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 (ok that's not physically possible but you know what I mean).

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.

Patrick La Roque

laROQUE, 311 Lorncliff, Otterburn Park, Canada