#936. Monday Post (02 Dec 2019) – Of Workshops, Resources and Online Galleries on DearSusan

By pascaljappy | Monday Post

Dec 02

The Spring photo workshop in Saint Paul de Vence is cancelled. It’s sad, it’s unfortunate, but there will be others, if you want them. Other workshops, and other resources and opportunities to have fun and get together. This is what this post is about.

 
Crossing paths
 

First things first: the Layer cake workshop is canceled. I didn’t quite reach the 10 participant number that would have made this safely profitable, so there is no other choice but to cancel. There was a lot of interest up to when firm dates were announced, but then, the chosen schedule collided with too many other commitments and we lost 4 participants. Two more came along after the second post but we are still 3 short.

So, I’m really sorry for all those that had expressed firm interest but I can’t go to all that effort and lose money at the same time. That would feel too much like work.

Is it postponed? Nope. The parting of the clouds that allowed me to secure the 3 experts has now closed and that means starting from scratch for another date, other experts and possibly another formula.

 
Start afresh
 

What I realize is that timing these things is difficult. Ming Thein and I have been discussing this quite a bit and he has far more experience than me. Announce too late and people have committed to other stuff. Announce too early and you get loads of cancellations. It seems the sweet spot is around the 6-month mark.

Hence this post.

Remember I’m French. Historically, we crumble easy and quick, but display that pesky, unshakable, stubbornness to resist evil forces right to their end πŸ˜‰ (Also, to be honest, I’m not in it for the money, so it kind of doesn’t matter …)

So, here’s the plan.

 
Beautiful La Ciotat
 

To my eyes, there are 3 pillars to a profitable experience of outdoor photography :

  • Personal drive (what I call intent elsewhere in the website and, in particular, in my definition of art). How to identify it, hone it and express it is one pillar.
  • Craftsmanship, the other half of my definition of art, and the right place to discuss gear (hurray πŸ˜‰ ) and technique (composition, colour theory, printing …) makes the second.
  • Locations: how to select them, how to approach them, how to work them is the very obvious third.

My goal is to create resources along the lines of these 3 pillars. Resources such as blog posts, interviews, articles, possibly ebooks, online training and workshops. Each with a higher level of work and financial commitment, but with as many levels as possible accessible to readers who can’t/don’t want to spend big time, or to dig deep into introspection, just wanting to have some fun.

 
Welcome to the beach
 

This structure and process has started (you can see it on the homepage, for example) and will continue for as long as it generates interest. This post is one major opportunity for you to tell me whether that’s something you’re interested in or not. Please don’t spare me, it would be a lot harder to do the work and find out later that no one cares πŸ˜‰

Let’s start with workshops. My (overly ambitious ?) goal is to offer one workshop for each pillar every year. The Layer Cake workshop, for instance, was very firmly in the intent category. It was all about providing participants with access to curators of the highest order, and usually restricted to high-profile artists, and let them help you understand the underlying themes in your photography and give you a work program to enhance and formalize that vision over the months following the workshop. The promise here was deep transformation.

Ain’t happening, but I have other ideas and other contacts for Spring 2021.

 
Who’s walking who ?
 

Two other workshops, one for each other pillar, are being planned for 2020:

  • One with Master Printers, for the craftsmanship pillar, for the summer of 2020. Others will be organized with artists using field cameras, alternative processes, post-processing gurus … Here, the intention is double: (1) to learn a new craft that enlarges your vision (2) come home with one or more stunning physical objects about which you can proudly think “I made this”. This pillar is all about being hands on and enjoying the craft side of photography.
  • A second with me, and possibly local stars, probably in Japan, for the locations pillar, in October or November of 2020. I’ll be going at that date, alone or not, because Japan simply is the most mesmerizing country I know. Here, the intention is also double (1) sheer enjoyment of a fantastic location (2) learn how to make something exotic your own and absorb it into your thought process rather than succumb to the draw of the beautiful Instagram postcard.

Of course, all 3 pillars are interrelated as the first is pointless without practical application, all photography is pointless without the production of a beautiful artefact and making the most of a location is very difficult without some understanding of our motivations and how to manifest them in our photographs.

And, as always, the focus is on experience, so food and culture play an important role in any of these events. And, even in non-location workshops, some measure of casual photography will always be included for the pleasure of shooting together, out of work hours.

 
Training also, should be made to measure.
 

Where’s does this lead us?

