Out of Big Sur

Coastal Landscape Photography Conference

March 24-28, 2024

Image by Franka Gabler

Experience and capture the rugged beauty of the historical Monterey Peninsula learning and photographing alongside some of our favorite landscape photographers.

Don't miss this remarkable opportunity in Big Sur, where inspiration and learning converge along the world's finest landscape photography coastline. Explore the captivating Big Sur Coastline capturing breathtaking seascapes, marine life, and majestic redwood forests.

Set amidst 107 acres of stunning beachfront land, the iconic Asilomar Conference Grounds and Monterey Peninsula will serve as our home base. Explore the same grounds once graced by renowned landscape photography pioneers Edward Weston and Ansel Adams. Embrace the essence of their legacy as we provide printing workspaces, allowing us to follow in the footsteps of these masters, moving seamlessly from lens to print. Don't miss this opportunity to immerse yourself in the spirit of photography history while honing your craft in the beauty of Big Sur.


William Neill

Michael Frye

Charlotte Gibb

Jason Bradley

Jennifer Renwick

Don Smith

Richard Martin

Franka Gabler

Alex Noriega

David Thompson

Colleen Miniuk

Albert Dros

David Kingham

Joshua Cripps

Featured Guest Speaker and Guest Instructor

John Sexton



Over five days, we will explore Big Sur coastline’s unparalleled beauty and diverse photographic opportunities, as you photograph alongside fourteen of the best landscape photographers in the world. Big Sur has inspired renowned photographers like Ansel Adams and Edward Weston, who lived here and captured its beauty through their lenses, leaving a legacy that continues to inspire landscape photographers today.

During this conference, we will delve into Big Sur’s rich landscape photography history while placing a strong emphasis on creating powerful portfolios and learning to print your work. B&H Photo will be participating in the event, offering valuable support and dedicated printing spaces. This exciting opportunity allows attendees to learn directly from instructors, honing their skills in producing the finest prints.

All field sessions are offered in a group format. There will be ample time to receive personalized instruction and photograph on your own, with coaching always available when you need it. In addition to our field sessions, we will have group conference sessions together during the middle of the day, along with an in-depth orientation session in advance and an online image review after the conference wraps up. This event is limited to 100 attendees.


  • Learning through extensive hands-on field instruction time with each instructor
  • Developing a more creative workflow, including mindfulness, slowing down, deeply observing, fully exploring your subject, and conveying emotion
  • Time for experimentation and trying new ideas to expand your creativity and explore subjects in different ways
  • Finding compelling subjects and learning to see more abstractly, exploring varied compositional techniques, and improving your compositions
  • Finding inspiration in the coastal landscape, along with refining your vision and style
  • Photographing coastal scenes in black and white
  • Applying techniques for landscape photography, including lens and aperture choice, depth of field, focus stacking, and working with all different kinds of natural light
  • Learning to see small and intimate scene opportunities along the coast within the beaches and sea life
  • Working in the landscape with a range of lenses, including wide angle, mid-range telephoto, and even macro lenses
  • Using filters for landscape photography, including polarizers and neutral density filters
  • Photo post-processing, including key techniques, workflow, and developing a personalized approach
  • Printing workflow techniques and understanding the importance of color management and calibration to achieve accurate and consistent prints
  • Selecting the right paper and print sizes to complement the unique characteristics of each landscape photograph.
  • Learning advanced printing techniques, such as using different toning and finishing options, to add artistic flair and enhance the visual impact of their landscape prints
  • Developing a body of work that reflects your learning at the conference
  • And much more…


The Out of Big Sur Conference includes two online sessions (one before and one after the conference), extensive photography time along California’s Big Sur coastline, group conference sessions, and informal time with the team of instructors and other attendees. Out of Chicago events are designed to provide a fun, encouraging, and immersive environment in which you can explore your creativity, experiment with new ideas, build your technical skills, create a portfolio of photographs you love, and build your photographic community.

Pre-Conference Online Orientation Session:
In-depth online orientation (Tuesday, March 12, 12:00 pm CT)*
Day 1
Hotel check-in begins at 4:00 PM the Asilomar Conference Grounds
Conference Registration starts at 4:30 PM with a meet-and-greet reception
Welcome by Chris Smith, founder of Out of Chicago
Group dinner
Opening Presentation with John Sexton

Day 2, 3, 4
Breakfast at the Crocker Dining Hall or grab and go breakfast
Morning field sessions
Midday sessions at the Asilomar Conference Grounds with group lunch
Evening field sessions
Dinner on your own or with your group

Day 5
Breakfast at the Crocker Dining Hall or grab and go breakfast
Morning field sessions
Check out of the hotel (11 AM)
Closing remarks from Chris Smith and final group lunch (the conference will end by 1:00 PM)

Post-Conference Session:

Online image celebration session (Thursday, April 11, 12:00 pm CT)*

*Both the pre-conference and post-conference online sessions will be recorded and available to any registered attendee who is not able to attend the live presentation.

Location and Accommodation

Photography Excursions: Big Sur Coastline from the Monterey Pacific Grove, California

Conference Sessions & Lodging: Asilomar Hotel and Conference Grounds

Asilomar Hotel & Conference Grounds presents the perfect dual experience for photographers, combining the opportunity to explore the breathtaking Big Sur coastline with a captivating ambiance that inspires creativity during classroom time at the conference. Set amidst 107 acres of nature grounds, including the scenic Asilomar State Beach, photographers can indulge in the beauty of rocky coves, sandy shores, and lush rainforests, providing endless photo opportunities. The rustic historic Arts & Crafts style architecture designed by Julia Morgan adds to the charm, fostering a serene and artistic atmosphere that ignites inspiration and creativity during classroom sessions. It’s an idyllic haven for photographers seeking both natural wonders and a setting that fuels their passion for capturing the extraordinary.

