The PRW Story


Q & A about PRW

Why Paso Robles? Where to start… Paso is an amazing little town, halfway between LA and San Francisco, 25 miles from the coast. Paso is with hub of California’s central-coast wine district – with over 200 wineries in the area. Thanks to the wine trade, we have an incredible number of small, yet great restaurants. Many friends have said that the countryside looks like Tuscany. California’s central coast is a perfect area to study photography – scenic, inspirational, casual, inviting.

How many workshops does PRW offer? Just a handful each spring and fall. Think of PRW as a small, hand-crafted workshop program.

How can I stay in touch with what’s being offered by PRW? Signing up for our email list is a two-step process. Click here to start. Then watch for a confirmation email. You’ll have to confirm that you want to be on our mailing list, before you’re actually on the list.

When did PRW start? Joe McNally and David Hobby were our inaugural instructors in Spring 2009.

Are all PRW workshops a week long? While the week-long workshop is our standard format now, we will expand our program with 1- to 3-day workshops in 2010.

Does PRW have an actual facility? Yes. We use Syl Arena’s studio in downtown Paso Robles.

Are PRW fees higher than others? Not if you add everything up. Some programs quote course, model, location and meal fees separately. PRW rolls them into a single fee. Our thinking is that if the line items are not optional fees, then they should not be broken out individually. Compare the bottom line workshop fees and I think you’ll find that we are right in line with other programs.


Why I Believe In Photo Workshops

Syl Arena

Syl Arena

by Syl Arena, PRW Founder & Director

My journey as a photographer began more than 40 years ago when I stole my dad’s new-fangled Polaroid. I then climbed up an orange tree and photographed some baby birds – my first memory of taking a photo. A few years later, I studied photography in grade school, then high school and finally in college. I attended both Brooks Institute and the art school at the University of Arizona. The U of A was an exciting place to be in the early-80s. The Center For Creative Photography had just opened. Hanging out there gave me the opportunity to view actual prints by photographers now considered to be masters of the 20th-century.

It was only in the past decade that it’s become necessary to remain an active photo student. For the first 30 or so years of my life as a photographer, things didn’t change much. Concepts I learned at Brooks remained valid until the new millennium. Now, it seems that I’ve just caught up with one generation of Photoshop when the next release is announced. Digital technology and workflow have morphed “continuing education” into “continuous education”.

A workshop experience is a unique way to learn. Rather than sit silently and watch someone else talk about or do something, a workshop is a hands-on environment. Sure, your instructor will lead the way with insights and demonstrations. Quickly though, you’ll be doing rather than watching. I’ve often said “there’s a vast difference between knowing about and knowing how to.”

Workshops expand your network of colleagues. In terms of value, the friends you make in a workshop are a close second to the instruction you receive. Connecting with photographers who are on a similar journey as yours is so encouraging. Staying in touch with your classmates after the workshop will extend the experience well beyond your time in Paso Robles.

Check out Syl’s commercial photography site here.

Read Syl’s blog, PixSylated, here.