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Saturday, February 12, 2005      
Just finishing up my week-long workshop here in Siem Riep with some of the Agency VII guys - Gary Knight, Antonin, and James Natchwey (http://www.jamesnachtwey.com/) . James just yesterday won the 1st Place award in the World Press Photo Awards Commentary section for a shot from Darfur: Nachtwey.

It has been a week both of inspiration and humbling.

Inspiring to see the work of the other workshop participants, and humbling at the same time to see how GOOD some of them are. You re-evaluate your own work and realize all of the places where it falls down, or simply doesn't measure up.

And while photojournalism is not the type of work that I aspire to do I have certainly been able to learn a great deal.

A couple things stand out for me. The importance of a STORY. Not a series of images, but something that tells a story with the photos. Not just detail and context shots, but images that convey something greater than their single possibilities. Additionally, the importance of planning the story out. As most of you know I am abysmal when it comes to planning, so that is something that I am going to need to get better at for sure.

The story must have layers as well - not just with the composition of each frame, but the layers of people and places that you choose to include. This is something that my body Rob keeps stressing is LAYERS LAYERS LAYERS. It is something that I need to keep working at.

I had an opportunity to chat with Jim (James) for a bit and we talked about the philosophy of shooting. I have trouble taking great portraits, and we chatted about why that might be. We talked about the where our images come from, why we take them, what VALUE they have. He felt that once you yourself had answered the question of what VALUE your images have then and only then can you be comfortable with the people that you are photographing, and them with you. I think for me that is a question that I still need to answer.

Gary spoke of two different types of photographers - those who are 'Utility' photographers, and those who are 'Authors'. He didn't feel that one was necessarily better than the other, but it is just a choice that needs to be made.

Getting back to stories, and values. Relationships and empathy are hugely important. To gain peoples' trust, to gain access, you must CARE. Drive-by shootings lead to a very shallow portrayl of people and events. I need to ditch my robot-like nature and actually start empathizing.

Stories also take time to build, at least the ones that these guys have been working on. Jim showed a series of images from Jakarta with some street kids who had been huffing glue for many years.

He has been going to the same place for over 8 years. Slow, slow, slow.

Anyways, a week of ups and downs and intrigue.


PS - the temples are beautiful and OVER-RUN by tourists.

1:28 PM

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