Introducing The Shadow Workshops

I mentioned having worked on some personal projects over the summer... This is one of them: The Shadow Workshops. Yes, the name is a nod to KAGE. Two sides of a coin that are bound to become closer eventually.

Workshops, as an idea, are something I began to wrestle with about a year ago. I say wrestle because while I’d been asked about doing this a number of times, I wanted to make sure I’d be adding some sort of value proposition, not just randomly throwing my hat in an already crowded ring. My biggest concern was with focus — what would these be about? The idea of doing something purely technical didn’t appeal to me. After expending so many words talking about how the X Series taught me to slow down and let go, teaching about lighting and how to use a camera felt like a cop out. Plus, there are tons of amazing photographers out there doing a very good job of it already. I wanted something more… At the risk of sounding conceited, "philosophical". My other issue was with a very real fear of becoming THAT guy: The-Guy-That-Does-Workshops. I’m very much aware of how it can easily devolve into a circus of sorts if not managed properly.

All of this is brewing in the background when I get a call from someone called David Kruse: “I’m coming to Montreal for a few days” he says, “I love your work, do you give workshops by any chance?” — Hmm… There’s nothing like a big bold sign showing you the way is there? We chat for awhile and it turns out he’s looking for exactly the type of format I’ve been working on; call it serendipity. Long story short: I drew up a quick syllabus and we fixed a date for a one day, one on one workshop…. Which eventually turned into three days of an incredibly enriching experience for both of us. By making this about ideas as much as image making, it had become a dialogue; it was also exactly what I’d been hoping to accomplish.

So I'm jumping in, offering two packages to begin with: MONTREAL 1:3 and MONTREAL 1:1, both one on one workshops. Obviously, narrative and storytelling are at the heart of these because there’s no denying that everything I do is now tainted by those ideas, by the notion of constantly building around more than a single image to spell out the message. Along those lines I’m also focusing on a "cinematic" approach, building from small images in sequence as opposed to that magical be all and end all perfect picture. The workshops are geared towards lot’s of shooting time as well as editing, storyboarding and image processing (more of this in the 1:3 package which includes a studio day). If you’re a Fuji shooter I’m obviously including tips and tricks on setup and how to make the most of these cameras. And we get to geek out about Fujis ;)

I’m not going to claim any sort of epiphany here… But I believe this formula might just be different enough to make the entire journey worthwhile. And hopefully it’s in keeping with how I’ve been approaching photography as a whole.


That’s step one. The next step will be EXPLORERS, destination-based workshops consisting of very small groups. Same focus, same approach but introducing the concept of collective work into the process. A photographic think-tank if you will. I’ve got some homework to do on this before taking the plunge but if any of you have ideas, are interested or want to suggest locations or venues let me know; it’s all open right now and I think it could be quite exciting.

For more info on all of this you can check out my brand new Workshops section. Here's hoping to see you soon :)


P.S I'd be remised not to mention this in passing: David Kruse is now engaged in a project called Operation St-George. He's riding his motorcycle and praying to raise awareness to the current plight of Christians in the Middle-East. Now, I'm not a religious man and I usually steer clear of issues involving religion in any way — mostly because I don't believe in good and evil as simple, one dimensional concepts. It's a loaded and dangerous idea that's been at the root of way too many atrocities on all sides. Also because humanity tends to get easily confused and power, regardless of intentions, always becomes part of the deal at some point. But this, like so many other catastrophes, is about human suffering and injustice. If his project can help by shining a light on what's happening then the goal has been met. David knows I don't necessarily identify with the faith-based aspects of this journey — but as a purely social, altruistic and humanitarian endeavour, he has my utmost respect.

Invisible Summer. Photokina.

What a strange, short, hectic and incomprehensible summer this has been. I see the few weeks left ahead and can barely make sense of where the time has gone; it’ll go down as l’été invisible… Some of it had to do with the weather but most of it was about work: paid and/or personal. Exciting? Sure. Restful? Nah.

