Willoughby_VisualConverstions

By Olaf Willoughby

“A Visual Conversation sets up a rhythm, a pattern of communicating in which images fit with one another, with a chosen text, a piece of music or artwork of any kind. It helps develop our voice and vision.

Working through a series of Visual Conversations, each becomes a stepping stone which exercises the creative muscles and takes us beyond our regular shooting routines.

Visual Conversations work so well because they are based on the centuries old principle of ‘call and response’. A tradition of improvised exchange evident in everything from Hindu spiritual chants to modern day blues/gospel and jazz. From Japanese Renga linked poetry circles to folded paper stories.

How does this work in practice? I select an image which resonates, share it with you and ask you to shoot an image which rhymes, fits or starts a conversation with the original. Pretty straightforward, although there are systematic approaches to doing this. And still more ways of building that into a dialogue.

Now what if I select a painting by Rothko, or a poem by Edgar Allen Poe or Roberta Flack singing, ‘The first time ever I saw your face’? It’s a little more difficult. It requires more intense study and understanding of the original work of art to interpret it photographically. It stretches our minds to think about art in new ways.

Or how about if we develop the conversation into a narrative through storytelling? There are multiple permutations leading into other exercises…. I’m sure you get the idea. Add into this group discussion and feedback and it becomes an exciting learning experience. Each call and response takes us out of our routine and asks us to think differently about our photography.

But that’s not all. What makes this special is that your creativity can be extended beyond assignments into the process itself. As you’d expect, some Conversations involve working solo but others take ‘the road less travelled’ and involve working together on shared projects.

There is a spectrum of co-operation in the arts. Whilst some prefer to write books alone in coffee shops, others operate in collectives. Some partner up at different stages in the production process (choreographer/dancer, author/editor) and some of the most famous simply collaborate. Think Lennon & McCartney, Picasso & Braque. Look around. Every movie, play, symphony, rock ballad, even architectural space and garden involves artists working together. Yet collaboration is rare in photography. There are examples like Bernd & Hilla Becher or today, the Starn Twins but they are few and far between.

Occasionally we catch a glimpse of the collaborative spirit in photo workshops. At the end of the day, participants gather to share their solo work and you can feel the buzz in the air as people are amazed at the different ways of seeing and shooting, even though they were often at the same location.

Sharing projects captures that buzz and helps us let go of the need to control. We both give and receive in creative decision making and come to see our own work in a different light.

I’ve experienced the benefits of Visual Conversations and collaborative projects first hand. They are fun but clearing the creative blocks arising from routine ways of working can be challenging.Expect to be jolted. But also expect to benefit from taking a different approach to your photography and returning to your personal work refreshed and enhanced.

I’ve been fortunate to collaborate with Eileen McCarney Muldoon, a talented photographic artist in Jamestown, Rhode Island. We’ve captured that creative buzz and put it into a workshop. We’d be delighted if you would check it out. Even better, the course includes complimentary access to Leica equipment.

Plus a guest appearance during the week from a world renowned digital artist. I’ll leave you to guess who that might be!”

For more information contact: olafwilloughby@gmail.com or emmimageloft@gmail.com

Feedback on work produced during a workshop is an important part of each learning experience. Useful feedback usually starts with identifying core strengths before a discussion about how to improve (no matter how successful images are) and identifying possible next steps.

Here’s a collection of participant images from our Antarctica Crossing The Circle 2013 Voyage and a quick note about each image’s core strengths.

Ginette Vachon presents peak action in a way that elicits empathy

Cathrine Spikkerud enlivens an other-worldy stage with quiet understated action

Nancy Leigh animates an already dramatic stage with an energetic gesture

Marilynn Nance uses rhythm and perspective to make an historic building even more interesting

Robert Pettit use repetition to create a play between balance and imbalance

Fusako Hara explores the transitions between realism and abstraction

Benoit Feron uses line and texture to reveal natural processes

Jodie Willard uses opaque layers a strongly felt sense of space through design

Karin Pettit use transparent layers to portray depth

Norm Larson uses abstraction to portray not just an external reality but also to suggest an internal state

Celie Placzek uses number and proximity to suggest community

Jim Brewster uses negative space to highlight important figures amid chaos

Dennis Lenehan uses mass and volume to create dramatic contrasts

Geir Morten Skeie employs a delicate palette to create a transcendant mood for a monolithic structure

Joelle Rokovich expresses contrasts in scale to express size and distance with a minimalist efficiency

Find out about our 2014 Fly Antarctica Sail Across The Circle Voyage here.

Only 9 spaces are left.

 Charlotte Bailey

Here are a few images from Digital Photo Destinations 2012 Arctic Voyage.

View more alumni images from our Iceland 2012 Adventure.

Seth Resnick, Arthur Meyerson, Ragnar Th Sigurdsson and I had a great time with a fantastic group of people while photographing three arctic islands this month – Svalbard, Greenland, and Iceland. Polar bears, reindeer, walrus, whales, and countless birds populated the diverse and historic arctic landscapes we passed through. Cryophilia (love of ice) set in when we entered one of the largest fjord systems in the world – Scorsbysund, Greenland. We’re all excited to return to Greenland and see more, which already we’ve begun plans for.

There’s limited space left in our Antarctica 2013 Voyage.

We’ll be announcing our Iceland Northern Lights 2013 workshop soon.

If you’d like to join us for a future adventure / voyage email jpc@digitalphotodestinations.com.

