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.

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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.

Capturing the Atmosphere in Night Photos

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When you want to capture photos in the night, there is in particular one thing you should be aware of. Obviously everything is going to be darker and thus you would most likely need to use a tripod or at least amp up the ISO-setting significantly. Otherwise, the captured photo will be very blurry—which of course can be used creatively if that’s your intention.

However, what I really have in mind is quite something different. When you capture a landscape or a cityscape you will most likely get part of the sky in the photo. If the sky is pitch black, it will become a boring, uniformly dark, negative space. Night, right? After all you attempt to shoot in the night which means the sky would be black.

Look at great photos of «nightscapes», though, and you will see that the sky is never pitch black. Instead, there is a flicker of blue light or some lighter parts in the sky that makes the sky much more interesting than a flat and boring black sky.

The trick to get a more dynamic night sky, is not shooting during night time, but rather just before the night sets in. When you shoot during the late dusk or during the few minutes before twilight turns into night, you will be able to capture a much more interesting sky. The photo will still look like a night shot—as long as you keep the exposure dark enough or process the photo as a night shot.

So don’t shoot night pictures at night, but rather just before the night sky takes over, and you will capture a photo with much more atmosphere and dynamics.

Cuba Workshop Getting Filled

Gatekunst og propaganda i bydelen Marianao

Our photo workshop in Cuba kicking off on April 29th is getting some traction. Over the last couple of days, we have reached more than half the maximum amounts of participants and expect more will sign up over the next couple of weeks. If you have been pondering about attending, maybe now is a good time to figure out whether you want to join or not.

Cuba is more popular than ever. The country is changing rapidly, and if you want to experience some of the «old» Cuba now is really the time. Don’t get us wrong, changes are good, development are good, but there is nothing wrong with wanting to experience something that soon will be all but history. Like any other country is developing, so is Cuba. The hardworking farmers are slowly by slowly no longer ploughing with bulls, traditional culture is vanishing and of course ever more tourists have an enormous impact on Cuba—like they have in any country.

The Blue Hour Photo Workshop «Cuba in Essence» will take you to some of the most amazing places in Cuba. This is really a street photo workshop, and we promise you will be able to capture some amazing photos. And the two workshop teachers will help you develop your photographic vision. During the Cuba workshop you will become a better and more confident photographer, no matter your present level.

You will find more info about the photo workshop «Cuba in Essence» on this site.

Now Is the Time

En av mange gamle amerikanere som trafikkere gaten som kollektivdrosjer

As announced a couple of weeks ago, Blue Hour Photo Workshops will once again organize a photo workshop in Cuba, this time from April 29th to May 6th. We expect to have more interest for the workshop than ever. Cuba has become an increasingly sought after destination for photographers and tourists alike.

They come from all over the world, now even regularly from the United States. Up until recently US citizens were not allowed to travel to Cuba, but after the thaw between USA and Cuba the last few years, it’s been ever more easy for US citizens to travel to Cuba.

The conditions are still not normalized. US citizens still have to comply with certain regulations to make a legal trip to Cuba. Nevertheless, American travellers are now able to take commercial flights between the two countries, something they haven’t been able to do in 50 years.

There is still a limitation of 12 acceptable categories to travel to Cuba, outlined by the United States Department of the Treasury. To attend a workshop like Blue Hour Photo Workshops are organizing US citizen would go under a people-to-people program under the educational exchange category. These days, it’s not necessary to obtain a special license. Now all you have to do is clicking a box on the online form when making your travel arrangements.

When in Cuba, US citizens are required to keep records showing an itinerary of approved activities. If you are an American and are considering attending our workshop, Blue Hour Photo Workshops will provide you with such a itinerary that you can use for both planning and during the participation.

For more information about how to travel to Cuba as a US citizen, New York Times had a very informative article about the requirements imposed by the authorities.

Cuba is changing rapidly, not the least because of the influx of travellers from all over the world, included United States. If you want to experience the special paradox and cultural depth of present-day’s Cuba, now is the time to go. Why not come along on our photo workshop for an exceptional experience. More information about Blue Hour Cuba photo workshop.

