[dropcap]O[/dropcap]ver 20 years ago, I took up photography with the main purpose of keeping some memories of my different trips. At that time my photography was by far of a lower quality that what I am now able to publish on this website. Over the years, with a critical eye towards my own work, I experimented and saw the reaction of people looking at my photos which enabled me to develop my photography skills.
Photography has become a passion and according some qualified persons, I am developing my own style. Furthermore, joining the International Press Association two years ago opened doors to a very wide range of events. I am now able to attend some very rugged and demanding situations like fast moving sports events and photographically complex concerts.
After these two decades of self-teaching, I am more and more interested in attending photography workshops in order to bring my photography to a higher level. In addition to learning more from and being evaluated by a master photographer, my other goals are to learn from the experience of the other participants, to learn useful tips and tricks and hopefully to have frequent mistakes corrected that I am making without even noticing.
The first opportunity for me presented itself in May 2012 with two-day Travel Photography Masterclass in the beautiful Swiss lakeside city of Lucerne, the most visited city of the country. The workshop was organized by MeetTheShooters and lead by Richard I’Anson.
MeetTheShooters is a creation of two photography enthusiasts: Tomasz Trzebiatowski from Poland and Luis Fernando Medina from Mexico. They met a couple of years ago in Switzerland, where they currently live in the delightful and unusually photogenic city of Lucerne which is located right at the base of the Alps along the shore of lovely Lake Lucerne.
During their never-ending quest for the improvement of their own photography skills, Tomasz and Luis have gotten to know some of the world’s leading and most experienced photographers. Then they began inviting them to Lucerne to share their knowledge and passion with other aspiring photographers.
Richard I’Anson is a freelance photographer who has built a career on his twin passions for travel and photography. Over the past 29 years he has travelled the world, amassing a substantial and compelling collection of images of people and places – in more than 85 countries on all seven continents. He has shot photos for clients, book projects and available stock imagery. Richard’s work is published worldwide in books, magazines, newspapers, brochures, calendars, posters, cards and websites. In particular, his images appear on more than 60 covers and on the pages of over 500 Lonely Planet books and print products.
[box_light]What is travel photography[/box_light]
Photography is a wide domain including nature, portraits, events, sports, weddings and press photography to name just a few. Travel photography covers almost every aspect of life itself in a destination. In addition to the usual landscapes and cityscapes, portraits at local markets or street photography, a travel photographer might be able to attend a typical event to round up the cultural or athletic coverage of the region.
The superb Seehotel Hermitage was the venue for the workshop located on the beautiful shores of Lake Lucerne just outside the city but still within walking distance to the center.
The workshop started with the usual introduction of each participant. We were an international group of just 6 people who were passionate photographers with similar level of knowledge and experience which seemed to be the ideal group to achieve my objectives.
The morning of the first day included the theoretical part of the workshop. It started with the basics of photography from the technical side, aperture, shutter speed, ISO sensitivity and exposure modes before reviewing more demanding topics like RAW vs JPG, colour spaces and composition guidelines.
The larger part of the first morning was pertaining to travel photography itself. It was not about how to take photos during a trip, but rather how to organize a trip to take photos. The key is to plan the trip, finding out the points of interests (POI) that a region or city has to offer. To be the most effective one should research how to get around a city. Then photographers should create a priority list of what they want to photograph and plan the days to cover the most important POIs under the best possible light.
After this first morning, we had to put what we learned into practice. We were given a list of POIs of Lucerne prepared by Richard and we were sent to various locations in town with different tasks to fulfill such as street scenes, markets, portraits, cityscapes or night photography. We were also given the opportunity for early morning shots on the shores of the lake.
After each assignment we returned to the hotel where the participant individually sorted and processed their photos. Richard was very generous with his time and reviewed the photos of each one and provided in-depth constructive critics as well as suggestions on how to improve the photos in post processing. This valuable feedback was certainly the most interesting part for me. The workshop ended in brief presentation about Lightroom with numerous tips and tricks on how to get the most out of the photos.
[box_light]What I learned[/box_light]
The knowledge and experience that I acquired during the workshop was rich and I learned a great deal of many different aspects which are too numerous to mention. Therefore, I am presenting the highlights of what I took home from the workshop which I believe to be the most important for me.
- Fill the frame with the main subject.
The main subject has to fill the frame; zoom in, change the lens or get closer.
- Expose to the right.
The sensor delivers its maximal level of details and tonal range when using in on its full scale. This is achieved when checking the photos by using the camera’s histogram. Make sure the highlights of the frame are located at the very right edge of the histogram.
Although, I was fully aware of this technique but I never thought about applying it as well to night-photography. One simply has to darken the resulting photo when post-processing it. Using this technique does make a huge difference.
- Keep the brightest area of the photo for the main subject.
The eye is naturally attracted by the brightest area of a photo. Typically, an overcast sky easily takes away the eye from the main subject of a photo such as a landscape or a cityscape. Lightroom provides a solution with the help of its graded filters to bring back the attention to the landscape itself. A short demo is to be found under
- Keep the camera visible.
While traveling, the chances to be asked by the locals to take photos of them are much greater when the camera is clearly visible instead of being packed away in a bag. But then, one must make sure to be ready for such a shot and know the camera well. The person who asked to be photographed might not be pleased if it takes endless attempts for the photographer to get the shot right.
- Mix landscape and portrait orientation.
One needs to think about the usage of the photos in the media. Landscape oriented photos are best suited on double pages inside magazines while portrait oriented photos make it on the front cover. Trying to take the POIs of a region in both horizontal and vertical orientation maximizes the opportunities to get published.
The main goal of organizing workshops such as this one with Richard I’Anson is to assist photography enthusiasts develop their creative vision and camera technical skills. With the expertise of the world’s leading photographers and one of the most picturesque locations in the world, MeetTheShooters in Lucerne is able to offer a truly unique and valuable artistic experience.
My initial goal attending the workshop was to find out for myself what one can learn at a two days’ workshop. With 20 years of background of photography, I was mostly aware of the theoretical part of the workshop. However, having a professional like Richard looking through my photos and pointing out my common mistakes showed me exactly where practice does not meet theory! I was truly impressed at how much I was able to learn in just two days.
I very much appreciated the moment Richard was looking at and commenting on my concert photos. To reinforce the positive comments that I have received from concert critics this photography master told me that he understood why I have been so successful at this kind of photography.
When attending an event as accredited or even official photographer, one has seldom the chance to arrange the stage for the best possible photographic conditions. However, keeping in mind the lessons learned at this workshop will certainly enable me to improve. My only suggestions for a future workshop would be to spend a bit more time on showing and explaining the features of the powerful Lightroom.
I am looking forward to attending another workshop of Meet the Shooters with another highly passionate photographer willing to share expertise and knowledge like Richard I’Anson.
For those unable to attend a workshop from this excellent organization, Richard just published the 4th edition of Lonely Planet’s Guide to Travel Photography which covers much more than what was possible to cover in just two days.