Earlier this summer I decided to do something out of the ordinary, something which I have never done before. Something social, exciting, inspiring and creative all at the same time.
For the last seven years I have been interested in photography (a bit on and off though) and I have spent a decent amount of money on camera bodies, lenses, filters, tripods, bags, backpacks, and all sorts of accessories which I rarely find myself using. I have never taken any photography courses. I have read only a handful of photography books, and I have had difficulties with being inspired and staying creative.
I have tried mostly all sorts of photography: landscape, seascape, architecture, nature, sports, macro. Usually – after a period of time – I have lost my interest in the genre that I tried to focus on – and the reason is simple: a landscape is a landscape. You can spend an eternity to plan the perfect shot – all it requires is patience. The same applies to the other genres as well. They aren’t very challenging or demanding. And I’m not a very patient guy either.
The one genre that has always fascinated me, but, which I never had the guts to really try by myself is street photography of people in the street. You can never plan what people do, how people react, if they smile, cry, run or whatever. And every moment and expression is unique – it only happens once. This genre is totally unpredictable and it is the absolutely most demanding type of photography I have ever tried. You have to stay focused all the time, always watching your surroundings (backgrounds) and the people (subjects) who are in your surroundings as well, and then try to solve the puzzle and get all the moving subjects in the correct place, at the correct time, preferably with the correct gestures and/or expression. And then you also need to be close enough and your camera needs to be configured correctly so that you can click the shutter without worrying about settings immediately when everything falls into place right there in front of you. Let’s not mention the correct lighting as well.
This is not easy. Believe me. People that say “just go out and take pictures of people – how hard can it be?” don’t have a clue.
To learn this type of photography and how to compose correctly in the streets I decided to sign up for Breathe the Streets of Venice and Verona – Introduction to Design and Composition Workshop by Adam Marelli and Eric Kim.
Considering the amount of money that I have spent on camera equipment through the years – the money I spent on the workshop was by far the most valuable investment I have made in regards to my photography hobby. A new camera body still takes pictures, and a new lens still takes pictures. Yes, some pictures might be sharper and have a higher dynamic range than others. But that doesn’t change the fact that the content of the picture is by far the most important thing in a picture, and if the content or composition sucks, well, then the picture sucks no matter what equipment created it.
Learning from great instructors who had two totally different styles of shooting were very valuable as well. If anything, I felt that the week I had in the workshop was too short to learn everything.
I am definitely attending more workshops in the future.
Eric Kim really thought me how to approach people and to not be afraid to actually connect with people in the streets. Just watching Eric work his way through a crowd of people and how he gets everyone to do what he wants is just incredible. I have never seen a human being that gets along with so many strangers in such a short period of time – ever. Even with the language barriers that were apparent he pulled of everything so smoothly. It’s just a sight to be seen. Very impressive!
Eric Kim – Thanks for pushing me closer up to people, for all the honest critiques and tips and for all the 1-on-1’s that you gave me. That was exactly what I needed.
Adam Marelli opened my eyes in regards to composition. The way you use the backgrounds and subjects as elements within a scene and how you try to arrange all the elements perfectly together is just amazing. Some of the tips that I received from Adam was so good that I find myself browsing through old photographs that I took to actually learn from my own mistakes, and, how I can improve myself based on how I previously composed my pictures. Adam’s approach to street photography is the total opposite of Eric Kim’s style. I could always see Eric Kim taking pictures of people in the streets but I rarely even noticed Adam taking pictures when we were walking around. Adam was also very good at connecting with people, and also used time to actually get to know people, to know their story, show his interest and become friends with them. To actually approach people on this personal level and to connect with them and then take their picture is an amazing quality which I some day hope that I can develop myself.
Adam – Thanks for all your inspiring words, compositional techniques, critiques and 1-on-1’s. Just seeing you communicate and connect with strangers was very inspiring.
The workshop is a very nice memory and something I will remember for the rest of my life. Not only did I learn a lot and become very inspired, but I also made some great friends as well. Thanks for…
Eric Kim – The fun times, talks, laughs and your positive attitude
Adam – The great and helpful guy that is so easy to talk with
Stacy – The laughs. I’m not sure if I can put your humor in words here 🙂
Arnulf – Your good mood and your quick and funny remarks were great
Fabio – Your hospitality is first class, and the food and wines were amazing
Glen – The storyteller. Your stories were very entertaining, and I miss them
Richard – Seeing Cartier-Bresson in action was very fascinating. Thanks for the talks
Stewart – Your witty jokes and your good mood were very refreshing
Until next time…
Eric Kim made this short video from the workshop
A few shots of my own from the workshop (with more to come):