UK in June

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I’ve never been to Bath. Hell...I’ve never been to England, period. So when my friend Kevin Mullins asked if I’d be interested in being a guest speaker for his X-Weddings Conference 2018...let’s just say I didn’t hesitate much. My only apprehension stemmed from not being a wedding shooter—surrounded by world-renowned wedding shooters. But he quickly assured me it wouldn’t be a problem, that the goal was to go beyond a strictly wedding-oriented event. We are all visual storytellers and documentarians, regardless of subject matter. The conference will feature seven speakers: Facundo Santana (Argentina), Marianne Chua (England), Neale James (England), York Place Studios (England). Of course Kevin Mullins and yours truly to round it all up. Honestly, the work from these fellow photographers is humbling to say the least.

So here we go: off to Bath on June 12th and 13th 2018. I’ll be giving a talk entitled The United States of Photography on day one, and then manning a full-day workshop on day two. I’m taking a maximum of 6 participants for the workshop so space for this one is limited—I prefer keeping it small and personal. Facundo is also giving a workshop on the same day (12 max participants for his).

I’m extremely excited about this event and about finally setting foot on UK soil. We do share a Queen after all (yes, The Crown has indeed had an impact on our household). If you’re interested I have a promo code for you: plr2018 will give you a 5% discount on tickets for Keynote Day.

Jolly good times ahead I’m sure.
Cheerio ;)

The Temporary Collective | Brussels 2016

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I haven’t talked about it much but I’m leaving for Belgium and Germany on September 17th. I’ll be driving down to Photokina for the first few days of the event, then back to my buddy Bert Stephani’s place until the 28th. No speaking engagements this year but I'm shooting an essay for the December issue of Photo Life magazine and I'm very much looking forward to catching up with a whole lot of comrades.

While I'm in Europe, Bert and I will also be hosting the first official KAGE workshop: The Temporary Collective—a full-day event focusing on visual storytelling, to be held in Brussels on September 26th. We'll be discussing subject, methodology, engagement and storyboarding, with each participant expected to produce an essay that will appear in an upcoming issue of KAGE. We're keeping the group small (6 seats max) to provide a more hands-on and personalized experience. Limited X-series gear will be available to test as well.

It's on a Monday. I know...scheduling issues forced us to choose that date. But if you're interested and available we're running an early bird special until September 9th and we'd love to see you. All you need is a camera, some sort of image editing device for the processing/editing portion of the workshop and a good pair of shoes. More info here.

Btw: Fujifilm has now released its full Photokina schedule and it's jam-packed with great speakers. I'll be checking a bunch of these out while I'm there so if you're around be sure to come and say hello.

Peace, Return and Thoughts in Passing

It's like a fog suddenly lifting. For the past several weeks I'd been doubling down on a new conference due to premiere at the RCPM's annual meeting (a coalition of photo clubs from the south shore of Montreal), which finally took place last night. Many thanks to the organizers and everyone who showed up for a very enjoyable evening.

I take conferences—any speaking engagement really—very seriously. The fact that people are willing to pay, to drive down and listen to you means there's a responsibility there, to not waste their time and to bring something to the table that, hopefully, will resonate and fuel their passion. So I fret over every detail, every word and every single bit of content; I was still tweaking a few minutes before. 

I also tend to retreat pretty deeply inside my own head when I'm in the crunch phase of any project. I basically see and hear nothing else, which can make me a bit hard to live with at times—an unfortunate side effect. But the great thing about stress and adrenaline is the release that comes after—once you've made it through unscathed and realize all the work paid off. So yeah, as I said: fog has lifted.

It's nice to just be sitting down and writing this morning. There's a lot on my plate in the weeks ahead but today...today I'm giving my thoughts a rest. I'm watching that damn snow falling slowly and covering the ground, but I don't care as much as I did yesterday. Time to refuel.

