Photo Workshop in Bolivia

I have written about it before. But I would like to once again mention that my colleague Sven Creutzmann and I are planning an extra ordinary photo workshop in Bolivia. It will be all about photography—of course—and travelling in a fascinating country with an amazing landscape—and its beautiful people. And again we are following the footsteps of Che Guevara and his last days in Bolovia before he was captured and killed by the Bolivian army. We will meet people who met with Che Guevara and took care of him during those last days.

Although, following his footsteps will only be a red thread through our own photographic journey where the pictures by the participants will be the focus on an everyday basis. If you would like to join, Sven and I will guide you to a better understanding of your photographic vision, we will push you to express it as best you can in your shooting and we will teach you how to approach the photographic process with a creative and personal touch. This workshop is directed to photographers of all levels, beginners to advanced professionals. In other words: Whoever loves photography! In this workshop you will improve your photographic skills; you will learn to better use your camera and improve your understanding of light. The main focus will be on the picture, not on the technical part of the photographic process.

This workshop will take place from September 23rd to October 2nd 2019 and we start our photographic journey from Santa Cruz, the capital of the eastern province of Bolivia and the business centre of the country. From there we will travel up into the lower mountains (up to 3000 meters above sea level) where Che Guevara tried to impose his revolution in Bolivia more than 40 years ago. If you think experiencing—and photographing—this beautiful part of the world with two very experienced photographer sounds like a dream come true, maybe it’s time to plan to join the workshop in the autumn coming up.

There are still space if you ware interested in participating.
For more info, please click on the link

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Engaged and Detached at the Same Time

Gjennom den lille og trange Golden Canyon
As creative individuals we all—more or less—indentify ourselves with the work we generate. We view the work—rightly—as an extension of ourselves. Yet it’s important to understand that we cannot become the work. The work—already from the beginning of its creation—sets out on a “life” of its own. It’s not us any more, if nothing else because everybody else will not see the work as the same as us. But more importantly, if we become too attached to our work, we will not be able to make it come to its full blossom. In many ways it may be compared to the having a child. Our children are not ours and they are certainly not us, although they are created by us.

I have previously written about the need for passion in the creative process. But it’s important to bear in mind that it’s not the passion for the final product I have in mind, but passion for the process—and passion for whatever it is that we want to express. Thus, when it comes to the work itself, we must maintain a critical distance, and be capable of a more objective relationship with the content of our efforts.

This detachment is a form of freedom: We enter into a real dialogue with our materials and ideas, rather than a fragile and trembling co-dependency with the natural results of our efforts. The work comes from us, or through us; it’s not of us. This is an important distinction to recognize if we hope to continue on the creative path. We wish to attune ourselves to the process, engage our energies as deeply as possible, and allow the work to emerge as the by-product, the child, of a mature relationship between ourselves and our materials. It is thus fair to say that we need to be both engaged and detached at the same time during the creative process.

On a different note: Unfortunately I have not been able to catch up with all comments on my last post, and neither been able to visit any other blogs the last week. It’s just been to busy, but I promise I will get back to you all.

When Inner and Outer World Become One

En strålende dag i vinterfjellet
Artists and creative people frequently talk about the experience of losing themselves in the work at hand, being fully in tune with the process, with the heighten sense of being completely focused, being in flow—often emerging hours later as if having been in a trance. I know this from myself, and I also know that whenever I emerge from such a trance like state of mind after having worked hard during a photo session, I have been able to capture some great images. I can’t say which picture is going to stand out at the point of capture—as some photographers immediately are able to—but I know that within the batch of photos from the shoot there is bound to be some goods one. This trance like state of mind, in flow, when I lose myself, is for me the ultimate level of creativity, when everything can happen and I am not bound by my own preconceived ideas or thoughts.

I often compare this with being in a tunnel, where all kinds of unpredictable things can happen. I have now idea what happens in there before I finally emerge onto the other side of the tunnel. I wrote about this in the post “Tunnel Vision” quite some time ago. And it does resemble some of the ideas I wrote about the contemplative approach to photography in the post “Different Perspective” not long ago, in which I stated that contemplative photography in essence is about how to fully connect with the visual richness of our ordinary, daily experience.

