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 »
May 232016
 

On Sunday, May 22, Juniper Workshops featured a webinar with Ben Long and myself using WebEx conferencing technology to create a virtual classroom for hosting an in depth photo critique session. Although I’ve previously tutored students one-on-one using FaceTime, Skype, and Dropbox, this was the first time I’ve met with a group over the internet to offer feedback, and I found it to be extremely effective.

There were 8 participants total, consisting of 5 students, Ben and myself, and Joanna, a moderator from Juniper Workshops. We began the webinar using a Keynote to introduce and discuss the nature and purpose of critiques.  Starting off by declaring that they are first and foremost nothing to be afraid of, I found a wonderfully effective font to use to be sure to get this point across…

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All joking aside, we explained how the critique is NOT a place for value judgements, but rather a method for acquiring feedback to build visual awareness, discover potential directions, and enhance understanding of your images. This kind of feedback is crucial to your development as an artist, but can often be difficult to find- while words of encouragement from friends and family may be intended to support you, they rarely provide concrete information about your images and your work. The value of an in depth critique can show you not only how to resolve an image, but area’s to improve and where to go next in your creative process.

Seeing another artist being critiqued can also be a valuable and insightful experience in and of itself. On Sunday, students could observe everyone else’s critique, although Ben and I engaged everyone individually. One of the things I appreciate most about working with Ben is that while we agree on a lot of things, we often have different attitudes and approaches in resolving an image, which provides students with different levels of understanding and options for moving forward. Each student presented 2 images, and we spent about 5-10 mins thoroughly discussing each image. Through the WebEx platform, we were able to be very precise in pointing things out to show what we were talking about, and I found it to be a wonderful way to communicate.

I was so pleased with how the online critique turned out. Everyone seemed to find it very productive and to come out of the experience with greater enthusiasm and comprehension of their work. We have already begun planning for the next webinar session, and will keep everyone posted on details as they develop!

 

 

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 132015
 
Me in action, photo by Alexis Mpaka
Me in action, photo by Alexis Mpaka

Last week’s Interdisciplinary Retreat with the MFA program at the Maine Media Workshops & College was so intense, so completely chock full of enlightening discourse and insightful discussions, that my brain hurts from thinking so hard. I’m not sure I’ve been able to actually think ever since… I fear I may have sprained my brain.

It was, in short, a fantastic time.

For three and a half days, experts from a variety of fields gathered to critique the work of MMW+C students, offering feedback from a diverse range of disciplines including photography, filmmaking, writing, and painting. Each student received a nearly hour long crit, with incredibly engaging and profound conversations arising from the many different points of view on hand. Beginning at 8:30 or 9am, every day was so full that our lunch and dinner hours grew progressively shorter and shorter, although the food was- as always- utterly fabulous.

The students work this year was particularly compelling, and they all received critiques with openness and eagerness. Having worked with many of the students in the past, I loved reconnecting with everyone and was impressed by how much their work had improved. Carol Eisenberg, who I’ve been mentoring for some time, exhibited tremendous evolution in her images. Since we primarily meet over Facetime/Skype/etc, it was wonderful to see her images printed and hung on the wall.

photo by Carol Eisenberg
photo by Carol Eisenberg

Another student, Joe Mullan, had been a student of mine through the mentorship program offered by the MMW+C, and is graduating with his MFA degree this fall. During his thesis defense, I made a comment which inspired him to stand up for himself and question me in return. When I responded by saying that in all the time we’ve worked together he’d never spoken to me that way, the whole place erupted in laughter, and we all agreed that it was a sure sign that he is ready to graduate.

Joe Mullan, photo by Alexis Mpaka
Joe Mullan, photo by Alexis Mpaka

Anna LaBenz, a student whose work I critiqued two years prior, presented work that had considerably improved. My goal in offering feedback is to look at the images and express what is and isn’t working, and how I “read” the photograph from an objective standpoint, never to intentionally offend or hurt anyone. Anna found the critique I gave her years ago to be somewhat severe, however, and it motivated her to progress. This year, she stated that she was “really glad Connie is here, because two years ago she gave me a harsh critique, and I said to myself ‘I’m gonna show that woman'”! I replied by saying “You just did”, and everyone cheered and roared as an almost celebration of how far she had truly come.