A few weeks ago I had a conversation with reader Imran Hussain through the comment section on the Close to Midnight post. He mentioned how, although he still enjoyed the photography, he didn't visit as much as he used to because most of my posts had become too spare in terms of process and...well, educational content. And strangely, he said this made him feel like I was merely trying to sell Fuji gear—which is the furthest thing from my mind when I post essays. In fact it's the polar opposite of what I'm trying to achieve. I sometimes get tired of the constant focus on gear and to me—although I always mention what I used—essays that are simply about moments in time are a way to get back to what truly matters: the creation of images. Regardless of anything else.

But I also realized he was right. It's easy to forget that a lot of this can still be out of reach, that the technique and thought-process we take for granted once we've assimilated it, still needs to be taught. Chalk it up to a mixture of lack of time and fear of repeating what's already been said. And then, there's also the issue of what I'd like to say and how best to express it so it becomes clear. As I told him in my answer:

"It's also hard to define certain things in writing, namely compositional decisions that mostly stem from instinct. It can be like retro-engineering something you did without thinking—or without ACTIVELY thinking anyway. Which is different."

Bottom line: I took his comment to heart. And while I can't promise anything in terms of deadline, I do plan on bringing back the mechanics of photography to this blog. I don't believe in keeping knowledge to myself.

For now though, I'm going to pour myself another cup of coffee. I'm going to clear my head and lose myself in the beauty of nothing. A few hours anyway.

Until it all comes rushing in. 

I leave you with a few fragments in passing. Shot some weeks ago, between words, sentences and paragraphs. Used Pro Neg Standard on these after discussing it during an online workshop. Simple and neutral.

Have a great weekend guys.


Shot with the X-Pro2 and XF 35mm f/1.4 R


The Inspired Eye 16

This is exciting: Issue 16 of Olivier Duong and Don Springer's photography magazine Inspired Eye is out, featuring an interview with yours truly. The publication gets more impressive with every issue and this one is just packed with fantastic work; an honour to be in such great company. It’s a downloadable PDF, available as a single issue or as part of a subscription. They’ve picked our baby as the cover for the article… Her very first magazine spread. Glimpses of our future? Ouch.

You can get the new issue right here. Really worth it.


Sometimes I get all worded out… Like my brain just doesn’t want to deal with thinking in characters anymore. As much as I enjoy online communications, the fact remains that I sometimes feel like I’m just typing continuously. Which is why it’s nice to get a chance to speak to people directly, have a back and forth conversation that doesn’t revolve around a keyboard. Vocal chords are a pretty cool evolutionary perk. Case in point: the two seminars I gave as part of Lord Photo’s Fujifilm Weekend. I really had the most wonderful time. Billy Luong was there on Saturday as well which is alway a treat. Although we’ve seen and heard so much of each other in the past couple of months, I think we’re just about reaching the sheepdog/wolf stage… You know: “Morning Ralph…” “Morning Sam…”

Yeah, I’m a Loony Tunes guy.

Seriously, thanks again to Fujifilm Canada, Lord Photo and everyone who came out… It was great meeting you all — early Saturday or coooold Sunday. Oh! And that 50-140mm? Hmm... Rather nice. Rather very, very nice.

Between shoots, editing and preparing for the seminars I've barely had time to touch the X100T since it came in last Wednesday. I’m still in the thick of it too. But of course I can’t help myself — I mean the damn thing is right there. So there’s no rhyme or reason to anything below; it’s all just stuff on which I’ve been pointing the camera these past few days. All shot with the new Classic Chrome simulation of course.

Next up, I think we’re going to talk double exposure as promised. Stay tuned…

Decanting the Photokina experience.

We’re home. It’s unseasonably warm but the leaves have begun to turn and autumn is clearly settling in, adding to our disconnect; these past 14 days have been a whirlwind.

I’ve been trying to think of the best way to present everything I shot during our brief but intense time in Europe and honestly, I’m still reflecting. I’ve been sifting through the images and it could easily go in several directions. All I know at this point is that I’m rather happy with the results. Venice and Rome? Kind of inspiring.

But before Italy, before roaming through streets and palaces and ruins… There was Cologne.
Let’s talk about that for now.

One of my images in the X-Photographers Gallery. The prints were big, bold and damn impressive.

