The Injury Chronicles – Part One: The Streets of Toronto

You may have noticed that I haven’t posted many new articles lately.  It isn’t because of lack of content;  I’ve currently only edited personal work up to July so I still have a lot of new work to share.  It is, rather, that I am rehabilitating a hand injury that has become a roadblock to shooting, typing, and playing guitar.  You know, just the main things I do to make a living and for personal enjoyment.  🙂

Having something small get in the way of my work (like a hand injury) was frustrating at first.  There is always a silver lining though, and I have come to appreciate this quiet period of time away from the creative process.  I am viewing this break as an opportunity to be with family, to re-charge as a person and to get inspired by the world around me again.  I’ve been making notes, conceptualizing ideas, storyboarding projects, and I’m excited by the possibilities once I have full use of my hand again.  People often have a fear of missing out on things or of falling behind, but the truth is that breaks are good.

…and in the meantime?

Well, I have a lot of photo essays sitting on my computer that I haven’t posted yet.  They are random and diverse, and I’m going to use this opportunity to post several of them over the next few weeks.  We will start today with a collection of new images from the Toronto street photography workshop that I taught this past July

I hope you like them!

Cheers,

Ian

What Lies Behind : Photographic Insights – Volume Three

Camera INFO:  Fujifilm X-T3 with 23mm f/2 Lens | f/5.6 | 1/500th | ISO 400

“I love the people I photograph. I mean, they’re my friends. I’ve never met most of them or I don’t know them at all, yet through my images I live with them.”

– Bruce Gilden

I have long held a fascination with people.  I think it stems from my former career as a paramedic, where I would have ten or twelve patients in my ambulance each shift.  These patients came from all walks of life:  celebrities, newborns, holocaust survivors, CEOs, tradespeople, athletes, veterans… each with their own story to tell.  This love of meeting new people and hearing their stories subsequently influenced all aspects of my photography, and most definitely my approach to street photography.

When I see somebody that I think would be a great subject it is usually their appearance that strikes me at first.  It might be an outward characteristic:  their smile, their eyes, perhaps the outfit they are wearing.  Just as often, however, it is something more intrinsic… some indescribable strength, a sense of wisdom, or perhaps a vulnerability that you can see and feel from a block away.  Great subjects come from all walks of life and are a gift to us when we are out shooting on the streets.

Such was the case with the subject in this photograph, who I saw last year while I was teaching in Toronto.  There was something striking about the way she walked, a strength and sense of purpose in her step that was instantly noticeable.  I saw this photograph in my mind within seconds, with her red hair and green dress set against the darker buildings she was walking beside.  I decided to crouch down, shooting upward at the subject, to emphasis this perceived confidence and strength.

My camera was in Aperture Priority Mode (at f/5.6), with Auto-ISO set to maintain a minimum shutter speed of 1/500th (which is usually fast enough to freeze a subject’s motion).  You can see in the settings above how the camera raised the ISO to 400 to maintain my desired shutter speed.  I knew that these settings would nail the exposure for me and, because the subject was approaching quickly, I simply pre-focused on the sidewalk where the subject would be when she walked passed me, re-composed, and a second later clicked the shutter.  

Photographs like this happen fast.  I would say that the total amount of time, from first seeing the subject to capturing the image, was maybe ten or twenty seconds at the most.  What allows us to capture these photos with consistent success is practice.  We need to have the technical aspect of our photography nailed down, so that we don’t have to think about it while we are focused on the process of crafting our images.  I believe it was Seneca who said:

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity”

Preparation (practice) allowed me to capture this image, and all it needed in post production was a slight contrast boost and a crop to clean up a distracting element.

To circle back to the beginning of this post, what was it that made me want to take this photo again?  It was, undoubtably, the subject.  Great subjects like this deserve to be photographed.

Until next time,

Ian

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About this series: 

Ansel Adams once said: 

“The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it.”

This statement is absolutely true.  To quote David Hobby, “we should all strive to become thinking photographers.”  I love it when my students ask questions about a photograph because I can see their minds at work.  Sometimes these questions focus on how an image was made (the craft), sometimes they focus on why it was made (the vision), but they always show a student’s desire to improve their craft.

When I look at another photographer’s image I am always interested in the photographer’s thought process:  What drew their eye in the first place?  What did they see in their mind?  What was their process for the creation of the image?  How did they go about achieving success?

With this in mind, I have spent the last year writing a book featuring my images and the stories behind them.  The book will come out later this year, but in the spirit of open source education I have decided to publish 2 dozen of these photos and essays here as well.  My hope is that everyone can benefit in a small way from this sharing of ideas, much like I have benefited from other photographers who shared with me.

2019 Photography Workshop Schedule

I am very excited to announce new dates in 2019 for my street photography and travel photography workshops.  Next year will be my 24th year as an educator, up to and including teaching at the college level, and there are few things I love more than the process of helping a student achieve their goals.  I can’t wait to spend 2019 with you, doing what I love the most… teaching!