The Monterey Regional Airport is the closest airport to Asilomar Hotel & Conference Grounds, though we anticipate that many attendees will fly to San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and enjoy the coastal drive to the Asilomar.

Conference Price


Reserve your spot with a deposit of $2,000. The remaining balance is due 90 days before the event. This once-in-a-lifetime event is limited to 100 attendees.

What is included?
  • 4 nights of single-accommodation hotel room at the Asilomar Hotel and Conference Grounds
  • Opening dinner, 4 group breakfasts, and 4 group lunches
  • Daily hands-on instruction during immersive, extended field sessions from fourteen instructors
  • Online presentations from each instructor before the conference, along with other interactive conference sessions including the full instructor team
  • A comprehensive online orientation to help you prepare for your time at the conference and an online image celebration with instructors after the conference concludes
  • A private online community to connect with other conference attendees and share photos from the event

What is not included?

  • Airfare
  • Transportation to Asilomar and when getting to and from the field sessions. Carpooling will be highly encouraged and coordinated pre-conference through our private online community.
  • Membership or entrance fees to the California State Parks
  • Most dinners are on your own or with other members of your group. Many excellent dining options are available within walking distance or a short drive from the Asilomar Hotel and Conference Grounds.

Frequently Asked Questions

Plan to arrive for hotel check-in at 4 PM PT on Sunday, March 24. The conference will conclude at 1:30 PM on Thursday, March 28.

Attendees will be responsible for getting themselves to the Asilomar Hotel and Conference Grounds. The Monterey Regional Airport is the closest airport to Asilomar Hotel & Conference Grounds, though we anticipate that many attendees will fly to San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and enjoy the coastal drive to the Asilomar in a rental car. Attendees can coordinate carpooling with other attendees before the conference begins through our private online community.

Your single-accommodation rooming is included in your conference registration. This will be handled for you.

After registering, you will get an email with details about the conference including key dates, hotel information, and more. Be sure to stay connected via email to receive crucial event communication including surveys about your preferences and updates as needed.

Attendees will be responsible for getting to and from the field sessions. Carpooling will be highly encouraged. Minimizing the number of cars makes it more feasible to reach certain locations that only have limited parking available.

Potentially, depending on the final field sessions chosen by instructors, there may be car entrance fees for certain state parks within the Big Sur coastline.

This conference will include walking to access photography locations, carrying your gear, and being on your feet for extended periods. Most photography locations are accessible on paved paths with a short walk on the beach. There are some hiking-style trails for those who choose to visit them.

In March, the weather in Big Sur can be quite pleasant and moderate, but it can also vary. Generally, you can expect daytime temperatures to range from the mid-50s to the low 60s Fahrenheit (13-17 degrees Celsius). However, do keep in mind that Big Sur’s weather can be unpredictable, and there can be occasional rainfall during March. It’s always a good idea to pack some layers and rain gear, just in case. The lush landscapes and vibrant scenery make it a beautiful time to visit, with fewer crowds than during peak tourist seasons. Many field sessions will still go out to photograph in the rain, and proper rain gear will be discussed during the pre-conference online orientation.

Photography enthusiasts and pros. All levels of passionate photographers are welcome. Just be ready to eat, sleep and drink coastal landscape photography for five days.

You’ll want a DSLR or mirrorless camera and a tripod. We’ll share a detailed recommended gear list before the event. A laptop is suggested so you can work on your images during the post-processing and critique sessions.

You bet! Throughout the week you’ll be busy photographing out in the field together, but during the day there’ll be opportunities to talk with instructors and enjoy meals together. There will be plenty of time to ask questions and get to know your favorite landscape photographers.

No, the most important part of this conference is the ample time you will have working with instructors in the field twice a day.

Your schedule will be available in the weeks leading up to the conference. You will be assigned to a group that you will stay with all week for the field excursions, and your group will rotate through each team of instructors. Additionally, all of our midday sessions give you the opportunity to pick and choose exactly the topics you want to learn about.

Of course! A guest ticket is available for an additional charge. The cost covers upgrading your lodging to double occupancy as well as all the group conference meals including the welcome reception and bonfire (1 dinner, 4 breakfasts, 4 lunches). A non-attendee guest is welcome to join us for the group presentations. However, the field session excursions are reserved for conference attendees only. Purchase your guest ticket here. The cost is $550 per guest.

You can read the refund policy here.

With the evolving recovery of the pandemic, we continue to observe recommendations by the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) and local guidelines for events. This includes physical distancing, masking, health screening, and sanitation protocols as appropriate.

We may require proof of vaccination or a negative test result the day the conference begins to attend the event, as we have for our previous events. This will be determined once we get closer to the event. (Do we still need to add this?)

Please stay home if:

You have tested positive for COVID-19 or are showing COVID-19 symptoms.

You have had close contact with a person who has symptoms of COVID-19 within the past 14 days.

Please see our updated refund policy in case you choose not to attend or the state regulations do not allow our event to run with this format.

You can view all of the events you’re registered for by logging into your Out of Chicago account. In the upper right corner of the website, go to “my account” and “my conferences”. You should see your conference listed there. If it is not, please email us at support@outofchicago.com.

If you have any other questions, you can email bigsur@outofchicago.com for more information.

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