Aug 252016
 

Last month, I had the opportunity to teach a workshop in Norway with NORDphotography entitled “The Nude As Form”, and I loved every minute of it. Upon arriving, my dear friend Jill Enfield was on her way out after teaching a workshop the week before mine. We arranged to meet up for coffee at the airport for a quick visit between intersecting flights, and it set the tone for a wonderful trip.

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I found the Norwegian people to be warm and welcoming, and was immediately comfortable from the start. I also found it to be one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. The light was simply spectacular, especially in Inderøy, which is where the workshop took place. Norway is one of several regions that plays witness to a natural phenomenon called the midnight sun, in which the sun is still visible at midnight. Besides making it daylight at an absurd hour, it contributes to magnificent natural light throughout the day. Although we missed the midnight sun on our first night due to rain, my students and I eventually managed to stay awake, – albeit hopped up on wine – to catch it another night and it was truly a bizarre but stunning sight.

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Here’s some of us after our successful attempt at catching the midnight sun- taken at midnight in broad daylight:

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The workshop took place at SAGA in Inderøy, which is built over a fjord – a deep valley or inlet created by glacial erosion. The founder of NORDphotography, Elisabeth Aanes, converted an old sawmill into a workshop center, complete with a photography studio, fine art gallery, and accommodations. When it is not acting as a workshop center, SAGA is a hotel. This enabled all of us to stay in the same place, eating family-style breakfast and lunch at a large table. Elisabeth proved to be the perfect host- despite being upset with my aversion to eating fish, she managed to cook exquisite meals and meet everyone’s dietary needs. Every evening, the students and I would walk into town to eat at the local pub, sitting on a deck that overlooked the fjord.

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My students were wonderful and a delight to work with. As with my other workshops in photographing the nude, our goal was to learn to use the camera as a tool to discover new ways of looking at and interpreting the human form. I encourage an intuitive visual approach in photographing the body, and each of my students embraced this notion. While everyone worked extremely hard, they managed to take a playful attitude towards their visual growth and development, photographing as a means to explore and enlighten.

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Students exhausted…after Day 1.

The images they produced were breathtaking and pushed their work to entirely new levels, and I could not be happier with how far each of them progressed in our short time together. NORDphotography put together an excellent slideshow of all the students work, and I’m happy to share it here:

Thanks again to NORDphotography and to Elisabeth Aanes’ hospitality! I look forward to returning to beautiful Norway next year!

 August 25, 2016  Posted by at 1:53 pm Travel, Workshops No Responses »
Mar 302016
 

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I’m very excited to announce a new workshop I’ll be teaching this summer in Florence, Italy, with Juniper Workshops!

The Juniper Workshops promote an interdisciplinary approach, encouraging students “to go beyond simply capturing pretty images. Our students learn to go deeper into their subjects to produce a body of work that expresses more than just surface imagery. As we push students to go beyond the expected image they learn not only the craft of photography, but how to see deeper into their subjects.”

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Situated in the heart of Tuscany, the Florence workshops are comprised of four complementary workshops. The structure is a little bit different than what I’m used to, specifically that I’ll be teaching alongside three other instructors, including Paul Taggart, Regina Saisi, and my dear friend Ben Long. Although we will each have our own specific workshop, class time will be spent with all four of us. There will also be presentations, exercises and critiques that will involve the entire student body, providing the opportunity to mingle with students from the other classes. Ben and I have taught together in the past, including at the Oklahoma Arts Institute Workshops, as well as through the award winning online instructional video library, lynda.com. I think working alongside one another and teaching in this format will be an exciting and effective way to push students to the next level in their work, and I’m really looking forward to it!

My workshop, “Seeing”, encourages photographers to see differently. 

That may sound crazy, but consider this: Our vision is often limited by our expectation of what we think we should see instead of what is actually in front of us. Our brains guide our vision and while that guidance allows us to move quickly through a complex visual world, the brain’s interference can be a real hindrance to the process of photography. The fact that we see what we expect to see can inevitably leave us feeling like we’re making the same image over and over. The fix for that is to learn to see the world differently.

