From One Workshop to Another

© Monica Engell
© Monica Engell
© Lynne Hayes
© Lynne Hayes
© Angeline Munoz
© Angeline Munoz
© Anita Otrebski
© Anita Otrebski
© Christopher O'Keefe
© Christopher O’Keefe

Teaching workshops are one of the things I enjoy most besides actually taking photos. It’s always fun to meet other photographers – whether professionals or amateurs – and experience how they see the world through their cameras. We all have different approaches, and what is really inspiring for me personally is the fact that I learn just as much as I hope the participants do in my workshops. That’s really the big drive in these workshops; this reciprocal exchange between fellow human beings with photography as a common denominator.

Today I am starting a complete new workshop in the small town of Villajoyosa in Spain. I think it’s going to be great fun – at least I see I have an excellent and interesting group of participants. Over the next five days I am sure they will put a mark on the local community by exploring the small town situated on Costa Blanca, Spain with their cameras. And by the end of the week they will have produced a coherent body of work that shows the variety of life as it is in Villajoyosa

Just before going to Villajoyosa I finished another great teaching experience, my newly developed eWorkshop. Over the last eight weeks participants from all over the world from Singapore, to Norway, to UK, to USA have been doing some great work within the framework of this new workshop of mine. It was a different experience but I think we all enjoyed it very much. At least from my perspective as the teacher I have sincerely enjoyed watching all of them develop their vision and photography from wherever they came from. As part of the workshop the participants were shooting a personal project, and when I did the final edit of these projects last week I was indeed very impressed by the quality they were all able to present. Over the next couple of months I would like to showcase their first-rate work here on my blog.

In the meantime I am pleased to present some other work of theirs. Another assignment in this workshop was to do a series of self-portraits. My experience – and the feedback from the participants said so too – is that this is a very challenging assignment. Photographers like to photograph others, but don’t much like to be standing on the other side of the lens. Exactly for that reason I think doing self-portraits is a very useful and educational task for any photographer. Particularly when you have to show the final results to somebody you don’t know. The thing is when a photographer goes to the task with intent; it is a very revealing process – as I think the participants of my eWorkshop experienced. And again I was really impressed with the result. The photos accompanying this post are all self-portrait captured by the participants of the eWorkshop. Don’t you think they did a great job? How would you have done it if you were to take a self-portrait?

© Andrea Cochran-Pastel
© Andrea Cochran-Pastel
© Susan Judd
© Susan Judd
© Dalia Daud
© Dalia Daud
© Linda Paul
© Linda Paul

65 thoughts on “From One Workshop to Another

  1. You have a sweet gig! I like the selfies that are not immediately recognizable as such. I like Susan Judd’s approach very much.

  2. I just love the first self portrait Otto. At first glance, I couldn’t quite make it out but I knew immediately that I liked it, whatever it was. Then after reading your post I scrolled back through the portraits and after a lot of staring, finally made out a face. It is a stunning shot. You can feel proud of your students.

  3. Funny timing – I’ve been thinking about self-portraits because it’s the recent ‘assignment’ on National Geographic Maybe some of your students can enter their work! Like you mentioned, I feel super uncomfortable photographing myself (and don’t particularly love being photographed by other people either.) But I do think getting outside your comfort zone is an important part of the artistic process.

  4. I shared David’s reaction to the first self portrait. Very interesting, and interesting to see that most of the students are so camera shy. I had to do a lot of drawings and paintings of myself in college and often found the process uncomfortable. I’m quite sure you’re a wonderful teacher since you teach on this blog. Thanks!

  5. This had to have been the hardest assignment of all for me, Otto, but this lesson of getting out of our comfort zone is a good one in order to go out and take photographs that we might not be comfortable in doing normally. It was a great workshop!

  6. Photographers like to photograph others, but don’t much like to be standing on the other side of the lens…. that’s incredibly true..

  7. Self portraits are a great teaching tool. I started [but haven’t finished] doing a 365 self portrait challenge last year. I have learned a lot from it. Both about my camera and finding interesting ways to shoot myself.