I am also very excited to announce that, for the first time, early bird pricing will be available on all workshops until January 31st, 2019!

Street Photography Workshops:

Street photography is an incredibly satisfying way to document the world around you, create new art and to express your vision as an artist.   Unlike portraiture or landscape photography that is often calculated and planned, street photography requires you to constantly observe, be fluid, and be ready.

What does this all mean for me?  It means that the world is a stage and that there is beauty on the streets waiting to be captured.  A good street photographer knows how to become part of the streets, how to blend in, and how to capture those rare but beautiful decisive moments that happen.  They understand that street photography is simply about capturing life.

A good street photograph tells a story.

My goal with these 2.5 day workshops is to help you find your own vision as a street photographer,  to enhance your creativity and to give you the tools to make the images you see in your head.  During the workshop you will learn about:

  • The history of street photography
  • Legalities and ethics
  • How to prepare yourself and your camera for a day on the streets
  • Considerations for crafting story-telling images
  • How to work effectively with light and shadow
  • Composition
  • Techniques for shooting candidly
  • Techniques for approaching strangers and making portraits on the street
  • Editing and post processing

Along the way you will gain confidence, have fun, make new friends and capture great images!  Throughout it all, I will be there right beside you offering advice and feedback.

Here are some of the things previous students have said about their workshop experience:

“Practical and inspirational are the two words that describe my feelings about the workshop I just completed. An evening of theory and classroom instruction. Then a day and a half of shooting to have lots of time to implement the theory and techniques. Then a half day of image review.  Small group and individual instruction. Ian keeps checking in encouraging you. I increased my confidence and now have a great set of techniques and compositional elements to work on. Workshop started and stayed on time. No wasted time. I highly recommend taking Ian’s workshops.  Thanks again for a great weekend. I hope to see you on the streets sometime.”      – Paul

“I found the course to be fantastic and totally worth the weekend!  I really enjoyed the interaction with the other students and seeing the pictures.  Their feedback was so valuable to my development as it allowed me to gain perspectives otherwise not available in the private workshop.  Thanks!”    – Jeremy

“Ian’s style of teaching is easy to understand and I found him to be accessible to me and to everybody.  I especially appreciated how he set aside time for each student, since that personal touch is what I am looking for when I take any sort of class. I liked how he “set us free” on Sunday to wander on our own and put what we’d learned to some independent use. I also was impressed at how he clearly explained some of the features of the Fuji X100T/F that I had not understood, even though I’ve had my camera for 18 months and tried to school myself on its various features. The possibilities are endless with this camera in my hands.  I knew that BEFORE this weekend, but AFTER the weekend I’m even more certain the investment was money well-spent.  What can I say??  A huge thank you, Ian.  I love your approachable and organized teaching style and look forward to meeting up with you again down the road.”      – Susie

“Truly excellent workshop. The skills I acquired over the weekend resulted in four of my favourite urban images, photos I would never have have taken prior to the workshop.”      – Doug

The following 2019 street photography workshops are available for registration (click each link for more information and to register):

VANCOUVER STREET PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP:  JUNE 14TH TO 16TH, 2019
TORONTO STREET PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP:  July 12TH TO 14TH, 2019
VANCOUVER STREET PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP:  AUGUST 9TH TO 11TH, 2019

ALL OF THESE WORKSHOPS SOLD OUT IN 2017 and 2018, SO DON’T HESITATE TO BOOK EARLY and capitalize on the early bird discount!

Travel Photography Workshops:

Travel is a wonderful thing. It allows us to discover new places, to meet new people, to experience new customs and, of course, to make new memories. As photographers we are exposed to so many opportunities to create art while traveling that it can often be overwhelming: What gear should I bring?  How do I plan my shots? What time should I be on location? How do I tell the story of this amazing place I am visiting? These questions, and many others, will be answered at a workshop series I teach with Spencer Wynn entitled, “The Story of a City”.

In these workshops we will visit a city together for 5 days.  During this time you will be taught by two veteran photographers and educators as we explore everything the city has to offer.  We will get up early to photograph the sun rising behind iconic landmarks.  We will shoot throughout the day, capturing street images and the important detail shots that help you tell your visual stories.  We will shoot through sunset and blue hour and, most importantly, we will enjoy the company of like minded artists as we make beautiful images.

The following 2019 travel photography workshops are now available for registration (click each link for more information and to register):

The story of a city – St. John’s edition:  May 6TH TO 10TH, 2019
The story of a city – paris edition:  june 3rd TO 7th, 2018
the story of a city – toronto edition:  july 15th TO 19TH, 2019

We would love to have you join us on one of our photo adventures!

If you have any questions about these workshops, or anything else at all, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me through this site (a link to the contact form is in the main menu).

I look forward to working with you in 2019!

Cheers,

Ian