Street Photography with Valerie Jardin

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I have had the pleasure of working with Valerie Jardin on several occasions over the last year, guesting twice on her Street Focus podcast (more on that below), and also assisting her on one of her street photography workshops here in Vancouver.  Throughout the process Valerie has come to be a good friend, and as a long time educator myself I have come to value the passion with which she teaches.  With that in mind I thought I would take some time to write a brief review of the workshop I assisted her with in Vancouver.

During my twenty years of teaching I have found that there are two different types of educators:  Those who passionately love to share knowledge and help their students grow, and those who are in it for the pay cheque.  Thankfully  the former group vastly outnumbers the latter in my opinion.  Education, done properly, is not easy.  It requires subject matter expertise, an understanding of how people learn, course and lesson plan development skills, communication skills, people skills, adaptability, problem solving, patience, and many, many other things.  I think this is why pay cheque educators tend not to last that long:  The amount of effort required to deliver a quality educational session will eventually tire most of them out.

In Valerie’s case I think her work speaks for itself:  Her workshops often sell out in hours.  Yes, hours… I watched it happen with one of her San Francisco workshops.  Right now she has a workshop in Rome that is scheduled for April 2018 (about 19 months from now).  It is already 1/2 full.   She has Paris workshops scheduled right through until September 2017 that are already sold out.  This just doesn’t happen if your product isn’t top notch, or if you don’t care about your teaching.  It is clear to me as an educator that Valerie’s passion and commitment to her students are why her workshops sell out like this.  With that said, let’s discuss the Vancouver workshop.

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A lot of prep goes into a great educational offering, and in the case of Valerie’s Vancouver workshop this started with pre-course communication.  Valerie sent out emails often and also created a Facebook group specifically for the 10 people registered for this workshop.  Questions were answered quickly and efficiently, and I think everyone that attended was made to feel welcome.

The photo above was taken at the beginning of day one of the weekend workshop, and I think it really sums up the mood throughout the weekend.  We laughed.  A lot.  Valerie begins her weekend workshops with a presentation on street photography that covers conceptual ideas about shooting street, a brief discussion on the legalities and ethics involved, and a lengthy discussion on compositional concepts and techniques to capture great images on the street.  Each concept is illustrated with one or more of Valerie’s images, which provides the students with strong visual examples that highlight each concept being discussed.  The presentation was interactive and discussion based, and there was a fun and positive mood in the room right from the first minute of the workshop.

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Once the initial presentation was done the group had a short lunch and then walked to our first area to begin shooting on the streets.  There are many things Valerie does well while teaching on the streets that are worth mentioning:

  1. Before the street shooting begins, each student receives a handout providing them with a list of the compositional techniques discussed earlier in the day.  This “cheat sheet” is a great reference for the new street shooter.
  2. Valerie ensures that everyone has phone / text communication with her, and her with them, in case anyone gets lost.  She also has the students pair off when they are out shooting.  This provides them with a buddy to shoot with if they like, and also to ensure no one gets lost on their own.
  3. She sets firm times and locations for the groups to meet back up after shooting.  This keeps everything running smoothly throughout the day.
  4. Each pair gets individual attention from Valerie during the shooting session.  I was impressed with her ability to move through the groups, provide advice and answer questions.
  5. The education does not stop while in transit between shooting locations (we usually spent 1-2 hours in each location and then walked to our next spot).  A good educator learns to seize the “teachable moment” and Valerie provided many impromptu lessons when the opportunity presented itself.

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Day two of the weekend workshop started on the street, with another 3-4 hours of shooting as described above.

After we had a quick lunch, the students settled back into the classroom for the afternoon editing and critique session.  As each student worked on editing and post processing their images, Valerie was available to offer advice.  Once the editing and processing were complete, each student provided Valerie with 5 images which provided about 50 images or so for a group critique.

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I am a firm believer that receiving well intentioned critique from your peers, and from educators, is one of the best ways you can grow as an artist.  It is so easy to become emotionally attached to the art that we create.  Hearing objective and constructive opinions on your work  provides significant value and information that you can use to improve your practice.  I think the students greatly benefitted from this final session in the weekend workshop;   I know I did for sure.

Once the weekend was over the students returned back home (they had traveled in from all over the world).  Over the next few weeks, however,  images continued to be edited, uploaded, and discussed on the Facebook page that Valerie had created for this workshop.  I think it is also safe to say that friendships were made… I know I continue to have conversations with many of the participants.  I think this is one of my favourite things about the arts and about education:  I view art as a collaborative process, and I greatly value the relationships I make through it.