Fun in Prague

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The Prague photo workshop in the end of September was a first for me and Blue Hour Photo Workshop. Now that a couple of weeks have pasted since the workshop I am still thinking about the great bunch of people who participated and made it into a special event. I am also regularly recalling how much fun we had.

Of course I am biased as the workshop organizer and teacher, but the feedbacks from the participants were equally positive. I think it’s fair to say—in all honesty—that we all enjoyed those couple of days in the Czech capital.

I think it was a good mix of exploring the city together, lectures, picture critique and shooting on our own—and so the participants conveyed in their evaluation of the workshop. As always in a photo workshop it was busy, but everybody took the challenges in a stride. They were eager and photographed early mornings and late evenings.

Taking place over an extended weekend it was a lot of ground to be covered during the workshop. Although I personally and usually prefer to teach workshop over a full week, I think we found a right balance between relatively few and hectic days and what we set out to accomplish. At least one participant expressed a desire for one or two days more, which I will consider for the next workshop. At the same time, running the workshop over an extended weekend makes it easier for many to participate, since they—in this case at least—didn’t have to ask for more than one day of leave from work.

Prague is in many ways a perfect place for a street photography workshop. It has so much to offer, always busy, lots going on everywhere in the city core and it offers a splendid cultural and historical backdrop. This also makes Prague one of the most sought after place for visitors and tourists from around the world. The old town and the famous Charles Bridge are definitely packed with tourist at most any time. Still, the early birds found a city almost vacant, except for the handful of photo enthusiasts that gathered every morning on Charles Bridge to capture the sunrise. We were certainly not the only photographers exploring Prague, but were «competing» with anything from amateurs to professionals en masse.

In the end—and most importantly—all the participants came out of the workshop each with an excellent portfolio of pictures from Prague. They all grew and expanded their photographing vision during the workshop. In later posts we will showcase their work.

Maybe I’ll see you in the next workshop in Prague?

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Cuba Is Waiting for You

Do you want to come along for an amazing photo experience? In one of the most fascinating and photogenic countries in the world? Then come along on Blue Hour Photo Workshops’ next adventure to Cuba. During a whole week in the beginning of May 2017 we will explore some of this country’s finest places, meet with hospital and welcoming Cubans and experience Cuba’s cultural diversity.

This is a photo workshop for you who want to immerse yourself in vast photographic opportunities and at the same time develop your photographic voice. No better place than Cuba for doing both. We, the two workshop teachers, will guide you and help you and make sure you get the most out of this week. We will take you to places beyond the usual beaten tracks, we will show you the real Cuba and we will push your photography in a stronger and more personal direction. This workshop will be a kick-starter for you, no matter at what lever your present photography is.

Furthermore, now is really the time to go to Cuba for any photographer, if you want to experience some of its special era of present days, its in many ways contradictory appearance, its strange combination of political otherness and Caribbean salsa, and the original and unchanged life of Cubans since the fall of the old Communist block. All this is rapidly changing and will all be gone or completely changed in not too many years.

Cuba is a unique country—whatever else you may think of it politically; for a photographer the country is full of exceptional photo opportunities. Photographically speaking, it hardly matches any other place in the world. Moreover, by attending the photo workshop next year you will be able to witness a historical time for the country. Already, and as mentioned, the times are changing rapidly. If communism still isn’t on is way out, the mix of stall centrally controlled governance and a new, more open economy, is swiftly shifting the old Cuba into a modern, but also more global lookalike. Some of the uniqueness is vanishing—for better and worse. Now is indeed the time to experience the uniqueness of Cuba. And what better way than together with the two workshop teachers, Sven Creutzmann and Otto von Münchow who have, respectively, lived in and travel to the country for more than 25 years.

The workshop «Street photography in Cuba» is set partly in Havana and partly in Trinidad. It’s an excellent opportunity to experience the colourful and warm people of the Caribbean island. In addition, you will combine it with the teaching of two very experienced workshop instructors. They provide you with valuable lessons and individual feedback for you to develop as a photographer. Or as a former participant expressed: «I developed greatly as a photographer.» The workshop is really about picture making and developing your photographic vision.

Set aside the dates from April 29th to May 6th 2017—and join this extraordinary photo workshop.

Click here for more info about the Cuba workshop.