry travel and camera equipment insurance.

As there is always an element of risk in any adventure associated with the outdoors, participants must read this form carefully. This liability release will certify that the participant is physically fit and capable of participating in outdoor photography exercises in field locations, and is fully and completely aware of any associated risks created by field locations and weather.

Meeting times, meeting places and itinerary are subject to changes dictated by the weather, the road conditions and other imponderable variables that are part of doing landscape photography. We do not carry cell phones. You are responsible for being at the meeting place at the designated time and have your photographic equipment with you.

By joining this workshop I acknowledge that I have read the above information concerning responsibility and release Beaux Arts Photography, Alain Briot, Natalie Briot, their guides, instructors and any cooperating agent from any liability. Beaux Arts Photography, Alain Briot, and Natalie Briot will assume no liability for injury, illness, or loss of personal property or expenses thereof associated with workshop participation. I also acknowledge that Alain and Natalie Briot have the right to refuse service to anyone at anytime and that workshop policies are subject to change at any time .

San Juan Canyon
Canon 1DsMk2, 35mm

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Still not sure if you want to attend?
Visit the San Juan Flash gallery to see more images from the San Juan River Workshop

All photographs copyright © Alain Briot 2005