photo by Alexis Mpaka
photo by Alexis Mpaka

It was wonderful to be working with the Maine Media Workshops again, as it always is. Over so many years, I have developed a sincere fondness for the school, it’s supportive environment, and the goodwill displayed by the faculty and staff towards the students. Everyone is enabled to go beyond what they think they are capable of and it is extremely rewarding for me to be a part of. The opportunity to work alongside the other visiting faculty was truly an illuminating experience, and all of the students presented innovative, highly sophisticated work. Bestor Cram, executive producer and creative director of Northern Light Productions who was the other visiting artist, summed up the experience beautifully:

“This years MFA retreat experience for me as a visiting faculty member was a powerful reminder of the capacity for art to be transformative. I am impressed by the culture you — the faculty and students — have created that supports the growth of individual creativity as a discipline that emerges from a determined pursuit of self realization, and a recognition that boundaries are to be crossed.”

Many thanks to MMW+C for all of their support and hospitality, and CONGRATULATIONS to Joe Mullan and Rob Skeoch on graduating with their MFA degrees- you both worked extremely hard and have earned it!

For more excellent photo coverage of the retreat by Alexis Mpaka, click here!

 November 13, 2015  Posted by at 11:44 am Workshops No Responses »
Oct 292015
 

I’ll be heading up to Maine next week for another visit to the Maine Media Workshops & College for a 5 day Interdisciplinary Retreat with the MFA program. This intensive program offers students the opportunity to be critiqued by experts in a variety of fields and disciplines, including photography, filmmaking, writing, and even history.

Getting feedback from others is a valuable asset to the creative process. It can help us to see our work with fresh eyes, reveal potential directions, and understand our work more objectively. When the feedback is from artists working outside our field, it can offer unique insights from an entirely different perspective. The point of view from someone working in a different medium can inform and elevate our work, opening doors we would otherwise not recognize or know existed.

Working alongside everyone at the MMW+C MFA retreats is an exhilarating experience and opens my mind to new approaches. It is a wonderful opportunity not only for the MFA students, but for the artists and professionals working with them, and I’m looking forward to being a part of it again. The folks at MMW+C recently covered the upcoming retreat in their E-Newsletter, which I thought I’d share here on the blog.

See you in Maine!

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MFA candidate Megan Waring
MFA candidate Megan Waring, photo © Mark Edward Dawson

Next week, our MFA students will return to Rockport for the second of two annual retreats. It’s always thrilling for us to see how their projects evolve after months of synthesizing feedback from mentors, instructors, and peers. Equally exciting is the addition of this term’s guest faculty members, fine art photographer Connie Imboden and documentary cinematographer Bestor Cram. Both bring rich and divergent skill sets to share with this cohort of artists, who represent a similarly diverse range of talents and interests. Bringing these photographers, filmmakers, and multimedia artists together for a week of intense learning is a catalyst for fresh creative insight, and it’s something our students often credit for pushing their work to the next level.

Bestor Cram
Bestor Cram

Led by our core MFA faculty members who work with candidates throughout the year, our retreats always feature a new pair of guest faculty members to provide fresh professional perspective on both photography and filmmaking. These interdisciplinary conversations are often some of the most powerful elements of the retreat. Connie, for example, explained how much she appreciates a filmmaker’s perspective of photography. “I love hearing from a filmmaker’s point of view about composition in a still image because they think about it differently than still photographers,” Connie explained. “Their concerns with time, movement, and what happens next are reflected in their attention to composition.”

Bestor added that when it comes to filmmaking, bringing in different perspectives is also just a sign of the times, since technology has opened filmmaking to a wide variety of new participants. “Filmmakers today are musicians, rock climbers, graphic artists, skate boarders, painters, linguists, photographers, soldiers, writers, divers, cooks, teachers – the list is endless,” he said. “What has happened is a uniting of many interests into the common goal of visual storytelling.”

Connie and Bestor are representative of the caliber of talent that lead our MFA retreats, a key component to this three-year, low-residency program. Like them, our core faculty members and mentors are accomplished professionals and internationally recognized luminaries active in their artistic practices. With students working independently and guided from afar for much of the year, face time with these master artists takes on a heightened significance and results in creatively powerful days for the students.

