Our friends from Chaves, the ones who put together the wonderful N2 festival every year, are now getting ready to launch Bilhó, a new event in the city. It’s going to be great.
A multidisciplinary arts festival, including illustration, music, writing, and, of course, photography.
They invited me to do a workshop on photography. I picked something close to my heart: mobile photography, using your smartphone as camera. I’ve been doing it for a while, even leaving the camera behind when I should carry one!
This is a first for me, however, a workshop for non-photographers, and I’m a little anxious. I’m very much used to teaching, but I’ve always done it with photographers, or people just out of photo school. They would have a grasp on some basics already, and I knew they would speak the language or, at least, understand most of what I talked about.
I do have some difficulty when it comes to teaching, or talking, about photography. I believe the technical bit, at least at a basic level, is quite easy to grasp and, when it comes to mobile, even that can almost be forgotten. I could go over the foundations in an hour, slowly, and we’d be done.
What I’ve always found challenging, even when talking with young photographers, or people just starting, is everything else. The parts that really matter. How do you talk about influences, and taste, when that is so subjective? What kind of photography would they find interesting, and worth pursuing? Will it be something I know of, or an area that I have no interest in, and no particular knowledge or insight? I am a photojournalist at heart, one that appreciates other views. But so many others fail to interest me. Advertising, or fashion, or food photography have no appeal to me.
Yesterday I came upon another article about Eggleston, and it’s hard to explain how thrilled I am whenever that happens. But some, unsurprisingly, fail to see how that could mean something. He’s a master, but one that some find hard to like. We’re all, thankfully, so different, but that leaves me no other route than talk about my way of doing things, and the way I think they can be done. Not should be done, mind you, but can be done.
If I’d try to guide the students to whatever they feel like shooting, then I’m might not be having as much fun with it as I wanted. Not too cool, I know, but safer. We don’t have months, after all, and this way, hopefully, everyone will get something out of it.
In the old days, at the paper, when the new class of interns showed up, like clockwork, I would always tell them they could do things anyway they liked, after finishing their internship. While they were with us, they would try to use our language, and could use that time as a learning experience, one they could use later in life, even if they picked some other area of photography as their place in the world. Maybe they’d enjoy their time with us, and pick some tricks. Some did, others not so much. But that was what they’d signed up for, and they knew it.
Maybe I’ll try the same with the ones that enrolled in the workshop. I’m afraid there’s not much else I can do. And hope they enjoy it.