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For the last two years Valerie has also  been the host of This Week in Photo’s Street Focus podcast:

http://thisweekinphoto.com/category/street-focus/

This month, however, Valerie has launched her own podcast called “Hit the Streets with Valerie Jardin”.  This new podcast will continue the work she did in the 104 episodes of the Street Focus podcast, but also provides the opportunity to expand the discussions and explore new directions.  I am an avid listener of podcasts in the car, when I am out walking / running and when I am out shooting on the streets.  I’m excited that I now have another one to listen to, and I look forward to seeing what Valerie does with it.

You can find more information on this new podcast on Valerie’s website here:

http://valeriejardinphotography.com/podcast/

Episode one is now live, with a great discussion with Official Fuji X Photographer Bert Stephani.

Final thoughts…

Clearly from this post you can tell how much I value education and that I have enjoyed working with Valerie this year on her podcast and in this workshop.  If you are interested in attending one of Valerie’s workshops please go to her site here:

http://valeriejardinphotography.com/worldwide/

And, of course,  you can find out more about my own educational offerings at the following links:

I hope you enjoyed this post and that you consider taking a photography related workshop soon (in whatever genre you enjoy shooting).  The right workshop can accelerate your learning significantly and is totally worth it.

Now, it’s back to our New York series!

Until next time,

Ian

Photographing Grand Central Terminal

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I think the thing I love the most about traveling and exploring new places is how it puts me in touch with history.  It is hard to describe the feelings I had when I stood in the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, where Anne and her family hid from German occupation during World War 2 for two years before being betrayed and taken away to the concentration camps.  I held my breath when I stood at the top of Notre-Dame Cathedral one morning, looking out across the rooftops of Paris towards the Eiffel Tower.  Construction on Notre-Dame began in 1163.  853 years ago.   Amazing.  At Pearl Harbor in Honolulu I looked down at the wreck of the USS Arizona, which still leaks oil into the ocean to this day.  The bombing of that ship in 1941 brought America into World War 2.  A few hours later I stood on the deck of the USS Missouri,  in the exact spot where Japan surrendered  in 1945.  It is moments like this that keep me motivated to travel.

New York City is iconic, known the world over, with a history all its own.  Grand Central Terminal is definitely one of the quintessential landmarks in this remarkable city, and I’d like to share part of a photo essay I shot there on my last trip.  This post is part four of a five part series featuring photography from New York City:

The roots of Grand Central Terminal go back to the Grand Central Depot, which first opened in 1871.  146 years ago.  This was followed by the Grand Central Station in 1900 and the Grand Central Terminal in 1913.  The Terminal occupies 48 acres, has 44 platforms, 67 tracks and over 750,000 people pass through its doors daily.  Yes, 750,000 per day.   The structure also houses restaurants, shopping and other assorted businesses.  It is a stunning piece of architecture.

Given its importance in the story of New York, I knew that I wanted to create a photo essay of the terminal that evoked its history and that had a timeless feel.   I chose to shoot the series in black and white, using the Acros film simulation processed with rich blacks, to try and create a cohesive series of photographs of the terminal.  All images in this series were shot with the Fuji X-Pro2 and the Fujinon 10-24mm lens, except for the close ups of the clock and the chandelier which were shot with the Fujinon 55-200mm lens.

Each photo can be clicked to view large.  I hope you like them.

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Gratitude, Admiration, and One Hundred Blog Posts

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I was typing up part four of my latest New York City series when I realized that it was going to be the 100th blog post on this site since I started it 3 years ago.

One hundred blog posts.  Dozens of pages.  A lot of gear reviews.  Thousands of images.  Exponential web traffic growth.   It has been an awesome experience, and I’d like to hit pause for a few minutes and reflect on it if that’s ok.  We’ll get back to NYC later this week.

When I started this blog three years ago I was in the process of trying to re-kindle my love for photography. I had been in a lengthy slump, one where I had seriously considered hanging it all up.   I had just switched to the Fuji X100 series in an effort to simplify my photography, and I started this blog at the same time as an endeavour that would hopefully spark my creativity.

Fast forward three years and a whole heck of a lot has changed:  I am now an Official Fujifilm X Photographer, proudly representing a camera brand I love and support.  I travel regularly, creating photo essays of my favourite places.  I teach travel and street workshops.  I am now an author with published magazine articles, guest appearances on podcasts, and I am working on my first book.  It has been a crazy ride, and there is so much more to come.

