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The Photo Workshop Book Series

Double Exposure
Cover Stories Last Updated: Dec 15th, 2012 - 23:02:00

Workshops with the Pros
By Lynne Eodice
Feb 19, 2011

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For those who are seeking a photography workshop in subjects ranging from beginning Adobe Photoshop to Landscape photography, there are many to choose from. An entire book could be written about the subject. Here, we offer an insight to workshops offered by five very notable photographers with very individual accomplishments and specialties.

Illuminating Creativity: John Paul Caponigro
John Paul Caponigro is an internationally known visual artist who's dedicated to fostering the growth of others. He exhibits, writes, and leads seminars and digital photography workshops. He's the author of Adobe Photoshop Master Class and the DVD series R/Evolution, and his impressive list of commercial clients includes Adobe, Apple, Canon and Epson. His workshops are taught in various locations around the U.S. and the world, in which he teaches students about digital photography, workflow and Photoshop techniques.

© John Paul Caponigro

When asked what people should look for in a workshop, Caponigro responds, "Number one is a great teacher. The best way to find out about one is via word of mouth from someone who's taken a workshop." The curriculum is also very important, as well as the specific content one is looking for. He also advises students to look for a workshop with a small class size. "If there are 40 to 100 people in the room, you just won't get the contact you deserve with that great teacher. If, on the other hand, there are only 12 students, then there will be a better dynamic and you'll have access to that person for individual questions or to have information phrased in a way that makes more sense to you." Caponigro says that a workshop is very different from a seminar, "which could be someone up on a stage 100 feet away, talking to a crowd of 3000 people." By comparison, a workshop is an opportunity to get into the mind of a teacher, and to have them look at each student's work, to interact, and to learn specific material.

Subscribe to Double ExposureHow will people benefit by taking his workshops? Caponigro says that students will get "a ton of content," as well as a one-on-one relationship and feedback. People are all at different stages, have different styles and goals, and the dialogue should be pitched to this individuality, he explains. The material should be appropriately re-purposed to meet everyone's needs. In his workshops, attendees will get a creative spin on things. "There are certain techniques to learn, although it's also very important to understand the fundamentals," he says. "If you simply teach the mechanics of a medium, you'll get very predictable results. But if you show how those tools can facilitate an individual's vision, then you get very unique results."

"I teach because it's wonderful to facilitate those break-through moments," he comments. "When someone has a moment like this, it's as if they light up. Being able to facilitate this is an extraordinary privilege." He says he doesn't take a "cookie-cutter" approach, and wants to empower individuals to make conscious decisions. Caponigro comes in with a structured curriculum, and often gives exercises for every location. Hopefully each location builds upon the last, so that by the end of the week, there's a cumulative progression. "At the same time, I'm always willing to modify a plan to suit individual and group needs," he says. "Teaching is a process of learning for me as well. I hope by the end of the week that I've learned something and become a better teacher and photographer."

Learn more about John Paul's workshops on his website.

Greg Gorman's Digital Workshops
For over 40 years, Greg Gorman has become renowned for his very compelling portraiture, advertising photography, fine art and celebrity images. He strives to capture the character of his subjects. "For me, a photo is most successful when it doesn't answer all the questions, and leaves something to be desired," he's stated.

© Greg Gorman

The Greg Gorman Digital Workshops gives students the opportunity to learn secrets from pros in an intimate, one-on-one setting at his studio adjacent to his home, located on a bluff overlooking the spectacular coastline of the Pacific Ocean. "This is at my country home in Mendocino, which is adjacent to wine country," Gorman says, adding that wine and food have always been a big passion of his. "It's great to be able to combine these passions with the opportunity to teach workshops." He says that teaching workshops give him the chance to give back to the photographic community that he's loved for many years.

"My workshop is different from many others because it offers everything from capture to output," he explains. He brings in models from all over the country, and teaches students how to light and communicate with the talent. The workshop begins in the studio, and then goes out on location to giant sand dunes, black lava beaches, and vineyards. During the course of this workshop, they cover Lightroom, Photoshop, color management and printing, and there a certified Adobe instructor is always on hand. Students arrive on a Sunday for a dinner party and orientation, and the workshops are held Monday through Friday, ending with a party and live music. "We put together a few slide shows--one showcases the students' work and the other is a "'Week in Review,'" Gorman says. They also print portfolio pictures for students on Epson printers.