In a cycle. You work on yourself, you hone your technique and the tire meets the road in a location, a situation. Then you evaluate your work, alone or with the help of others, and you work on yourself, hone your technique and …

Only, it’s not really a cycle. Otherwise we’d all be endlessly walking in the same tracks, like horses powering a mill.

It’s really a spiral, growing with the energy you put into it, or sinking to the middle with the energy you give away to manufacturers and social media. The spiral sees us all end up at different places, based on same core principles and personal desires. That’s how it should be πŸ™‚

I will continue to research and offer great opportunities such as those, because that’s what I believe in. It’s up to you to let me know whether you are interested in that or not.

And to bring friends along, if you are.

 
Old world
 

This time, hopefully, past mistakes won’t be repeated. I’m writing this well in advance to :

(1) Let you clear your schedule if you’re interested in a specific topic/date.

(2) Let me know if there’s something specific you’d like to do/learn/see on that occasion.

(3) Let me know what exact dates work for you, so that it’s possible to accommodate as many as possible, well in advance.

We’ll build those together. I set a general topic and date, you give me feedback and the plan gets more and more precise until we get to the 6-month point at which reservations are made.

Pricing. At Paris Photo, someone told me I made a huge mistake with pricing of the Layer Cake. Instead of pricing it at 3.5k€ for 10 participants, pricing it at 8k€ for 6 would have given it a polish of luxury and sold in 2 days, with me making a killing in the process. Apparently, very expensive and very cheap workshops sell far better than others. A bit cynical, but possibly true.

I won’t design to cost and I won’t overcharge. You’re all adults. If you don’t value a workshop because it is affordable, well, what can I say? All I want is to make sure I’m not in the red at the end of the event and that won’t change. Any profits will help DS grow and will enable me to spend more time doing just that. If that means the workshops don’t sell, be it. Thankfully, this is not how I have to make a living πŸ˜‰

 
It’s now up to you !
 

Moving on.

Whatever the path taken, photography only ends one way: prints. Photography is drawing with light. No print, no photography. Only pixel peeping. They’ve been a long time coming, but the galleries first talked of during the pwintshop discussions (a year ago, ahem) are now a reality. Your feedback helped a lot, so thank you so much!

At the time, you told me various things, among which :

  • I want to sell prints but don’t want to set up an online presence
  • I already have a print sharing club near me and nothing can replace handling prints in the flesh
  • I love the idea of sharing prints or owning them for a while then getting new ones (limited wall space)
  • I want feedback on my work, selling is nice to have but not necessary
  • I can’t afford 4-figure prints but want to start a collection
  • I want motivation for printing (actually, no, that’s a lie; that one’s mine πŸ˜‰ )
  • I don’t know anything about printing, is this for me?
  • My photographs aren’t good enough, but I would love to have a gallery
  • It would be so great to know my photographs are on someone else’s wall

So, let me introduce Phr.

 
Delicacy
 

Yeah, you heard me: Phr! Some kids hate their parents for giving them stupid names. Trust me, Phr understands πŸ˜‰

But, c’mon, I had to find a name … Mayphair was nice, because Mayfair is where lots of galleries are located in London. But … meh.

Photographic Art would have compressed nicely into something UK kids would have laughed at all day long. And it was too pretentious in scope.

Phr stands for fair and photography. It’s pronounced fair, by the way. It’s short, it’s meaningful and it’s memorable. Good ’nuff for me πŸ˜‰ It’s fair as in:

  • Fair to photographers. Unlike some famous mall chains who give 3-10% of sales to photographers, Phr will pay 70% of sales to the authors.
  • Fair to yourself. You owe it to yourself to think hard about what it is you want to say with those photographs, to structure your work in a way that touches others … Starting a personal portfolio helps you do that.
  • Fair to viewers. I believe you can find very nice photographs for a few tens to a few hundreds of €/Β£/$ on Phr. 5 figure prints aren’t for every one. Yes they are famous and some are excellent, but true enjoyment can start at prices almost everyone can afford.
  • Fair to DS. It’s costing me time, energy and money to set this up, the 30% can help make this sustainable.
  • Fair as in pretty, as in my fair lady. Doesn’t it irritate you that contemporary art cannot be pretty? God forbid you produce anything decorative … Well, so long as you acknowledge your work is “pretty photographs”, it is welcome on Phr. That doesn’t mean your holiday pics are allowed in πŸ˜‰ Remember, it’s got to be art: intent supported by craftmanship! There’s usually very little intent in most holiday snaps. But please prove me wrong with yours!
  • Fair as in art fair, as there will be discussions around the work. This is not an e-shop but a community hall.
 
