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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Two Adventures

I think there is no better way to develop your photography and creative skills than attending a workshop. It’s usually a concentrated couple of days or a week full of intense experiences in which you will be pushed beyond your usual boundaries. Through daily teaching, practice and not the least feedback, you get an invaluable chance to grow and expand. Moreover, the exchange with other students is such an inspirational and transcending experience. And if you choose to attend a workshop out of your regular environment, for instance going to a foreign country, the travel will become a source of stimulation in and of itself.

As such, I would like to promote two photo workshops I am teaching this year. They will certainly be adventures for anyone attending them. One of them takes place in fascinating Cuba in the late spring while the other heads to little exploited areas in Bolivia in the autumn.

Cuba needs no further introduction. This Caribbean island nation is pure bliss for a photographer of any kind. The colours, the light, the energy, the culture, the history and not the least its people—Cuba is a blast for all sense. Anyone who has travelled to Cuba knows this. For the same reasons Cuba is heaven for a photo workshop.

Bolivia is more subtle and more reticent, but nonetheless an equally fascinating country to visit. It’s first of all a mountainous country, colourful in its own terms, particularly the country’s majority of indigenous people in their traditional costumes. It’s a laidback country, authentic and unpretentious. Beautiful countryside. Lots of history. Exciting food. And, yes, for photographers Bolivia offers plentiful of opportunities.

My Cuba photo workshop runs from May 4th to 11th. During the week, we will start up with a couple of days in Havana and then head out to the picturesque, colonial city of Trinidad for the remainder of the time. For more information, look up Street Photography in Cuba.

If Cuba is an adventure, so Bolivia is even more. This photo workshop will take you to the eastern mountains of the country, where we will follow in the footsteps of Che Guevara’s last day before being captured and executed. We will visit small towns and village not usually visited by tourists. This photo workshop takes place from September 23rd to October 2nd. For more information, look up On the Tracks of Che Guevara.

Whether you attend one of my workshops or any other photo workshops taught by other organizers, I strongly recommend the experience. I know both as an organizer and one who participates myself. Later this year, I will attend a photo workshop myself in Rome. Maybe I’ll see you there?

How you ever attended a workshop—and how was the experience?

The Long-term Project








For any serious photographer nothing is like working on a personal long-term project. If you want to develop your photography, make your creativity bloom, increase your energy and boost your self-esteem and confidence as a photographer, a long-term photo project will do all that for you. Such a project doesn’t have to be exotic at all or take place in a far-away-country. In fact the closer to your home-base the easier it is to follow through and use spare time whenever there is a chance. A personal long-term project can be grand and it can be small. It can be limited to your own backyard, like the project I have described before in the post Backyard Abstraction, or it can be a project about the world’s manual labourers as the famous photographer Sebastião Salgado has devoted a life time to.

The important thing is to devote yourself to a project you feel is important or speaks to you in some way or form and then stay devoted over a longer period of time. I mean keep going back, keep shooting, keep finding new ways to express the theme you have chosen, keep adding new images to the story. And keep doing it consistently even when at times it feels exhausting and nothing comes out of your attempt of shooting. Gradually you will merge into the project, it becomes you, and that’s when things start to take on a development of its own. By devoting yourself to a project over time you start to feel real ownership for the project, you will gradually relax with the subject—and the subject will relax with you, you lose all pretensions and any performance anxiety you may have. It all becomes about you and the subject and expressing that relationship.

“Pick a theme and work it to exhaustion… the subject must be something you truly love or hate.” This is according to another famous photographer, Dorothea Lange.

For a professional photographer as myself, long-term personal photography projects are the spice of life between the humdrum of every day life and shooting. It brings meaning and joy into my work. I can only recommend any photographer to devote time to a long-term project that feels important or inspiring to you—and it probably works the same way in any of the other art forms, too. The important thing is to start—now. Not keep planning it in your head and saying I’ll do it when I have time, or I just need to plan the project a little more. No, just start.

How long is a long-term project, then? There is no telling what is right when it comes to the time devoted to a long-term project. It can be months or it can be a life time. Only you know how long your project takes, and you probably don’t even know before it’s all done. One of my long term projects have been going on for more than 20 years—and still going on. Cuba has been my longest personal photo project to date. Not many posts ago I mentioned the farm I keep visiting in Cuba, where the members have become My Cuban Family. The farm is but a part of my project. Over the 25 years I have been returning to Cuba, I have tried to portrait and captured the changes is this contradictory country.

Photo Workshops in Planning

Two of the participants during the Bolivia workshop in 2013
The participants of the 2010 Bolivia workshop

Sitting at my desk here in Seattle, looking out at the cold mist cramping down on the urban scenery outside my window, I can all the more enjoy spending time planning next year’s photo workshops. Honestly, it’s always fun to plan upcoming workshops. I love teaching and planning is part of the built-up.

