#593. Future Photography Workshops / Photographic Experiences at DearSusan’s ?

By pascaljappy | News

May 13

So, we regularly get asked about our future workshops. What happened to Paris V2 ? What happened to Berlin ? Amsterdam, Marseilles, London, Singapore, Tokyo, Iceland …


One of the photographs from Ze Workshop in Paris


I’ve been giving it a lot of thought, lately.

The thing is … workshops are largely dead and largely boring.

Yes, we had a blast last April in Paris and yes we made a (small but OK) profit on the workshop. We’d have made a lot more by simply going about our regular business, but we’d have had a lot less fun.

But the fact remains : workshops are largely dead and largely boring. One perhaps because of the other.

One is a fact. The other, well, is a personal opinion 😉


Another from Ze Workshop V1


No official statistics have been published regarding the demise of professional workshoping but the falling prices and alarming amount of pushy marketing that surrounds them speak volumes without McKinsey having to release a white paper.

The fact is that Internet killed the workshop stars just like video killed the radio stars. Google any famous location (one you can find a workshop for) and chances are you’ll find a host of spectacular (I didn’t say good) photographs and a host of easy to digest information that makes the thousands of bucks and serious effort involved in trying to learn from someone’s experience just seem like too much.

So prices are plummeting with demand, which can only lead to a reduction in quality and a downward spiral. Not for us, thank you.


And another – Love is all you need


Boring ? That’s my very personal opinion. I love to walk about. Sitting around listening to someone telling me how to create something that looks like a lesser version of his/her work, well … no.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that but it’s just not who I am as a student so it would be hypocritical to pretend to teach like that. Plus come on, New Top Gear is streaming, there are better things to do 😉

So, short answer … No. No more workshops for DearSusan. Sorry.


And another. Isn’t she just lovely ?


However, yes, however, there is something we’d enjoy doing more of. And that’s photographic experiences. Ze Workshop, in Paris, last April was as much about experiencing essential Paris as it was about photographing iconic locations. We’d researched a lot of very good restaurants, booked a quitessentially Parisian model and organised for typically Parisian weather 😉

And we’d like to do more of that, if there are some takers. So, here’s the plan.


And another.


(1) There are a number of cities / areas we are confident we know well enough to organise a visit in : Provence, the vallée du Rhône, Marseilles, Paris, London, Tokyo, Singapore, Perth, Amsterdam, Venice, Istanbul to name a few.

Then, there are others we’d love to visit or re-visit with fellow photographers but don’t have enough personal knowledge about : Berlin, Porto, Tuscany, Hong-Kong, Yellow Mountains, Four Corners, Namibia, Italian lakes, Amalfi, Puglia, (heck, anywhere in Italy), the Nile, the Western Isles, Cape Town … to name but an even fewer few … For those, we’ll hire the help of a local expert photographer and work on the most interesting options with him/her.

Finally, in heavily trafficked areas (Iceland, in particular), 90% of the trip will be off the beaten path. There are loads of operators who will gladly squeeze you into a tour of the Golden Circle with a million (literally) other tourists. We’ll be elswhere 😉

(2) In every location, photography will be 60% of the subject but we’ll also focus on a secondary interest that’s typical of the area and important to fully experience it. First of all, this means there’s more to do if the weather doesn’t cooperate. And, secondly, we believe that blending in with the local culture inevitably leads to better photography.

(3) Some transformational experience included. Whether it’s working with a model, learning about lighting, practising composition, … we want every meetup to contain some small out-of-the-comfort-zone experience for most participants. There will be no “look at how I do it”, but at least one half-day of trying something new.

(4) We’ll keep the numbers low. 8 participants max. Small groups are more nimble, less intrusive, have better inner interactions, …


Another. Mind bending ?


And, one last thing …

(5) We’ll co-create each and every trip with participants in advance. Not that we can guarantee to satisfy all the various desires expressed, but we will systematically ask to hear from everyone, and will organise discussions between groups members before setting anything in stone.


