The motivation – Why do you book this seminar
When you are working, doing research or perform as an artist you usually have a goal: to improve whatever your profession might be. Regardless what level you are on. Man has a natural instinct to improve whatever they do and everybody has to figure out before how far he or she wants to take it with his or her profession.
To me my goal in what I do as photographer was pretty much set: I want to improve by taking the chances to learn from the best in that area.
I followed the website of Thorsten Overgaard since early 2010, and I switched my gear from Nikon / Carl Zeiss to Leica in August 2010. Getting new tools was one first step to move my results in the direction I wanted them to be, but being together with people that probably have similar ideas in mind and having an experienced master of the subject around you to follow and to ask is another step.
My schedule for January 2013 showed some white spots so I decided to sign up for the London seminar. “You go in January to London to have a photo seminar?” people kept on asking me. Yes – because the season really doesn’t matter. Your personal goals and your schedule are important – and the motivation to learn.
The first night – Position fixing
When we met in the location at Fitzroy House at 6 p.m. Thorsten and Joy welcomed everybody and told us the planned schedule for the next days. The schedule in this case is made out of big blocks, pretty much the outline of this article. More is not needed as things are going to happen alone. And Thorsten was very right with that.
To realise where you are and where you want to go with your photography everybody was asked two questions and we had a discussion afterwards where everybody was telling his story – yes, no “her” in this group – only men in the mid 30’s to the mid 40’s as participators.
Everybody has brought his equipment also – lenses, camera bodies – all Leica M stuff. After checking what we had on the table we sat back and followed Thorsten telling us basic things about photography. One could read books by yourself but you could also listen and ask right away here and landing with the answer pretty much to the point.
Everything was reflected against two things: light and the usage of the tools to capture it.
With this very basic setup in mind and having learned new things on how you might use different settings on your tools we were very much looking forward to the next morning – heading out through London for some light.
The first day – In the search of light
We met at Café Uno in Charlotte Street to have a coffee and breakfast and were heading out afterwards. I was lucky that I ended up with Thorsten’s Noctilux on my M9 whereas he decided to walk with a Summicron 50 (1964) that day.
We made it probably 250 m when we ran into a brand new opened gallery.
We were walking as group, sometimes shooting the some objects or persons, sometimes trying different things, different positions and angles to capture the scene as we wanted it to be.
When you walk as a group it’s always fun also plus you have a person right next to you to shoot if you want to try something new.
After quite a while we stopped at The Classic Camera to see what’s going on there. Inside the stores and cafés there are also plenty of chances to take interesting pictures.
Later we stopped by at Red Dot Cameras, Thorsten and Joy to chat with the staff and some of us to pick up a new Barton1972 camera strap.
We ended up in the late afternoon at the Leica Store Mayfair. You feel at home there right away. We were offered coffee and a walk upstairs to the new studio.
Barrie, Matthew, David and I decided to hang out in a pub nearby after the Leica store closed.
The second day – In the darkroom
On the second day Thorsten told us his perspective about dealing with the files we had sitting on our memory cards. The day before it was agreed not to touch the cards at all as we all should start from the same point. This was the day were we spend most of the time working in the electronic darkroom – using the software package Adobe Lightroom.
The interesting stuff is that I was working with Lightroom since a few years but was using it in very different approach.
For me the rather different workflow that Thorsten suggested makes absolutely sense and I will benefit from this a lot.
Currently I’m in the middle of reorganising stuff here on my hard drives as I was dealing with to many computers and drives in different places in the past and was slightly about loosing track of what was ending up on which machine or drive.
Not that many pictures from that day but at least one shot I took after the lunch break. I really love this picture!
The third day – Instruction on site – two portrait shootings
This day we were meeting for a short briefing session inside. While we were talking and heading out for the first session, our group our model Joy Villa was busy selecting the right dress and jewellery from Creative Solutions Art & Design and getting a make-up by Jack Tyson with whom they had worked already before. It is amazing how you can change the look with a professional make-up. We would meet her again for the second session.
For portraits it is even more important to have the right settings for white balance and exposure. A build in light meter cannot deliver the exact value reflected by the person being photographed. Thorsten gave us also valuable tips how to select a location for portraits, how to deal with the model and behave correctly as photographer.
The second session we had model Joy Villa with us – what an amazing outfit and make-up! We were checking the right location and stayed at Fitzroy Place near the house as it was pretty cold that day for an outside session – being a model wearing not that much. This was really an amazing shooting, it is so valuable to have a model who knows how to move and pose and a trainer who is able to interact with the model without even talking and checking the camera settings of the participants.
We all had an incredible creative and inspiring afternoon.
The master and the team – A unique interaction
A very special thing with this workshop was the team spirit that was created through the unique presence of a master of his subject who is willing to share and participants that are all following one same goal: improve by learning.
And it is not really a matter if you are new to photography or if you are on the road already for some years. All of us came from different countries and professions. Patrick from the Netherlands who lives in England, Matthew from the US who lives in the Netherlands, Barrie as the only British, David and me from Germany, Thorsten from Denmark and Joy from the US. Sunday James from Cambridge joined in. Some of us were pretty new to photography, some did photograph quite a lot.
But all of us shared the same love for the Leica cameras and lenses and we wanted to get the best out of it. All of us were also looking for new inspiration and wanted to benefit from Thorsten’s experience. And all of us are pretty much into this old school setup were you as a photographer have total control over what is happening.
So that was the foundation to start from. And we all took a huge benefit from the lucky situation that Thorsten and Joy are there as a perfect matching team as well, helping us where help is needed, guide us or just inspire us – always to the level that was required.
It was a kind of magic that you could feel throughout the whole workshop.
My conclusion – Why I recommend this seminar
For me this seminar was very valuable and came to me to the right time.
You have to ask yourself the questions above regarding the motivation and if you can answer this with “yes” you should go.
You don’t have to be necessarily a Leica maniac like all of us but it helps a lot and I recommend you are – as all of the people I have met so far – following a different approach to photography than the ones equipped with large and heavy DSLR stuff. The information during this workshop is always delivered on the spot and Thorsten Overgaard is someone who makes you feel comfortable and confident during the workshop and afterwards.
It’s not the equipment that is responsible for the photo, it’s the photographer using the tools in the manner being able to capture what he or she sees in this single point of time when the picture gets framed.
Having tools with a high potential aside is good thing though.
Well, during this workshop I fell in love with the lens I always wanted to shoot with – the Noctilux – and decided to switch. This lens has such a high potential to support you in getting outstanding results. Of course there is always a way to improve you knowledge AND the tools…
If you want to read more about the workshop in London and what’s going on this year with Thorsten Overgaard and Joy Villa I recommend this article on Thorsten’s website.