If everything goes according to plan, next year I will teach four workshops on three different continents. Some of them will be very adventurous while others while be more laidback. They will vary from weekend long workshops to a tour stretching almost a fortnight. There should be a workshop for most aspiration. Maybe I’ll see you in one of them?

Once again, I will teach a photo workshop in Cuba in May. This is my most popular workshop, which I teach together with my friend and colleague, Sven Creutzmann. We have done this since 2007, almost every year. Here on my blog I have written many a post about Cuba, and if you follow me, I don’t need to introduce you to this fascinating country. It’s certainly a country that it’s a dream place for most photographers, colourful with openhearted people and photo opportunities around every corner.

Next year’s photo workshop will take place from May 4th to 11th. If you may be interested, you’ll find more information on Blue Hour Photo Workshops, «Street Photography in Cuba».

For Sven and me it’s extra exciting to re-launch a photo workshop in Bolivia. This will be a truly adventurous workshop, in which we follow the footsteps of Che Guevara, up until he was captured and killed by the Bolivian army. We will travel through small mountain towns and off the beaten tracks in a lush and beautiful landscape. We will meet local people and we will talk with some of those who took care of Che Guevara after he was captured. In all modesty, this is quite an extraordinary photo workshop.

The Bolivia workshop will take place from September 15th to 24th. For more information, once again look up Blue Hour Photo Workshops, «On the Tracks of Che Guevara».

In addition to the Cuba and Bolivia workshop, I will teach yet another weekend workshop in Bergen, Norway in the beginning of June. Next year I also plan a complete new photo workshop in Seattle, USA. The date is yet not settled, but it will take place in the autumn of 2019. These two workshops I will get back to with more info.

Come Rain, Come Shine

© Erik Lind
© Terry Shoobridge
© Inger Stenstrøm
© Tori Tollefsen
© Mary Shoobridge

Street photography is challenging. Most of us feel like intruders when we shove our cameras into the faces of strangers on the street. It’s intimidating, and most intimidating is approaching strangers asking to take their photo. Even just being a fly on the wall, letting street life pass by unobstructed, capturing it without any interaction, can be daunting enough. We just don’t feel comfortable photographing people we don’t know.

For participants during the extended weekend photo workshop in Bath two weeks ago, they all experienced the challenge of street photography. In the beginning, they were pretty much reluctant to the thought of approaching strangers on the street. Resorting to zoom in and use a long telephoto lens was much less intimidating. However, taking captivating street photos more often than not requires using a wide-angle lens or at least a so-called normal lens.

Over the next three days during the workshop, they were pushed ever closer to whatever took place on the street. And they were pushed to use a more wide-angled approach. They also started approaching complete strangers on the street. To their surprise, they found out that most people don’t mind having their photos taken. On the contrary. With that insight came also more audacity—and in the end amazing results in terms of photos they have captured.

To challenge the participants even more, the weather was far from cooperative. Whereas Bath had been bathed in sunshine weeks before the workshop—and in fact ever since the workshop was done, too—during the extended weekend the rain came down reluctantly most days. However, the participants passed this challenge with blistering energy. Come rain, come shine, they were all out shooting every day.

Here is a small selection of what they came back with after an inspiring weekend in beautiful Bath.

¡Cuba Libre!

As a continuation of my post from Cuba last week, I want to continue showing a handful of other images I took during the photo workshop we, my colleague and I, taught earlier in May this year. As I wrote in my last Cuba-post, it’s only now that I have finally gotten around to edit and process the photos from the trip.

Some of the photos I show were captured during the actually workshop while others were taken beforehand. When I teach a workshop, I don’t always get much time to shoot my own photos. My time is dedicated to the workshop participants, either being out shooting with them or lecturing or doing picture critique.

Attending my workshop is always an intense experience, but not the least great fun. I think that’s fair to say. Participants univocally give our workshops the highest rating.

If you are interesting in attending one of our workshops in Cuba, we have just announced next year’s one week photo workshop in Cuba, similar to the one we taught this year and many years before. Follow the link to find more information about Street Photography in Cuba. If you are up for something very special, this autumn my colleague and I are organizing a two week photo tour/workshop in which in follow the footsteps of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara’s revolution. This is the link for In the Footsteps of a Revolution.

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.

My Cuban Family

In May, I taught another of the photo workshops in Cuba, which I do together with my friend and colleague Sven Creutzmann. Before the workshop commenced we took a trip to the valley of Viñales in the western part of the country. There we visit the family of farmers I have followed for more than 20 years—and whom I have photographed ever since, as some of you who follow my blog already know.

First recently have I been able to edit and process the photos from the trip. It’s just been too busy ever since—and then the summer holiday in there as well.

The family of farmers has become my own second family in Cuba. I don’t often have as much time to spend with them as I would like. But no matter how short the visit, I am always feeling at home and welcomed by all the family members.

