Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Discovery Workshop - Day 2

On day two, the workshop went out the the coast in the town of Stinson Beach, which happens to also be Rick's home. The day was dedicated to Rick's approach to portraiture. We gathered at the Stinson Beach Community Center, built a big fire in the fireplace to cut the chill of the drizzly rainy day and got to work. Rick spent an hour talking about the importance of connecting with his subjects long before making pictures of them. He showed us various portfolios while sitting on the floor with everyone gathered around, kind of like adult story time. He told stories about his portrait sessions with Shaquile O'Neal and Lance Armstrong and Tony Hawk at the same time highlighting his point about connecting first...talking, checking in on where he AND his subject may be on that particular day, asking if there is some image they might want to create or play out. Rick's teaching style was organic, drifting between making strong specific points and entertaining us with stories of interesting portrait sessions....from Venus Williams to his wife and kids.

Rick then introduced us to the woman with whom he was going to demonstrate his portrait process. Her name is Lesly Robinson, a 63 year old Stinson Beach resident who owns a small catering company (she later cooked us a beautiful meal of stuffed peppers and chicken kabobs on the barbeque). Rick sat with her in front of the rest of us, speaking to her about any number of things. She talked about how much she loves her kitchen, cooking and aprons. Rick talked about how he perceived her as royalty in the way she held herself and talked. "Approachable Royalty" is how he phrased it. They talked for 20 minutes and decided they'd start working with Lesly's apron... The shoot unfolded and the connection between Lesly and Rick became stronger and stronger despite the presence of 25 other people watching. They had fun together and it shows in the images. It seems Rick also made his way toward the royalty idea by simply using a deep (royal) blue door bathed in beautiful even light from the overcast day.

After Rick's session, the ladies were let loose in the town of Stinson Beach. Prior to the workshop, Rick had arranged for eleven of the local residents to be subjects for the women to photograph. So, after much anticipation and nervousness, teams of two photographers each descended on the town with enthusiasm. The assignment was to make portraits that were meaningful to their subjects, based on the connecting and interview process that Rick was teaching, rather than working from preconceived ideas and projections.

Watching the women return from their assignments was rewarding and revealing. They had a new-found glow to their faces and they were radiant. We could see that this discovery experience had shifted and changed them.  The group spent an invigorating hour talking about their portraiture adventures with the characters of Stinson Beach, reflecting upon the connections that were emerging between the previous day's self portraiture, Rick's session with Lesly and their own shooting experience. After talking, tables were rearranged, tablecloths were put out and the fire was stoked, transforming the Community Center into a rustic dining room before the delicious barbeque meal was served. After desert, Rick took many of the women for a dusk walk down to the beach.  They were overjoyed, laughing and doing cartwheels with MeRa all the way down the misty beach as night fell.  What a wonderful way to end Day 2.


Dana Fontaine said...

I am still floating in and out of all that I learned about photography and about myself during the workshop.

I would go back in a heartbeat to do it all over again.

Miss you all!

Jeramy Sossaman said...

rick is the man....flat out! sounds like a magical experience!

Katie Gonzalez said...

let's do it again!!!

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