The Challenge

The challenges a workshop tutor faces while teaching a group of photographers can be really... challenging from time to time.
This is one of the times where a tutor would need to improvise and find the best possible solution for the upcoming circumstance

Full throttle, vibration at its maximum capacity, the headphones around my head and Didimotyho Blues playing with loudness switched on, two rubber wheels off the tarmac and we are away. The small, 80 seat, Fokker aircraft has just left Vigra airport in Alesund, a small community in Norway; I am heading back home. In a few seconds, all I could see was a beautifully diffused light shaft protruding through the heavy cloud covered sky above Vigra. Memories of a recent trip to the English Lake District came flooding back; a sunrise shoot at Lake Buttermere to be more precise.

Back Again

Turning back the clock around 72 hours, I could see Vigra again from the small window next to the Rolls Royce engine of the same Fokker aircraft; it seemed as though it was only earlier this morning, and yet it was three days ago, time flies when you are having fun. This was my second visit to this same area of Norway. I was invited again (just like the year before) to give presentations on landscape photography at a local photo festival: a brave attempt by the locals to involve the participation of more people in this beautiful hobby we have all come to love. I take my hat off to the organisers for their efforts to make this work.

Once more a very successful and highly inspiring presentation, where all participants learned something new, or at least, to be more precise, that is what they said. I have a feeling they were genuine though, as their faces were full of smiles and pleasure while they were shaking my hand on their way out of the theatre.

Later on that same day arrangements had been made for me to escort a group of 15 people to a nearby location for a two hours’ photographic workshop. I was a bit worried and felt cold perspiration running down my spine just wondering about the subjects I could teach them in two hours. I had to improvise and find the best possible solution to the problem. Some of them were not really prepared and only had a modern mobile phone/camera with them: I was in the same boat too, having carried no camera equipment with me as I was there mainly for the presentations.

The Challenge

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Nevertheless, the job had to be done and very soon I was on the go with no time to spare. I gave the participants a challenge: they had two hours to find, work on and complete just one picture, no more than one. Obviously, I knew that this was unlikely, but, as long as they had the challenge at the back of their minds and were willing, they would probably do their best to achieve it. To be honest, I was more than happy to see them slow down and think before they pressed the shutter button and I was determined to make them do so. My real intention was to move them away from the digital habit of walking and clicking, collecting 300 pictures in the space of one hour and, eventually, deleting them all when they returned home. I spent the entire time walking around, keeping an eye on all of them, offering advice, mainly on composition, but also on any other photographic topic required.

The intermittent rain was not doing me any favours. However, I believe that great results were achieved and the entire party left the workshop happy and with a bit of extra knowledge. The most important aspect was that they all learned the importance of thinking, not only about the picture before they captured it but also about appreciating nature for the beauty it offers us on a daily basis.

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