We had another great Beyond the Lens Digital Printing workshop this weekend, and I’m confident students gained information and insights that will allow them to make better creative decisions in regards to their printing. Each workshop is always different, and I’m always appreciative of the opportunity to meet so many great people and share my passion and hard earned experience in photography.
At the start of most workshops, I usually have each student introduce themselves and briefly describe their involvement in photography as well as their immediate goals. This makes the whole class more relaxed and I think creates a better learning environment when we all realize we’re basically after the same thing – doing what we enjoy and love as best as possible. For some of us, that translates into excellence, as I explained in a recent post.
Once every student has their turn, I take a few moments to explain why I am so passionate about printing. In a former life, I was a music producer for many years which involved taking a musical concept or idea and crafting a “performance” that embodied the creative goals of the project. The finished master or CD was my focus, and everything I did in the production stage, whether arranging, recording, mixing, or working with artists and musicians revolved around what I wanted that final CD to sound like. Everything in between was just another step along the particular path the project was following. Sometimes I’d have to stop and change my direction if somehow I’d gotten off track and things were not sounding quite like they should. Other times, the path would take an unexpected turn for the better, and new and interesting ideas would emerge that often created a better end result.
Much of what I learned back then has proven to be extremely valuable as a photographer and print maker. Regardless of where I am in the creative process – exploring a beautiful landscape, developing the image in Lightroom, or choosing the right paper texture for the print, I always imagine what the end result will look and feel like. I try to visualize the final print before I press the shutter. This is not always easy or possible, and often I’m not quite sure what I’m trying to achieve. But at some point along the “path”, I discover what I’m attempting to convey in an image, and then it becomes crystal clear.
As we move more and more into a digital world where the majority of images are experienced on LCD screens and mobile devices, we need to be aware of how an image will translate to these common mediums. Often I have two separate versions (using virtual copies in Lightroom) of the same photograph, one for printing, and one for digital viewing. But I still consider photographic prints my primary medium, so the printing workshop is really a lot of fun for me. I’m sure students can clearly see my excitement when one of their photographs emerges from our printers. If they smile, I’ve done my job, and the rest of the creative path is theirs to experience and enjoy.
“Thank you for the printing workshop…the information is helpful, love your studio and you are a natural teacher. The time flew by.” -Wayne Stix