King’s meadow
 

So, Phr Galleries are now open, albeit in very minimal form with only my own gallery as a demonstrator. Other photographers have expressed their interest in sharing their work there and will be sending their photographs over the next few weeks.

Phr really brings a big smile to my face. I’ve been wanting to do that for a long while, and your feedback has made it possible and good. It makes sense on many levels :

  • You can have your own page/website in your own corner of the universe but it’s like having a lone car dealership in town: a very lonely path to ruin. There’s a reason all the thriving ones stick together in the same corner of town. Clients come and browse, and the more brands come together, the more visitors each one receives. If everyone shares the word online, Phr can become a well-populated venue over time πŸ™‚
  • Selling is great, but even sharing / swapping enables feedback. It can help those print counters rise rather than stagnate at 1 or 2. It is said many amateurs have sold 1/50 prints but it always stops there. Not anymore.
  • It also allows you to see and touch what other people are doing, at a really low cost.
  • I’m really hoping it will get readers with no existing appreciation for prints into museums and galleries. Cars and gear are super nice to buy but have very little lasting value to us. We lose interest, eventually. But I’ve had some prints on the wall for decades (some of which are calendar pages) and still can’t stop smiling when seeing them, after all that time.
  • Prints usually have stories attached to them. Sharing those as you share/sell the prints is priceless.
  • Who knows, maybe someone will get into a more prestigious gallery after showing work on Phr. It’s not the aim, but everything will be made to respect codes of art and desirability so your name won’t be burnt if you start off here (unlike many mainstream outlets).
  • If traffic picks up, I will organize flash group exhibitions. A friend of mine, working in a comms agency, specializes in that and has offered her help πŸ™‚
 
Above Luxor
 

If you’re interested in publishing some photographs on Phr, just send me an email via the contact form. If you’re interested in buying or swapping, ditto, using the Contact button on gallery pages.

If you have feedback for me, it is so very welcome! Same procedure. Let’s make this profitable for all of us, and I well know I can’t to that alone.

And, even if you don’t want to get involved, please share with your friends if you feel the project is worth sharing. Sharing is the only way you can make this grow, if you care about it. I’m not spending a cent in advertising to Alphabook or Facebet. Nor will I engage in waterboarding direct marketing techniques (“Do you want to remain a slave to the system all or your life or thrive as a world famous artist? You know you deserve to. Here’s my personal story. Here’s a million testimonials. Here’s a one time incredible offer that you’ll hate yourself forever for not taking up. Act now, tick tick tick” πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰ ) You’re all grown ups and know what you want. Comments, however pleasant for me, don’t cut it when it comes to actual website growth.

So, if you care, share. It’s only Phr πŸ˜‰

 
Morning light in La Ciotat
 

Enough from me for now. Tell me what you think. At this point, I’m just looking for general feedback, suggestions, ideas, objections. I’ll get into more precise descriptions as plans become more delineated and firmer, in the coming weeks.

So, if you’d like to register your interest for one of the coming workshops or for exhibiting your work on Phr, or just need more info, or want to buy/swap, or …, just leave a comment or drop me a line in the contact page.

Be seeing you πŸ™‚

 

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  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    Oh goody goody goody! Now maybe I can get a chance to acquire a print of that photo of yachts off the coast near Barcelona that I was drooling over! πŸ™‚

    If I had enough to pay 4 figures, I could also get a decent copy of one of those photos of Lake Eyre taken by the two Chris’s – I had flashbacks after I saw those photos, for weeks afterwards.

    A bit like the photo of a sea dragon that adorns the wall in this room, I couldn’t live without it – saw a postage stamp size reproduction of it on the net and went nuts over it – eventually tracked down the photographer and found he was a local (with a studio near the Roundhouse in Fremantle!) – and then one day the local council held a street festival in my street, and when I sauntered out of the front door to see what was happening, I walked smack bang into the guy’s stand – right in front of my front door! I couldn’t believe it! I owe HEAPS to Karma! πŸ™‚

    So I dragged him inside, showed him where I wanted to hang the photo, took his advice on the exact positioning of it on the wall, print size etc – ended up buying two prints (the other one’s a clown fish swimming through a sea anenome, with a tiny completely transparent fish in the foreground. The pair of them’s to kill & die for! Love them to bits! Still keep turning around and looking at them, while I’m working on the computer!

