The corona pandemic has turned the world upside down in so many ways. One of these is the ban on international travels, which is in effect for an unforeseeable future. The travel ban will naturally have an impact on the photo workshops Blue Hour Photo Workshops has planned for 2020.
First out was the regular and most popular workshop in Cuba that under normal circumstances would have commenced this week. Unsurprisingly, this workshop has been cancelled. Those who signed up for the workshop have long since been notified. I hope that next year, by this time we can once again run this photo workshop.
Even the weekend workshop in Bergen, Norway, in the beginning of June might be at risk, although hopefully due to its small size and if the Norwegian authorities somewhat break the lockdown—which is already slowly happening these days—the workshop will run as planned. However, to minimize spread of infection and abiding by the health authorities regulations, only those already signed up for the photo workshop will be allowed to participate. We won’t open for further registration.
Furthermore, Blue Hour Photo Workshops plan two workshops in the autumn, one in Northern Norway, in mid September and one in Nicaragua, in the first week of October. For the time being we go ahead as if things will normalize somewhat before that. That is, we hope both workshops will commence as planned. We will of course keep updating as we see the development.
Even during these strange times, there is no reason to stop photographing. So keep up, keep shooting and stay positive. And stay safe.
If you are like me, you are constantly trying to develop your photography. I read everything I can come across—well, almost… I certainly use internet for all what it’s worth. And I attend photo workshops.
Nothing is quite like a photo workshop. The experience of spending a couple of intense days or maybe a week with similar minded photographers eager to learn and develop, under guidance of a thoughtful and knowledgeable tutor is expansive and transcendent. For me, both attending and teaching is inspiring, not the least learning from different participants’ approach to their photography. This year I attended one workshop with the fabulous Swedish photographer Martin Bogren. In addition I thought two workshops, respectively in Norway and Bolivia.
Now, next year’s photo workshops that I will teach have been settled. 2020 will be a year full of possibilities for anyone seeking to develop her or his photography. As with all the photo workshops I teach, the focus is on imagery and how to create captivating photos—and less so about the technical side of photography. So maybe you will find something that could trigger you to come along:
As usual, my friend and colleague Sven Creutzmann and I will teach a one-week photo workshop in Cuba. This is our longest existing workshop that we have taught for almost every year of the last 15 years. It always gets great feedback from our participants. The workshop runs from April 25th to May 2nd 2020. You’ll find more info about the workshop here: “Street Photography in Cuba”.
Sven and I will also organize a photo tour in Nicaragua in the autumn next year. This is a complete new tour that we are proud to be able to put together. It’s a photo tour we have been working many years to create and finally it’s coming together. We will have the beautiful colonial city of Granada as a base for exploring the city and the surroundings over the one week trip. The tour runs from October 31st to November 7th 2020. You’ll find more info about the photo tour here: “Street photography in Granada”.
On my own, I will once again teach the popular and intimate weekend photo workshop in Bergen, Norway. We gather in my loft for lectures and feedback. The rest of the time, we will be out photographing in this lovely city situated on the west coast of Norway. This workshop runs from June 5th to 7th 2020. You’ll find more info about the workshop here: “The Personal Expression”.
Finally, I will organize and teach a photo workshop in northern Norway in the autumn. This is another completely new workshop that I will be teaching for the first time. We will be situated on an spectacular island just north of the famous Lofoten archipelago, with the same extraordinary landscape but much less visited by tourists. During this five day long long workshop the focus will be on the visual language and how to tell stories with photos. The workshop runs from September 9th to 13th 2020. You’ll find more info about the workshop here: “Telling Stories with Photos”.
I have just returned from teaching my latest photo workshop in Bolivia. It was a really fun workshop, with dedicated participants, lots of photo opportunities and plenty of enjoyable moments. Most important for us, the workshop teachers, was seeing how each participants were able to develop their photography during the 10 days we were travelling in eastern parts of Bolivia.
This workshop involves a lot more travelling than most of the workshops I teach. More or less every second day we were taking off to a new town or village, which both makes the workshop more adventures as well as add some pressure with regards to being able to find time for picture critiques and lectures every day.
We were travelling in the footsteps Che Guevara and his failed revolutionary attempt in Bolivia fifty years ago. Following his last days was just a framework for the travel not a theme for the photographing—unless participants chose to do so. After meeting up in Santa Cruz, the financial hub in eastern Bolivia, we took off first to Samaipata, then to Vallegrand and La Higuea before returning to Santa Cruz. The highlight was no doubt La Higuera, a small village high up in the mountains with a handful of houses and only 43 inhabitants.
I think it’s fair to say, that the combinations of daily feedback on photos the participants take as well as being able to photograph one and one next to either me or my colleague Sven Creutzmann, with whom I taught the workshop, give a good dynamic for each participant to develop his or her photography. The result was noticeable. A lot of very strong imagery was captured during the workshop.
This is the third team we have organized this workshop.
Here are a couple of glimpses behind the scene during the workshop. Later on, I will get back with photos we shot during the ten days in Bolivia.
