Develop Your Photography

Learning is a way to both improve and to develop. I believe in lifelong learning—as long as I am willing to learn I stay alive. There are many ways to replenish one’s knowledge and further develop oneself. Personally I find attending workshops one of the most inspiring ways to learn and develop. I try to attend at least one workshop every year. For me there is something about the format of workshops, being incredibly attractive and just evoking pure stimulation. This goes for whether I am a student or a teacher.

This year I am planning to teach more photo workshops than I have ever done in any year before. I am setting up two complete new workshops, in addition once again to organizing two workshops that have been successful in the past. They should cater to any level or interests of photography, whether you are a beginner or already a pro, whether you want to dig in and really develop your photographic voice or just want to have fun while getting a better grip on your photography.

I hope one of the workshops I offer may trigger your desire to further develop and learn. Maybe travel to a place you have not been to before, or maybe finally spending full time immersing yourself in a photographic learning experience. I promise your photography will progress profoundly during any of the workshops. I say so based on having taught workshops for more than ten years and not the least from responses from former workshop participants. As one participant stated: “The workshop was all about constructive critique that inspired to stretch myself to levels I had never perceived before. I believe I am a better photographer today than I was 10 days ago.”

This year I will for, the first time, teach a workshop in England. It’s going to be an extended weekend in the picturesque and distinctive city of Bath. We will stroll around in the historical city, which is built on a heritage extending back to Roman time and beyond. “Street Photography in Bath” will run from September 21th to 24th.

The other completely new workshop is going to be quite an experience. I am really proud to be able to offer a two weeks combined photo tour and workshop in Cuba, where we will follow the footsteps of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara and their revolution. I am teaching the workshop together with my friend and colleague, Sven Creuztmann. We will visit cities with important landmarks for the two revolutionaries fought, we will visit places that most visitors to Cuba never get to see and we will go deep into the mountains where the revolution started. “In the Footsteps of a Revolution” takes place from November 24th to December 7th.

The workshops I have taught before will run in spring. I will once again do the intimate photo workshop about how to develop your photographic expression in my hometown of Bergen, Norway. It’s going to be a very small workshop where we meet up in my apartment, when we are not shooting the streets of Bergen. “The Personal Expression” runs from June 15th to 17th.

Finally, Sven and I are running our regular workshop in Cuba this May. It’s a one week photo workshop, and one of my most popular. We already have a good group signed up for the workshop, but there are still some spots left. “Cuba in Essence” takes place from May 5th to 17th.

Maybe one of these workshops could be something for you? I would love to have you come along.


New Photo Workshop

Do you want to develop your personal expression in photography? In the autumn coming up, I will teach a complete new workshop. It will take place in Bergen, Norway, over an extended weekend.

If you happen to be in Bergen in the last weekend of September or want to make the trip to one of the most beautiful cities in Norway around then, check out the workshop. I promised it will be both fun and educational.

This workshop will be all about visual language, story telling with photos and about the creative process. The focus will be on your personal expression. Over the extended weekend at the end of September, you will work with what may be called your signature as a photographer or your photographic voice. Of course developing this personal expression isn’t something you are done with in a couple of days. However, understanding your photographic tools, yourself and how you want to express yourself through the photographic medium, will help you on the way to finding your unique photographic voice. That is what this workshop is all about.

We will work out of my place in Bergen, so the workshop will be both intimate and personal. For that reason there is only space for a limited number of participants. We start up in the evening of Friday September 29th and finish off in the evening of Sunday October 1st. During daytime we will be out shooting, while the evenings will be for lectures, picture shows and picture critique.

Does this sound like something you want to attend? Check out information about the photo workshop in Bergen.

Students Facing Their Fears

© Nina Ramberg
© Kari Anne Kvam
© Jan-Morten Bjørnbakk
© Jan Holm
© Berit Roald
© Anders Øystein Gimse

I am always amazed by the work students come back with during any of my photo workshop. During this year’s Cuba workshop we had participants with quite different photographic skills and knowledge, but not matter their background they were all able to produce some outstanding photos.

Personally for me, that is one of the most rewarding aspects of teaching a workshop. I believe I always learn just as much as the participants from their different perspectives and their different ways of shooting that they bring into a workshop. Yes, we as workshop teachers push them to grow and expand, but they all come with their own photographic voice, whether refined or still in the making.

Likewise for the participants, I think being push from teachers with a different perspective than themselves is what makes attending a workshop so worthwhile. When participants let them be move into new ways of seeing and are willing to go outside their usual box, that’s when they will experience tremendous growth and development during a workshop.

