4.29.2014

Go West. Toying around with the idea of doing an informal workshop in the middle of nowhere.






Four years ago I got in my car and traveled west to Marfa, Texas (where I did not make the cliché shot of the Prada storefront) and also to Marathon, Texas. It was a reinvigorating adventure for one. I took two cameras. The Olympus EP-2 and the EPL. I took the kit lens and a motley, though effective, selection of Olympus manual focus Pen FT lenses on adapters.

I slept rough. Sometimes in my Honda Element and sometimes under a park picnic table in my sleeping bag. My friend Bridget was living in in Marfa at the time and I got to stay are her house, take a nice shower and feel civilized for a day.

Marfa is a town in the middle of nowhere. Its claim to fame is a bizarre but well attended film festival held once a year. People fly in from L.A. and NYC and Aspen.  The population of the town doubles and people pay lots of money for the dubious honor of sleeping in restored faux Airstream trailers or teepees, or they stay in the Hotel Paisano which became famous during the filming of the movie, Giant, with James Dean.

Thought I'd wait until the first part of June when it gets good and hot and head back out to west Texas for another dose of wide open spaces,  deep blue skies and roads that seem to go on forever. And then it dawned on me that I could probably go all "Super power, once in a life time, better than Dubai, learn everything you need to know to be a rock star photographer, write public love poems to your wife, outrageously informative super teacher---expert, social network gumbo, learn to use ALL THREE BUTTONS ON YOUR iPHONE teacher, and hoodwink people into thinking this would be some sort of great workshop opportunity wherein I could send them around town shooting all the decaying and empty buildings, the old railway pilings and whatever models we can convince to go with us out there and wear cowboy boots and bikinis and I could hang around at the outside bar at the Paisano and when everyone comes back in all tired and sunburned I could pontificate and wax on about how we worked magic in the good ole days. And how we know secrets that are unconveyable.

By the time I got to the end of my logic train I saw the irrationality of my concept. I really don't have anything to teach that you couldn't get almost for free at Craftsy.com. I'm not shooting with a hot new system that will make the gearheads salivate and I really don't want to spend a lot of time sitting around drinking bad wine on a windy patio. To complicate matters I prefer to pick my own friends and acquaintances.

In the end I guess I'll head out there on my own. Although the models in bikinis and cowboy boots and the evenings at the outdoor bar do sound promising. I guess that's the closest I'm going to get to a workshop this year....


12 comments:

Jim said...

It sounds like fun. :-)

John Krumm said...

Geez, you had me all worked up for a workshop... I was envisioning bonding instantly with Sir Tuck and ditching the rest of the participants and then taking some great close-up photos of gnarled wood that he declares the best he has seen. Soon we run out of bars and get tired of old wood and dust and longhorn skulls, declare them cliche with a sneer, but the model has ditched us, and the other participants are wandering around looking angry, so we slip into speedos and boots and run for the Honda. Not sure where we go but we get out of Marfa.

David Kay said...

Too bad you stopped short of execution! I think you sell yourself short. Not everyone wants to stand shoulder to shoulder to take the same picture. You have a strong belief in everyone finding their own unique aesthetic and Marfa would be a great place to demonstrate this. Sign me up if you ever decide to march to this dream!

Anonymous said...

You don't have to teach, just act as the producer. There are plenty of faux-tographers (some of whom teach at Dubai who will want to be there. They will even promote the "Marfac Photo Festival" on their wildly popular (at least with the clue-less) blogs. Some of these faux-tographers have never met a cliche they didn't like, so I'm expecting several will want to do iPhone fashion shoots in front of the Prada store. ;-)

Don't laugh, this could pay for Ben's grad school :-)

Anonymous said...

What a perfect idea for a workshop that debunks workshops. Sign me up for "how to use my iPhone to do lingerie photos with super models--western style."

Benedict said...

Marfa sounds like something you might call someone, like "that dude was a bad marfa!"

Enjoy your peace and quiet.

Mike said...

Can I bring my "ancient" e-pl1?

Frank Grygier said...

You forgot the part about everyone shooting B&W film with vintage Hasselblads on wooden tripods.

Wolfgang Lonien said...

City slickers eh? With you as Jack Palance? And the cow heard as super models? Sounds fun indeed.

Your photos in this post remind me a bit of Michael Reichmann and his winter Mexican escapes...

Claire said...

HAd I been in a reasonably close area in the US (not the case, I live all the way in stinking cheese France. No, make that stinking France, period), I would have gladly participated !! Not so much as a workshop, but as a get together with super cool blogger and master portraitist type of thing, and of course, I probably would have learned a ton. Air France wants to charge me 800 friggin' EUROS for a single Paris-Washington round trip, which is why my family have been deprived of our Smith Mountain Lake fall vacation for two years now. I can't even start to think how much they're charge me to Texas... YOu should do it though !!

Gregg Mack said...

Wow, I was getting all excited and worked up over the prospect of your workshop... until I saw that you might only be covering how to use 3 of the 5 buttons on my iPhone.

Have a fun time out in west Texas. Maybe it will turn out to be a personally transcendent experience, where you come back all fired-up about your new found love for landscape photography. :-)

nigelrobinson said...

Kirk, what if can make sure the wine is good?