Our Creative Retreats are photographic workshops with a difference. Our aim is to provide you with a space where you can invest in yourself – to develop your photographic approach and your own unique way of seeing the world.
“To photograph: it is to put on the same line of sight the head, the eye and the heart”
… Henri Cartier-Bresson
Broadly, there are several types of photography workshop or holiday:
- Location-centred – go on a photography tour to an iconic place or region with a guide to take you to the best places
- Subject-centred – learn and practise a specialist discipline, such as birds or landscape photography, often with an acknowledged expert
- Equipment-centred – learn photographic principles and how to apply your camera settings to a variety of subjects
With our workshops it is YOU who matters most, not the places we go to, inspiring and wonderful though they are, or the subjects you shoot. And it isn’t the camera that makes photographs; it is the YOU the photographer.
Our workshops are photographer-centred, which means that we work with you and what you bring – individual coaching in a group setting.
We will encourage you to find your individual self-expression, freeing yourself up from any preconceptions of what ”good’ photography should be or what you think you ‘should’ photograph.
Our aim is to provide you with a space where you can invest in yourself – to develop your photography without judgement in a way that is yours, building your confidence as an artist, to follow your passions, to photograph from the heart, not the head.
The process is more important than the outcome, but you will make great photographs because they will be truly yours.
How do we do it?
By immersing ourselves in our surroundings and experiencing fully where we are, photographs will flow to us as a natural extension of this experience, of BEING here. We will rediscover the joy in seeing beauty in everyday things around us.
Some of the ideas we work with include:
- sharing, talking, laughing, relaxing: creating the right conditions for good creative flow
- putting aside our preconceptions about what makes for “good” photography
- being mindful and in the moment
- letting go – learning to see without judgement
- understanding core principles of visual design, which help us to arrange our subject matter
- taking part in exercises and assignments, some as a group and others designed uniquely for you as an individual
- uncovering blocks and unhelpful self-talk that prevent us from expressing ourselves fully
- spending time with each other, with nature and with culture
The reason more people don’t express themselves is not because they can’t – but because they don’t realise how universal their fears are, and how necessary their work is in the world …
Julia Cameron, author of “The Artist’s Way”
What is Mindfulness?
Wherever you go, there you are.
A truism, perhaps. Common sense but not common practice.
According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, “mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non judgmentally.”
When applied to photography, it means that we will learn:
- to quieten our minds,
- to be more receptive to notice things around us,
- to stop and to pay attention to what stopped us, on purpose,
- to experience the present moment as it really is,
- and then, only then, to make an equivalent of what we saw, in the form of a photograph,without judgement or alteration.
We will learn how to let go of expectations, to “love the light you have”, getting in touch with how we feel, photographing with all the senses: hearing, feeling …
We will not look too hard, for the harder we look the less we will see.
It is a beautiful and therapeutic practice that will extend way beyond photography and will hopefully never leave you.
The places we will work during our workshop will inspire and delight you, but we could work just as effectively in the garden and around the house.
Wherever we go, there we will be. We will stop to quieten our initial excitement at new places. We can be responsive, letting ourselves be taken by what we see, by the prevailing light and conditions.
We can go on hunches, learning to put ourselves in the right place at the right time.
Wherever we go, there your coach will be: on hand to offer encouragement, guidance, support and technical assistance if you need it.
If you have your laptop and normal editing software with you then you will be able to process and organise the images you make daily. However, our workshops place an emphasis on camerawork – composition, exposure and point of focus. Our goal is to produce images in camera that recreate as closely as possible what we perceive with our eyes and that do not depend upon any post-production techniques or cropping.
Sharing and Critique
As often as possible we will put aside time for sharing images and giving critique. Learning how to critique is an essential skill in the creative photographer’s toolkit. Doing it well develops empathy and respect for others’ work. By understanding how we respond to others’ images, we also learn more about responding with feeling to what we see around us when making images for ourselves.
The Group Experience
We know that one of the most powerful experiences it is possible to have is the bonding and friendship that comes from working together in a group. We will do everything we can to create a group experience that is memorable and creates lasting and strong connections. We will have fun and make friends and create something with meaning.
This section will contain some deeper insights into the approaches we adopt in our photography retreats.