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Sunday, August 2, 2015

Awareness in the People's Republic of Bristol

Bristol: Photography and Awareness

I'd written off my car in Italy the day before I had to fly to the UK for our workshop at Hamilton House and arrived in a nervous state knowing full well I should have cancelled the trip (bruises, wounds and all). Glad I didn't though because the experience proved to be a fascinating one both for us photographer/leaders and for the participants I'm sure. This was our first workshop together, Steve, Colin and I, although we knew each other from our collective past and had a show in Turkey last year together with the same title 'Photography and Awareness'
So that was exactly a month ago and during this time we all us had pledged just one photo each by the end of July; the theme 'A heartfelt image'

'The object isn't to make art, it's to be in that wonderful state which makes art inevitable'....Robert Henri

This is my fall-back message to self whenever I am working on a retreat or workshop (in fact I must get the T shirts printed) and in Bristol this popped up and swam around my head from start to finish.
Let me explain more clearly by going back and forth in time, starting from yesterday on the beach at Porto Potenza.
The image below; Man the photographer/hunter (may he forgive me, whoever he was)

When Tony Maestri and I started to work together at the then School of Photography and the now Arts University Bournemouth, we'd been out in Mexico and California and were fired up on all that stuff out there, stories about all those West Coast Boys (and girls), those photographers who had elevated photography into an art form, Weston and Adams, and then  Imogen Cunningham and the f64 group. I'd met Ansel Adams a few times and remember someone asking him the technicalities of his famous 'Moon over the Sierras photo' He answered 'Heck I don't remember. We were rambling down to New Mexico, all drunk as hell in a dodgy station wagon and happy and laughing. Saw this huge moon and we stopped to breath it in. And I stuck my tripod on the car's roof and just opened the shutter for I've no idea how long...and that's what I got. Luck? No of course not! The photo wanted to be taken and that's all there was to it'
Love that memory.

So, you are getting the drift of this, huh?
In my mind there are two types of photographers, The hunter (image above) who searches outside of the lens and then the poet, dreamer, who operates this (the mind) side of the lens. For the former, the camera is a metaphor for a rifle, stalk your prey, make a killing. For the latter, a mystical machine which interprets his unique inner vision. And there are those, of course, who float in between, searching for that space (gap) where the light gets in.

So, these were the  conceptual seeds we sowed during our great weekend in Bristol. 
And the heartfelt image task?
Looks easy eh?
Not at all! It was our cheeky ruse to throw our kind participants into a quagmire of turmoil, one where they would find themselves lost and drifting between those two worlds.

And why would we be so unkind?
Well, to prepare the theme for the next onslaught of course in Assisi this coming October.

For all details of our Autumn programme click here


1 comment:

  1. Well, thank you for that. Interesting and insightful blog. The Ansel Adams story is great, although I suspect he'd put in a lot of work on his "craft" before photos came up and "asked to be taken".

    "Drifting between 2 worlds" is a good metaphor....