Archive for the 'Workshops' Category

23
Oct
14

How we craft our lives, part 1

I have a few excuses for not blogging for such a long time. (Teaching, leading tours, working, writing, too much time on airplanes, LIFE.) None of them is sufficient. But I’ve also been at a loss for a meaningful subject. It hit me three days ago at the end of an equine photography workshop that I taught in California: community.

I have a mentoring client that has shaped her whole life around the idea of community. That has always seemed perfect to me for her photo work and projects….but I hadn’t thought about the concept in relationship to what I’ve been building. What else am I doing but that when we are gathered together to learn, to create and explore? And then that idea is compounded when I hear my students say “well let’s get together in Seattle and….” and “I’ve created a Facebook page to post images each month and you’re all invited”.

When a class comes together and builds on the friendships and community created during the workshop and extends that into their everyday lives, for a teacher, it is the most gratifying thing to behold.

It happened as well with a group that was traveling with me (and my co-leader, the indefatigable Arthur Meyerson!) in Portugal. They enjoyed each other’s company during the trip and have continued their dialogue after their long journeys back to real life.

I have my own community too, well, communities. My mentoring students keep me in touch with other work and other inspirations. They push me as much as I encourage them! And my own mentors are generous with their time and conversations. But this summer I’ve seen that I need to nurture my communities a little more. My students (they are always teaching me!) have shown me the value and I am grateful for the strong reminder.

So though photography is a solitary pursuit, demanding quiet, thoughtful intention, we can be part of a raucous, joyful bunch! I’m going to craft more time in my life for these days of joyful sharing.

Here are some images from Portugal, from California, and from Whidbey Island. All created this summer, in a community of friendship, photography, and inquiry. More to come in part two.

And for those thinking of returning or coming to the next equine workshop at Barbier Farms in June….OR on a trip to Portugal with me in 2015….here is some food for thought. My thanks to John Paul Caponigro for writing about his experience in a most elegant way.

http://www.johnpaulcaponigro.com/blog/12327/return-to-the-same-well/

 

26
Feb
14

workshop! horses! california! oh my!

I am totally passionate about teaching and sharing my love of photography and the horses too. I hope you will join me for this wonderful opportunity. Space is very limited so email me!!! (keron @ keronpsillas. com )

workshopfliercalifornia

 

 

18
Sep
13

considering the portrait

I visit the Whidbey Island County Fair each year during my week with Sam Abell at Pacific Northwest Art School. It’s a highlight for our students and a highlight for us. It is a place that is familiar, but full of surprises each time we go. This year, I fulfilled a promise that I make to myself each year. I went back to the fair after class was finished. That’s a luxury for photographers…the go-back. I am always so inspired by the work that the students produce, and this year was no exception. I was filled with ideas and creative fire, so off I went.

After photographing a number of subjects that were on my list I took a walk through the animal barns. I found this little girl, sitting in the pen with her pygmy goats, with no sign of parents or relatives nearby. I stayed for a while and made a number of images, trying to talk with her a little, offering to show her the picture on the back of my camera, but she remained in her own world. I thanked her and walked away. About twenty minutes later I decided to go back and see if she was still sitting all alone. She was. I asked her if I could make a few more pictures, to which she nodded her assent. That was the only interaction she offered the entire time.

So my thought process in making the images became this: how can I show her in the isolation and detachment that I feel? It’s not that she wasn’t animated, she was quite involved in her own story….talking on a (pinecone) cell phone, acting out the entire conversation, and alternately hugging and scolding her goats. But she was totally detached from the adults, adolescents and children walking past, some trying to talk to her, others reaching to pet her goats. It was unsettling.

Here is a small selection of images…the last being the one I chose to pull as THE portrait. Now I am undecided. I’ll come back another month from now and look at the images. Emotional detachment in the editing process is a good thing.  Emotional detachment at a fair? Well, it was certainly photographically intriguing for me.

Comments, as always, welcome and appreciated. And if you like this post (or others) how about sharing the blog with friends? Thank you!

31
Aug
13

Whidbey Island Sojourn

The subject today: photography. The location: Whidbey Island. I’m delighted to be posting a gallery of images made during my three weeks at Pacific Northwest Art School assisting Arthur Meyerson and Sam Abell.

