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.)
I’m one of those who “didn’t feel much or have the internal voice.” But I did get a lot out of the workshop because they showed me a way forward. I wrote about the workshop ( http://xrl.us/bfc53 ) and my experience taking photos around the yard this morning after the snow ( http://xrl.us/bfc5z ) was qualitatively different than before. I still didn’t feel anything in my body or have this sense of–pow! there’s the right shot–but I deliberately relaxed and focused on all my senses, not just sight, and I let my myself play with the framing rather than thinking about the edges of the frame.
Thanks for your comment, Tommy. I’m so glad that you are getting a difference. The brain geeks explain to us that the more we do something in the new way, the more neural connections grow and the wider and smoother the path to the new way becomes. Keep me posted on your progress!
HI Robin! I loved the class. Thanks so much to you and Doug for hosting it. See you in 6 weeks for the next one. Brooke
It was great to have you there. We’ll be posting the next date soon. Probably more than 6 weeks out.