In this workshop we will learn that what you photograph is not as important as how you photograph it. Through exercises, assignments, and discussions, you will learn to use your camera as a tool to discover new ways of looking at and experiencing the world around you. Instead of thinking about what makes the best shot and being in control, we will learn to develop an intuitive visual approach in our work, trusting in our eyes to guide us through shooting. Working in a supportive environment, we will emphasize process is over product, while encouraging playfulness, and exploring the idea of mistakes as pathways to discovery. This class is suitable for all levels, though a working knowledge of your digital camera is important.

From the Juniper website: “Juniper Workshops offers unique photography workshops with an emphasis on adventure around the world. Like any workshop, we will help students find the best photos, but we believe that good photo instruction requires something more. Because the best photographs tell stories, we push our students to go beyond simply capturing pretty images. Our students learn to go deeper into their subjects to produce a body of work that expresses more than just surface imagery. As we push students to go beyond the expected image they learn not only the craft of photography, but how to see deeper into their subjects.”

To learn more about Juniper, click here!

And stay tuned for more information and details on “Seeing” in Florence, Italy! To sign up for updates, submit your email at the bottom of this page,

– OR –

subscribe to my blog by clicking here 🙂 

 

 March 30, 2016  Posted by at 10:55 am Travel, Workshops No Responses »
Nov 112014
 
almlof-postcard
Greetings from Sweden: the Almlof Gallery exhibit postcard!

I have just returned from my trip to Sweden for the Reflections opening at the brand new Almlof Gallery, and what a great experience!

Sweden was wonderful, and although Patricia and I were only there for the weekend, we enjoyed every minute of it.  The people were warm and welcoming (and TALL) and the exhibit looked fantastic.  Everyone who attended the opening seemed impressed with the new gallery space Jan Almlof has put together, and the response to my work was positive.

Jan Almlof and Connie
Jan Almlof and I outside the gallery

Whenever I get to travel for an exhibit, I am overwhelmed by the feeling that I am the luckiest person to be able to meet people from around the world and connect with them on a very deep level, despite language and cultural differences.  I love the sincere and meaningful connections we can make through my work, and the capability of relating to one another through mutual passion and openness.  I had wonderful conversations with guests at the opening;

Untitled #7146
Untitled #7146

one couple responded to Untitled #7146 and talked about how the hand looked like it was being pushed out of the body and that it felt like the moment of birth of a full grown person.

Untitled #3572
Untitled #3572

Another guest was intrigued by Untitled #3572, saying that it felt like “what you try to keep inside, but keeps getting out anyway”.  I was so touched by that insight and found it truly beautiful!

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Untitled #4-24-08-492

When a mother asked her little girl (perhaps no older than 8 years old) which image was her favorite, she responded by saying “the dead one”, pointing to Untitled #4-24-08-492, and did not seem the least bit upset by the photograph.  I found this utterly fascinating as this was the second time a young child, undisturbed by their own interpretation, related this particular image to death; the first was at a lecture at the Delaware Center For Contemporary Arts back in 2009.

Prior to the opening – but following a luxurious 5 hour nap – Patricia and I went exploring in the neighborhood between the gallery and the hotel we were staying in.  We stumbled across a clothing boutique called “City Syatelje & Design Malmö”, where Patricia found a very cute dress amongst the twelve or twenty or so she tried on 😉  Meanwhile, I had a great time chatting with Giovanna Brankovicthe, the owner of the shop:

Giovanna: When did you arrive in Sweden?

Me: About 9 o’clock.

Giovanna: And when do you leave?

Me: Tomorrow.

Giovanna: ??  *incredulous*

We told her about my exhibit at the Almlof Gallery, and were delighted when she and a friend came to visit at the opening.  They were very interested in my work and I felt like we were quickly making new friends.

Left to right: Leana Borgström, Giovanna Brankovic, and myself at the opening
Left to right: Leana Borgström, Giovanna Brankovic, and myself at the opening

One of the most intriguing experiences during the opening was an occasional response from viewers when I introduced myself and offered to answer any questions.  A few of the guests were not interested in how the work was made or what the work “meant” – they wanted to enjoy it and interpret it on their own terms.  This doesn’t happen very often, and I love it when it does.  To see people engaging with my images in such a personal way is truly gratifying.