And another. Ze Red Dot, in Paris, yes yes.


Price : we’ll aim for real quality at a reasonable price. Authenticity over globalized luxury. Security, taste and options. That means expensive, in real terms. No spit-and-sawdust hotel, no second-rate model, no frozen burgers. As much fun and photography as can be condensed in to 3 – 5 days.

How does that sound to you ?


And another in La Défense.


So here’s our answer to the questions we’ve been receiving. If that works for you, that’s really great 🙂 🙂 🙂

But it will only happen if YOU take action NOW. Let us know if you’re OK with the idea. Tell us about anything you’d like to add or disagree about. If you know of anyone who can be interested in that formula, please share. Below 6 people, we’re non starters. Let us know which destinations you’re most interested in visiting / photographing. Let’s talk and get cracking.


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  • Vladimir says:

    Lake Baikal, Siberia

    • pascaljappy says:

      Oh man … Never thought of that. But, in highschool, I learned Russian. Loved it. Our teacher was actually from Mongolia, not Russia, from a city outside Ulaanbaatar. She often spoke about “aziero Baïkal”. Wouldn’t know where to start to organise a shoot there, but certainly am open to ideas 😉

  • Philberphoto says:

    The Baïkal is probably one of the most spectacular/least travelled spots in the world. Sort of the un-Iceland. If we can make it happen, I’d LOVE to go. But logistics and local support raise many questions in my mind. Let’s see how others feel…

  • David Mack says:

    I guess I’m thinking there is confusion over workshop vs photo tour. Workshops conjure up “classroom” environment-esk “here is how to do it” wherein the shop leader doesn’t shoot and is there to supervise the “student.” One would expect that person to know where/when and alternatives to locals pending changing conditions. It is assumed this would be significantly more expensive that the tour.

    The photo tour assumes the participants know how to use the camera and compose their own shots, but just need the photo leader to know the where, when and alternatives, etc to best take advantage of the light on the sites. For instance, I would be willing to pay a local photographer/artist to show me the sites in the Greater Paris area where the 19th century painters did their work, ie. Monet, Van Gogh and others, so that I might try to photograph them today. Not to necessarily replicate, of course, but try to better understand the Art of what they were seeing the light and the challenge for me to comprehend it and challenge my own vision. Currently I have been working Shoshone Falls on the Snake River, Idaho. This year we have record run off and the falls is booming, much like it was in the days of Thomas Moran (1900). His painting has inspired me to visit the falls at least 10 times this Spring at different times of day/weather and from different perspectives in order to expand my own vision. Using different gear at times makes it my own “workshop.”

    After my last Fubar in regard to the Paris event, I’m not sure I’m qualified to make a statement of future events, but shooting as a group is always very educational and fun.

  • Mel says:

    Love the idea of an “experience” rather than a “workshop.” Although I would hope we would occasionally gather as a group to talk about gear, how to create an individual style, and other topics of interest. In keeping with your approach, perhaps these discussions could happen over long lunches in intimate restaurant settings. All your locations look like fun; I would be interested in Provence, Rome, Venice, Tokyo. An appealing aspects of your approach is that one could go to a popular city like Venice and enjoy an off-the-beaten-track experience. I also like the idea of “authenticity at a reasonable price,” a small group, and 3-5 days to get to know each other and explore with our cameras. I vote “oui.”

    • paulperton says:


      I did some groundwork for an InSight: Venice book last year and have to say that while I enjoyed the city immensely, there really isn’t much room for any kind of creative photography – there are way too many tourists (as if we weren’t) and pretty much everything in the tiny city has been photographed a million times before. Every restaurant we ate in had pretty much the same menu, prices were stupid and (sadly), the locals have absolutely no respect for those who pay their bills.