The surroundings are always inspiring, but the work and engagement from our students, along with the masterful imagery from Arthur and Sam, energizes my creative fire. So off I went to the Island County Fair and to haunt the shoreline. Some evenings I walked through town, some I walked the prairie. I just wanted to be open to light, color, and gesture…layers, refinement, and the concepts of eternity and impermanence. As always, the full expression of my intent is my personal benchmark for a successful photo. I realize that this is an entirely personal, subjective judgement. But it is the one most fully in alignment with my philosophy of living.

I’m so happy to announce that I will be teaching and assisting again next year for Pacific Northwest Art School, beginning August 4th for my four day class and then rolling into the next two weeks for Sam and Arthur! Stay tuned to the blog about other teaching venues and more opportunities for study, both in the US and abroad. Thanks for checking the blog….I hope you enjoy the images. Comments most welcome, as always!

 

25
Aug
13

Robert Frank’s French First Edition ‘Les Americains’!!!!

It’s not often that I get to touch an important piece of Photographic History.  But two weeks ago, during the Sam Abell workshop with the Pacific Northwest Arts School I did just that. We took our class to Port Townsend for an excursion and Sam spied in the case of a bookstore a hand-lettered sign that said they had the Robert Frank French Edition of The Americans (Les Americains).

In the eyes of many photographers, this book IS the Holy Grail of photography, even more so than Henri Cartier-Bresson’s The Decisive Moment.  Paul Stafford, gentleman proprietor of William James Books, offered to show us the copy (as we had met him on a previous trip and he knew that Sam had a serious interest in the title).

We threaded our way through tall stacks and shelves to reach the back of the store. After four locked doors on various levels, steps in between, we arrived at the sanctum sanctorum.  Paul placed the bubble wrapped package on a table and invited us to open the book. But first we had to get over the cover! A Saul Steinberg drawing??? This is a photography book….what’s happening? And then to open the book and discover so much narrative, in French? There is so little in the English edition that came later. But the images? The same photographic erudition, the same searching, frank observations, the same humanity. Indeed the images are mostly the same as in the later English edition.

It was a thrilling moment for me in several ways. I was there with my mentor, Sam Abell, who has his own richly deserved spot in photographic history, and I was seeing this book in its original state, its first incarnation…and in near pristine condition. As a book lover, this is a high-water mark for me! But then I had the opportunity to return with my other beloved mentor, Arthur Meyerson, during our class that took place just last week.

Again, Paul Stafford was tremendously kind and offered to show Arthur the copy immediately. I think Arthur was even a little nervous to be handling it! To my great joy, I photographed Arthur with Paul, and listened, as I had with Sam, to him recount why this book was so important to him.  Personally, there were favorite images for Sam and Arthur…different images for different reasons. But they were also generous in their discussions with Paul about why the book was so revered and how much it influenced the world of photography after its publication.

Never before had people thought to make a lunch counter a photographic subject, or a funeral for a black man, or an afternoon picnic in a park with cars, blankets and young people making out. It wasn’t ‘done’ to photograph a black nanny with her white child. He broke the taboos and barriers, and expanded the consciousness for what could be considered art in photography. The tension, nuance, and cultural sensitivity that exists in his photographs was a clear contrast to what other contemporary photographers were doing. Low light, unusual focus, and cropping were all in contravention to the accepted photographic technique of the time. But the work produced a reflection of life in America in the 1950’s…not the world of Ward and June Cleaver, but the world of factory workers, transvestites, and segregation.

The art world was slow to embrace the imagery, even reviled it, but young people saw the worth of it…as did other street photographers. It energized the medium and changed it forever. Few works of art in any medium have had that effect. The Americans did.

There are far more sophisticated reviews of his work available than what I can offer. Here is one, a link to a story by National Public Radio. It’s worth the time! http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=100688154

Once again I must thank my dear friends and teachers, Sam Abell and Arthur Meyerson, for lighting my photographic world and path. We do have the best times together and I know there will be many more.

