I just returned from a week at the Palm Springs Photo Festival. It was my first time going and won't be my last. If you are not familiar with the festival it is an annual event and is in it's 10th year. It has an unusual mix of professional photographers. covering the spectrum from commercial photographers to fine art photographers. Many of the workshops are taught by working photographers who have never taught or shared how they do their photography before. I'm used to going to workshops or conferences where the person teaching had become more a photography educator and than an actual working photographer. A lot of this is just the nature of the industry today, it is getting harder and harder to make a living as a professional photographer, so they supplement their income by teaching classes. While there were a few instructors at the Palm Springs Photo Festival that fit that pattern, there seemed to be more who don't regularly teach. I don't know if this is a good thing or not, but I found it interesting. It also meant I got to take a workshop from someone I would otherwise never get to learn from. One of my inspirations...
Glen is a successful commercial photographer that started off shooting record companies and then expanded into to shooting ad campaigns. His work is engaging and unusual. He relies a lot on composititing and that was what first attracted me to his work. This was the first time that Glen had ever taught a class and he went into great depth and detail about his work and how he accomplishes his shots. It was very educational and is going to change the way I approach my conceptual photography in the future. For instance he almost always shoots his backgrounds first then works on the foreground elements. The idea being that it is easier to match the background lighting in the studio when shooting the foreground elements. He also shoots a lot of miniatures, both miniature sets and objects that are placed into the composition.
Each night there would be a Symposium where one or two of the instructors would do a presentation about themselves and their work. After attending the first night it became a must attend event every evening. Some of the presentations were very moving, some very funny, but every single one of them was inspiring in one way or another.
Speaking of inspiration I had a conversation with a fellow photographer one evening and she commented that the best thing about conferences like this was only the workshops, portfolio reviews, and talks, but just being around other photographers that shared your passion and that it was impossible to come to and event like this and not leave recharged and inspired.
I know that is the case for me, I get so caught up in my day to day work and the drudgery of post-processing 40 photos from a shoot I promised to do for a friend's birthday party that I slowly stop coming up with ideas of what to shoot, or even the desire to go out and shoot. But everything I go to a photography workshop, conference, or event I come back ready to go with more ideas than I can possible shoot. Can you relate to that?
I'm already marking my calendar for next year's Palm Springs Photo Festival. Come join me, I'll buy you a beer.
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