Come Rain Come Shine

This weekend I taught a photo workshop in Bergen, Norway. Despite not having the best of weathers, I was impressed with the participants’ efforts. They were out early in the morning, shooting, shooting and relentlessly defying the weather.

What I enjoyed even more was their willingness to accept the challenges I forced upon them. They took it straight. For some it was losing control and become more reckless, for some it was approaching people on the street, for some it was not shooting sharp images, and for everybody it was to keep shooting long after they felt they had overly and too long disrupted whomever they stopped on the street.

It’s a natural instinct, to capture one, two or maybe even three photos of someone on the street and then let go. But most likely that will not be enough to produce captivating images and break the first inhibition and the subjecting wanting to play up to the photographer. On the street, the photographer has to keep going, keep shooting, 20, 50 maybe 100 photos of a situation. I know, it’s not easy, you feel you step over what is acceptable behaviour, but those who try often find out surprisingly how willing people actually are. As the participants of the workshop found out.

The participants not only defied the weather and the challenges, but also brought back some excellent images. At a later stage, I will display some of their work here. For now let me just inform that I am teaching another weekend photo workshop in Seattle from September 6th to 9th. If you may be interested, you’ll find more information about the workshop “The Visual Language” here.

As of tomorrow I will take off on a two weeks holiday in Ireland. I will be away from the blog sphere during the holiday. But I will be back in the end of June. Take care friends.

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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.

Streets of Rome

Rome is a fascinating city. Just thinking about its thousands of years of history can spellbound any person. The history is evident all over the city, in ruins, in incomparable buildings all from the earliest periods up until today, and not the least in the Roman culture and attitude.

The latter was what I was trying to capture during the photo workshop lead by the Swedish photographer Martin Bogren, I attended two weeks ago. I roamed the streets away from where the tourists the usual ramble. Photographing regular Romans of today—in their many shapes and appearances. It was actually so pleasant to not have to visit any of the big attractions, but rather experience the “real” Rome.

Here are a few last images I will post from my very rewarding trip to Rome.

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.

A Roman Stance

Last week I attended maybe one of the best workshops ever. It was taught by the Swedish photographer Martin Bogren and took place in Rome. Five days of intense, demanding and tough photographing and teaching. We were pushed beyond our comfort zones and felt both enormously encouraged and hard-pressed. It’s the kind of workshop style I like, whether I am teaching myself or attending one. It’s all about complete focus on photography. If we were not out shooting on the streets of Rome, then we would either have sessions of picture critique, Bogren showing us his own masterly work or processing photos ourselves for the next critique session. No time for anything else, hardly for sleep.

Martin Bogren is not only an excellent photographer of world class, but he is also seeing his students, their needs and pushing them in a direction they need to go in order for them to develop their photography. He is generous and insightful, as well as tough when needed and encouraging when that is needed. He has a quite and soft way of approaching students’ work as his own photography, but also resilient and strong beneath it all.

I came back from Rome with the hard disk loaded with photos. Plenty of meagre results—whish is always to be expected when shooting on the street, but quite a few that are pretty good. Martin Bogren was able to open up new aspects of my photography and he has given me a new direction. Here are a few images from the Roman workshop. I’ll let them stand on their own.

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?

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.

Find Your Own Way

Do you confine yourself doing what you know your peers like or what is considered “good” photography? Do you show work to get positive feedback instead of giving the rest of the world your take on whatever it is you have photographed—or painted or written about or…? At least talking for myself, I know that is so easy to fall back on conformities and too easy to take the well-trodden path.

Some time ago, I came across a blog post by David duChemin, the Canadian photographer based out of Vancouver. He writes about a village in China called Dafen where thousands of painters make a living by making replicas of world famous paintings. They do this year in and year out, being very accomplished at it. If you can’t pay the millions it cost to get hold of a Picasso, you may get a copy by one of these very skilled painters in Dafen for a just a few dollars.

His point is that however good the paintings from Dafen may be, they are not art. They do not offer anything to the world except cheep copies of something that once did and still do create aw and admiration in the art world. The copies themselves do not. As skilful as these painters in Dafen are, nobody will ever become inspired by them, or boosted by them, or stimulated by them. Crafts in itself is not enough, an artists needs to put some of her or his soul into the creation to touch anyone else.

I know art is lofty and pretentious word, and if you are like me, you probably hesitate a little to call yourself an artists. But it still doesn’t change the point and it still doesn’t change fact that both you and I most likely are photographing—or painting, sculpturing, writing, making music or whatever you do—out of a desire to fulfil a creative desire.

In so doing we want to creating something that at best may touch others or at least be or some inspiration or maybe just result in a smile in another’s face. That is pretty close to art, in my opinion. However, according to duChemin, “if art is more than just technique and imitation, no matter how perfect that imitation, then it requires something more than years of practice. It requires us. It requires interpretation. It requires that we bring something of our own to the table, preferably something that means something to us, something that’s a part of us. It requires vulnerability and soul and thoughts of our own.”

We need to leave Dafen—figuratively speaking. We need to break out of conformity and what is considered the “right way”. Because there is no right way. There are no rules, and if you believe there are, then break those damn rules. Jump out of the stereotype and become yourself in the creative process. As duChemin says; you don’t want to spend your life imitating others, do you?

It takes one thing, though, and that is courage. It takes courage to be yourself. It takes courage to create on your own terms. In takes courage to stand out from the crowd and not be like everybody else. It takes courage to accept your own quirks and oddities. However, it’s from this place you will find your true, artistic expression. You art will grow deeper and become more authentic if you draw the artistic expression from your real self, the one that you sometimes, or most of the time, try to hide—as I wrote in my post Embrace Your Oddities some time ago.

As David duChemin writes in this post: “We’re all trying so damn hard to blend in that we have no chance at standing out. And that’s a shame, because if you just let your freak flag fly, you’d find it was that to which people were the most attracted. The real you. The messy you. The you who had the courage to leave Dafen and try it your way. Not to be different, but to be you. Imperfect, weird, intriguing, fantastically human you. That’s the kind of person who makes art, not copies: someone who is truly him or herself, not a copy of someone else.”

Skills and craft are good and necessary to be able to express ourselves, just like you need to learn your mother tongue to be able to express yourself with words. But take it to the next level. When talking about photographing, don’t just show us where you have been or what something looks like. Show me why it so important for you that you actually took a photo of it.

If you haven’t visited David dChemin’s blog, I strongly recommend to do so. He is full of inspiration, encouragement and a well of poignant thoughts about photography and art. Start here then: Leaving Dafen (From Craft to Art).

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.