5 best Mountain State photography workshops— for beginners & pros alike

Between rolling ridges, rugged mountain tops and fiery fall foliage, the scenery in West Virginia is unparalleled. Sometimes, there just aren’t enough hours in the day to soak up all the beauty the Mountain State has to offer. Take a picture, it lasts longer!

Check out these great photography workshops aimed at preserving West Virginia’s beauty in the snap of a lens:

1. Go on an adventure

Various times throughout the year

Randall Sanger has been adventuring through the Mountain State for more than 20 years in search of breathtaking vistas, raging waterfalls and intimate forest scenes. He aims to showcase the natural beauty of the state, and inspire others to preserve and protect it.

Sanger hosts a variety of workshops throughout West Virginia, primarily in the gorgeous New River Gorge and the Potomac Highlands regions. His workshops are available to people of all skill levels, and attendance is limited to allow for more personalized instruction. All of the workshops will cover general topics such as proper exposures, filter and lens choices, composition and more.

Cass Scenic Railroad

2. Get a bird’s’ eye view with a quadcopter

Cass Railroad State Park

Experience Cass Scenic Railroad State Park from the skies! Get a feel for the modern aerial photography world with experienced quadcopter operators and professional photographers. You’ll learn how to fly a quadcopter safely (There are strict FAA regulations!), techniques to capture the best photos and video using light to your advantage (These things can have quite a few settings), and what to do with all that stunning footage once your quadcopter lands.

This year was the first aerial workshop, but because of its popularity Cass is already planning for next year!

3. Twin Falls State Park fall photography workshop

Spring & Fall, Twin Falls State Park

Twin Falls State Park, a gem in the rugged mountains of Southern West Virginia, is known for its 2 rushing falls. Each year, the state park has 2 photography workshops: one in the spring and one in the fall. The workshop is a weekend-long event, featuring hands-on photography on nearby trails and The Pioneer Farm, a restored home place on Bowers Ridge. The living history farm appears much like those of the 1830s and provides a small glimpse into the lives of the people who settled in the Twin Falls area. The workshop features some photography and digital instruction.

Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

4.  Photograph an abandoned lunatic asylum

Various times throughout the year

The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, constructed in the late 1800s, features intricate stone work and is the largest hand-cut stone masonry building in North America. The asylum was designed following the “Kirkbride Plan.” Dr. Thomas Story Kirkbride believed hospitals for the mentally ill should be placed on sprawling and ornamented rural property and arranged so that patients received a generous amount of therapeutic sunlight and fresh air. The asylum’s abandoned rooms and hallways come alive with unique light and creepy details, like frozen-in-time rocking chairs and checker boards that haven’t been played in years.

Photography tours throughout the year give guests access to the entire complex, including the main building (which is 242,000 square feet), the women’s auxiliary, forensics, geriatrics and the medical center. These tours are guided (You’ll get a ton of historic background), but there is no photographic training.

The asylum also has a special light painting workshop, which allows aficionados a chance to play with interior lighting at night.

5. Steam Shutterbug Weekend

Nov. 7-8, Cass Depot

Mountain Rail Adventures offers a special weekend for rail fans yearning for fantastic photography opportunities. Hop aboard the Durbin Rocket, one of only 3 operating Climax-geared logging locomotives on Earth, or the steam-driven and refurbished Shay logging train of the Cass Scenic Railroad.

Cass is planning several workshops, under the lead of local photographer Chase Gunnoe, that allow railroad fans and photographers to do their thing in a unique setting. The workshops will be steps back in history using their authentic steam-powered locomotives, vintage props like antique cars, and human models dressed in 1940s clothing.

Which workshop will you sharpen your shutterbug skills with?

Discover more WV beauty >

This post was last updated on March 15, 2022