During this year’s Cuba workshop, all the participants did exactly that. Yes, some of them felt vulnerable when we pushed hard, which is something we experience in all workshops we teach, but they also came out on the other side with a new photographic confidence and a stronger sense of their photographic voice.

Shooting on the street is difficult for anyone who is not used to it. Particularly approaching strangers on the street with the intention of capturing photos of them can be challenging. It takes a lot of practice to be at ease when walking over to a complete stranger—even for a seasoned photographer used to shooting on the street. Even more so for participants who have never done anything like this before. But again, the participants of this year’s photo workshop ended up getting into any situation by the end of the workshop, yes, they equally easily entered houses of strangers and kept shooting inside their homes.

I think this willingness to face up to the task was what made their work so outstanding. This post gives a little sample of photos by the participants.


Cuba Photo Workshop

Back from Cuba again and trying to absorb the impressions from both the photo workshop I taught and my own work I had time to pursue the last week of my stay there. The latter I will writer more about later. Here and now, I just want to convey my immediate thoughts on the workshop, which took place during the first week of my stay in Cuba.

We—the two teachers, my friend and colleague Sven Creutzmann and me—had a enthusiastic and devoted group of workshop participants in this workshop we have taught on and off since 2007. Our goal is to push every one of the participants to perform and develop as much as possible during the week the workshop lasts.

Sometimes we might be pushing too hard—at least for some—but for us it’s important that each and every participant returns with strong imagery from Cuba as well as with a feeling they have taken some major step forward in their photography. I believe everyone did exactly that, although a few in the beginning had a hard time adjusting to the pace and the frustration of not getting immediate results. As with everything that matters in life, it takes time and work to improve and develop. In a later post, I will show some of the amazing imagery the participants came up with.

The workshop started up with a couple of days in Havana. Among other events, the participants would cover the May First parade, the international workers’ day, which is a big festivity in Cuba. Of course there were plenty of street shooting in the bustling capital. After three days in Havana, we took off for Trinidad, a beautiful, old city situated almost in the middle of Cuba along the southern coast. The pace is slower and gentler and the participants were finally able to devote all their time to their personal project, which they had picked for the workshop.

This was when the participants really started to produce outstanding work. The picture critique every day was both fun and inspiring for that same reason. And of course, Sven and I kept pushing for more. If this workshop is not a boot camp, it’s still not a holiday, at least for those who choose to get as much out of it as possible. All the better that we staid at a hotel right on the Anchon beach so both we and the participants could cool off in the emerald green Caribbean sea in between the battles.

I think it is safe to say that everybody, by the end a week ago, had had a tremendous experience and not the least could look back on a week of great photography and personal development. Already now, Sven and I have scheduled the next workshop in Cuba. It will take place from May 6th to May 12th 2018. Maybe something to consider? Then take note of the date and set time aside.

On a different note, I must apologies for not having been able to follow up comments and notes on my blog while I was in Cuba. Internet access is so bad everywhere in Cuba it’s virtually impossible to do anything but answer emails. I promise I will get back to each and every one of you over the next weeks.


Subdued Simplicity

Over the eight weeks that Phil Vaughn attended the online photo workshop «Finding Your Photographic Voice», I noticed a significant development in his photography. By the end of the workshop, Phil was both clearer in his approach and were able to express his vision with more strength.

I think this is quite evident in the personal photo project he worked on during the last four weeks of the workshop. The theme for the project was something so everyday-like as a park, but the photos has a personal touch and transcend the peacefulness and quiet that many parks represents for its urban users.

Phil photographed the airy Engler Park, Farmington, Missouri with a subdued sensibility. The photos radiate this tranquil approach in both composition and the photos’ colour palette. The colours are a strange combination of being muted as well as subtle. There is a simplicity over his work that strengthens the expression and underlines the serene feeling of the park.

During the four weeks, Phil worked on the project he returned to the park during all times of the day. He photographed the visitors of the park, their activity as well as the more deserted areas of the park. The photo project comes together as a visual essay that tells the story of life and environment in a pleasant park.

Later in the spring I will start up another round of the online workshop, more specifically May 22nd. If you are interested, you will find more information about «Finding Your Photographic Voice» on the web site of Blue Hour Photo Workshops.