As you are reading this post, I am getting going teaching another photo workshop in Bolivia. It has just started. Today, Monday, we are heading out from Santa Cruz, the regional centre in eastern Bolivia, to the village of Samaipata. Over the next week plus, we will continue to Vallegrande and La Higuera and finally head back again to Santa Cruz at the end of next week.
I have been looking forward both to be on the road and not the least to teach this workshop again. Last time we did it—that is my friend and colleague Sven Creutzmann and I—was back in 2013. We have a nice group of participants with us this time, most of whom have attended at least one of our workshops before.
This is definitely a photo workshop for the more adventures photographers. Yes, here in Santa Cruz we stay at a great and quit luxurious hotel, but hereafter it’s going to be plenty of bumpy roads and the most unpretentious of accommodations. Simply because that’s all there is in the towns and village up in the eastern mountains of Bolivia.
The tour will follow in the footsteps of Che Guevara. For some he was a hero, for some a terrorist. No matter what you think about him, the history and how it all ended here in the mountains of Bolivia is fascinating.
I will try to keep you posted about the trip and the workshop as we go, but cannot promise anything. Internet is not well accessible in these rural areas. Anyway, here we go.
This weekend I taught a photo workshop in Bergen, Norway. Despite not having the best of weathers, I was impressed with the participants’ efforts. They were out early in the morning, shooting, shooting and relentlessly defying the weather.
What I enjoyed even more was their willingness to accept the challenges I forced upon them. They took it straight. For some it was losing control and become more reckless, for some it was approaching people on the street, for some it was not shooting sharp images, and for everybody it was to keep shooting long after they felt they had overly and too long disrupted whomever they stopped on the street.
It’s a natural instinct, to capture one, two or maybe even three photos of someone on the street and then let go. But most likely that will not be enough to produce captivating images and break the first inhibition and the subjecting wanting to play up to the photographer. On the street, the photographer has to keep going, keep shooting, 20, 50 maybe 100 photos of a situation. I know, it’s not easy, you feel you step over what is acceptable behaviour, but those who try often find out surprisingly how willing people actually are. As the participants of the workshop found out.
The participants not only defied the weather and the challenges, but also brought back some excellent images. At a later stage, I will display some of their work here. For now let me just inform that I am teaching another weekend photo workshop in Seattle from September 6th to 9th. If you may be interested, you’ll find more information about the workshop “The Visual Language” here.
As of tomorrow I will take off on a two weeks holiday in Ireland. I will be away from the blog sphere during the holiday. But I will be back in the end of June. Take care friends.
As mentioned a couple of posts ago, Blue Hour Photo Workshops has two more photo workshops in planning for next year. In addition to the ones already announced in respectively Cuba and Bolivia—which are longer, up to ten days, workshops—we will teach two shorter weekend long workshops in as different places as in Bergen, Norway and Seattle, USA. Both have magnificent nature as well as the temperate climate in common, but otherwise they are two quite different cities.
Attending a longer photo workshop is a more intense and very expanding experience. You get a chance to work thoroughly with you photography and dig deep into your creative resources. Extended feedback over many days will most certainly guide you into a new phase as a photographer. You will leave the workshop with a different and deeper understand of how to shoot and become a better visual storyteller.
However, not all of us have a week or two at our disposal for a photo workshop. That’s when weekend workshops come in as a good alternative. Even if you spend shorter time exploring possible new photographic approaches and have less time to learn, you will still gain a lot during a three days photo workshop. A weekend workshop might be even more intense, simply because you want to get as much as possible out of the days.
Our first weekend workshop takes place in Bergen, Norway. We set off after working hours on Friday June 7th 2019 and wrap it up Sunday evening the same weekend. This is the same weekend as the annual and traditional, old fashion market takes place in Bergen—with lots of photo opportunities. During the weekend, the focus will be on how to develop your personal, photography expression. Otto von Münchow will talk about the process from vision to final output; and how to use the visual language to express your photographic vision.
The workshop in Seattle will run over an extended weekend from September 6th to 9th 2019. Like in Bergen, we come together on the Friday evening after work but continue through Monday over the weekend. During this workshop, Otto will more extensively be looking at the visual language. As a participant, you will learn how to transform what you see for eyes into strong visual stories that will captivate your audience.
The previously announced photo workshop “On the Tracks of Che Guevara” in Bolivia next autumn will be commencing one week later than originally planned. Unfortunately, we have had to change the dates due to an unforeseen collision of events. The workshop is still going to be an amazing experience, both photographically and as a travel event. Over almost two weeks we will be travelling in the remote mountain areas of eastern Bolivia, visit small villages and learn about the last days of Che Guavara in this area. The workshop runs from September 23th to October 2nd 2019. More information.
Sitting at my desk here in Seattle, looking out at the cold mist cramping down on the urban scenery outside my window, I can all the more enjoy spending time planning next year’s photo workshops. Honestly, it’s always fun to plan upcoming workshops. I love teaching and planning is part of the built-up.
If everything goes according to plan, next year Blue Hour Photo Workshops will teach four workshops on three different continents. Some of them will be very adventurous while others while be more laidback. They will vary from weekend long workshops to a tour stretching almost a fortnight. There should be a workshop for most aspiration. Maybe we’ll see you in one of them?
