2014 Farnborough Abbey Digital Photography Workshops


We are pleased to announce a series of photographic workshops/courses at the delightful St.Michael’s Abbey, based in the centre of Farnborough.

This is a working Benedictine Monastery with a small farm, and is the resting place of Napoleon III, the last monarch of France, the Empress Eugenie, and the Prince Imperial Louis.

The Grade I listed church there was built in the 1880s, but in the style of a 15th century gothic church, and has some superb detailing with quite amazing gargoyles, as well as being located in very fine gardens and woodlands. The abbey building is itself Grade II listed, and much of the 36 acres it resides in is designated a conservation area - right in the middle of Farnborough!

The days begin with an introductory tour by one of the monks to explain all about the abbey, with detailed explanations of the history of the abbey, the church and the mausoleum.  You will learn of the exploits of Louis, and the stories of Eugenie and Napoleon. You will have the opportunity to ask questions and find out more about life in the abbey.

Although you can take pictures freely of the outside of the buildings during the normal tours, we have obtained special dispensation to be able to take photographs within the church and the mausoleum as part of the workshop. If you have one, a tripod will be an advantage, but there will also be some equipment you can use.

Workshops comprise some tuition, but mainly focus on taking photographs, then reviewing and discussing them.  Various challenges are set, forcing attendees to think, rather than just snap.  All of this is aimed at helping you to be able to take better photographs after the day.

Times are adhered to strictly, as this is a working monastery, and the monks in residence there have very regimented times for work and prayer, and we must work around them.  You should remember that a monk’s life here is contemplative, and there is a rule (with a few exceptions) that monks are not permitted to speak to guests, in fact, you probably will not see them. You will be given guidelines immediately after the morning tour as to which areas of the Abbey are available to you, what is off limits, and what is acceptable, but the Abbey does want to make us as welcome as possible, and allow as much freedom as they can within the constraints of their calling.

We have the use of a building near the entrance to the Abbey, with limited parking available (double parking will be required), but is a place we can review and discuss images during the day, keep your bags and charge batteries etc.  Tea/coffee making facilities are available, and will be provided, but please bring a packed lunch with you, as food is not available on-site. (The Ham & Blackbird is a short walk, but we will probably make best use of the time at lunch to continue our workshop).

Please note that photographs taken on the day may only be for your personal use. Normal photographic competition use is not an issue. Use of pictures taken within the abbey grounds commercially or for profit is not permitted. Any other published use of pictures should be agreed with the abbey first to ensure that respectful and correct use is made. The Abbey do however ask for your permission for use of pictures for their own publicity, specifically for the Abbey (at your discretion, and with name credit given to the photographer). Copyright does of course remain with the photographer.

Please note that during the workshop, the church is in use for prayer by the monks at 12:15 to 12:30, and 13:05 to 13:20, so certainly no access is permitted with cameras during these times (but you can go and listen to the chanting prayer if you wish). There is also a public tour at 15:00, so there will be additional visitors on site from this time.

Everything about these workshops is aimed at helping you get better pictures and enjoying your camera more. You will be encouraged to take pictures that you may not have considered before, enhancing your creative as well as your technical side.

Your host : Simon Taylor LRPS, LBPPA, a Farnborough-based semi-professional photographer works in commercial images, events, weddings and sport. He is experienced in all aspects of digital photography, with his digital composite photographs winning at the Farnborough Festival of Arts amongst other awards. He has written a book based on a recent safari in Kenya, published in 2009, and illustrated with over 150 pictures from the trip. He is a Licentiate of the Royal Photographic Society. He has also recently received a Gold award from the BPPA.

Look at the dates page for dates and prices.

Improve your photography in the inspirational surroundings of Farnborough Abbey.

A typical workshop consists of the following:

  1. Tour of St Michael’s church and the mausoleum, given by one of the resident monks

  2. Photographic assignments

  3. Presentations on technique and composition

  4. Critiques, feedback and discussion of your pictures

  5. Photographic sessions within the church and the mausoleum

  6. Many other photographic opportunities around the grounds

  7. Meet and discuss photography with other attendees

  8. Suitable for experienced photographers and beginners - challenges for all!