Teaching a Workshop in Cuba

© Otto von Münchow
© Sven Creutzmann
© Sven Creutzmann
© Sven Creutzmann
© Otto von Münchow
© Sven Creutzmann

Since the weekend, I am back in Cuba again, teaching another photo workshop here. I actually don’t known how many times I have taught the workshop, but it’s always such a joy to meet with new students and photographers. And not the least to be able to talk about and do what I burn for. Don’t we all burn for photography—at least most of you reading this blog?

So far, we have been photographing in Havana, but in a couple of days, we move on to the beautiful colonial city of Trinidad.

This post has actually been written before I left, since internet access is almost none existing in Cuba. I hope to be able to post more over the next week or two, but often I find it impossible. Particularly uploading any kind of photos is quite a trial to one’s patience. Thus, I cannot promise any photos or reports before I am back in Norway again, but I will do my best.

The pictures posted here are from the previous photo workshop I taught in Cuba. Like all Cuba workshops, I teach this together with my friend and colleague Sven Creutzmann.


A Classical Documentary

It’s time to present another of the participant’s work from last year’s online workshop. Pat Callahan made a classical, visual documentary story for his personal photo project when participating in the online workshop «Finding Your Photographic Voice» last year. And he did it with conviction and through a entrancing narration. In his portrayal of the Irish village Courtmacsherry, Pat captures the daily life of its villagers, whether kids and youngsters having fun in the harbour, a quiet moment of in the local pub, a burial or the bliss of a wedding.

The strength of Pat’s visual portrayal of Courtmacsherry is his well-developed talent both to perceive good composition and finding those smaller or bigger moments that bring the story together. He is a master of the decisive moment as articulated by Henri Cartier-Bresson. His eye is sharp and his technical skills foster the stories each of the photos tells so well, as it does the overall narrative of the photo essay.

What really impresses me with the essay is Pat’s ability to get close to the people he photographs. I mean both literally and on an emotional level. The people he photographs aren’t even noticing Pat, they go about doing there things as if he is not present with a camera. People clearly trust him. They let him into their sphere and into their lives, as if he is one of them. From that standpoint, he quietly and gently goes about photographing whatever they are doing, seemingly unnoticed and without interrupting the proceedings.

The black and white format fits perfectly the story of a village where time seems to have stood still and life goes about as it has done for decades. The photos become a glimpse into time long forgotten in most other places, where the community and care for each other is still the important factor in life.

If you like to see more of his work, look up the website and blog of Pat Callahan.

Later in the spring I will start up another round of the online workshop, more specifically May 22nd. If you are interested, you will find more information about «Finding Your Photographic Voice» on the web site of Blue Hour Photo Workshops. Furthermore, if you sign up before the end of April you will get the workshop for a discounted price. Only this week left for the reduced price!


Joy- and Colourful

Vigdis Askjem participated in my last year’s online workshop «Finding Your Photographic Voice». For her personal project at the second half of the workshop, she chose two approaches, one was photographing details and light, and one was shooting people in various activities, such as during a festival or kayaking along the coast of Norway.

I have had the pleasure of having Vigdis attending one of my regular workshops (in Villajoyosa in Spain) and then last year the online workshop. Over time she has developed her vision and her photographic voice, and has a distinctive way of capturing whatever she is aiming her camera towards. Colour and light seems to be very important in her approach. And then Vigdis has a refined ability to capture the decisive moment when photographing people or movements.

Despite the two very different approaches for her personal project during «Finding Your Photographic Voice» her photos still have a very characteristic expression. Her way of shooting is the way she sees the world, whether it’s joy, people or close-ups we find in her photos. There is a certain vividness no matter what. There is exhilaration even when she captures something as mundane as a tower. It’s not only what we see, but layers of added details that brings forth a deeper story or a deeper understanding.

I really like the surprise factor in her images. They are—in one way or another—unique in that she shows me a worldview I don’t usually see. They convey her curiosity and her thrill in exploring the landscape around her. If you like to see more of her work, look up the website and blog of Vigdis Askjem (unfortunately only in Norwergian).

Later in the spring I will start up another round of the online workshop, more specifically May 22nd. If you are interested, you will find more information about «Finding Your Photographic Voice» on the web site of Blue Hour Photo Workshops. Furthermore, if you sign up before the end of April you will get the workshop for a discounted price.