MFA faculty Cig Harvey and candidate Anna LaBenz
MFA faculty Cig Harvey and candidate Anna LaBenz, photo © Mark Edward Dawson

MFA candidate Anna LaBenz is a photographer who had specialized in self-portraits and landscapes before seeking out our program. Since then, she has branched out to sound scape, prints-on-fabric installations, and unconventional book forms. “For years I fought my instinctual impulses because they did not fit with the work I saw being made by my peers,” Anna said. “After starting the program my mentor advised me to go out and respond to the world around me, to let my camera show the way. My work has evolved from prints on a wall to beautiful installations that feel like compartments of memory.” Anna said working with high-caliber artists from different disciplines has not only pushed her to try new things, but has also given her work more spark and breadth. “Having artists from different genres working together creates an inspirational, exciting, and creative environment,” Anna said. “It breaks down the barriers that different genres can put up around themselves, allowing for greater exploration.”

Connie also noted that just as photographers can benefit from a filmmaker’s critique, the reverse is also true. “For me, the challenge of critiquing a film can be exciting in seeing how my own visual sensitivities translate to a different medium, and how we each have the opportunity to transcend the limitations of our different disciplines to broaden our outlooks,” she explained.

MFA faculty Wayne Beach and candidate Luis Zeron, photo © Mark Edward Dawson
MFA faculty Wayne Beach and candidate Luis Zeron, photo © Mark Edward Dawson

That is the spirit behind the retreat, Bestor says, to broaden horizons and push artists into new frontiers that are now more open for exploration than ever before. “Our world is no longer linear but involves often interactive non-linear storytelling, bringing our audience into our storytelling space to participate, not just consume,” he said. “We never stop cooking with new recipes. We are hungry for more than food. And we are starved for new ways to prepare it.”

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR THE MAINE MEDIA MFA PROGRAM

Check out this wonderful interview with MMW+C Instructor Connie Imboden,
produced by our Newman Media Producer Devin Altobello

 October 29, 2015  Posted by at 12:22 pm Workshops No Responses »
Sep 032015
 

My annual trip up to Rockport to teach at the Maine Media Workshops always feels like coming home.  I have many special memories, such as being served lobster by Arnold Newman – who was in line before me and, picking up his lobster, turned to me and gallantly offered it.  A thrill I still hold dear.  The first workshop I ever taught at the MMW I had a great teaching assistant named Elizabeth Greenberg, who is now the vice president for academic affairs and a dear friend.   Yes, I have been teaching there a long time.

This year, my week teaching in Maine FLEW by! We work extremely hard for a solid week, but we also know how to have a good time…. 

Lobster Roll in Maine

Our frequent visits to Graffam’s shack proved that their famous lobster roll was just as I remembered it – PHENOMENAL.

The karaoke tradition at Cuzzy’s on Thursday night was as raucous as ever.  Our song this year was Blowin’ in the Wind – and if I do say so myself, we nailed it.  And the Friday night slide show, a celebration featuring the work from all the workshops running that week, was very impressive.  I felt quite proud of our class and walked around campus the next day all puffed up!

The Students

…were remarkable as ever! I am always amazed to find that teaching a workshop at MMW every year centering around photographing the nude can consistently yield images that are surprising and new. It just goes to show that it’s truly not what you photograph, but how you photograph that is of value! The students were dedicated, devoted to making their imagery the best it could be, and open to trying a different approach.  Willing to leave their “safe place” behind with the daily assignments I gave them, they pushed themselves and me.  In other words, they were the best students a teacher can ask for!

Peter Siegesmund
Peter S.

 

Carol Chu
Carol Chu

 

Heather Velez
Heather Velez

 

Sanja Matonickin
Sanja Matonickin

 

The Interview

One thing that was new this year was being interviewed by the folks at the Maine Media Workshops, who did a fantastic job putting together a brief bio video on yours truly. It highlights my work and features me rambling on about creative process, exploration, intuition, and all that good stuff. Despite shooting it at the end of an exhausting week of teaching, I could not be happier with the result!

THANK YOU!!

I always feel like I can never thank the folks at MMW enough for all the hard work, generous support, and wonderful hosting they provide every year. I am forever grateful and look forward to the Workshops every year, and so from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU!

And of course – a very special thank you to my dedicated students in 2015 – Carol Chu, Sanja Matonickin, Peter S., and Heather Velez! I have been just as eager to share the excellent work you did as I am to share my own, and I hope to see more of your images in the future!

 September 3, 2015  Posted by at 3:47 pm Workshops No Responses »
May 122015
 

It’s getting to be that time of year when I start looking forward to teaching at some of my favorite workshops!  Three of my favorite workshops are on deck for this summer: The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, MA, the Maine Media Workshops in Rockport, ME, and The Center for Photography at Woodstock.