Today it’s two brothers and a sister who runs the farm, the children of the couple I started to follow first in the 90’s. Both parents are dead now, so the siblings have taken over, and the next generation is about to grow up as well.

The family doesn’t have much, but lives off the land that they own, where they cultivate boniatos, yuccas, potatoes, tomatoes and tobacco, to only mention a little of their crops. In addition, they have a small livestock of cows, some pigs and lots of chicken and a couple of horses.

It’s always a great joy to visit my family. It’s such a peaceful land, albeit also demanding. Their livelihood is full of hardship, but they nevertheless always have time to greet me and make me feel at home. They may not have much, but they always makes sure I can’t get away without eating with them and enjoy evenings around the farm.

These are a few of the photos from this latest trip of mine.

A Spiritual Place

I have been neglecting my blog the last week or so, as some of you who are my regular readers may have noticed. It’s just not always possible to keep up posting at least once a week as I have set as a goal for myself. This time I was away for a short holiday in Barcelona with my two boys (who of course aren’t boys any more) .

The week in Barcelona was a much-needed respite from a very busy half-year. It was great to have nothing scheduled and just be able to enjoy a simple life of only having to find a place to eat or drink, or maybe which place to visit next.

If you haven’t been to Barcelona, it’s a beautiful city, bustling with life, history, culture, amazing architecture and yes, plenty of tourists. It’s absolutely no problem to spend a week in the capital of Catalonia, this proud and autonomic region in Spain.

Barcelona has plenty to offer, but if there is one attraction I would emphasize it’s La Sagrada Familia—The Holy Family—the extraordinary church designed by the city’s famous son, Antoni Guadí. La Sagrada Familia is his masterpiece at the end of his life. He took over as chief architect in 1889 and kept working on the project till his death in 1926.

Despite still under construction more than 135 years after the work was initiated, it’s one of the most special churches in the world, very distinctively a Guadí design. I am not particularly religious, but I could nevertheless feel the impact of the spiritual and sacred and inspired atmosphere in La Sagrada Familia. First time I visit Guadí’s masterpiece was in 1989, and now almost 30 years later it’s getting very close to completion.

What can I say; except that Gaudí was extremely creative—thus an inspiration for all of us who have embarked on a creative endeavour.

Learning to Live (with a Camera)

It’s always fun to observe participants attending our photo workshops in Cuba; In the beginning they are all quite amazed—and for the most part surprised—about how easy it is to photograph Cubans. This is whether they are being photographed on the street or elsewhere. Not the least are the participants astounded about how easy it is to even get invited inside Cuban homes and be able to photograph their intimate and private life.

For most of us, it’s quite intimidating to approach strangers on the street with the intention to photograph them. Of course, if you have never done it before, it’s almost nerve wrecking in the beginning, but also for seasoned photographers it can sometimes take some extra courage to face some stranger on the street.

The ease with which Cubans open up themselves for strangers is one of the reasons why Cuba is one of the better places in the world to practice street photography. During our workshops, we more than once experience the joy with which participants discover they can do something they never thought would be possible. As each day goes, they approach strangers more confidently and even carelessly. Towards the end of the workshop, they don’t even think about it any more. We have had participants crying in the beginning of a workshop because they couldn’t manage to face strangers on the street—or so they though—only to lose them at sight later on, whenever they ventured deeper and deeper into homes and places that no one else would think about going.

So it was with this workshop in May, too. We saw it once again, the anxiety of having to get close on the street shifting to excitement in the meeting with complete strangers and in getting to know them through the process of photographing them. As the week pass, we—my colleague and friend, Sven, and I—push them to go closer and closer and even closer.

When participants start to play along with Cuban music or dancing on the street, we are far beyond the pure photographic experience. We talk about life in all its beauty and richness.

Pushing participants closer and closer is one think that we always need to do, Sven and I, in any workshop we teach. As we say, you can never get too close. In a street photography workshop, this is definitely one of our major missions. And then to push the participants to keep shooting, and the shoot some more. We see it time and again; most untrained photographers may capture one, two or at most five images of a scene or a situation. This is hardly getting started! Whenever we are out on the street with the participants, we have to keep forcing them to stay with a situation, almost to exhaustion, to make sure they capture enough frames. You simple don’t know when the best image will appear.

Get closer. Shoot a lot. And finally: don’t look at the camera’s preview screen. That’s the last of our three commandments for participants during a workshop. Too often, photographers need to check what they have captured all while the situation continues—and they lose maybe the best shot. All this is about being prepared, getting the most out of a given situation and make sure not lose “the” photo.

In the late autumn—in November-December—Sven and I will organize a new workshop in Cuba. This will be quite a different experience. We will travel all over Cuba for two weeks, following the footsteps of Fidel and Che’s revolution.