Up with People

I spent the entire summer haunted by Photokina — what I’d say, how I’d say it, what I’d shoot, who I’d meet; I’d visualized and prepared and anticipated to the point of obsession. But the actual experience? Way beyond anything I could’ve imagined.

Of course, the event itself is massive: this isn’t a bunch of kiosks in a conference hall but a city within a city. Several huge buildings, outdoor terraces, every single nook and cranny packed with photographic goodness. I had expected Fujifilm to have a small booth next to a live stage — it turned out to be almost an entire floor. Very, very impressive. But beyond the physicality and the scope of the show, the experience for me became more about people than anything else — the people attending the shows, those I had a chance to talk to, the team organizing it all and of course, the photographers with whom I was sharing the stage while I was there: Bert Stephani, Kevin Mullins, Zack Arias, Gianluca Colla, Elia Locardi, Eric Bouvet, Pete Bridgwood, Ken Kaminesky, Alex Lambrechts, Bobbi Lane and Lee Varis. I also got a chance to chat with David Airob and Paul Schlemmer before leaving for Venice. I know this all sounds like a lot of name dropping but here’s the thing: I knew all these guys would be interesting; I mean the sheer diversity in that group was enough to insure there wouldn’t be a dull moment. But I had not expected such a huge, talented bunch of people to be so much fun to be with. There wasn’t a single ego to spoil the mood and we had a total blast before the talks, during the talks and… Well… After hours. Do you know Germany has beer? It does. So there.

Gianluca and Pete checking out the T...

Zack shooting an impromptu portrait outside the pub...

Stage

All the invited photographers were scheduled for either Live Talk or Studio Demo — I was listed as "studio" but was actually doing both, 50/50. The speaking portion was a sort of reflexion on visual storytelling and the importance of seeing at all times. A very condensed version of a much longer talk I’ve been giving this past year. Now the live shoot… That was a whole nother ball game.

On stage. Courtesy of Bert Stephani.

I wanted to do a shoot that was very "free", using movement to try and capture images between the poses with the goal of creating a sequence of images (as opposed to a single perfect portrait). You know, to tie in the shoot with the storytelling angle of the talk. It worked — at least in retrospect. See, I was the first and only guy shooting during the first two days of the event… So there were, let’s say, a few glitches to contend with. This on top of what is already a pretty nerve wracking situation to begin with: shooting with Photokina looking over your shoulder (!). But it worked out in the end and I have to admit that despite the snags, it was actually kinda fun. And of course my guinea pig sessions paved the way to my buddy Bert Stephani bringing the house down with a perfect shoot on Thursday ;)

Bert explaining The Gap...

Kevin bringing on the tears...

Below are some of the images from the live shoot. Quick setup notes for those of you who might be interested: X-T1 with XF 56mm f/1.2, a single Profoto strobe in a beauty dish on camera axis (high up, mostly aiming over the model’s head). Big thanks to Jamie, to my two wonderful models Wioleta and Anna as well as everyone involved in the girls team… They were simply fantastic to work with. Interesting tidbit: total elapsed time on each shoot? About 4 minutes. Only found this out when I came home and looked at the metadata… Stress is one powerful time-stretching machine.


Day One: Wioleta.



Day Two: Anna.


Wioleta and the BMW...

Thanks, thanks and more thanks

Not to go all Oscar speech on you but I do need to acknowledge some people… I want to thank Billy Luong and Greg Poole of Fujifilm Canada for making this possible and being such a joy to work with, Marc Horner of Fujifilm UK, Kunio Aoyama and everyone at Fujifilm Japan who worked like crazy on this entire event.

Photography can be a very quiet and solitary pursuit. Even when we're shooting other people, there's always a part of it that's internal, that innevitably forces us back into ourselves at some point. So for me, on a very personal level, these intense couple of days were like an influx of energy. Meeting these photographers, speaking to so many people fueled with the same passion, working as amateurs or professionals... It was one of the most enriching and moving experience of my life. I come out of this with a boatload of memories and new friends for whom I have a tremendous amount of respect. 

It was an honour and an absolute blast. 
More please ;)

Later

P.S All images were shot with the X100S (except for the studio stuff).