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Thursday, 5 March 2015

We Are The Chiltern Conser-vation So-ci-ety (apologies to the Italian Job!)

The Self Preservation Society might not have been a bad title actually, with this lot of die-hard (ooh, another film link!) photographers. A bitterly cold, windy and sometimes rainy weekend in the Chilterns is not normally the recipe for a successful photo-workshop weekend but what we lacked in weather we made up for with enthusiasm I guess.

It's been quite a while since my last post here on the RLA page, because, well, sometimes life is like that, but I will take the time to mention the Chiltern Conservation Society, based in Chesham, Bucks, which if you are unfamiliar with the home counties is just north west of London (about 2 days drive if you are on the M25!) I was invited to run a weekend photography workshop for members of the CCS and took the opportunity to visit a part of the UK I have never spent time in before.
I'm not sure quite what I was expecting - some upland chalk downs and some quaint villages I suppose, lots of woodland maybe? Actually that turned out to be fairly accurate, together with some really surprising, expansive views over the surrounding flat countryside from the few high points that are available. Good dog walking territory. And a very well "heeled" locality to boot - this view above is overlooking Chequers, the prime ministers country residence. He wasn't in when we called.

Anyway, enough of that; What's the point of this post then? What I wanted to say was that it was an interesting and challenging experience as a professional photographer and teacher, arriving in an unknown area, to teach complete strangers, in really difficult weather and lighting conditions, at totally unfamiliar locations...really gets you thinking on your feet!

One of the most useful/encouraging comments from the weekend came from a student who said it was really interesting watching a professional photographer arrive at a location for the first time, size it up and shoot a landscape image within 15 minutes, making all the critical assessments and decisions instinctively! That makes me sound like a genius, which of course I am (!) but actually the truth is that like most pros, I can do this because I've had to do it hundreds, probably thousands of times before.
And that's the point really. There is no substitute for getting out there and shooting images, in all conditions, all weathers, all types of locations, as often as possible, to build experience and knowledge of what to look for and how to cope with whatever the situation throws at you.

Not only that, but then you have to sit down afterwards and analyse your results. What worked- and why? What didn't work and why not?
Do you want to know the real secret of how professional photographers work quickly and efficiently and get great, reliable results every time? We learn what works and keep doing it, tweaking and improving all the time. And we learn what doesn't work and STOP doing it!
You want to be a better photographer? Learn what works for you, keep doing it, better and better but even more importantly, learn what doesn't work and don't do it again. There you go, now you know. I shall running more workshops in Chilterns in the spring and autumn months so next time I'll know where to go as well!!!

Here's some more images from the weekend: