I realize it’s not Saturday. Or even Sunday. But thanks to some hosting changes, my blog did not want to let me in over the weekend, and I cannot wait any longer to talk about this workshop. So let’s pretend that it’s a three-day weekend, at least on the internet.
I’ve mentioned that a few months ago, I got a DSLR camera. Some of you have been so kind as to say that my photos have gotten better since then, and I not so humbly agree. I took the time to learn some of the basics and play around with some settings to avoid the shame of using the big fancy camera on automatic.
I managed to go from knowing nothing to knowing that I knew only the teensiest tinsiest bit about how to take a good photo. I’d gotten as far as thinking that maybe I should do something about this when Eileen, who is herself a pretty great photographer, posted about a weekend photography course with an instructor of hers, Ricardo of Casa K (the website isn’t great, but he is). Sold.
Despite my snap decision, I was terrified. What if I was the worst of the group? What if no one liked me? And the big one: what if I learned all the tech stuff and then only had my complete lack of artistic vision to blame for boring photographs? I am comfortable with a lot of things – you get used to making a fool of yourself when you live in a foreign country and have to learn a foreign language – but I have never felt particularly at home with more creative pursuits.
Of course, reality is rarely as bad as what we imagine. The class ended up being four of us, and the more advanced students were happy to share their knowledge with the other beginner and me. And while I took plenty of awful photos, I’m also really happy with some shots, especially the ones I’ve included here.
The workshop started with an introduction to the technical side of things. This for me has been incredibly helpful in understanding my beast of a camera and is, with practice, allowing me to focus more on the substance of my photos and less on stressing about why they’re not turning out right. “With practice” being the key phrase. I have not turned into Garance Doré in the space of a weekend, which is mostly sad because it means I don’t have her closet.
Once we had a vague idea of how to use our machines, we were set loose on two separate field trips to prime Santiago photography locations: Parque Forestal and Plaza de Armas. Enter the challenging part of the class. I am, despite appearances, somewhat shy. So being told to walk up to people and ask to take portraits of them sounded painful, and I managed to avoid it during Day 1 by practicing other types of shots. I just hoped that aiming my lens toward the playground didn’t make me look like a pedophile.
Ricardo wasn’t letting me off that easy, however. Somehow he tricked me into thinking that I could actually speak to strangers. He claims that most people like the attention and are happy to have their picture taken. Of course, I managed to choose the only two women in the whole damn plaza who didn’t want their picture taken for my first attempt. The ground, despite my prayers, refused to swallow me up, and I tried again with more willing subjects. I’m always jealous of the portraits I see others share after trips, and maybe now I’ll have the guts to ask to take some of my own.
The weekend was a success. I feel like I learned as much as my mind could process in two days and like I have plenty to work on by myself. So if you’ve been thinking about improving your photos, take a class! I don’t see myself going pro any time soon, but I’m enjoying making pretty pictures and having more control over the final result. I promise even if it’s scary – because let’s face it, doing things you’re not (yet) good at usually is – getting just one photo that you shamelessly adore makes it all worth it.
More in this series:
Saturday in Santiago
PS. This class wasn’t comped, I just liked it and wanted to encourage others. Also, I wanted to show off my pictures.