When seeking a workshop, students should look to honing their skills and taking their photographic passion and skills to the next level, Gorman says. "I think people come here because they want to learn how to work with their subjects, how to see light, and to light properly." Students are taught how to put their cameras on manual settings and learn where light is coming from and how it affects a subject, about light modifiers, as well as expanding their communication skills in being able to express what they want out of a picture.

"Hopefully students come away with furthering their knowledge and passion for photography," Gorman says. "I'm not as interested in what they know as what they don't know when they first come here." He also points out that his workshops are very small, with a nice ratio of students to instructors, who are all well versed in Photoshop, Lightroom and other technical skills. Student skill levels run the gamut from novice to advanced. "I teach because I'm passionate about what I do and I've been very blessed to have a long career," Gorman comments. "I've been very lucky since the age of 16 to realize what I wanted to do in life, which was to become a photographer." He also says that he learns a lot from his students: "There's never a workshop in which I feel that I don't learn as much as they do."

Learn more about Greg Gorman's Digital Workshops on his website.

Eddie Tapp Digital Workshops
Eddie Tapp is a prominent figure in digital imaging, and a valued educator for professional photographers. He's been inducted into the Photoshop Hall of Fame and is one of Canon USA's Explorers of Light. He offers one- to five-day workshops, on-site staff training, as well as one-on-one training in digital photography. He teaches a workshop in Hawaii and is the Director of Visual Arts in Maui. Software Cinema offers Tapp's instructional DVDs, as well as Tapp is also the author of Photoshop Workflow Setups and Practical Color Management. Upcoming workshops include a Digital Photography Workshop in Maui in April, and a hands-on Studio Lighting: Digital Workflow and Printing workshop at the Palm Beach Photographic Workshop in June.

© Eddie Tapp

When asked what students should look for in a workshop, Tapp responds, "The first thing is to identify the type of work they want to do and look for a workshop that caters to that genre." There are a lot of workshops out there, and it's important to select one that caters specifically to the student's needs, he says. "Some people take a workshop to take a vacation from their nine-to-five routine, and there's nothing wrong with that, but people should go to a workshop with the intention to learn something new."

Tapp teaches workshops to professional as well as enthusiast photographers. "Each workshop has a different benefit," he notes. He teaches students how to get the best color, tone and techniques in image editing. All of his workshops include shooting with models, either in the studio or on location. "I teach students how to see light in a new way," he remarks. "Once you understand how to see natural light, go into the studio and emulate it."

Why does he teach? It all began when people began calling Tapp to teach at conventions and other venues. He started out teaching catalogue photography. During the '70s, he photographed weddings, fashion and models' portfolios. In the mid-80s, he says, "I took a detour, and began judging print salons and images at photo conventions." He photographed models for portfolio works and began teaching around this time. Above all, he says, "I love what I do."

For more information on Eddie Tapp's workshops, visit his website.

Street Photography Workshops with Peter Turnley
"I think my own career and experience--both in philosophy and in practice--really bridges the Atlantic in terms of photographic expression," says Peter Turnley. He graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.A. in French Literature, the Sorbonne of Paris and the Institut d'Etudes Politiques of Paris, where he received a graduate degree in International Relations. During a celebrated career, Turnley's photographs have graced the cover of Newsweek over 40 times. His images have also appeared in publications like Harper's Magazine, GEO, Life, National Geographic, and The London Sunday Times. He's taken portraits of many international political figures, including Nelson Mandela, Mikhail Gorbachev, Boris Yeltsin, Fidel Castro, Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, George Bush Sr., Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama, to name only a few. He's covered nearly every news event of international significance over the past 30 years, and has published five books of his work. Turnley's street photography workshops are currently held in nine of the most visually exciting urban destinations throughout the world: Paris, Rio, Buenos Aires, Seville, Istanbul, Prague, Venice, and New York.

