I’ve had the good fortune of leading or co-leading a number of workshops in my career and with all of these events, my students rallied around me so that they could improve or refine their skills around landscape photography. After all, that’s the genre of photography I spend most of my time in, either creating or educating. A good workshop finds itself at the intersection of its students’ challenges and the leader’s ability to provide thoughtful guidance without coddling.
Recently, I had found myself in a bit of a rut that eventually began materially impacting my creative process. What led to this rut and what I’ve learned from it are topics that I’m going to save for future posts but suffice it to say that I needed to shock the system, so to speak. I just wasn’t sure how. The answer came in the form of an announcement by David duChemin, a photographer and author whose work has inspired me countless time. I specifically cite David as an inspiration in my book, The Visual Palette, and am so thankful to have a quote from him on the inside flap of its front cover.
In David’s announcement, he stated that he was trying out a new type of workshop—one that would be very intimate and geared to help each student create a tight and connected body of work with the beautiful city of Venice as our backdrop. The subject and nature of this portfolio collection would be borne through collaboration between the student and David.
For whatever reason, I knew that this was an opportunity I needed to seize and within a few minutes after posting the announcement, I reached out to David to let him know that both my wife, Nicole, and I would be applying to join. For the first time in my career as a working photographer, I was paying to be a student in a workshop and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
To keep from letting this post spiral right out from under me, I’ll share a lot more of the intricacies about this workshop and what I learned for subsequent posts and a new eBook that I’ve started producing. For now, what’s important to know is that my biggest fear with traveling to Venice was that I would leave it with a collection of photos that I would expect myself to have taken. For some reason, that thought terrified me and I let David know this. Fortunately, David is a wonderful mentor with a refined eye for teasing out the sizzle from the steak. Over the course of the week, our collaborations and reviews helped me chip away at the fears, stigmas, and doubts I had about exploring what the artist—the real artist—inside me was begging to create. That realization, in and of itself, spawned a creative renaissance within me and I’ve been feverishly laying out my thoughts so that I can share them with you.
Now, I’d like to share with you my portfolio series I created during this pivotal workshop. It is called Venice: Outside Looking In. Making these photos was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done as a photographer. It embodies all of the fears and doubts I’ve ever had about entering the amorphous and often misunderstood world of street photography. My goal with this series was to connect each of you to Venice by providing you with a sense of place and to guide you to emotionally invest with each frame by bubbling up the enormity of what a single moment of life can hold if you just allow yourself to see it.
I hope you enjoy this body of work. I am so excited to share everything else that has resulted from it and welcome you to join me for this ride.