Thursday, June 16, 2011

Review: André Gallant Photography Workshop

Some people say that photography is not an art; clearly these people have not been exposed to the work of André Gallant. In late 2010, I was fortunate enough to be invited to a seminar where André was speaking. As I sat through the presentation, I was immediately taken by his work. Before the evening was out, I bought a few of his books and in the months following, I tried my hand at producing works of photographic art using his techniques.
André’s work is sometimes literal, often slightly abstract, sometimes very abstract, but in all cases, beautiful works of art.
In early 2011, I discovered that André had a workshop that was offered in Lunenburg, NS. Without knowing a great deal about the workshop, I just knew that it was for me! I attempted to book but found that it was sold out. Apparently, these workshops are highly sought after and sell out the day they are offered. In this case though, it was meant to be … a cancellation came through and I was offered a spot.

Arriving May 22, 2011 at the historic Lunenburg, Bluenose Lodge, I knew this was not going to be like any workshop I had experienced. Eight people, all skilled and passionate about photography, came together from different walks of life and from far away places to take over the B&B for an entire seven day photography bootcamp. There were no other guests; the house was our dorm. Equipment was spread out on tables and we were free to lounge about in the common areas with our laptops as we processed images.

Our days consisted of non-stop shooting and critiquing. We shot in the morning, we processed in the early afternoon, we shot again in the late afternoon, we processed in the evening. Fantastic five star meals were injected into each day. The food was excellent, however a few of the heartier appetites craved for more.

André’s instruction was humble and positive. Critique’s were gentle but unsparing. We learned many of his techniques through demonstration, field application, and follow on review. Unlike other workshops, during this one, there was little tech-talk about f-stops, shutter speeds, etc. It was expected that everyone was competent with their equipment. Instruction was focused on artistic techniques: seeing, capturing, manipulation. The group was taught to produce images that are rich in feeling and expression.

It was incredibly inspiring, and at the same time humbling to see the work of others as we each presented to the group; this was a very talented group of people. Our final assignment was to express a theme through photography. Mine was “The power of colour”, others were “Amazing Grace”, “Home”, “Solitude”, etc. The review of the assignments was nothing short of an emotional experience. An incredible work of art produced by each of the students. I grew a lot as a photographer during that week; I can see a clear difference in my work.

It may have been the laughter over the incredibly wet and foggy weather, the soaked shoes, rubber boots, cold, or sipping wine in the evening, but we all came away as friends and vowed to keep in touch through a new discussion group, “The Soggy 9”.
André’s workshop is a great experience for anyone that seeks to pursue the “art” of photography; a 10 out of 10.

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