  8. I just know your e-workshops must be wonderful. It’s funny to me that I completely shy away from a self-portrait, but thoroughly enjoy what others share of themselves. I’m always very admiring and non-critical, thinking that the human face and expression is beautiful. I could probably learn a lot from giving this exercise a try! 🙂 I like Dalia’s creative approach to the photo and I will look forward to seeing what you share next. I’m sure your workshop in Spain will create some wonderful new connections!

    1. I think most photographers – or people in general – feel like you. Otherwise I am complete agreeing with you in that the human face and expression is beautiful. Thanks for the nice words, Debra.

  9. It looks like you are working with a group of very talented individuals, Otto, and the fact that you are learning from them as well, is such a bonus.

  10. Great series of portraits…there are some very creative & thoughtful ideas, what a thrill it will be for you to be working with these students. The movement in the first shot by Monica was great, and then all the different perspectives/angles of the following shots make the portraits interesting. Well done.

  11. The first one took a while to see because I flipped between ground and figure which makes it all the more fascinating. I salute these photographers because I am not at all comfortable with self portraits but they have come up with great angles and ideas..

  12. Interesting thought. How would I take my own self portrait. I’ll have to give it some thought… I always enjoy your posts and am curious to learn more about your ecourse.

  13. They indeed did a great job with the self portrait. Each one shows an inner personality unique to each artist. Thanks for inspiring us to follow our passion and its many dreams.

  14. This was a very challenging assignment, as you recognise. The differing aproaches tell us as much about the ‘models’ as the actual image. I know I would find it very difficult but I must have a try some time!
    Regarding your earlier point,;as a retired teacher, I often felt that I learned more when teaching a subject than I had done as a student!

  15. Isn’t it interesting how different each one is? I especially love Monica Engell’s. It will be interesting to see more of her work. In fact it will be interesting to see everyone’s work and match it up with their self portrait.

    1. That is indeed an interesting juxtaposition. I think you can see a connection between the self-portrait and their projects. Thanks for your thoughts, Michelle.

  16. This is a most enjoyable post, Otto.

    I like Dalia Daud’s approach to a selfie with my next favorite being Monica Engell. I think I like a somewhat artistic approach to selfie’s rather than just a Point-and-Shoot. Yet, they are all well-done and hard to actually say one approach is better than another.

    It seems to me that how one chooses to take a selfie reveals a great deal about the person themselves, don’t you think?

    1. Oh, I think it’s very clear that there is a connection between how one takes a self-portrait and the character of the person. That’s why it’s such and interesting exercise.

  17. Thanks for sharing. Great works. I had to do a self portrait once for a photography project. I did the shoot with my horses. One at a time. I was so happy with one of the photo’s I used it for my business card and people love it. It shows 2/3rds of my face behind half of my horses face.

  18. Your students did great! This would be a tough one for me. When there was a challenge a while back to post a selfie, I couldn’t even bring myself to do a full view! I’m camera shy! 😀 And I think Lynn Hayes might be, too? 😉

  19. I love the term “selfie” but I wonder by who and when that was coined? lol I didn’t know you held or have workshops, are they mostly online?

  20. What a great workshop it was, Otto. I find myself using things I absorbed all the time now and I think my images have improved quite dramatically. The best thing, perhaps, is that I no longer feel bewildered by my camera. I’m doing a lot less point & pray and a lot more considered focus.

  21. the workshops are surely win-win events, and your students emerge with a sense of self respect as well as gratitude for a patient teacher! last week a bus load of ‘birders’ was at the restaurant where my friends and i were dining. i chuckled to myself a lot, as they’d dash to the scene and frighten the birds away as they used their yard-long telescope lenses for birds ten feet away! ‘a flash is the only choice,’ one said to another, and at that moment i mumbled to my friends, ‘oh good grief..’

    they needed a leader – a teacher, one who could share with them the art of analyzing why they were taking the photos! of course there were some serious birders in the group, and they approached their subjects with respect and stealth!


    1. I have to smile when I read about your experience of bird watchers. Sounds very familiar. And thank you for the confident you show in my abilities as a teacher – and for the kind words, Lisa.

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