There is a duality to this process. It’s two worlds coming together – the outside world and our inner world. We perceive and react to what we see, and then bring our inner self and spirit into the equation, almost as if in a dialectic process. In this very concentrated process we focus deeply on a single task, and at the same time something opens, deepens and widens. We are fully absorbed and present to the activity and the moment, to the exclusion of other elements and influences in our lives. But we are also equally attentive to ourselves; our responses, our impulses, and our creative interaction with the medium.

The late and great photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson has aptly described photographic seeing as having one eye turned outward and one eye turned inward. When the two images converge, that’s the moment for capturing the photograph. In his acclaimed book “The Decisive Moment” he writes: I believe that, through the act of living, the discovery of oneself is made concurrently with the discovery of the world around us, but which can also be affected by us. A balance must be established between the two worlds – the one inside of us and the one outside of us. As a result of a constant reciprocal process, both these worlds come to form a single one. And it is this world that we must communicate.

Last Week’s Instagram

Once a week—or every so often—I will display one of my photos captured and/or processed with Instagram over the last week. It’s a way for me to show photography that usually is quite different from my regular work. The pictures are displayed without any comments, hoping they will stand on their own. But I still very much appreciate any comments you may have.

Your Own path

When you first pick up a camera, you start down on a creative path. How far you go—or even how far you want to go—is all up to you. There is no right or wrong. There is no saying how far you should go. And there is certainly no need to feel you have to keep developing your photographic skills or your photographic vision.

If all you want is to play with your camera, if you just want to capture moments in your life, to keep as memories, without any photographic ambitions; do it! Have fun—that is the whole point, anyway. Too many “serious” photographers forget the fun part. They lose the playfulness that is such an important part of the creative endeavour, what probably brought them into photography in the first place.

This path you have undertaken—whichever direction it takes you—is all yours. In many ways, all you need is walk the walk, photograph what photographs you capture, and immerse yourself in the process. Gain confidence as you head down the path; learn to create by creating, become skilled as a photographer by photographing. If you trust the process, if you trust yourself and your inherent creativity—which we all have in us—in time you will master what needs to be mastered. The path will open up for you, if you become susceptible to it.

All this is easier said than done, though, and a guiding hand may more often than not be of great help. It is like undertaking a spiritual journey. You can become spiritually enlightened by work of your own mind, but a master by your side may help you not lose track of the path.

So it is with photography. Someone to guide your development can speed up the progress. I see it in all the workshops I teach, how much each participants grow through the week or whatever length of a workshop. And I know it myself from attending many a workshop. As a matter of fact, now in May I will once more enrol in a workshop, this time in Rome. Very exciting.

Maybe a photo workshop would be worth considering for you, too? Maybe it’s time to develop your photography. I would be happy to se you onboard one of my workshop that I teach this year. See further down for workshops I will be teaching.


I have a task for you. Would you be willing to answer some questions for me? I am doing a little survey to tailor new workshops to your needs. It could be beneficial for you and—and of course for me, too. The survey will only take a few minutes.

To the survey   Get my e-book 10 Great Tips for free.


Workshops in 2019:

Next year I am going to teach no less than four workshops. They will vary from weekend long workshops to a tour stretching almost a fortnight. There should be a workshop for most aspiration.
 
“Street Photography in Cuba” is a workshop I do together with my friend and colleague Sven Creutzmann. It’s our most popular photo workshop and offers a great opportunity to experience the colours, the contradictions, the rhythm and the passion of this country unlike any other. “Street Photography in Cuba” takes place from May 4th to 11th 2019.
 
“The Personal Expression” is a weekend workshop in Bergen, Norway. It’s an intimate and personal photo workshop, in which you will get a chance to work on and develop your personal expression as a photographer. “The Personal Expression” takes place from June 7th to 9th, 2019.
 