05
May
13

Another (fantastic) Sam Abell Workshop

Friends and readers of this blog know that I am indebted to Sam Abell for his mentorship and aesthetic. I have just finished assisting Sam in his private workshop in Shepherdstown with a group of great photographers. We had four days of fellowship and fine photography, kicked off by a wonderful dinner hosted and prepared by Dianne and Paul Chalfant. (to continue the alliteration…..fabulous family festivities!)

Seriously, we spent each day engaged in conversation and creation of photography on a very high level. I’m posting a sampling of great images made during our time together, but they don’t illustrate the willingness to engage and stretch creatively that each of the photographers brought to the workshop. The thing that sets a workshop above another is not the instruction or the work produced, but the enthusiasm the participants bring to their work and to the conversation. Because of that, this workshop achieved a high water mark for earnest, thoughtful work.

Sam and I thank each of you for your spirit and your work. I am energized by your devotion to your craft and am carrying that force with me into my next project now that I am back in Portugal. Soon I’ll be on Whidbey Island for Sam’s first of two workshops with the Pacific Northwest Art School. Then I will be preparing for my own workshop there! I hope you’ll think of joining me.  Later, in August, I’ll return to assist both Sam Abell and Arthur Meyerson! August is always a high point in my year. The students that come to the workshops are inspiring and marvelously creative….but they’ll have a long way to go to top our Shepherdstown Group!

28
Aug
12

Cover! Abell! Meyerson!

One of my photos from my trip to Interagro (fabulous Lusitano breeding farm in Brasil) is the cover of the September issue of Dressage Today!  I’m so tickled that they chose this image as it is a favorite of mine and the favorite horse of Dr. Paulo Gonzaga, founder of Interagro Lusitanos. Also in the issue are other images from that trip, included in a story about Dr. Hilary Clayton. And….there is an interview and photo essay that I did with Mestre Luis Valença.  So I am pretty psyched about it. Now, to grab some copies for the archive!

I have just completed my annual two week stay on Whidbey Island. I had the very great honor to be assisting Sam Abell and Arthur Meyerson in their respective workshops. As always, the students were fantastic and set the bar high for each class.  The work produced was super and in every instance each student pushed their own work forward. This is incredibly gratifying for a teacher. Each class excelled in their attitudes and willingness to create new work and to try to see in an expanded manner. So congratulations to the participants….and big gratitude to Lisa and Karen at the Pacific Northwest Art School for promoting these two Masters and their classes.  It doesn’t get any better, ANYWHERE!

05
May
12

Journey to Interagro

Just before my most recent assignment in Kentucky (to photograph the opening of the US Tour of Apassionata!) I was in Brasil to photograph for Dressage Today. Our destination was Interagro, the incomparable Lusitano breeding farm of Dr. Paulo Gonzaga and his daughter Cecilia Gonzaga. Cecilia and her husband, Cristiano, have created a paradise on earth for Lusitano lovers. With nearly 1,000 horses and numerous stables, arenas, and pastures stretching into a seemingly endless vista, it is difficult to take in the care and detail that created such a wonderland.

But care and detail are everywhere if you stop for just a moment to reflect on the view in any direction. From the Interagro symbol on the tops of the stall dividers, the meticulously prepared riding surfaces, and the flowering shrubs planted to enhance the architecture at every turn, to the gleaming tack and polished wheels of the Marathon carts and the shining coats and braided manes of the gorgeous Lusitanos, it is evident that a loving, clear, precise vision guides every activity at Interagro. But make no mistake: this farm is not about show, it is about the working Lusitano! Everyone is busy at their particular task and the tasks are myriad. Interagro breeds driving horses, dressage horses, and working equitation horses. Subsequently, there are indoor and outdoor rings for each discipline as well as miles of roads for driving carts and carriages.

The gracious hospitality we received is the memory that has stayed the strongest. I have the feeling that we stepped into a time and place that exists in an alternate reality. A reality that values refinement and ease in every endeavor. Yes, I am gushing…but I’m sure I’d be forgiven if you could only share this experience. And the best part….you can!  I’ll be announcing a very special workshop that will take place at Interagro this fall. With Cecilia Gonzaga as our host and guide, International Morphology Judge Davi Carrano to inform us about the Lusitano breed standards, and me…your favorite equestrian photographer, to ignite your creativity and expand your vision of equine photography, we will experience the finest the Lusitano world can offer. Details coming very soon in this space. Stay tuned and tell your horsey/photographer friends!