 

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The Almlof Gallery seems to be off to an excellent start, and I was thrilled to see such a great turnout at the opening.  Several of us gathered for dinner with Jan at a nearby restaurant afterwards, and the wonderful conversations and discussions that had flourished during the opening continued over our meal.  It was such an incredible experience not only to connect with one another, but to feel that the excitement over connecting in this way was mutual.  I’ve always felt that this is the true power of art – the ability to connect us to each other, to ourselves, and to our humanity in a way that transcends the inadequacies of language.

THANK YOU!!!! to Jan Almlof for being such an AMAZING host during our stay in Sweden – we had an incredible time and it was wonderful getting to know you! I’m looking forward to seeing the continued success of the gallery and can’t wait for the next visit!!

For more photos from the opening, be sure to head over to my Facebook page 🙂  You can also check out the Almlof Gallery’s Facebook page here!

 November 11, 2014  Posted by at 8:16 pm Exhibitions, Lectures, and Appearances, Travel No Responses »
Nov 132013
 

On a recent trip to Greece, I was astounded by just how much we are still influenced by ancient Greek culture. I knew that we had borrowed a great deal from this early civilization, but I was unaware of the scope of their impact nearly 3,000 years later.  Not only does our system of government and much of our language originate from that period, but so much of our thinking comes from then as well.  The ingenuity of Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle permeates our society even today.
What was most intriguing, however, was the opportunity to explore the birthplace of so many of my favorite ancient myths.  Echoes of mythology have been a recurring theme in my work from the very beginning.  Ever since a fellow graduate student revealed the resemblance of Dead Silences to the ancient god Janus, I became very interested in mythology and the role of myth in psychology. 

In her book The Case for God, Karen Armstrong writes that the Greeks recognized two distinctive characteristics of thought, referring to them as “mythos” and “logos”.  While “logos” dealt with analytical, practical, and functional knowledge, “mythos” was the psyche’s mechanism for finding meaning in life’s struggles.  Armstrong states that “in the past, myth was not self-indulgent fantasy; rather, like “logos”, it helped people to live effectively in our confusing world, though in a different way”.  Myths focused on the difficult and challenging aspects of life that logos could not account for, and so were just as important to the human psyche.  “They were designed to help people negotiate the obscure regions of the psyche, which are difficult to access but which profoundly influence our thought and behavior”, says Armstrong, referring to myth as a primitive form of psychology.
For myth to be effective, however, it had to correspond to reality.  In order to reveal and understand universal truths about our humanity, it had to be applicable to the world around us.  Today, after centuries of industrial revolution and scientific progression, we tend to value the more pragmatic “logos” over mythos.   Mythos has been separated from our understanding of the world and how we live in it.  We believe in reason and see myth as just “stories”, often overlooking their meaning.  Even the word “myth” itself has become synonymous with “lie”, and is often used to indicate falsehood.  But when you look at ancient Greek culture, their history is interwoven with their mythology.  Mythos and logos were different sides of the same coin- essentially different thought processes but equally important and valuable.  
I’ve always been fascinated by this notion, and so it was wonderful to have a guide who could present historical facts with stories of Greek mythology.  Eva had a way of connecting the mythological stories of a site with the historical facts and reality of it that reflected the link between mythos and logos.  Not only did it elucidate the ancient ruins we visited, but it gave us a sense of how the people of the time thought, how they saw the world and interacted with it.  

At one point, we were sitting on these giant stones on the path to the Temple of Apollo at Delphi.  Eva explained the importance of the rich landscape, illustrating its role in ancient Greek mythology.  She pointed out a boulder and suggested that perhaps this was the rock that spilled from the gut of Kronos after Zeus cut open his stomach to free his devoured siblings.  She also explained how the people would prepare themselves for visiting the temple, reflecting on the sculpture that lined the path to it and how they would essentially prime themselves psychologically for the cryptic messages of the oracle.  There was such a richness in Eva’s presentations and explanations of the history and myth , it was almost as if we were touring the Greek psyche in addition to the beautiful landscape.  











 November 13, 2013  Posted by at 6:35 pm Travel Tagged with:  No Responses »