Throughout this journey I have met, and in many cases have become friends with, countless people in the industry who have inspired me and helped me move the ball down the field.  I know I’m going to forget to mention someone, but I’d like to take the opportunity to send a shout out to some of those people.  If you aren’t already following these people I highly recommend checking them out:

  • Valerie Jardin.  Valerie is an educator, street photographer, author, traveler, Official Fuji X Photographer, and friend.  I cannot recommend her work enough, and would encourage anyone interested in street photography to also listen to her Street Focus podcast.
  • Patrick Laroque.  Patrick is a fellow Canadian Official Fuji X Photographer.  He is a story teller in the truest sense of the term, and is equally skilled both as a photographer and as a writer.  What draws me back to his work over and over again though is his open honesty:  He puts it all out there without a filter, and I have huge respect for that.  You can learn more about Patrick in my interview with him on this site.
  • Fuji Vs. Fuji.  This site is one of the two Fuji gear sites I am in communication with on a fairly regular basis (the other one is found below).  They provide some of the most detailed breakdowns on Fuji gear that you will find.  Excellent stuff.
  • Big Head Taco.  My friend Take, a fellow Vancouverite, is a great guy who works tirelessly to produce content for the Fuji, Ricoh, Leica, and Canon communities (as well as several accessory companies).   If I have a question or an idea, he is often one of the first people I bounce it off of.
  • Riley Joseph.  Riley is another Canadian Official Fuji X Photographer, and one that you may not have heard of before.  You see, he refers to himself as a Photographer and a Gentleman, and I think that describes him perfectly as he just quietly and respectfully goes about his business.  I especially love his photo essays.   Just like with Patrick, Riley does an amazing job telling stories with his photography.
  • Dan Bailey.  Another Official Fuji X Photographer, Dan refers to himself as a full time adventure, travel and location photographer but he is so much more than that.  He is an author, a pilot, a workshop leader, he produces video tutorials, he leads photography tours, he is a musician, etc.  Dan is pretty much as close to a true Renaissance Man as we have in the photography community, and he has been remarkably supportive of my work here.  You definitely need to check him out.
  • Don Craig is a Canadian Official Fuji X Photographer living near me in Victoria, BC.  He is an excellent documentary photographer, currently working as a shooter for the BC provincial government.  I love his work.
  • Olaf Sztaba.  Olaf, and his wife Kasia, are two of the finest photographers I know.  Olaf’s tagline is “Simplicity in Seeing”, and when we get together our conversations always focus on the art of photography rather than the gear we use.  What more needs to be said?  You can learn more about Olaf in my interview with him.
  • Kale Friesen.  Kale, yet another Official Fuji X Photographer, is a high calibre fashion photographer currently living and working in New York City.  He has an instantly recognizable style as a photographer, which is awesome, but what really draws me to Kale is his willingness to pursue his passion and follow his dreams.  This has taken him from Paris, to Vancouver, and now to New York where he is producing great work.
  • Jonas Rask.  Jonas, an Official Fuji X Photographer, writes some of the best Fuji related content out there.  His product photography and gear reviews are well known within the Fuji community, but his personal photography is just as good (actually, it is even better).
  • Eivind Rohne.  Eivind, an Official Fuji X Photographer based out of Norway, is a talented photographer shooting mostly editorial portraiture.  His work is fabulous, and he is a constant friend online who continues to inspire me to get out and shoot.
  • Elia Locardi.  Elia doesn’t know I am alive.  We’ve never spoken.  We may never speak.  His life story inspires me though and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention him.  He gave up a life he didn’t want to lead, he built the life that he wanted, and he now produces amazing photographs while living on his own terms.  There is something in his story that we can all learn from.
  • Ibarionex Perello.  Ibarionex, creator of The Candid Frame website and podcast, is another person I am not actually in frequent contact with (just the occasional social media comment in passing).  But, he produces some of the best content on the web as far as I am concerned.  His podcast is a weekly listen, and a constant source of inspiration to me.

My apologies to whomever I missed that should also be on this list….

Most importantly though, a HUGE thank you to everyone who reads this site and leaves comments.  I am incredibly excited about some of the things that I have coming up, and I can’t wait to share them with you.  In the meantime, here are some of my favourite images from the last three years.

Cheers,

Ian

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