Pollinator Portraits Photography Workshop


It wasn’t until he could see each of a spider’s eyes staring right back at him, the pollen on bees’ hair, and all the colors in a dragonfly’s eye that Jose Madrigal fell in love with insects.

What started as his wife’s request to photograph her garden turned into Madrigal’s new favorite art form. Now, his eye for these critters makes him stand out as a photographer. He understands the insects and anticipates their movements, capturing perfectly-timed closeups of what the naked eye cannot see. 

“I am really passionate about creating photos that make people say ‘wow,’ or ‘that’s beautiful’ because I want them to connect with the subject,” Madrigal says. “I don’t care as much about people being impressed with me as I want them to be impressed with how amazing those subjects are, because if you care about something, you’ll take care of it.”

On Oct. 3 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m, Madrigal is hosting an outdoor photography workshop on his ranch in Caldwell, where the only livestock are honey bees. The main focus for the workshop will be photographing insects in flight, among them Giant Swallowtails, but you’ll have plenty of opportunity to wander, finding whatever strikes your fancy. Madrigal adds, “There is also a pond that is large enough to host a diverse population of dragonflies and damselflies, but small enough to position yourself easily for great shots.” 

While the workshop will start with a short instructional period going over camera settings and insect behavior, you’ll spend most of your time learning by experience. With about 10 attendees, these workshops maintain a laid back atmosphere where Madrigal is able to provide personal instruction and feedback, a relational teaching style born from his 20 years of experience as a personal trainer. And here’s some great news for Maroon Weekly readers—the workshop usually costs $99, but Madrigal is offering $20 off to anyone who mentions reading this article!  

The workshop is designed to be a greenhouse for success. Part of that is the freedom to experiment, but Madrigal hopes attendees experience the community with each other that he has experienced.

“The macro photography community is a very supportive community,” Madrigal says. “It’s people who don’t tend to have really oversized egos and who just genuinely like to help people out if they have questions.”

The community acts as cheerleaders, meeting newcomers’ hesitation or fear with support from himself and other photographers.

This support helped encourage Madrigal to pursue his budding hobby, now called “Pollinator Portraits.” Although he picked up his first camera in just 2017, his photos have been published in magazines all over the world, and he has hosted four webinars and three workshops so far.

“I have really developed a passion for pollinators,” Madrigal says. “It’s something that not only do I like taking pretty pictures of, but I also really care a lot about these subjects. It’s really important to create awareness of these creatures.”

If you love wildlife or macro photography, this workshop is for you. Madrigal suggests you bring a telephoto lens for flight photography, although other lenses you may like will work.

During the workshop, you’re free to take breaks as you like, and there are shaded areas available, as well as basic restroom facilities and electricity for recharging devices. Having the workshop in the morning helps to avoid peak heating, but hats and sunscreen are suggested. You may bring food and drinks, but water, Gatorade and light snacks will be provided. 

For more information about what to wear to the workshop, how to register, or to sign up for the Pollinator Portraits newsletter, message Madrigal on Instagram or email him at jose@jmadimages.com.

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As a sophomore journalism major at A&M, Lily Hager spent the past year officially beginning her much anticipated journalistic career. Last spring, she joined the Maroon Weekly team as an intern, and she continues now as a staff writer. Outside of studying and writing, she cares for her rabbit Fleur, maintains a jungle of indoor plants, and frequently searches for unique items at antique and thrift stores. She spends her summers working various jobs including at a candy shop, Dallas Morning News, and Pine Cove City most recently. Much of her free time is spent in coffee shops, libraries and parks to study, though she also loves creating and enjoying a cozy space at home.


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