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The Authentic Encounter:

FAWC-promo-2015By the end of this workshop, you will see the world differently.OK, so that sounds crazy, but consider this: Our vision is so often limited by what we know that we see what we expect to see instead of what is actually in front of us.  This can be particularly challenging to us as photographers; we might try approaching new subject matter, or using different photographic techniques, but inevitably feel like we’re making the same image over and over.  That’s where this workshop comes in.We will learn that it is not what you photograph, but how you photograph that is important.  Through exercises, assignments, and discussions, the goal of this workshop is to learn to use the camera as a tool to discover new ways of looking at and experiencing the world around us.  Instead of thinking things through and being in control, we will learn to develop an intuitive visual approach in our work, trusting in our eyes to guide us.

Last year’s students were as exceptional as ever, and produced some incredible images that really illustrate what it means to see graphically:

Howard Rubin
Howard Rubin
Drayden Hebb
Drayden Hebb
Ray Clarke
Ray Clarke
Isaac Reyes
Isaac Reyes
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The Authentic Encounter is less than two months away on July 5 – July 10 at The Fine Arts Work Center at 24 Pearl Street, Provincetown MA 02657

 

 

The Inspirational Nude:

MaineMediaThis workshop has always been very special for me, and every year I look forward to the opportunity to work with students on tackling the challenging and complicated task of photographing the human form.  The body has been the most popular and most used subject throughout the history of art since ancient and prehistoric times.  It has been used as a vehicle for expressing the most profound emotions – love, sorrow, anger, ecstasy, sex. It is a powerful subject that can force us to confront ourselves and how we see the body; our reactions, our discomfort, or our attraction.  But in order to do so, we must free ourselves of the predetermined notions we have established when interpreting the human form.

In 2014, I was impressed with how quickly my students discovered new ways of looking at the human body, pushing themselves to new levels of seeing and exploring an intuitive approach in photographing the nude:

Charlie Lemay
Charlie Lemay
Carol Macleod
Carol Macleod
Inese Moore
Inese Moore
Eric Smith
Eric Smith
Carla Tyson
Carla Tyson
Luke Utley
Luke Utley

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You could not ask for a better time of the year to be in scenic Rockport Maine! The Inspirational Nude takes place July 26 – August 1, at The Maine Media Workshops, 70 Camden St, Rockport ME 04856

 

 

Using The Nude To See In A New Way:

logo_CPW1Similar to The Inspirational Nude workshop in Maine, this two day course emphasizes an intuitive approach in photographing the nude in order to encourage new ways of seeing this classic subject.  Artists have always used the nude figure to explore the surreal and the natural, as well as our spiritual and psychological lives. In this workshop, you will be encouraged to explore the figure for its beauty, complexity, and simplicity. Whether you regularly photograph the nude, are new to the figure, or feel stuck and just need a push to get back into photography, this class will deliver a burst of energy, new methods, direction, and clarity.

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Using the Nude to See In A New Way will be August 22 – 23, and will include a public lecture at 7:30pm on the 22nd, at the Center for Photography at Woodstock, 59 Tinker Street, Woodstock, NY 12498

For more information and to register, click here!

 

 May 12, 2015  Posted by at 3:37 pm Workshops No Responses »
Sep 172014
 

Two weeks ago I once again made the trip to Rockport, ME to my favorite workshop of the year: The Human Form at the Maine Media Workshops!  I love everything about this workshop: the gorgeous landscape of Rockport at the end of summer, the folks I’ve worked with for so many years at MMW, and of course the wonderful students…

Maine:

Maine is SO beautiful this time of year.  The weather is always perfect, a glorious escape from the typical humidity of mid-summer Baltimore.  And of course, the lobster is DELICIOUS.  Every day, Jill Enfield and I would race to Graffam Bros Seafood Shack for our daily (yes, daily) lobster roll.  We also hit the usual bar for our annual karaoke night, a tradition I’ve had with my MMW class for several years now…. and totally bombed.  While it was of course it was a total (and somewhat embarrassing) blast, I would like to offer a sincere public apology for our rendition of Janis Joplin’s “Mercedes Benz”.

