From My First Photo Workshop

workshop-photog-2018The photo workshop finished around 12 at the Metropolitan in the Dendur Wing.  I think it went pretty well, but I learned a few things.  The main thing was that even with only five people, it was hard to connect to the needs of all five people at once, as they were all somewhat different.

I thought that the one-on-one lessons I’ve done so far were more productive for the students since they could be catered exactly to their needs and it was easier for me to make a better connection in a short time with a single student.  Since I’m really not trying to teach technique, so much as the why of shooting, it is difficult to do with five students.  So going forward, that’s what I’m going to do: offer one-on-one lessons.  As I say, these can be more easily catered to the individual needs of the student.

As far as street shooting goes, although having Park Avenue completely free of traffic – it was only open to pedestrians and bikes today – this is almost impossible to do with five students and needs to be done in a more intensive way.  Basically, what I found was that street shooting is not something that comes naturally, and as I was sitting there at the end of the session, I was talking about how I felt when I first began shooting on the street.  I remember how difficult it was for me and how nervous it made me.  That is going to be natural for anyone who is halfway sensitive.  And it’s not something that can be learned in a 3-hour workshop, at least not with more than one person.

But I do think there are some rules and exercises that can be developed, just as you would need to learn techniques for other art forms.  For example, I noticed a tendency of some of the participants to want to shoot from the hip.  There are times and places for that – but it certainly isn’t necessary on Park Avenue with bikes and rollerbladers speeding by.  For me, it is a fallback position – when you are actually in a situation that may be dangerous to photograph.

In general, you should be able to photograph people with the camera to your eye before they notice that you’ve taken the shot.  And if they do notice, you should be able to deal with that too.  Sometimes, you just chat with them.  Sometimes, you ignore them and continue on your way.

Another thing I noticed was that at least one participant was deleting images from the camera.  I would never do this for two reasons: 1) while you’re deleting the image something else may be happening.  In other words, part of the street photography mindset is that you are almost always “on.”  Things that are happening are rare enough that you just want to kick yourself if you miss something because you were looking at the image on the back of the camera.  It totally breaks whatever flow you have. 2) If you are going to delete images, at least wait until you have a bit of temporal distance.  Don’t do it when that day when you are editing the images on your computer.  Unless they are obviously impossible to use (all black, or all white, or just so damned blurred that you know you’ll never print it).  But keep in mind that even mundane images may have historical value in ten years.

That’s what I learned from the session.

I’ll post a few shots of my own, and I asked the participants to send their best – or in some cases their worst shots for me to post.  Street shooting is definitely an entirely different skill than other forms of photography – something that since I’ve been doing it for so long – I discovered only by watching the group take a crack at it.  Definitely a good idea that I didn’t do what I was originally planning and go into the subway.

Oh – as far as the Aspire One netbook – useless as far as viewing goes for a group in the sun.  It’ll be fine for me to offload images onto and browse through indoors – but outdoors – couldn’t see a thing.  The screen (as Markus warned me) had too much glare.

by Jacob Mann
Jacob told me ahead of time he wasn’t interested in street photography. He was currently working on a project
photographing various museums and how people interacted with them.
by Craig Nisnewitz
I think that Craig probably took the most shots. You can see the rest of
what he did on flickr.
By Beckerman. And of course I was doing the usual thing – looking for
moments. The parents were only concerned that the baby might be
woken up; but they were perfectly happy to have this troupe photographing them.

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My name is Dave Beckerman. I am a fine art photographer working in New York City.

3 thoughts on “From My First Photo Workshop”

  1. What is the dog thinking? Here are some possibilities:

    1. Why are we passing these fire hydrants so quickly?

    2. I wonder if Obama’s health plan proposal includes pets.

    3. Those six photographers can’t be real. This must be an obstacle course.

    4. Do not fret Sweet Polly Purebred, Underdog will save the day!!

  2. Hi Dave:

    Thanks for posting my photo.
    I printed some of them today including the one that you posted. It was the only one that I liked in color. Also printed it in black and white and I think its looks better.
    I agree that one-on-one may be the best way to teach this stuff but I still got a lot out of it. The way you looked at a lot of things, especially analyzing the lighting conditions was helpful. Street photography requires a different mindset. Its not for the shy. Some people don’t like to have their picture taken and they may react badly. Walking up to them and just explaining why the photos were being taken seemed to work. I agree, you need to look through the camera. Shooting from the hip does not work for most situations. My impression was that no one seemed to object to the photos we took nor was really upset at us. On the other hand, New Yorkers have a very thick skin.
    Thanks again for an enjoyable morning

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