Some of the fruits of this labour will be announced in due time, mostly over the next several weeks, but I can at least mention one of these today: I’ve been invited by Fujifilm to speak at Photokina 2014. Am I thrilled? Am I nervous? Going crazy with anticipation? Have I been working on this in my sleep? All of the above. I’ll be talking about visual storytelling, the X Series cameras and also doing a live studio shoot on stage. What we in the biz call a “feature packed presentation”. Sorry, using “the biz” at some point in my life was on my bucket list — done. Never again, promise.

So I’m headed for Cologne, Germany on September 14 and I’m scheduled to speak on the 16 and 17. What’s even more exciting is who’s also appearing: everyone. It’s nuts. And this includes two of my KAGE COLLECTIVE comrades with whom I’ll be meeting for the first time outside of our virtual offices. I’m hoping others can make it as well so we can have the closest thing to an actual “live” meeting in our short history. Speaking of KAGE: lots of new and exciting changes ahead — stay tuned for those.

After Cologne Cynthia and I are going to Venice, then Rome where I’ll be giving a quick one on one workshop, eating pasta and losing myself in the Eternal City. We’re very excited about this trip — our first long one together since France —and I’m already giddy just thinking of the photographic opportunities ahead.

If you’re planning on attending Photokina while I’m there, come and say hi — I’ll be hanging around quite a bit and I always look forward to meeting other photographers. As opposed to gladiators. Although I’m sure they’re a fine bunch when they're not looking to hit you over the head with… You know… Tridents or something. Right, can you tell I’m tired? Yeah, silly tired.

I leave you with images from a recent family gathering — going with a stacked gallery for kicks. Man, this already seems like ages ago...

Shot with the X-T1 and XF 23mm f/1.4R

Dorval Island

I didn't even know it existed. 

Dorval Island spends peaceful, lazy summers catering to a handful of residents. It lives for a single season, it's presence whispered like an old family secret, its rhythm locked to forgotten steps. I've been invited to spend the day in this very private retreat by the wonderful gang at the Lakeshore Camera Club, just to shoot the breeze and perhaps offer some thoughts and ideas along the way; I'm clearly getting the best deal here.

I cross over on an early Saturday morning ferry, still dazed from a short night and a long week. But as our small twelve-seater hits the waves, all is forgotten — the warm shimmering light, sturgeons leaping out of the water like mad silver birds... It's all just a prelude to a slow trip back in time; to great coffee and food and beer; to long discussions amidst the shrill cries of cicadas.

Shot with the X-T1 and XF 23mm f1/4R

Waiting in a room, in Pointe-au-Pic

There’s something about bedrooms away from home — hotels, motels, B&Bs… How they all try to recreate their own simulacrum of comfort, their own version of how a home should feel. I can spend hours shooting every small detail in these places but I’m also fascinated by how we change, when all of our daily rituals are displaced; as though we’re suddenly living our lives outside of ourselves.

We arrived late last night after a tough, rainy drive, long after the sun had set, the girls half-asleep in the back of the car. So this morning feels like a revelation, everyone getting their first glimpse at where we are: the former summer home of a 19th century american entrepreneur, transformed into a cozy Auberge. No TV, sweetly creaking floors, peace and quiet.

But we’re just passing through: we need to leave to pick up Jacob from camp and won’t be returning. As we wait for breakfast to be ready, the girls find enough time to discover, to explore, to get bored… In random order — several times over.

P.S Turns out our gracious host André was a photographer and Fuji shooter. Damn it, I got to talk shop :)

Shot with the X-T1, the XF 23mm f/1.4R and XF 35mm f/1.4R (with circular polarizer)

Kind of Blue


Nine hours of never-ending road. Highway 20 up and down, side to side, back and forth in all its tedious, excruciating glory. Thank god for the mountains and the St-Lawrence, its frigid waters and salty air. Everything painted blue — Miles and miles of blue.

Shot with the X100