Come Rain Come Shine

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.

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Two More Workshops

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.

If you want to learn more about these two photo workshops, please look up “Your Personal Expression” in Bergen and “The Visual Language” in Seattle. Maybe I’ll see you there?

Photo Workshops in Planning

Two of the participants during the Bolivia workshop in 2013
The participants of the 2010 Bolivia workshop

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.

The Bolivia workshop will take place from September 15th to 24th. For more information: «On the Tracks of Che Guevara».

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.

Come Rain, Come Shine

© Erik Lind
© Terry Shoobridge
© Inger Stenstrøm
© Tori Tollefsen
© Mary Shoobridge

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.

Being Challenged

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.

The group with participants and teachers during the Cuba workshop this May.

Develop Your Photography

Learning is a way to both improve and to develop. I believe in lifelong learning—as long as I am willing to learn I stay alive. There are many ways to replenish one’s knowledge and further develop oneself. Personally I find attending workshops one of the most inspiring ways to learn and develop. I try to attend at least one workshop every year. For me there is something about the format of workshops, being incredibly attractive and just evoking pure stimulation. This goes for whether I am a student or a teacher.

This year I am planning to teach more photo workshops than I have ever done in any year before. I am setting up two complete new workshops, in addition once again to organizing two workshops that have been successful in the past. They should cater to any level or interests of photography, whether you are a beginner or already a pro, whether you want to dig in and really develop your photographic voice or just want to have fun while getting a better grip on your photography.

I hope one of the workshops I offer may trigger your desire to further develop and learn. Maybe travel to a place you have not been to before, or maybe finally spending full time immersing yourself in a photographic learning experience. I promise your photography will progress profoundly during any of the workshops. I say so based on having taught workshops for more than ten years and not the least from responses from former workshop participants. As one participant stated: “The workshop was all about constructive critique that inspired to stretch myself to levels I had never perceived before. I believe I am a better photographer today than I was 10 days ago.”

This year I will for, the first time, teach a workshop in England. It’s going to be an extended weekend in the picturesque and distinctive city of Bath. We will stroll around in the historical city, which is built on a heritage extending back to Roman time and beyond. “Street Photography in Bath” will run from September 21th to 24th.

The other completely new workshop is going to be quite an experience. I am really proud to be able to offer a two weeks combined photo tour and workshop in Cuba, where we will follow the footsteps of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara and their revolution. I am teaching the workshop together with my friend and colleague, Sven Creuztmann. We will visit cities with important landmarks for the two revolutionaries fought, we will visit places that most visitors to Cuba never get to see and we will go deep into the mountains where the revolution started. “In the Footsteps of a Revolution” takes place from November 24th to December 7th.

The workshops I have taught before will run in spring. I will once again do the intimate photo workshop about how to develop your photographic expression in my hometown of Bergen, Norway. It’s going to be a very small workshop where we meet up in my apartment, when we are not shooting the streets of Bergen. “The Personal Expression” runs from June 15th to 17th.

Finally, Sven and I are running our regular workshop in Cuba this May. It’s a one week photo workshop, and one of my most popular. We already have a good group signed up for the workshop, but there are still some spots left. “Cuba in Essence” takes place from May 5th to 17th.

Maybe one of these workshops could be something for you? I would love to have you come along.

10 Great Tips to Take Better Photos

Blue Hour Photo Workshops is very proud to announce that our first eBook about photograph is out today. It’s a book the author, Otto von Münchow, has been working on over the last year—on and off, of course. Now it’s finally available. For us at Blue Hour Photo Workshops this is a natural extension of our desire to teach and help anyone interested in taking better picture. The eBook (and the next to come) will be an addition to the workshops we teach all over the world as well as our online workshops.

10 Great Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Point-and-Shoot Camera addresses a handful of challenges that most photographers struggle with. Over 45 pages this eBook will give you a handful of great tips (and some more background to better understand the camera) to improve you photos and make your photos connect with the viewers. The intention is to help you make better pictures without getting too technical or talk too much about visual language or composition.

Our intention has also been to make it affordable to most people, which means that for only 5 dollars you get access to download the eBook (as a PDF-document) .

10 Great Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Point-and-Shoot Camera is packed with useful information, tips and great photography. The language is down to earth and not technical at all. It aims for photographers not quite confident with the photographic process yet, but who want to learn more and improve their photography. If you are struggling with getting your photos look good or too often find that your photos don’t quite capture what you had in mind then 10 Great Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Point-and-Shoot Camera is a book for you.

To get this book out is for us very exciting. We have for a long time wanted to publish our own series of photo books. And this is the first one. In other words; in the future more books will come, both for beginners and advanced photographers. More than anything Otto von Münchow wants to put together a book about the creative process, which is something he has already started working on.

So stay in tune for more. However, for now, maybe 10 Great Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Point-and-Shoot Camera is worth looking up. You can get it by clicking the button. It will take you to the web site where you can order the book.