Maine Media Workshops:

I always feel so welcomed by the hospitality of the workshops here.  The programs are fantastic, and I’m always thrilled to see colleagues and old friends that are teaching other courses during my stay.  The faculty, staff, and even the models for our class at MMW have become like family.  This year, Eleanore Kohorn was an excellent side kick to have in the classroom and on shooting assignments as my T.A. She was also gracious enough to send me some of her favorite quotes from the week, such as this gem:  “Go back to something comfortable and then go in and fuck it up”.  Maybe a title for a book on the creative process??

MMW Class of 2014

Students:

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am consistently astounded by the work the students produce at this workshop every year, and this year was no different…

My class this year consisted of 5 extremely gifted and motivated photographers.  The small size of our group meant that we could really spend a lot of time diving into each students work and exploring how to [push to the next level].  Our classroom discussions got off to a very lively and open start, examining various challenges in photographing the nude, fears of making “inappropriate” images, approaching the nude from an intuitive standpoint, and other complicated ideas regarding the nude as subject matter.  We talked about the notion of process over product- that we’re not going after an image; we’re exploring.  And that if you believe that, there will always be a next step.

I was really impressed with how quickly this group of students grasped the idea that intuition cannot be controlled, and how to work with an intuitive approach in photographing the nude.  They seemed to pick up on things very quickly, discovering new ways to look at the human body.  Every student really pushed themselves to new levels of seeing, which was reflected in the work they produced throughout the week.

Lucas James:

 

 

 
Brooke Hedge:

 

 

 
Charlie Lemay:

 

 

 
Christian Domecq:
 

 

 

 
 
Jerri Hurd:
 

 

 

 
 
Eleanore Kohorn:
 

 

 

 
Every year I encourage my students to look at the body for what it is, beyond the “concept” of the body, and to see it as line and form.  Shooting B&W seems to really help see the body as graphic elements, and it was fascinating to me to see so much of the students work gravitate towards B&W as opposed to color.

 

THANK YOU!!
As always, a huge thanks to the folks at MMW for all of the support and hard work!!  This year was another wonderful experience and I can’t wait to see what 2015 will bring 🙂
And of course, a very special thank you to my students this year- Brooke, Charlie, Christian, Jerri, Lucas, and my super T.A. Eleanore Kohorn!  I loved working with you all and am thrilled to be able to share the excellent work you did here on the blog- please stay in touch, I would love to see more of your work in the future!
 September 17, 2014  Posted by at 7:24 pm Workshops 1 Response »
Aug 122014
 

The body has been a source for artistic inspiration for centuries  – from the Venus de Willendorf- a small statue estimated to be over 20,000 years old, to the Greek and Roman period of idealizing the body, Michelangelo’s David, Edward Weston’s famous nudes, Robert Mapplethorpe’s explicitly erotic nudes and the late 20th century views of sexualized images influenced by Madison Ave, Hollywood and Playboy sensibilities.  There are so many images of nudes, and so many idealized representations of nudes, that our subconscious is full to the brim with assumptions about how the body looks.  With all of these preconceptions as to what a nude should look like, what is beautiful, what is appropriate, offensive, etc, it can be challenging to see the human form for what it is and approach it creatively.

Often times, there is some level of satisfaction in making an image that we “know” is good either because we have seen it before in books, magazines (Playboy for stylized nudes,) museums (we assume that images in print or formal exhibitions are automatically accepted) or it fits a social definition of what a good picture should look like.  We might be responding to a compositional principle, some lighting style, or a specific element of perspective that we have seen previously.  There are “how-to” books on photographing the nude that read like instruction manuals – where to position the lights, how to pose the model and where to set up the tripod.  These books will certainly show you how to make a typical mage of a nude, but they won’t lead you to creating new and powerful work through your own exploration.

The nude has been used as a vehicle for expressing the most profound emotions – love, sorrow, anger, ecstasy, sex. It is a powerful subject that can force us to confront ourselves and how we see the body; our reactions, our discomfort, or our attraction.  It has the potential to push us to witness the depth of our own humanity, provided we have the courage to look and the capability to see past our initial judgements, preconceptions, and visual assumptions.

My favorite workshop of the year, The Human Form at the Maine Media Workshops, is just around the corner and addresses these issues in approaching the body as a subject.  Every year, I have a variety of students – passionate amateurs, photography professors, and experienced commercial photographers- who are all looking for a fresh set of eyes.  In all cases, everyone is eager to not simply learn how to photograph the body, but how to see it in a new way and be truly original with this most popular subject.