Linda Sandow

Olaf Willoughby

Michael Quinn

Evan Anderman

Danielle Vick

Campbell Gunn

Barbara Ventura

Jed Best

Jim Brewster

Cathrine Spikkerud

Charles Kleiman

Geir Morten Skeie

Charlotte Bailey

Paul Tornaquindici

Bob Peterson

Kathy Beal

Read more

Here are a few more alumni images from Digital Photo Destinations / Focus On Nature’s 2012 Iceland Adventure.

Seth Resnick and I had a great time with a great group of people in Iceland last week. We visited old favorites (Seljalandsfoss, Skogafoss, Jokulsarlon, Rekjanes) and some new favorites (Snaefellsnes, Landmanalaugar). 4-Wheel drives to the highlands, Zodiac cruises, and glacier walks took it up a notch. Every one of us learned a lot and improved our photography.

We’re now planning a northern lights, super-jeep, and ice cave adventure.

Be the first to hear about our March 2013 Iceland workshop.

Email jpc@digitalphotodestinations.com.

Yves Perrault

Charlotte Bailey Rush

Duane Miller

Kathy Beal

David Cho Yee Young

Graham Smith

Richard Moreau

Olaf Willoughby

Carla DeDominicis

Michael J Quinn

Michael McGinnis

Here are a few first alumni images from Digital Photo Destinations / Focus On Nature’s 2012 Iceland Adventure. I can’t wait to see what they make by the end of the week!

Seth Resnick and I have been having a great time with a great group of people in Iceland this week. We visited old favorites (Seljalandsfoss, Skogafoss, Jokulsarlon, Rekjanes) and some new favorites (Snaefellsnes, Landmanalaugar). 4-Wheel drives to the highlands, Zodiac cruises, and glacier walks took it up a notch.

We’re planning an aurora and ice cave adventure now.

Be the first to hear about our 2013 Iceland workshop.

Email jpc@digitalphotodestinations.com.

Yves Perreault

Richard Moreau

Duane Miller

Carla DeDominicis

Michael McGinnis

Olaf Willoughby

Charlotte Bailey Rush

David Cho Yee Young

Kathy Beal

Get 10% off all Dane Creek products with this code is INSIGHTS.

Looking for a simple, affordable, yet elegant solution to presenting a set of your loose prints? Neil Enns of Dane Creek has a solution.

“Dane Creek Folio Covers provide an elegant and inexpensive way to package your favorite images. They are great for fine art photographs, wedding packages, and gifts for friends and family.

Dane Creek Folios began in the spring of 2009 when we couldn’t find an existing source for folio covers after seeing Brooks Jensen talk about them in LensWork magazine. We started out with a single color: charcoal. As our customer base grew we listened to their requests to expand the range of color options. Eclipse Black, Haute Red, Chocolate Truffle, Natural White, and Midnight Blue joined the original Charcoal line. Our covers are designed to hold 10 sheets of high-quality 8.5×11″ photo paper. Each cover comes with a piece of matboard to add stiffness and finish the inside, as well as a clear plastic bag to protect your completed folio.”  -  Neil Enns

Find out more about Dane Creek here.

Learn more about Neil here.

(Neil is also a member of my Next Step Alumni.)

Our Antarctic alumni have produced some pretty impressive images and done some very fine things with them!

Find out about their images, projects, and stories in this series of posts.

In my Maine Islands digital photography workshop, Andrew Nixon explored creating a dynamic tension between the still and the moving. He typically uses long exposures of moving subjects. But he tried a few new twists on his standard practices, like moving the camera. While he explored other ideas and tried many new things, he always returned to the same theme which gave his images a distinctive quality that stood out from his peers.

What themes make your images distinctive?
What experiments will help you explore and develop this further?

Find out more about Andrew Nixon here.

Read more in my creativity lessons.
Find out more about my Maine Islands digital photography workshop here.
Learn more in my digital photography workshops.

Next Step Alumni 2011 by Daspit, Gill, Bailey, Beal, Caponigro |

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Renaissance Fine Art & Design Gallery and John Paul Caponigro’s Next Step Alumni present a beautiful collection of their work May 20 – June 24, 2011. You are cordially invited to view this diverse work at the Renaissance Fine Art & Design Gallery, One South Range Line Road Carmel, IN. The opening for the exhibit will be Friday, May 20 at 5 pm. Many alumni will be on hand to discuss their work personally with you.

The exhibit and book contain the work of 22 artists, all from John Paul’s Next Step Alumni group, who met the rigorous criteria for the exhibition: each artist produced a cohesive body of work, an artist’s statement, a biography, a book, and a website.

The work, as diverse as the individuals, includes journalism, editorial, still life, floral, nude, landscape and abstraction, and is bound together by their community, their creativity, and the fearlessness in their search of their individual next steps.

View the exhibit catalog above.

Find out more about the exhibit here.

Find individual member’s books here.

Find out more about my Next Step Alumni here.

 

During my Arches digital photography workshop, Barry Boulton expected to make pristine landscapes untouched by man. But during our initial reviews of his work, he was struck by the realization that a majority of his images either had people in them or showed signs of their being there. So he pursued the idea to see how far he could go with it. It worked for him – consistently.

Very often we don’t recognize that we’ve already started to do the work we’re called to do. All we have to do is recognize the call and then answer it. You can learn a lot about your voice if you only look closely and find the patterns that exist between the images you’ve already created.

What themes and patterns can you identify in your work? Which ones are you most excited to pursue further?

Find out more about my Arches digital photography workshop.

Learn more in my digital photography workshops.


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