GPP 2014, Part 3

On the first half day of Sara Lando's workshop we went through some theory. She explained how she works and thinks around a shoot. After lunch we hopped onto a mini bus and drove to her friends house for an on location shoot with two models. It was interesting to see how she interacted, directed and tried to built up an emotion and mood in the shot. She always told us that she did things messy, but at the end she got the shot. Not that she didn't know what she was doing but she was exploring what was in front of her. Trying to figure out what worked and what didn't. Also, getting to know the model and observing the reactions given.

The second day we were the ones doing all the work. We were randomly paired and got to spend the whole day with our partner. Two tasks were given. First one was to do a portrait of our partner and the second was to shoot a model for 30 minutes. For the shoot with the model we had to interpret a random word given to us by miss Lando. This shoot was a one shoot per attendee while the partner assisted. 

I didn't want to shoot a typical portrait with fancy lighting. Sara told us "This is a workshop! If you do it the way you normally would approach a portrait then you can stay at home. This is the time to explore other ways, screw up, do things you don't normally do!" So I got to know my partner a bit more. A middle aged motherly woman who liked to travel and explore new worlds. We went out in the hot sun just by the main road, near the hotel. I wanted to take a shot of her with all the movement and traffic in the background, waving and calling for a taxi. I took some shots that were ok, but they didn't seem right. Then a delivery guy stopped just nearby with his motorcycle. So she suggested standing beside it posing. It reminded me of my grandmother posing by various objects on her many trips around the world. Maybe it's an asian thing :P 

For my model shoot I got the word "Ethereal". I opened the folded paper on where it was written, made a funny face and thought to my self "oh crap, I don't even know what it means. I'm screwed!" I turned to Sara and was honest about it. She tried to explain the word but in the end I had to google it. With the googled index of images and the explanation I received from the friendly attendees I got the meaning.

I wanted a mysterious and little abstract photo, something spirit-like. So I really pushed myself here. I even tried a lighting technique I never tried before, slow sync with studio flashes. Also there was the time limit of 30 minutes. This was one of the few times I had a very clear idea of the image I wanted to get. I almost never do this since I'm used to the unknowingly street photography. Anyway these are my two favourite images from the 30 minutes shooting.

5 things I learned from Sara Lando:

  1. Don't be afraid to do something you're uncomfortable doing.
  2. Shoot or do something creative with every month. This will help you stay mentally alert, happy and not get bored/lazy throughout the year.
  3. Everybody sucks at photography at some point. Just keep it simple and keep doing what you love not what others think of you.
  4. If you are trying to find inspiration or creativity for a shoot, try thinking about every single word that is somehow connected to the emotion you're going for.
  5. Freak out! Let go of everything you know and let your heart speak. It's fun!

The next two days I spent with Eric Kim trying to conquer my fear of shooting people on the streets. It's a weird feeling when you meet some one you've only seen on youtube. I don't want to bore you with all the details, but we did some social experiments within the group just to loosen the tension a bit. It was fun :P So the first half day we had some theory about street photography and how some of the most known photographs were captured. The take away point for me here was to shoot more! Normally I shoot one or two photos of the same subject. Eric's point was to shoot more and work the scene. He explained that most of the iconic photographs within street photography didn't just appear. The photographer often shot about 12-36 shots of the same subject. He showed some of the contact sheets and explaining the process of the final image. I already knew this, but it was something in the very hands on way he demonstrated it that got to me.

The rest of the day we spent around the markets in old Dubai. We were challenged to take portraits of people on the street. The goal was to get at least five "yes:s" and five "no:s". That meant five people who let us take their portrait, and five people who didn't. The lesson learned was that it was a lot easier to get a "yes" than a "no" and people don't really react the way you think they would. I was challenged to do many things I normally wouldn't do on my own. For example I was asked to step into a small barber shop and take some photographs. Quite awkward but very exciting.

Day two was all about composition. We were out for 3 hours shooting. It was very interesting to see how other people shot on the streets. The approach, style and movements were very educational. Sometimes I didn't like the way Eric pushed me in to shooting stuff I didn't see or feel, but I take it as a way to explore things I'd never do otherwise. I get his message and for that I thank him a million times. I had a hard time shooting day two. Nothing seemed to work or feel right. Here are two shots that at least together made sense.

5 things I learned from Eric Kim:

1. Don't stop at one frame, keep shooting till you have the shot.

2. The shot doesn't always appear from nowhere. Try to work the scene, follow someone interesting until the decisive moment appears, look around you and be aware of your surroundings.

3. Don't be afraid. Shoot then think. If you hesitate, then the moment is gone.

4. Try shooting in color!

5. Pay attention to details. Less is more. The viewer only sees whats in the frame. Use this to make your photos more interesting (this was one of the most valuable lessons to me)


The week in Dubai was very intense. It was only when I waited about 10 hours for my flight in Istanbul, that I realised what actually happened. All the things I did and learned had sunk in. At the same time I was reading a magazine called "Black&White Photography". I was reading about different photographers, trying to find their way within their style. They all shot differently but yet they produced such amazing photographs with such soulfulness. One guy shot with a 35mm SLR with a waist-level-viewfinder. He only shot at 1/1000s and at f1,8, and always trying to put one of Londons many landmarks in the background. This made me think about Sara Lando's class. Doing something different, but simple. 

I suddenly had a feeling of awareness. It was as if I had been reborn. Suddenly I wanted to rethink and redo everything I had done up until now. My interpretation became more important than the viewers opinions. I have always had a need to please others before myself. Trying to fit in and to be accepted. Sara Lando had thought me to let go of all the rules and find my inner creative self. Eric thought me to be more confident and keep shooting! So combining these two made sense.

So I'm going through a phase right now. A change or transformation if you want. It might not show in my photography but inside of me there's a lot going on. In mind and in heart. This year is about exploring and keeping it simple. I hope to show you some of the progress and write about my thoughts going through my mind in the future.

Thanks for reading!