It blows my mind that I am consistently astounded by the work the students produce at the Maine Media Workshops, that year after year I see new and exciting images of the body, and I can’t wait to see what 2014 has to offer…

The Human Form runs from August 17 – August 23, at The Maine Media Workshops,
70 Camden St, Rockport ME 04856
There’s still time to register- click here for course and registration info!
 August 12, 2014  Posted by at 7:46 pm Workshops 1 Response »
Jul 082014
 

In 2011, I had the honor of teaching a workshop at the Oklahoma Arts Institute, a rigorous two week arts program for high school age students focusing on acting, creative writing, ballet, modern dance, orchestra, chorus, drawing and painting, photography, and film and video.  The workshops take place at the beautiful Quartz Mountain Arts and Conference Center, a resort located in the Wichita Mountains of southwestern Oklahoma.  I recently returned from teaching another summer session there, and once again had a fabulous time working with amazingly gifted young students.

Team Photo


We’re baaaaaaack! Team Photo was reunited as I joined up once again with Konrad Eek and Ben Long. Since meeting and working together for the first time back in 2011, we’ve kept up correspondence but rarely have the chance to see each other in person, so this was a great opportunity to reconnect. Ben was outnumbered by three “Con’s” this year as we were joined by newcomer Connor Choate (far right) joining in the fun.

The Lecture

During the first week, I presented my work with a slide show and lecture and loved the audience. Everyone was not only intrigued and receptive to my work, but they were warm and appreciative. This was one of those very special occasions when I am totally relaxed and feel like I am having a conversation with the audience.

The Students


were FANTASTIC. They were a brilliant class that were incredibly fun to teach and very eager to learn. They were all sweet, fun, and extremely enthusiastic. The two week workshop is intense, demanding a lot of hard work in a short period of time, and yet we still managed to have a blast through it all.


Student Work

I could not be more thrilled with the work the students produced in the short two week time we had together. I was, and still am, blown away by the caliber and quality of the images photographed by such a young group of photographers. The level on which the students were seeing went above and beyond my expectations, and they created some truly breathtaking and inspiring work. There was so much more than what I’m sharing here and it was difficult narrowing it down to these, but here are some images that really stood out:

Ben Davis

Charity Jack

Hayley Russell

Iasiah Pickens

Jacob Rabon IV

Carter Link
Jackson Fall

John Voth

Sarah Allen
Kayla Andrus

Kelsie Box

Kitkat Stotler

Landon Bahr

Lauren Tedford

Lucky Coffey

Carsyn Abrams
Molly Shanahan

Olivia Prichard

One thing that really impressed me was how quickly the students could let go of their “old” ways of seeing things and jump into a new approach. With so many of the workshops that I teach, the emphasis is on working intuitively, using photography to explore and discover new ways of looking. Just as it is with any creative process, it is so easy to fall into formulaic ways of seeing, photographing in ways we know will produce results which may be nice, but rarely exciting. The students at OSAI came into this workshop clearly knowing their way around a camera, and had already learned how to make images. What they learned through this workshop was the distinction between photographing based on the subject/event vs. photographing based on seeing/vision. They managed to let go of preconceived ideas of what works in an image, how you’re “supposed” to photograph certain subject matter, and instead photograph with a much more #dynamic approach. *wink*

After two weeks of challenging exercises, the final assignment was open – they could photograph whatever subject matter they chose – and one student griped that they no longer knew how to photograph their friends now that they had become so aware of working with edges, shapes, line and light. They could no longer settle for casual snapshots of their friends. It was a comment that signaled to me that they truly “got it”.


The Closing Show

Every year, the workshop ends with a show exhibiting the best of the work from throughout the course of the workshop. The show this year was exceptional, and truly displayed how far the students had come in such a short period of time. The images looked excellent and all of us could not be happier with everyone’s progress.

THANK YOU ALL for being so wonderful, so enthusiastic and so receptive, and for the incredible work you did! I am extremely proud of this group and excited to see where they go next…

Thanks, as always, to Team Photo – Konrad Eek, Ben Long, and Connor Choate! I will miss you guys, and until we teach again, be in touch!!

And of course, thank you once again to the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute for hosting such a great program and inviting me to be a part of it! It is always a pleasure and I am already eager for the next opportunity to be back in Oklahoma! 

 July 8, 2014  Posted by at 7:53 pm Workshops No Responses »