Belinda. Many years ago. Does film look different?
Don't get me wrong, I think a weekend workshop with someone whose art and style you admire, who is not trying to make everyone shoot just like him, someone who's really good at teaching, like Don Giannatti over at Lighting Essentials, can be a transformative investment. It's a way of kick starting the basics and showing you the stuff that maybe you can't get your head around in a good book. I've given some workshops over the past three years and, judging from the feedback, people felt as though they were taking away some good material.
But if you're like me you're overloaded with all the come ons for all the workshops. We seem to have hit some sort of tipping point where the market goes from just oversupplied to ridiculously overwhelmed. When you were in biology class did your teacher ever do the experiment concerning bacteria or algae growth in a petri dish? You put in a food source (agar) and then you drop in one small colony of pathogen or bacteria or whatever and you chart the growth by counting new colonies. The growth starts slowly. Then it accelerates. Then it becomes geometric. As all the colonies double and double and double they soon fill the entire petri dish. They consume the entire food supply and then...........they all die off.
I think we're just about there (hyperbole alert!!!!!). So I'm suggesting that we take a break from the relentless profit motive and just enjoy a day of photography together. I'll be in San Antonio on Sept. 4th to walk around pretty aimlessly and shoot in the streets. I'm starting at the Alamo at 8:30 am. I'll be the guy with the camera (one camera). I'm starting off the morning walking around downtown but always heading west toward the Mercado (marketplace). I'm heading toward Mi Tierra Restaurant for a big plate of Heuvos Rancheros and a cup of coffee. Maybe a few flour tortillas. While in restful repose we can chat for as long as we want about shooting photographs. Not about gear, just about shooting photographs. Why and How. Not "which lens should I buy and how do I set my flash triggers????" Just, how do you get people to pose? What do you think about when you're out searching for images? How do you know what will work and what won't?
So after the long breakfast I'll hand out a rough map with my favorite routes and things to see in the downtown area and then we can all wander off in random directions. I'm not interested in being surrounded by groups of people. If you feel lonely you can group up with other people who might attend. At 4 pm I'm heading over to the McNay museum to see what REAL art looks like (always great to have some grounding.....) and then, when they close the doors, I'll head just up New Braunfels St. to La Fonda and have a nice, icy beer, some of their great hot sauce and chips and maybe a Tex Mex plate. I'll also be happy to chat about the How and Why of photography at length. But, I'll also be ready to listen to anyone who has something interesting to teach me about photography. Even if it's highly tangential. I won't tell you how to use flash triggers or which flash to buy.
Then, when the conversation dies out or the restaurant starts looking aggressively at the table I'll head back to Austin. Hope to be home before 10pm but you never know.
The cost? There is no cost. Just come down and play. Use your camera. Walk the streets. Feel the rhythm. Feel the heat. Snap some pix. Test out that technique. Have a plan. Do a project. Find a favorite mid-day retreat with cold air conditioning and hot art. Look at the famous, modern library architecture. Explore the tourist traps. Take pictures of each other wearing sombreros. Bring a hot chick or a hot guy and shoot them someplace new. You have to buy your own breakfast, lunch and dinner but you'd have to do that wherever you are.
What to bring? I'm a minimalist. I'm bringing a camera and one small zoom lens. Haven't decided whether it will be the 18-55 IS or the 15-85 IS on the Canon 7D or just a 50mm 1.8 and the 5dmk2. I do know that it will be one or the other buy not both. I'll bring a hat to keep my head from getting fried. A shirt with a collar and no stains in case I decide I want to have lunch somewhere nice. An extra battery and an extra memory card in one pocket......and definitely NOT a camera bag. No tripod. No monopod. If my street shooting technique won't work without a tripod I'll move on to the next shot. No problem. Flashes and flash triggers? Not for me. Twenty or thirty bucks for random stuff, a driver's license and credit card shoved in one pocket. That's it for me. Anything else just slows me down, makes me look conspicuous and gives me too many choices. Choices that slow me down and get in the way.
I'll wear a long sleeve shirt in case I need to be in the sun for a while. But it will be a shirt made of the technical fabric I talked about two weeks or so ago. With nice vents. Maybe and ex officio or Sportif. Comfortable shoes that don't look brand new or too dorky always helps. I like to bring my sunglasses.
Street shooting etiquette: This could fill a book. (Maybe a book on street shooting is overdue!!!! Hello?). Basics: 1. If you point a camera at someone and they ask you not to photograph them, don't. You may have every legal right in the world but you probably don't have an ethical right. I don't think we'll be doing "hard news". 2. Figure out the shot before you even put the camera up to your eye. The less you fidget and fuss with your camera the nicer the images generally turn out. 3. Not everything is worth a picture. Some stuff is better savored directly. 4. Yes. Pretty girls are pretty. Take a shot if you want but let's not keep after it until everyone in the area is uncomfortable and the cops, or worse, her big brothers are on the way. 5. Respect the environment. I hope I don't have to tell you that church interiors and the insides of restaurants are best lit with nothing but the light that's there. As Henri Cartier Bresson once said, "Using flash is like bringing a handgun to the opera". At the time it was a poignant statement. Now, in the USA, you can pretty much count on someone thinking it's just great to bring their handgun to the opera. But it's still not okay to use your flash at the opera........
6. Respect private property rights. Anything is fair game if you are shooting from public property but when you step onto private property all the rules change. You really do need permission to shoot if you are physically on private property....
7. It's annoying to see a great shot and then turn around and see a line of photographers waiting behind you to copy it. I'm just saying..... Ditto with carefully cultivated models...
8. Try to be an example for all the other photographers that will come after you. Be nice and people will generally be nice to you. This is Texas, afterall.
The schedule waits for no one. There's no private consultations. Everyone joins in.
That's about it. I'll spend the day shooting the way I usually do. I'd love to have people around to have breakfast and dinner with. Lunch? I'll just grab a snack. Why do this? Just for fun.
Don't need to tell me if you are coming but you are welcome to use the comments to see who's in and who's not. How many do I expect will be there? At least one (that would be me) anyone else is a bonus....
Street shooting and eating our way thru San Antonio. Most fun.