“The Visual Language” is an extended weekend workshop in Seattle, USA. In this workshop I will focus on the visual language—as the title indicates—and you will get a chance to develop your skills in visually telling stories with your photography. “The Visual Language” takes place from September 6th to 9th 2019.

“On the Tracks of Che Guevara” is maybe the workshop I am most excited about being able to re-launch. It takes place in the eastern mountain area of Bolivia and we will follow the tracks of the last days of Che Guevara before he was killed in these mountains. This is another workshop I do together with Sven Creutzmann and one we haven’t offer since 2013. “On the Tracks of Che Guevara” takes place from September 23th to October 2nd 2019.
 
<font color="#990000"Please follow the links for more info about each of the workshops.
Or shoot me an email (by answering this one) and I will send you more information.

Last Week’s Instagram

Once a week—or every so often—I will display one of my photos captured and/or processed with Instagram over the last week. It’s a way for me to show photography that usually is quite different from my regular work. The pictures are displayed without any comments, hoping they will stand on their own. But I still very much appreciate any comments you may have.

The Big Leap

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I often get the question what it takes to become a professional photographer. Here are some brief thoughts on what one should consider before making the transition, based on my own experience.

Photography is a wonderful craft, whether you are pursuing it as a professional or as an amateur. For me it’s brought me all over the world, connected me with people of all kinds and made me understand and learn more about the world at large and the various conditions that human beings seize to exist on this planet—not to mention how much it has taught me about myself. Still, and maybe most importantly, photography is a way to express ourselves through images; articulate our concerns, emotions and innermost opinions through a personal vision manifested in the multifaceted media that we call photography.

This is the basic drive behind most photographs I know. And that is also why many photographers who start out as amateurs—as most do—at some point dream about making a carreer out of their passion. Unfortunately, and in all honesty, it’s a tough path to choose, but if you bring the passion and a desire to succeed along with you, it’s all worth it. At least if you ask me. You will probably find that you lose the freedom you so much appreciated when you were still an amateur, you lose control of your artistic expression, and you lose yourself in the commerce and trade of the business. But it’s still worth it—if you ask me.

So what does it take to make the leap to become professional? I have already answered one part of it. It takes a desire to make it. Not necessarily to become the best photographer in the world, but to survive. It takes persistence to keep at it, even when it seems all in vain. It simple takes a hell of a lot of work, both as a photographer and as a businessman or -woman. You will probably work more than you ever thought you would do, but then again, if this is your passion, that’s quite okay, no?

There is a lot that can be said about making it as a professional photographer. In fact there are books written about it, so I will only point to two equally important abilities in addition to desire and persistence which for me are the ultimate prerequisites. To even be considered for hiring to shoot for a magazine or a client or whatever, you need to be able to show a coherent body of work. Not so much work you have previously done for clients, but work that shows your personal vision, work that shows your passion for photography and work that shows that you can handle the craftsmanship in such a way that your vision comes through in every picture. That is why the best recommendation I can give to any aspiring professional—or any professional who wants to stay in the business for that matter—is to produce personal work all the time. Do a long term project and/or do shorter projects. But do. And do it continuously. This is anyway where your passion will find its outlet once you become professional.

The final point I would like to emphasize here is a willingness to constantly develop. Don’t ever think that you have made it to the top, that you are good enough. The moment you think like that, you are not good enough any more. The world around you develops all the time—and faster and faster for each year—and you need to, too. Learn more about the craft, learn more about what you are photographing, keep developing your vision and don’t get stuck in old ideas just because they seem to have worked this far. And not the least keep develop your creativity. In the end this is what you are trying to make a living out of.

For me creativity is the most fantastic part of the actual shooting and also the reason why I have devoted my blog to this topic. To try to understand how creativity evolves and functions in our brains and how we can facilitate its wondrous act is nothing less than fascinating.