The Magic Pond

© Lee Cleland
© Lee Cleland
© Lee Cleland
© Lee Cleland
© Lee Cleland

Over the next couple of weeks, I will present the work of participants of last year’s online photo workshop «Finding Your Photographic Voice». First out is Lee Cleland. During the last four weeks of the workshop each participants work on their own personal project, and Lee chose to photograph a small and elusive pond, surrounded by an open cluster of trees. The pond is situated in a large and lush landscape, and provided Lee with amble opportunities to convey its magic trough a gentle and distinct vision.

Lee approached the project from a variety of angles, capturing the open landscape, details in and around the pond, the small animals living of the pond, its plants and the different ambiences that occurred over time. Her photos have a quiet aesthetics, using a subtle and secluded colour palette. They clearly show she has a refined eye which radiates through her sensitive and unique voice.

What I really like about Lee’s work is that she constantly tried out new approaches over the four weeks she was working on her personal project. In the beginning, she came back with some beautiful landscape pictures, one that can be seen in this little selection above, and she also quickly started to shoot the small inhabitants of the pond. Soon she started to experiment with various techniques, such as using flash, using long handheld exposure time, and using different aperture.

The final product is a beautiful series of quiet landscape and nature photos. They convey the magic of the intriguing pond—they are magic in and of themselves. For more of her photography, please look up Lee’s blog Beyond Purgatory ~ A Photographer’s Paradise.

Later in the spring I will start up another round of the online workshop, more specifically May 22nd. If you are interested, you will find more information about «Finding Your Photographic Voice» on the web site of Blue Hour Photo Workshops. Furthermore, if you sign up before the end of April you will get the workshop for a discounted price.


Develop Your Photographic Voice

Do you want to develop your unique photographic voice? My online photo workshop «Finding Your Photographic Voice» will help you on the way. I am starting another round of my acclaimed workshop in May this spring. I promise it will be quite an experience and of course more importantly, an indispensable aid to expand you photographic seeing and how you are able to express your vision through the development of a distinctive voice.

The workshop runs over eight weeks. I know; eight weeks sound like a huge commitment, but remember I always try to be flexible and let participants catch up if they can’t deliver each week. How much work you have to put down for it to be worthwhile, various from one person to another. Some shoot an hour or two each week, while others may spend time photographing each day of the week. Naturally, the more time you spend photographing the more you will benefit from the workshop, but in the end, it’s all up to you.

However the approach is, I think everybody who has participated in the workshop over the years, feel they have grown photographically over the eight weeks’ span. I am so confident that this is a great way to develop you photographic voice, that if you sign up and are not happy I will reimburse the money you spent on it.

During the workshop, you will receive a booklet in which I discuss the week’s theme and give ideas to how to approach a specific photographic challenge in order to develop your photographic voice. And then you will get weekly assignments. The booklets add up to a valuable book. However, the real value of the workshop is the individual feedback you get to every assignment. Every week I will record a video with your submitted pictures and my comments to each of them. This will all add up to around three hours or individual and indispensable feedback.

It’s not the most inexpensive photo workshop in the market, but no other workshop offers this kind of individual feedback, that is really what will help you develop your photographic voice. The regular price is 320 dollars, however, if you sign up and pay before April 30th, you will get it for only 220 dollars.

Do you want to develop your photographic voice? Why don’t you sign up for the next workshop starting as of May 22nd? You will find more information on Blue Hour Photo Workshops.

This is some of the feedback from participants that took «Finding Your Photographic Voice» last year:
Lee Cleland: «I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of the course and the way it was laid out. The critiques were most valuable to me and often pointed out things I would never have picked myself.»

Vigdis Askjem: «I think it’s great that you are thorough in your photo critique. The course has really pushed me and given me new ideas and understanding in relation to photography and subject. I note that I am currently hungry for creative work.»

Pat Callahan: «I thought the best aspect of the workshop was the quality of the feedback every week. It was obviously thoughtfully prepared and professionally delivered. It was well balanced, covering both what I did well and what I could improve.

I have been fortunate to have attended workshops with a few renowned photographers, and the feedback was less carefully prepared and less insightful (and much more expensive). I also liked the pace of the course, the two month remote delivery was very manageable. I would highly recommend your workshop!»

Phil J. Vaughn: «I appreciate your hard work in teaching the workshop. I consider it to have been a valid and valuable learning experience. When I am out on a photo trek, I find myself silently repeating: “Watch your framing. Open up the view. Work the scene.” I enjoyed the opportunity to hone skills a bit more.

Working toward a “finished” project as a goal is helpful and directive. It is likely that most photographers don’t have the kind of goal and are just taking photos as they appear. It’s good to think in a new direction.»