      You mention Tokyo – the InSight: Tokyo guide has received good feedback and made sales – why not buy a copy and take a look to see if it interests you. I know Pascal has rubber arms about some cities…

  • Bob Kruger says:

    I was curious about your statement, “spectacular (I didn’t say good) photographs”. Perhaps you might expand on this topic in one of your posts: How a photo can be “spectacular”, but not “good”, and vice versa?

    • pascaljappy says:

      Hi Bob, an oversaturated carribean sunset will be spactacular and not always very good. Out of the millions of photographs of Seljalandsfoss, many are spectacular but only a tiny portion are novel and any good. We all have definitions of what is good so your good might not be my good, but the really memorable photographs that you see in galleries and museums (as opposed to Flickr and 500px) are rarely super spectacular. Hope this helps clear that 🙂

  • Adrian says:

    I’ve read the above in haste, but the description at the end sounds awfully like a photo workshop… But probably I am being obtuse because I’ve never been on a photo workshop so maybe I don’t realise you spend more time sitting around learning. So I’m left slightly confused what is being offered – a premium package tour with some photography thrown in?

    Anyway, the idea is interesting, although the list of possible locations is very long, and very geographically diverse (equals long expensive travel). I don’t know where most of your previous workshop attendees or readers come from, but would it be best to focus geographically on an continent that’s convenient or at least cheap and easy to get to?

    My other thoughts are how to avoid the photo destination tour – I mean, Iceland, for example? – and I don’t understand your a version to adding Bangkok to he list (I know, very obvious and touristy, but so is Singapore, which is much more faux). Vientiane is also very relaxed and charming. Large cities offer mote chance to disappear than small places (Tokyo vs Venice for example). Seoul is huge and quite interesting, and not over-run with tourists. There are many cities, and some locations in other places, that I avoid totally as there is no fun in heaving crowds.

    Regarding previous posts aboit destination photography, the internet has ruined much originality and made places a destination in their own right simply to have been there too and done it – a form of tourism I despise. Spectacular means overblown and over processed, not necessarily original or artistically good (IMHO). I don’t know how you avoid that, to be honest, and frankly if you are going to destinations there is a likelihood attendees will want to see the obvious sights, even if they try to do so with originality (which I think sets a very high expectation and “ask” of attendees to be original).

    As ever, random thoughts.

    • pascaljappy says:

      Hi Adrian,

      first of all, there is no aversion to Bangkok whastoever 😉 I’ve just never been and really couldn’t envision a photo experience there since I don’t know the first thing about the city.

      Iceland is indeed a bit touchy. Wonderful place but soo crowded now. I see photographs made by recent visitors and compare them to mine and there are paths and stairs where there used to be nothing but nature. I really don’t want to contribute to that. But there are still many places noone ever visits in Iceland, places that would be great as a group of 8 people but couldn’t accomodate big buses.

      We agree totally on the “been there, done this”. We’re rapidly painting ourselves in a corner as there are fewer and fewer places on the globe that don’t receive mass tourism. But there’s no way I’m queueing up to join a line in front of Gullfoss.

      You mention Seoul and that is another place I would love to visit but don’t know the much about. Venice is a bit different. It may be overcrowded and flooded by cruise boats all year round, last time I visited, there was nobody around in early morning. It still feels possible to find a something to do there. And no two pictures of Venice are identical, so this would stay on my list 😉

      We’re from France and South Africa, but most of the readership is from the US, then Asia, then the UK. However, as I said, I can only offer visits to places I know well enough. That limits the options quite seriously.


      • Adrian says:

        Hi Pascal,
        Rather obviously you can only really organise a trip to somewhere you are familiar with, and I understand completely.

        I was being “tongue in cheek” about Bangkok, because I know DS likes Tokyo and Singapore (both wonderful in different ways), but I think Bangkok has such an interesting mix of the traditional, the modern, and a slightly gritty real quality to street life that the others lack.