Just to make a few, final thoughts here, the four most important factors that will boost your creativity—as far as I see it are: First—and most importantly—be passionate. I am not talking about passionate about photography, but about the subject you shoot. With passion for the subject, the rest will come easily. Without you will never make interesting pictures. Secondly; do the work. As already stated, you will have to work and keep working, also when it comes to creativity. Without daily practise it will shrivel up and vanish. Nothing boosts the creativity as much as being creative. Again keep working on those personal projects. Thirdly; step out of the box, as the expression goes. It means challenge yourself, get out your comfort zone, do something you thought you would never do or dare do. Fourthly; keep your creative well inspired. Get out there, look at the world, enjoy Mother Nature, travel, watch a good movie, go to an exhibition or just sit down on a street café and enjoy a cup of coffee. A famous photographer once said; if your pictures are boring, it’s because you live a boring life.

So have fun, while you photograph the world around you.

Last Week’s Instagram

Once a week—or every so often—I will display one of my photos captured and/or processed with Instagram over the last week. It’s a way for me to show photography that usually is quite different from my regular work. The pictures are displayed without any comments, hoping they will stand on their own. But I still very much appreciate any comments you may have.

Different Perspective


I have previously written about the need to have a vision – or intent – when we are photographing (or doing any work of art for that matter). I wrote that a photograph without intent won’t convey significance to the viewers. If we start with an idea or are conscious about the reason why we take a photograph, the final result will reflect this vision of ours and be of much more interest than a random captured photograph. As I wrote; photographic vision is how you see life when the camera is put to the eye (se Vision is Beginning for more).

This concept of a vision driven photographer, isn’t the only way to approach photography, though. Of course you may catch a nice photo now and then if you do choose to shoot unconsciously or randomly, but that’s not what I have in mind. The fact is that many different philosophies about the process of taking (or making) photographs exist – probably as many as there are photographers. Although I believe in the vision driven photography, I am always open to other approaches if they can open up for a different way of shooting. As always it’s about expanding and getting out of the box.

One such approach is called contemplative photography. This practise picks up elements of Zen Buddhism and lets the photographer see subject matter differently than at least I would usually do. The word contemplative in general terms means to think things over, but in this case it means «the process of reflection that draws on a deeper level of intelligence than our usual way of thinking», according to the photographers Andy Karr and Michael Wood who practice and teach contemplative photography. In essence contemplative photography is about how to fully connect with the visual richness of our ordinary, daily experience. In many ways it’s a process of learning how to see.

The practise of contemplative photography has three stages. First you catch as sudden glimpse of something that in some way or another connects with you. It can be a beautiful flower or it can be something as mundane as a sink. Beautiful and mundane are actually words that aren’t supposed to be attributed to things according to the idea of contemplative photography, since all things have their own inherent value. Anyway these flashes of perception, as they are called, happen naturally all the time. You cannot make them happen, but you can learn to recognize them. The next stage is called visual discernment and in means to stay or rest with the experience of the perception. There is a holding-still quality to this phase that allows things to emerge, rather than trying to interpret the nature of the perception. The camera doesn’t come into play at all during these two first stages. Only the last stage does involve the camera and taking the picture. It’s called Forming the Equivalent, which means to use the camera to create the equivalent of the perception just experienced.

In contemplative photography the power of the final image comes from joining clear seeing with genuine expression, free from contrivance.

Contemplative photography is an excellent practice for opening up our ability to see. It enhances our vision and it can create some beautiful, reflective and tranquil pictures. However, if you are a sports photographer or shooting any kind of action it might not be the best approach. I still think any photographer can expand his or her photographic vision by practising contemplative photography. Since it’s impossible to give more than an idea about the practice in a post like this, if you are interested in further information, I recommend the book The Practice of Contemplative Photography by aforementioned Andy Karr and Michael Wood. It’s an inspiring book, filled with practical exercises and photographic assignments. Just to be clear about it, I am not a Buddhist myself but I still find this approach very useful in expanding my vision.

Available on Amazon:
The Practice of Contemplative Photography: Seeing the World with Fresh Eyes

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Last Week’s Instagram

Once a week—or every so often—I will display one of my photos captured and/or processed with Instagram over the last week. It’s a way for me to show photography that usually is quite different from my regular work. The pictures are displayed without any comments, hoping they will stand on their own. But I still very much appreciate any comments you may have.