Monday, November 16, 2009

This was a great one

This was the first time I remember seeing a workshop take on a life of its own. The old hospital, although closed 30 or so years ago, still had an aura about it. All of the photographers caught it. It was tremendous to watch people want to do more than just fulfill the assignment. Workshops are always fun, but this one became a very serious process that was even more fun. There will be more about this workshop and what it led to coming up.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A photography workshop with emotion

August 29, 2009

There are 2 types of black in photographs. The pigment, such as tires, black cars and burned wood. Then there is the black that is caused by there being no light - The Absence of Light. It was the second type of black this photography workshop explored.

Dick Garvey explained to the students how to use absence of light to give depth, texture, form to their images. Why this "negative space" can be a positive in our endless quest to mess with people's minds and cause wonder in our images.

Karla Locke, owner of
That Photo Shoppe of Anacortes, and Photographer, Dick Garvey chose to hold the workshop at the Northern State Mental Hospital in Sedro Woolley. We chose this location for its old history, the architecture, and its long-standing reputation among other photographers, as a place to photograph.

What was unexpected was the 'intensity' of the location and how it would affect the participants.

Imaginations ran wild as everyone walked the grounds. The eeriness of the place caused emotions in the photographers to run high. The photographs portrayed a mix of emotion, and portrayed some of the history. Most photographs revealed the loneliness, the desolation and some of the despair that must have been felt there at one time. A few found beauty amongst all of it.

It become a challenging workshop for participants, not only in the assignment (the absence of light), but also in the location. As a workshop coordinator, this was the first workshop where the 'location' created such an intense feeling amongst everyone. I originally thought it would be an interesting place to photograph but did not expect it to impact everyone like it did. What started out as a workshop on 'The Absence of Light', now became a workshop on the history of a mental asylum and what must of transpired there years ago. The feelings' of the location became a vital part of the workshop and showed up in everyone's work.

Photographers put a lot of emotion into their work and one of their goals is to evoke an emotion from their viewers. The images from this workshop do just that.

You can view the images at, or on Flickr.