        A friend has been on various tours of Eastern Europe where he visits a country for about 2 days, and it seems to be nothing more than a tick-list exercise (“I’ve only got 2 countries left to do”, apparently), and I completely despise the whole ethos behind it. Travel is wonderful, but most enjoyed with an opportunity to experience the culture, people and get under the skin of a place, in my opinion.

        Seoul is very like Japan, but culturally a little different – there was absolutely no curiosity about my presence (unlike some places in Japan). Although attractive and interesting, much of the history has been rebuilt post-Japanese occupation (I.e. It’s not really that old), and it was interesting but I made no emotional attachment with the place because I made no emotional attachment to any people there, except for a lovely old gentleman on the underground (subway) who wanted to discuss English language with me!

        I would thoroughly recommend Nagasaki as just about the best place in Japan I have visited – very different from Tokyo, but very charming. The people there are a pleasure for cultural and historical reasons, and you can even visit a Dutch village!

        I had actually been considering an architectural tour of European cities with Zaha Hadid buildings after I saw a documentary about her career – one of the incredible highlights of Seoul was a design and cultural centre she designed, which I must show you a photograph of some time.

        Should you want any thoughts on Bangkok, Seoul etc then let me know and I would be happy to offer you any advice I can.

        • pascaljappy says:

          Thanks Adrian, I’ll take you up on that, even if it’s just for private travel 😉

          My daughter’s training to become an architect, starting in September. And that is 90% because of Zaha Hadid. I too would love to follow her trace as a photographic project.


          • Adrian says:

            Somewhat off topic, few of her designs ever got built for.aboit the first 2 decades of her career. Her sketches were incredible but impossible for me to understand as they were so dimensionally abstract! Her design in Seoul apparently is the largest cantilevered building structure, and other designs I saw in the documentary pushed boundaries of structural engineering (I.e. Gave the structural engineers a difficult challenge to realise). I don’t know if I will manage to visit, as the locations in Europe and the middle east are diverse, but I will certainly look into it. Alas I fear the buildings looked better filmed before they opened than when full of visitors (destination photography and all that), and I always about he austerity of places barren of people as it helps to focus on light and geometry in my opinion.

            Email me about Seoul, Bangkok etc. I wish I had enjoyed Seoul more, but although I have developed a strange fondness for the place, I left somewhat cold and indifferent at the time. Like Japan, so much of the historical was fake and re-made, and the modernity that it is so famous for just wasn’t really apparent. Perhaps a topic for a photo essay?

  • Joakim Danielson says:

    “How does that sound to you ?”

    Sounds good to me!

    I think the Paris workshop worked out really great and was both well organised and had some room for improvisation at the same time. One thing to highlight from that trip was the viewing of the images produced by the group each afternoon, both getting immediate feedback on your own images and seeing what the others had created was very inspirational. So I hope that is something you will hang on to in future workshops.

    I don’t have any direct preferences when it comes to destinations or rather if I would start to make a list of place I’d like to travel to it would be a very long list 🙂

  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    I should shut up – I’ve only ever ben on one workshop – my experiences of Venice are quite different (I was lucky enough to be escorted around Venice and the surrounding region by locals from the neighbouring Friuli region and I’m sure few tourists ever get to see the things or eat at the places where I was taken) – and too bad if I’m supposed to ignore something because someone else might have photographed it, because I’ve never given a damn about what other people do (as long as they don’t do it to me).

    From that rant, you can no doubt teĺl that I see great advantage in a workshop that takes people to places they might never find for themselves. Or even if they did, they’d be completely unable to plan properly to capture what they found, because they’d have little or no knowledge of the conditions necessary to take “that shot”.

    For the rest of it, life is a constant process of learning and for any photography enthusiast, they should prove helpful. The sharing of knowledge and ideas – the comparing of the results of each day’s shoot (LMHAO – who said we can’t photograph something because someone else might have? – that would be inevitable on a workshop, and by sharing and comparing, everyone would learn).

    And someone once said that a person who has stopped learning is a person who has already “died”.

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