    • pascaljappy says:

      Pete, your intentions have been transfered to the author of said image, who is currently traveling but will get bback in touch with you upon return πŸ˜‰

      Great story about that pair of photographs. Karma does have a way of making things interesting for us, doesn’t it. Or maybe it’s fremantle? One of my treasured prints was made bby an Australian photographer who used to have a large gallery inside the covered passage not far from the railway station, in Fremantle. Not far from that touristic didgeridoo shop and opposite a lovely spice shop (sorry can’t remember the names, it’s been too long πŸ˜‰ I say the print there, called “Inside Inside Australia”, a photograph of Gormley’s “Inside Australia” statues, and couldn’t afford it. Then it sold out. And years later, by a string of coincidences, fell on someone who wanted to part with his jsut when I suffered a new bout of envy. Ah, the magic of Freo. It’s all the fairy shops!

      • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

        Yet another apple, falling close to the tree! πŸ™‚ That wa VERY good fortune, indeed – you must have helped a crippled, blind, elderly lady across a busy street, to earn that much luck!

        • pascaljappy says:

          I used Sony cameras for 10 years. It must have been compensation for that πŸ˜‰

          • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

            Now that you’ve switched to the Hassy, you don’t seem very pleased with Sony. ??

            I must admit that, although some of their morsels seem tempting, the cost of glass on a different system is to horrendous to contemplate. It would have been much nicer if all these manufacturers had put their heads together and developed an industry standard mount! Then they could all play happily on either side of the mount, with lenses and camera bodies, and everyone could have fun, instead of trying to constantly give someone else a black eye. It’s been altogether too childish!

            And it hasn’t done anyone any good – manufacturers OR photographers!

            Now, just as Leica & Panasonic & SIGMA introduce one, Canikon are doing another flip – so you can’t even use their own lenses, without an adapter. OK – future planning – some short term pain for long term gain – etc etc.

            But I’m really not interested in their tantrums – I just want gear that works, that will do a job.

            • pascaljappy says:

              Oh I’m happy with Sony now. It’s only when I used one that the pain was felt. The A7r made everything mustard and was an ergonomic nightmare. The A7r2 was only an ergonomic nightmare. And only mustardy in very bright light.

              Oh, did I write that out loud?

              To their credit, they did have quite an open system that allowed me to use lots of wonderful lenses. And it made me become really good at b&w. Necessity being the mother of invention.

              In fact, I think Adrian is right: Sony make extraordinary cheap cameras. 90% of the ability of stuff costing 5 times the price. Bit their flagships focus on quantity over quality and that doesn’t fit well with my outmoded worldview.

              The best gear is the one you love. Stick to your D500 and D850. They have served you beautifully πŸ™‚

  • Frank Field says:

    I wonder if a six-month notice is truly enough time. I can only speak for myself but here’s my view. My travels for photography experiences / workshops, compete for my time (and money) with travel with my wife for personal experiences. We are both retired and have far more flexibility in time than folks still “in the workforce.” Yet, the economy has been pretty good for a long time now (sadly, that goodness has not been uniformly experienced) and tours, airlines, lodging, all tend to get booked up quite far in advance. We just finished booking a cycle tour in Europe for the fall of 2020, nearly a year from now. We got the last two spaces on the tour we’d selected. Once I’m locked into a trip like this, I’m not going to be able to respond positively to a fall photo workshop that’s announced in the spring. If I suppose that I were to wait until spring and say “yes” to a photo tour that ultimately does not “go” (because of too few registrants), then I’m likely to have a very hard time making any fall travel plans – either for photography or with my wife. No doubt scheduling and offering is a tough problem to crack. I know that I and much of the DS readership much appreciate your resilient efforts and thank you for all of your personal time that has gone into this endeavor to date.

    • pascaljappy says:

      Thank you for the kind words, Frank. This makes complete sense. The downside of warning a year or more in advance is that many participants seem to cancel if something better comes along, which I can also understand. To avoid that, you need to take downpayments a long time in advance, which raises other questions. So I’m trying this “different” way of announcing the workshop as far in advance as possible and co-constructing is with the participants to ensure it is tailored to their desires and they are happy sending their deposit 6 months ahead. I’ve no idea whether that will work, never having seen or tried that before. I’ll do my best.

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