Top: from Polaroid series. Middle: Class Pictures. Bottom: Harlem USA
The photographic portrait carries a serious amount of weight around with it. It is not a simple topic to explore in a workshop, but it is most definitely an important one.
Dawoud Bey came to Woodstock this past weekend and helped a group of 15 students navigate through portraiture- the history of it and how their own images help to define it. He showed them samples of work that inspired his own and went through an in-depth critique of the images they brought to the workshop. This was a really beneficial way to examine different topics surrounding portraiture as well as discuss what works and does not work and why. It was an extremely varied group of photographers who took the workshop so we had a lot of diverse topics to discuss.
In addition, Dawoud gave several demos of how he works with a model. He believes that you do not need to "connect" with your model in order to get a photograph that is meaningful and beautiful. He explained how he observes the person in their natural state and attempts to recreate one of those moments in his pictures. He suggested how noticing a gesture someone may make with their hands or a position they may rest their head in (as simple as that)- and using that as a guide to posing them- can lead to a magnificent portrait. we were able to see how well this worked through his demos.
It was his first trip to CPW and it was so nice to have him here! Did I mention that I love his blog too! Check it out here.
This was all going on downstairs while in our classroom upstairs...
Doug Menuez was teaching Art vs. Commerce: Finding the Balance. Doug lead this workshop (for the second year in a row) to help people understand how to blend the border between fine art and commercial work. He has brilliantly done this in his own life by a number of strategic career moves.
The class went over a number of ways to fund projects, present their work, edit, turn a concept into reality and so much more. Doug makes no apologies for wanting to make a living as a photographer and I think that is wonderful. Ultimately no matter what path we choose to take- we should own it and believe in it.
Overall it was such a great (and busy) weekend.