Sunday, July 12, 2015

Stretching My Comfort Zone: Beauty, Life, Death, and Decay in an Afternoon

In late June, I had the opportunity to participate in a two-day photography workshop led by Laurie Klein, one of the preeminent fine art photographers in the U.S., if not the world.  (That's Laurie with the camera above; check out her website here.)

The topics of the workshop were creativity, the visual process, and refining your visual voice.  Those are all interesting to me, and while I'm not a fine art photographer, I thought it would be good to stretch my comfort zone and see what I could learn from Laurie.

If you're not familiar with photography workshops, the usual structure is to have a classroom session in the morning leading into a shooting assignment in the afternoon, followed by a critique session and wrap up the following day.

Our afternoon assignment shoot was in Old Town Albuquerque.  Besides the usual scenes -- San Felipe de Neri Church in the heart of Old Town (one of the oldest buildings in the city, built in 1793) . . .

                              . . . flowers . . .

                             . . . and tourist shops with Day of the Dead paraphernalia . . .


-- we caught a wedding at the gazebo in the Plaza:


The shade of the gazebo wasn't good light, but, then, I wasn't the wedding photographer either!

Another part of the assignment was to shoot a "selfie" in which our face did not appear directly.  This could either be a reflection or a shadow, or a purely metaphorical image that represented your mood or attitude.  Here are mine:

But the coolest part of the assignment was working with a professional model, which many of us (including me) had never done before.  If you've checked out Laurie's website, you know she knows how to work with models.  We got to watch Laurie direct the model's poses and then had the opportunity to  direct her and photograph her ourselves.

Here are some of my best shots (all poses directed by Laurie):

Finally, earlier in the day, during a discussion about stretching yourself creatively, Laurie had talked about photographing a dead possum she found in her yard -- decidedly not her usual kind of subject.  When I saw a dead bird (probably a starling) just off Old Town Plaza during our afternoon shoot, I knew I had to make the image.

Here's the bird as I found it lying on the ground next to a building:

Upon further examination, however, it became clear that the key element was the uplifted foot of the bird:

Then the challenge became how to capture the essence of that foot.  The answer, of course, was to shoot from ground level . . . 

Photo by Nancy Haseman

 . . . with a shallow depth of field (f/5.6), and then make it creepy in black-and-white:

So . . . from life and beauty to death and decay, all in the span of a couple of hours.  Stretched my comfort zone!

If you would like to see these images in a larger format, please visit my photography website, Todos Juntos Photography, by clicking here.

No comments:

Post a Comment