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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

EchucaPalooza 2.5 - the return of the return!

Charlotte in Canola with off camera flash

Charlotte in the mist, Mathoura.
Off camera flash.

As I mentioned in my previous post, our Creative Photo Workshops EchucaPalooza event was so popular last year that we decided to run it twice this year. I am so glad we did. It was yet another wonderful weekend. Watch the video here!
One of the things I love about being involved with CPW is the diversity of each event. Although we have creative photography workshops that we repeat due to the demand and the skills they nurture, each one proves to be its own animal in the end. The differences come with the models who attend, the students who come along and even the location and weather. These things contribute to the 'vice' of each of our workshops and events to the degree where one is never the same as the other, even if it is essentially the same workshop being repeated.
EchucaPalooza 2.5 was exactly that. While most of the locations were repeated, the models, the weather and light and the people themselves all made for a different event. Not better necessarily, just different. For me, that is a relief. I love diversity, and life has its way of becoming repetitive. So even while our workshops come under the same name, there are often enough variations within each event to keep them interesting. One of the most destructive elements to the creative process is repetition. Boredom sets in and creativity gets lost. This can often happen to working photographers who limit themselves within one particular genre of photography. As the opening sequence to my website's home page indicates, I have never wanted to remain within one particular arena.

Jenae and the old tip truck, off camera flash

For our second whack at Echuca and Moama 2010, we had models Jenae, Charlotte, Joyce and Vish. Each of these wonderful people made the weekend event even more special by adding their lovely character and attractiveness to our photographs. Charlotte brought her unique styling and costume to our shoots on Saturday. She is only 16 and very very sweet. Vish came up with us from Melbourne and was there for the entire weekend. Jenae was a young local girl whose beautiful face and open personality made Sunday even more wonderful, and Joyce was also quite adorable as the second of our two brides in the old wool shed we have used each time we have been there. And then there was our crazy French Canadian, Yves, who couldn't resist when the ladies asked him to remove his shirt. Oh well. What can you do when the lunatics begin running the asylum? It goes without saying that Glynn and I can't provide that level of entertainment. We just aren't built for it!
All in all, a great time was had by all and there was a seriously evident learning curve present within the group. Even though EchucaPalooza was not a workshop per se', it is still our job to see to it that people take home new lessons and inspirations. Its one thing to set up photographs. Its another to enable our customers to continue to be able to set them up for themselves when we are not around. That is the entire point of a photographic workshops company. That is what we are. We were joined by Echuca photographer, Tamara Cadd, who found the lovely Jenae for us and was invited to join in the fun. She had a great time and wants us to hold more events up there. Well, that is certainly possible! Tamara indicated that she had attended expensive workshops prior to popping along to our event and found that she had not before been exposed to the level of transparency we provide. However, teaching is all about transparency. There is little point showing someone the photograph that is possible in that location, in that light or in that moment without helping them to know how it is achieved. If a photographer who runs workshops is too precious about himself to actually reveal the techniques, we say 'find another job!' Don't say you run 'photography workshops' and then continue to leave your students in the dark. A good teacher is never afraid to impart information. Indeed, that is one of his jobs.
Now that EchucaPalooza 2 and 2.5 are over, its time to get over this head cold and prepare and pack for our Workshops tour of the United States. Glynn and I are once again headed for more workshops in LA, but we will also be stopping in to see New York and then run more workshops in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Yes, its that Allentown. But I am told its not quite so depressing as Billy Joel made it out to be. I might even write a photographic parody of that song just to make it up to our good friends at Dans Camera Store there. Either way, look out America! Those crazy Aussie photographers are coming!

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

EchucaPalooza II - The Return to Palooza

Its been 12 months since Creative Photo Workshops ran its first location based event. This time last year, we found ourselves in Echuca in northern Victoria and had a fabulous weekend of photography. It was so popular we decided to run it again! Actually, we decided to run it two weekends in a row...
But, what is it with us and flooding rains? When we were in New Zealand running our MeaWannaShootalotta event, Queenstown decided to flood for the first time in decades. The same thing happened in Echuca. The weather reports indicated that the area was to receive about 150mm of rain over the weekend. I don't know how many millimetres actually fell, but all day Saturday saw us dodging some heavy rain and our sunrise shoot was a washout. It seems we are like that Crowded House song. Yes, we always bring the weather with us. Although it was perfectly sunny when we left Melbourne! What's with that?
Nonetheless, we managed to help our group of wonderful friends and fellow photographers achieve some creative images by using an old dilapidated and abandoned schoolhouse in Mathoura. It was a lifesaver, as were our models, Meg and Maria. Meg is a local Echuca girl and a crazy redhead with colourful clothing and personality. Maria is a young Vivien's model who is just starting out on what I hope will be a long and wonderful modelling career. The combination of these two lovely models, some off camera flash and our CPW smoke machine allowed all to create images that they hadn't planned on. Neither had we, actually! When the weather gets in the way of your plans, you have to come up with new ideas for your customers - and quickly!
Photography is much about problem solving. Any experienced photographer will tell you that. Rarely does everything go to plan and when it doesn't you have to come up with other options. Wedding photographers know this only too well. Landscape photographers will camp out in a location for long periods of time waiting for the right light to adorn the scene that they have wanted to capture. Without the right conditions, they either have to change their vision, or wait it out. We didn't have that kind of time, so we simply changed our vision. Its a good lesson for all photographers to learn. When things don't go as you plan, change the plan.
Sunday morning gave us a warm welcome with a rain-free sunrise. We headed for the old Port of Echuca and enjoyed photographing its beautifully restored and empty streets. It was a relief to be finally free of the rain and the day ahead was beautiful. We were able to stick to much of our Sunday itinerary, finishing off our weekend's shoot in the same abandoned shearing shed we used last year. What a great location this is! The light in this building is wonderful and its textures and warm timber tones are a dream location. I would love to photograph a real wedding here. If I were an Echuca based wedding photographer I would try and use that location as often as possible! As it was , we had a 'bride' along with us. Actually, we were accompanied by our two models, plus a couple of local identities who brought their wonderful faces along for our lenses. There was Chris, a local timberman who has a great face and runs the local sawmill and Todd, a local who donned an Akubra and a Drizabone and posed wonderfully in the shearing shed. We even had Marge the Dog model for us. She proved to be a rather popular subject! 
Due to popular demand, this coming weekend will see us running the same event again, aptly named EchucaPalooza 2.5 . There are still a couple of places left if you are interested! Click here if you think you might like to come!

The Life, Times and Images of photographer, Shelton Muller

Images on this blog are copyright Shelton Muller