As I have said earlier, I went to Rome to learn from an inspirational street photographer, Valerie Jardin (again read best French accent). She has a way of viewing the world around her that I just love – simple, yet powerful. She captures a moment on the street through mastery of composition and light. Valerie also has a weekly podcast on This week in Photo and is a Fuji X Photography so I knew I was going to be in good company. If you are interested you can find her on Valeriejardinphotography.com. While street photography is not for everyone, I like it as I have always liked capturing people doing what they are doing unaware. Combine that with travel and I am a happy camper.
The inspirational Valerie Jardin glaming it up for the camera
Before the workshop I was a little apprehensive about joining a group trip since I do like my own company perhaps a little too much. However we had all sort of introduced ourselves through Facebook before the event so the ice had been broken. I have to say that I couldn’t have been with a nicer group of people who had come together from around the world – another Aussie, Canada, America and Belgium, and Valerie of course who is French but lives in the States. The majority of participants have been on workshops with Valerie previously (one was on his fourth) which speaks volumes.
Every day we would meet outside a hotel, get a briefing talk for they day and then wander to our ‘hunting ground’ for the day. Every day was a different location – the Jewish Ghetto, Trastevere, along the Tiber River, Piazza Navona, and the markets of Campo Di Fiori. Some of the things we were told to look for were the fashions of Rome, interesting people, shadows, telling a story, leading lines and I could go on. You would think it is easy to go out and achieve the tasks. But in truth it’s really very difficult (much harder than landscape) – you spot your subject, hunt them down so they are in the right place, wait for the right step (ideally in the process of striding out with both feet at maximal separation and front foot or back foot just off the ground). You stand there waiting for the moment having found the best subject of the day and then a group come past and obscure the subject, or your shutter speed is too slow, or the camera doesn’t focus in time or they look away from you, a Vespa comes around the corner sending you scurrying – so many factors come into play. Under the breath expletives are muttered as your shot of the day has just been ruined and you start planning the next one.
Part of being an effective street photographer is being discrete. If you are really good your subject will not even be aware you have taken their photo. We all managed to achieve that didn’t we? How would anyone ever know what we were up to!
Eating a Gelati is another effective strategy to disguise what you are doing (taken by Judy). And no, it’s not resting on my nose, it’s just a perspective thing.
One of the tips we were given was to identify your prey, hunt them down and then shoot. Nuns were a favourite prey and one participant was very effective in executing that strategy (photo taken by Scott).
Stalking the streets was really enjoyable. There are so many images to be had on the streets on Rome. Mike Langford, a Master Landscape Photographer in NZ, once told me “there are photos every where around you.” Rome is no different. Over the week I took many many photos including many that just didn’t work for various reasons. But there were those that did and we had to present our favourite photos on our last night. Man it’s tough deciding on this. These ones were some of mine chosen as they demonstrated some of the things we were given to achieve (other photos from this week are in other posts). The final night presentation was just great as you recognise so much but the way the moment is captured is really unique – everyone has their own way of seeing and style. I love that aspect of it.
Roman style (?)
On the Friday night we had to say goodbye. It was a sad farewell as everyone agreed we all enjoyed each other, creating our view along with sharing our joys and frustrations together. Valerie’s vision is an inspiration. She excudes passion for her craft and is equally passionate about helping others learn to create images that effectively show their own vision. Her easy going nature and sense of humour can be infectious. All in all, the week was lots of fun with my new found friends and I would do it all again. If any one is interested in one of her workshops you should book immediately!