I’ve long enjoyed working face-to-face with any photographer who’s sought my tutelage. The happy result of these relationships is, more often than not, many of these photographers have discovered photographic avenues, personal expressions and styles that are uniquely their own.
Every photographer I’ve worked with has struggled with the same question — what to photograph? After exhausting such typical subjects as family, friends, pets, vacations and scenic vistas, many photographers grow restless. They want to say something more with their camera; something different; something personal.
Fortunately, I have answers. Unfortunately, my answers are not what many wish to hear. My answers cannot be distilled into a single universal answer, like “42.” My answers don’t require an investment in new camera gear, but in introspection, courage and dedication. My answers are not a finish line, but a doorway to a new beginning.
While I occasionally find individual photographers ready to face this level of commitment, I sometimes wonder if enough exist to form a workshop? After all, the same philosophies and coaching techniques I’ve employed with individuals are equally suited to small workshop environments. But in this age of push-button solutions, is it wise to create a seminar requiring that the photographer puts the “work” in “workshop?” Are there enough casual photographers who are ready to admit that the best photo opportunities do not announce themselves with trumpet blares and flashing lights? Are there enough who’ve found only emptiness in the bottomless abyss of chasing trends? Are enough photographers ready to find their subjects by exploring the person behind the camera?
These are questions I’ve asked myself the past couple years, as I pondered whether or not to design a new and unique series of workshops.
You Got Peanut Butter on My Chocolate
In the make-believe world of television advertisements, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups were invented when two people collided with each other on the street. One person, euphorically enjoying a chocolate bar, ran headlong into a second person who, curiously, was wandering about whilst snacking on an open jar of peanut butter. Most surprisingly, this collision resulted not in a string of personal injury lawsuits, but in a great new taste treat: peanut butter combined with chocolate.
Quinton Gordon and I collided, metaphorically, last summer. The Leica Akademie asked me to audit one of their street photography workshops, and provide them with feedback and suggestions. Quinton was that workshop’s instructor. We hit it off instantly — kindred photographic spirits who completed each other’s sentences, followed similar thought patterns and adhered to the same teaching methodologies. Although our photographic styles are rather different, our photographic philosophies are very much the same — the way we approach our work, choose our subjects, and search within ourselves for the answer of how best to photograph what’s external to us.
It was a meeting every bit as serendipitous as the one that brought Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups into the world. In Quinton, I found someone who mirrored my belief that learning to take photographs was not the same thing as learning to be a photographer. Here was someone who was already hosting the sorts of workshops that I was merely conceptualizing.
From that point forward, the end result was inevitable: Quinton and I would join forces to create a workshop entirely unlike any other.
“Ferreting Mantras” is the first workshop to come about from my collaboration with Quinton. It’s designed to teach photographers how to find photographic subjects they might otherwise miss — by learning how to recognize their own internal photographic inclinations, and then looking for these predilections in the world around them.
This two-day workshop is planned for the weekend of May 11 and May 12, 2013 at the Lost & Found Cafe in Vancouver Canada. It includes lunch, snacks, coffee and as much psychological prodding as we can legally dispense without a medical degree.
You can check out all the details of this workshop over on Quinton’s website, where you can also follow the registration link. In order to insure maximum benefit to all involved, attendance is limited to only 12 participants, so don’t delay.
I hope to see some of you there.
©2013 grEGORy simpson
ABOUT THESE PHOTOS: “Hope (Scenario 1)” was shot with a Leica R4 and a 50mm f/2 Summicron-R lens on Tri-X at ISO 400, developed in a 1:35 solution of Rodinal. “Hope (Scenario 2)” and “Hope (Scenario 3)” were both shot with a Leica M6TTL, fronted with a 1938 Leitz 50mm f/2 Summar screw mount lens, exposed on Delta 3200 and developed in a 1:25 solution of Rodinal… mmm, crunchy!
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