20
Sep
11

Images from Coupeville

Here is a small gallery of images from last Monday during Arthur Meyerson’s workshop.  There are more to come.  Feedback, as always, is deeply appreciated.

 

17
Sep
11

The Most Interesting Man in the World, an appreciation

You may think you know the most interesting man in the world. You don’t. I do.  Some know him as El Don, The Great American. I know him as Arthur “Danger” Meyerson.

Workshops have an energy (when they are good) that keeps you in a state of flow and good humor. Such was the case this week with Arthur Meyerson in Coupeville. Once again, Pacific Northwest Art School was the venue for learning, friendship, and photographic exploration.  A great mix of alumni and new students bonded on the first day and set the tone for the rest of the week.

At their best, workshops provide students and teachers a platform to push their boundaries.  To a person, each student this week allowed Arthur to guide, encourage, and challenge them to expand their vision and make images beyond their established styles and skill levels.  A lot of good work was produced, but most importantly, each student embraced the challenge and worked to create interesting images.

As the assistant it was my great pleasure to watch this unfold, to get to know new students, reconnect with alumni, and of course, enjoy the fabulous imagery and storytelling from Arthur. The encouragement I received for my own work from the class and from Arthur is deeply appreciated. It will keep me enthusiastic as I jump back into all the travel and work that keeps me in a state of “busy-ness” and often keeps me from feeling creative and engaged.

So what’s the point of this love fest? It’s simple: Find your own.  The camaraderie and collective vision that arises in a workshop will energize your own work and keep your spirits buoyed during creative down-time. The new skills and the expansion of your vision will give you confidence and a platform to launch new (and often, better) work.

Arthur says: “I don’t always do workshops, but when I do, I do it with Keron Psillas.” Arthur, it was an honor and a great pleasure.

Stay thirsty my friends.

27
Aug
11

A few more thoughts about Sam Abell’s workshop

If we are lucky, we get to experience an event that stays with us and molds us for the rest of our lives. I have had many blessings of this nature, but this last week reminded me of the importance of that initial experience.

In the late fall of 2005, I had the good fortune to take a workshop with Sam Abell on the mid-coast of Maine. The first night of the class offered us the opportunity to hear a lecture by Sam titled “The Photographic Life”. Sam’s sonorous story-telling style had the audience rapt, but I was struck by the deep humanity in the images as well as the personal stories of a life well-lived. Since that week I have worked hard to embody Sam’s advice of making the best picture in any situation and I have been helped by the voice that I hear while composing. It comes in from over my right shoulder and says things like this: check your edges; are the elements separated?; do they exist in their own world?; is it involving?; are there layers in the image?; setting, expression, gesture.

I’ve been assisting Sam in classes and with lectures for more than five years now. This past week I encouraged a number of good friends from all over the country to come to Whidbey Island for at least the lecture, if not the entire class. A number of (very intelligent) people took me up on the invitation. I heard from them the exact remarks that I made six years ago: It was wonderful; The sensitivity and depth of emotion in the images and the stories is deeply moving; it gives us a totally new way to see images and to think about our own photography.

Thankfully there are many wonderful teachers and mentors in the world. I’ve had several in different areas of my life. I suppose what I want to say with this blog post is this: Find a mentor or teacher whose vision and life you respect and emulate them. Make your own path, but hold on to the tenets they have lived by and see where it will lead you. The photographic life is just one life among millions of choices, but as Sam said, “it is the right life for me”. Building layers of depth and breadth in my life as well as my photographs has brought me to a place of deep appreciation and offered many moments of joy.

This state of being is open to us all but if you want to ignite a fire, take a Sam Abell course or at least experience a lecture he’s offering. Next up: Sam will be appearing at the INVision Photo Festival in Bethlehem, PA ( http://www.artsquest.org/invision/ ) Prior to that he is teaching at the Santa Fe Workshops in early October. Maybe I’ll see you there.

Here’s a gallery of images I’ve made over the years on Whidbey Island and around Seattle. I vow each year during the class to spend more time photographing…this time I made it happen.  You can too.




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