Here’s what we should have done:
- Have the photographers shoot before they came in and spend the first full hour explaining their process of getting into the "zone" before we said anything to them. We would have asked them, "How long does it take you, after you pick up the camera, before you’re ‘on’. "How do you know when to click the shutter?" "Do you feel it?" "Is there a voice in your head?" and "How do you know what subject matter attracts you?" and "Where do you start from." "What are your artistic obsessions? Do they ever get resolved?"
- Had them show photos first thing. Then do the internal focusing exercises, sending them out to shoot. Then see more work. (Digital is great. Instant pictures!)
- We should have catered lunch and kept them bunched together, except when shooting. The workshop lost momentum when we sent them out for lunch.
- We should have scheduled a follow-up.
- And we needed to honor the expertise in the room from the first minute.
What we did do was OK, for a first run through. Doug talked art theory and his process. I ran the diverse group through some standard focusing, embodying exercises. Many of the participants were professional photographers in their 50’s and 60’s. They had decades of finding their groove. Some were amateurs, of varying experience. One woman was just out of college. We had a few people who didn’t feel much or have the internal voice. I used a technique that helps people feel where they feel: "Chocolate or vanilla? Where do you feel that?" "Sleeping with boys? or Sleeping with girls?" "Adventure flicks or romantic comedies?" "Where is that in you?"
2/3 through the day, a friend of ours said, for the first time, he was starting to feel it in his stomach when he found the shot. Another man said that this would be a first step to being able to locate preferences in his body. Other people were already there. The metaphor for the day, near the end, became Jazz improvisation: Photographers bring their internal instruments and their cameras to something that is happening, and they interact with that external reality to make the music/photo. Or something like that.
Working with my husband was interesting. I’ve taught hundreds of time. He hasn’t. I’m used to working on the clock, doing therapy, consultation, and teaching. He’s not. I probably looked like a fascist, keeping us on our schedule. And we didn’t have enough time to do what we planned to do. The consistent feedback was "more of everything" from the participants. (One person did write, "more Doug, less Robin".–That makes sense to me.) We did OK. We can work together. And we can have fun doing it, my requirement for any project–writing, therapizing, consulting, or workshopping.
We have more ideas. Eventually, we may take this workshop on the road. For now, we’ll keep the price low, and try to do our improvisation with the artists, and, next time, serve them lunch.
(To see Doug’s post about the workshop click here and go to Workshop Debriefing, January 28th’s post.)