Being out with my camera has not been top of mind lately, although I’ve made fairly regular trips to my ‘little wetland’ in the Lower Mission area of Kelowna. It’s always good to catch up with my friend, the Great Blue Heron. Nor have I spent a lot of serious time on my proposed book projects or on my website. And I have not written much on my blog. But with sunny skies, warmer temperatures and a lightening of the Covid 19 lockdown that all seems to be changing. Motivation might just be returning.
During the lockdown I did take the time to view several photography specific You Tube presentations. In doing so I was reminded that early on, when I first started with digital photograph I committed to an annual in-service program tailored to 3 specific areas: composition, ‘seeing’ light and learning the processes of the digital darkroom.
A series of workshops conducted by Victoria professional photographer, Dave Hutchison related well to my goals. His workshops located in the Tofino and Port Renfrew areas of Vancouver Island were excellent. I learned so much from him and hope in the future to get together with him on new learning experiences.
Also on Vancouver Island was a summer symposium, ‘Image Explorations’, held at a private school in Shawnigan Lake, B.C. This experience was five days of intensive instruction. Except for sleep time it was photography all day every day.
While some of the attendees like me were serious amateurs, most were professionals. Over the four years I had attended Image Explorations I benefited from well known Vancouver photographers Aura McKay, Craig Minielly and Don McGregor as well as others from south of the border. Sadly, Image Explorations has ceased to operate. I really enjoyed the total immersion experience it provided.
Renown U.S. photographer and educator, Laurie Klein was one of the visiting instructors at Image Explorations. I hadn’t heard of Laurie before reading her in the course sylabus. The questions posed in her course description were intriguing to say the least. “Do you want to awaken your senses? Do you want to stretch your creative mind? Do you want to release your inhibitions in order to go beyond self-imposed boundaries? Do you want to find your visual voice?” She was obviously putting forth a challenge, which I decided to accept. It would be interesting to examine the intellectual aspects of my art and photography.
Within the course description was the mention of working in some situations with models, some of could be ‘au natural‘. At the time I registered for the course I gave this information little to no attention. But as July approached and the course was immanent I wondered how that was going to work. I hadn’t photographed nude models before! How do you speak to a naked person, especially when you are holding on to camera equipment?
By the time I.E. finally arrived my mind was tied up with so many questions and ‘what ifs’ that I was becoming distracted from the real purpose of the course. I don’t think I was the only one in our group that inwardly wondered, “What in the world am I doing here?’
That’s where Laurie’s original challenge became so relevant. She kept delving into the thought processes we engaged in to make our images. What were you thinking? Why did you choose to set up from this angle? What is with this composition? Tell us how your images makes your feel?
It didn’t take long to put our models, both female and male, in proper context. The subject matter became irrelevant. Composition, light and creativity are what mattered.
In my mind I botched the course. I came to the conclusion that my approach to photography was just too mechanical. Rules needed to be bent, even broken. Understanding why I made my images in a certain way was what I needed to work on.
When I learned that Laurie would be returning the following summer I registered again. I enjoyed the depth to which we examined our collective work. As a group we worked well together. We were engaged in the language of art and creativity. I needed to continue.