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Mark Cresswell Claremont Pier 01

The Value of Workshops

Landscape Group member Mark Cresswell reflects on workshops and the great opportunity they present to learn and explore, even places close to home.

At the end of October, I participated in a Justin Minns Long Exposure workshop on the Norfolk Suffolk border arranged through the RPS. I have to say that I'm a big fan of Justin's photography and workshops (I've been on a few). He seems to know East Anglia like the back of his hand and is a really good teacher. Photographic workshops are very popular – you only have to look in the photographic press to see adverts for every type you can imagine. So on the way back from a relatively long and good day with the camera I had time to reflect on the value of workshops as a whole and three points came to my mind.

The first was around locations. I partly joined this workshop because it was not far from my home and was an area I didn’t know. (I’m keen on photographing landscapes near where I live). On arrival at Caister (our first stop), I was struck by how small the groynes were that were to be the first focus of our attention.  They might have been overlooked any other day, so that was my first lesson – looking and seeing. You might call it a version of paying attention to the details. And that theme of details continued through the day in different ways in the compositions – what elements go where in the scene and the different feel that different exposure lengths can bring. 

Caister Groynes Mark Cresswell

Often I think it’s easy to when you are by yourself to treat a scene in only one way when you see it. Plenty of time at each of our three locations gave time to try different perspectives, and perhaps even slow down when considering a scene, being more deliberate. And that’s perhaps my second reflection: having extra time and the opportunity to discuss what you are doing or trying to do makes the learning experience so much more tangible. 

Mark Cresswell Claremont Pier 02

Perhaps the third thing that struck me (after the fact that the A12 is a very slow road) was the encouragement to go out in all weathers. This workshop took place just before a big storm hit the UK and the winds were far from ideal for keeping long exposures sharp and plenty of salt spray  flying around. (particularly at the end) And yet, you never know what you are going to find. I’m one for staying in bed unless it’s idea, in the future I’m going to remind myself to get out anyway! After all if you snooze you don’t even compete.