Once again, Blue Hour Photo Workshops will teach a photo workshop in Cuba in May. This is our most popular workshop, thought by Sven Creutzmann and Otto von Münchow. We have done this since 2007, almost every year. Cuba is a fascinating country. It’s certainly a country that it’s a dream place for most photographers, colourful with openhearted people and photo opportunities around every corner.
Next year’s photo workshop will take place from May 4th to 11th. If you may be interested, you’ll find more information here on our web site: «Street Photography in Cuba».
For Blue Hour Photo Workshops it’s extra exciting to re-launch a photo workshop in Bolivia. This will be a truly adventurous workshop, in which we follow the footsteps of Che Guevara, up until he was captured and killed by the Bolivian army. We will travel through small mountain towns and off the beaten tracks in a lush and beautiful landscape. We will meet local people and we will talk with some of those who took care of Che Guevara after he was captured. In all modesty, this is quite an extraordinary photo workshop.
In addition to the Cuba and Bolivia workshop, Blue Hour Photo Workshops will teach yet another weekend workshop in Bergen, Norway in the beginning of June. Next year we also plan a complete new photo workshop in Seattle, USA. The date is yet not settled, but it will take place in the autumn of 2019. These two workshops we will get back to with more info.
Street photography is challenging. Most of us feel like intruders when we shove our cameras into the faces of strangers on the street. It’s intimidating, and most intimidating is approaching strangers asking to take their photo. Even just being a fly on the wall, letting street life pass by unobstructed, capturing it without any interaction, can be daunting enough. We just don’t feel comfortable photographing people we don’t know.
For participants during the extended weekend photo workshop in Bath two weeks ago, they all experienced the challenge of street photography. In the beginning, they were pretty much reluctant to the thought of approaching strangers on the street. Resorting to zoom in and use a long telephoto lens was much less intimidating. However, taking captivating street photos more often than not requires using a wide-angle lens or at least a so-called normal lens.
Over the next three days during the workshop, they were pushed ever closer to whatever took place on the street. And they were pushed to use a more wide-angled approach. They also started approaching complete strangers on the street. To their surprise, they found out that most people don’t mind having their photos taken. On the contrary. With that insight came also more audacity—and in the end amazing results in terms of photos they have captured.
To challenge the participants even more, the weather was far from cooperative. Whereas Bath had been bathed in sunshine weeks before the workshop—and in fact ever since the workshop was done, too—during the extended weekend the rain came down reluctantly most days. However, the participants passed this challenge with blistering energy. Come rain, come shine, they were all out shooting every day.
Here is a small selection of what they came back with after an inspiring weekend in beautiful Bath.
At its best a photo workshop both challenges each participant as well as give him or her a sense of achievement. Both are important. If you are challenged and don’t feel you can handle the challenge, you will soon lose your self-esteem. On the other hand, if you are not really tested beyond your comfort zone, you will hardly develop or improve your photography.
This idea has always been the basis for any of the workshops I teach, as it is for Sven Creutzmann, my friend and colleague with whom I teach the photo workshops in Cuba. For us it’s equally important that we challenge each participant at the right level. Good photographers need to be put to a harder test, whereas with beginners or less confident participants we cannot push as hard.
When we start a new workshop, we always commence with a desire to boost both ourselves and the participants as hard as possible. It’s a matte of motivation. It’s fair to say that we are very ambitious, both with respect to ourselves as well as on the behalf of the participants. For some participants this may come as a surprise. They might have attended other workshops without having the workshop teachers pushing them much at all. In the beginning when they are met with our determination to challenge, they may actually feel a little uncomfortable, but it doesn’t take long before they start to thrive, particularly when they see some dazzling development in their approach to photography.
I think it’s reasonable to say that over the years we have become good at finding the right balance between pressing each participants beyond their comfort zones and making sure they keep a sense of achievement. I also think our feedback during daily picture critiques have become precise and immensely valuable for the participants. After all, we have taught workshops for quite some years by now.
Although I have organized workshops longer, Sven’s and my first Cuba workshop took place in 2006. Quite a few changes have seen daylight since then. This year’s workshop in May took us to a different location, for instance. In addition to Havana, we went to the beautiful, colonial town of Trinidad. We, as workshop teacher, are also more out on the street shooting along with the participants, whereas during the first workshop we went to the rural Viñales. Particularly photography one-to-one with us has become something our participants value. It gives them a change to see how we work as professional photographers as well as letting us guide them better in their own shooting.
Most notably for this year’s workshop, was a new meeting point for lectures and picture critique the days we were in Havana. At the end of last year, Sven open his own art cafe in the district of Vedado. It’s probably one of the coolest cafes in Havana, displaying a lot of Sven’s photography as well as colleagues’ and friends’. ArtCafe Belview has already been picked up by many travel guides as well as gotten ravish reviews, and is a perfect place for teaching a photo workshop.
Do you want to come to Cuba for a photo workshop? Our next one, In the Footsteps of a Revolution, will take place from Nov 24th to December 7th later this year. Or maybe you’d rather go for an extended weekend. From September 21st to 24th I teach the photo workshop Street Photography in Bath, in England.