© Peter Turnley

"I chose all of the destinations where I teach workshops because of their visual and human excitement," Turnley explains. His workshops embrace a philosophy that's connected to the Henri Cartier Bresson "decisive moment" spirit of photography, he says, adding that his workshops celebrate the spirit of storytelling and image-making in the most spontaneous way possible. "I think of photography first and foremost about sharing a response with ourselves and with others with respect to what we see, perceive and feel about the world around us." And while he teaches a photographic technique that favors spontaneous and visual storytelling, he says, "I promote the idea that people try to get in touch with the aspects of life that are the most important to them, so that they can share these aspects of the world with others."

His students come from all types of backgrounds, and all levels of photographic experience. "I treat everyone in my workshops as if they were world-class photographers," he says. Turnley's workshops are one week in length, which gives attendees a chance to get out of their daily routine and to take stock of their passions in life. "I hope that my workshops are transformational experiences," he says. There's no competition in his workshops, and he promotes a very fraternal spirit of camaraderie. "In my mind, no one will ever take a bad photograph in one of my workshops. The only way you can grow as a photographer is to take risks." He's very open to helping people find their own inner voice. "I'm not interested in having people photograph like me."

"I believe that my own photographic experience bridges the world of fine-art, street photography and photojournalism," he remarks. He points out that his workshops are conducive to people with a wide range of interests in photography, not only photojournalism. "I embrace the notion that photography is a form of poetry. Photography asks as many questions as it answers." All of his workshops deal with creating a visual narrative; a photo essay. They involve daily presentations from Turnley, as well as great photographers from great cities around the world where the workshops are held. They offer students daily, one-on-one photo critiques for a half-hour to an hour in length. Finally, Turnley spends an hour with each student as they edit a 15-image photo story of his/her work. "All workshops culminate with a final show, which is a celebration of everyone's week of work."

For Turnley, who continues to be active as a visual storyteller, teaching has become a great complement to his photographic journey and career. "One thing I enjoy most about these workshops is the connection I have with students," he remarks. He now has an alumni list of nearly 500 former students, and stays in touch with most of them. Workshops bring him back to his original joy of photography, "the joy of seeing a moment," as he puts it. He enjoys sharing this joy collectively with others. "Although it's a wonderful form of expression, we all know that it can be a very solitary process," he notes. "While pursuing this vision, it's great to know that we're part of a larger community. Photography is, after all, a wonderful international language."

For more information on Peter Turnley's workshops, visit his website.

Craig Varjabedian's Eloquent Light Workshops
Craig Varjabedian's images of the American Southwest illustrate his love of the region, the landscape, and its people. He's won accolades for his fine art images, which are displayed in museums and galleries around the country. His recent books include Four & Twenty Photographs: Stories from Behind the Lens and Ghost Ranch and the Faraway Nearby. He's currently photographing New Mexico for a collection of his images that will be published in 2012 to coincide with New Mexico's Centennial Celebration of Statehood. He leads workshops to magical parts of New Mexico, and to scenic areas like the slot canyons of the southwest. Upcoming workshops include Workshop Bootcamp and The Season's End, both offered in November, 2010.

© Craig Varjabedian

Varjabedian notes that there are a multitude of workshops for budding photographers to choose from. "A student should enroll in one from someone whose images they really like," he advises. "And if they want to learn the technical aspects of imaging, then check out their credentials." He says that not all Photoshop teachers can teach a student to see composition well, "but I would want a teacher who's passionate about that software." He also notes that not everyone with a big name in photography is necessarily a good teacher, and advises students to take a workshop from someone who really knows the area in which they're teaching. "I know the places intimately where I teach," he says, adding that he's been doing photography in New Mexico for 25 years. His workshops take place both in the classroom and out in the field, and he's had dedicated students from around the globe.

Every workshop instructor has his or her own methods of teaching, which are all unique, he points out. Varjabedian says that he teaches because it's a way to give back to the photographic community in which he's been very successful. "Photography is a gift to me," he remarks, adding that he's not interested in teaching students to shoot like him. Rather, he listens to what they want and helps each person find their individual voice. He loves working with people, and believes that class sizes should be very small in order to give students the attention they require. "Many of these students are very visually sophisticated," he says. "Images are everywhere, and many students strive to shoot in a particular style. I teach them to express themselves honestly in the way they see the world."

For more information on Craig Varjabedian's workshops, visit his website.

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