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Monday, November 29, 2010

How the West was Won

Model: Samantha Shvetsova

No folks, I am not speaking of the classic western of the same name. In truth, I am speaking of the recent Creative Photo Workshops events in Perth and Bunbury in Western Australia. Perhaps it is a presumptuous title for this blog, but I have to tell you that I feel rather positive about how everything went over there! This was our first time in Perth and the fact that everything went so well was, to be honest, a bit surprising. Our workshops were well supported, we met some wonderful and lovely people and had a great time. To me, it was a victory - over perhaps my own concerns that our first time in Perth and Bunbury would be only an introduction of ourselves to the photographic community there and not actually contain filled events. After all, CPW has never been there before. I was in Perth a few years ago working for Kodak and photographing the Crusty Demons, but that has been about it. This was our first time there as a workshops company. So I have reason to feel victorious I suppose. I don't get to do as much photography as I would like at these events because its all about our customers. But here are a few images from the six days we spent in the wild wild West.

Glynn and I have been in discussions with the fabulous people at Camera Electronics for some time. Without doubt they are the best photo retailer in that part of the world. A very active business that is all about photography. They organise workshops and seminars on a regular basis and we felt that our business would fit perfectly with theirs. We met owners, Saul and Frank, at PMA in Anaheim, California, earlier this year and immediately felt a synergy and built a rapport. It didn't take much to get workshops organised with them. They are very switched on in this regard and their business is built on the passion that photographers feel for their craft and not on selling boxes filled with black plastic things. For me, this has always been and will always be the secret to successful photo retail - especially in these days of grey imports, internet bargains and online shopping. For photo retail to survive, an atmosphere of photography needs to be built within the bricks and mortar. It needs to be a place where people go to feel more than just a need to haggle a price or ask how many pixels this camera has when compared to another. Why do people prefer one bar or pub over another? Its rarely about the beer. The same is true with photo retail. Cameras can be bought anywhere, but you can't feel the fun and passion of photography clicking a mouse and buying a bit of plastic online. Because our business is all about the fun and passion of photography, our philosophy and theirs were immediately on the same page.
Model: Keshia Menasse

We ran 5 workshops and one evening event while we were there- two Natural Light People Photography workshops, one beach event complete with sax players and swimsuit models, a Creative Flash Workshop and our Creative Wedding Photography workshop. During the course of those few wonderful and busy days we met some great people. I would like to thank all those who attended, most of whom had never heard of us! Our models were wonderful also. Thanks to Tahlia, Kate, Samantha, Caitlin and Keshia, all of whom were great sports and willing to take a bit of teasing. For our models, that is a necessary quality. Good looks come a distant third to personality and a good sense of humour. Admittedly not all of our models have the first two. Thanks also to WA surfing photographer, Russell Ord, who not only came to three workshops but even posed as our groom for the wedding workshop on the final day. Russell even hired a suit to do so! Apart from his surfing photography, Russell also shoots a few weddings.. It is this part of his business that he wants to develop. He felt that by being a groom, he would understand how to direct people. At the end of the day he candidly told the entire group that he had learned much about direction by being photographed. For a people photographer, this is an excellent lesson. His testimonial about the workshops is even more candid than that. And..I quote....
'Stale' is the word I used today when describing my photography work, which basically means it is not fresh, pleasant, new or exciting to me anymore.It has come to a point where I am not enjoying my work like I have in the past, just going through the motions and not challenging myself.  That has all changed with a couple of creative photography workshops with Glynn Lavender and Shelton Muller - two guys I could not thank enough for restoring passion back into what I love – photography.

I walked into Camera Electronics on Friday just to get some cameras cleaned and dream a little while walking the shop floor. Saul, the owner, suggested I go along to a natural light portrait workshop. Alarm bells went off in the head immediately. All I could imagine was some stereotypical photography nerd boring me to death with technical jargon, reading word for word from the latest wondrous instruction manual. If I did not sink five double shot coffees before morning tea washed down with sugar coated chocolate donuts I would be in a coma, snoring my head off. But he convinced me otherwise and I reluctantly went. After all,  I could do with a good relaxing sleep on a Sunday morning. Within the 20 minutes I knew I couldn’t get enough of the exceptional information provided. Glynn and Shelton would have to the best instructors, trainers, tutors, comedians, people etc etc I have ever come across. They never once lose your attention and they know their work inside and out. Yes, don’t worry about some great big dirty manual on the front desk for reference.They are both walking books of knowledge and they problem solve at speed. My photography improved in an instant and as a professional surf photographer I was not expecting that at all. Four days later I have just finished my third workshop. They were all brilliant and having driven three hours back home to Margaret River, all I want to do now is go shoot some photos. Stale? I am not stale. I just didn’t have the tools in the kit bag. I can’t thank the lads from Creative Workshops enough!
Cheers Glynn and Shelton, see you in Melbourne.

Cheers again

Russell Ord – improved surf photographer.

That is perhaps one of the highest compliments I have ever been paid, and I know that Glynn would feel the same. Thanks Russell. To reignite a passion for your art is indeed an honour. Thank you WA! It was fun!

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The Life, Times and Images of photographer, Shelton Muller

Images on this blog are copyright Shelton Muller