The older I get, the more I am able to understand what kind of person I am (and all my weird little quirks and such). I always feel that I’m a bit strange in how I want to interact with others. I always thought I was just shy (as I was always told that as well). However, I’m come to realize that I’m actually introverted. It’s not a bad thing but it does change how you are able to interact with others and I think understanding that can help.
There was a great read on The Phoblographer today about introversion and photography. Here is a short quote from it, but the whole article is great. I highlighted what really struck a nerve with me about conversation and the need for something substantial when spending time with others.
I have a hard time around new people. At parties, I look for the one person I know, and if that’s a wash, I float at the edges of conversations. I’m terrible at introducing myself, though if I’m okay if I’m introduced. The thing about introversion is that I get my energy from within and from my pursuits. Social functions can be exhausting, and I sometimes need to remove myself to the periphery in order to recharge. Photography and by extension writing, like the work I do for this site, quickly became a natural fit for me because it allows me to contextualize my thoughts and put them out into the world in a way that engages with people, which is what draws me to photographing on the street.
Another thing about introversion is that I crave substantive conversation. I’m not good at chit chat. I can’t shoot the shit. With photography, I found that I could have the conversations I enjoy having when I can’t always have them. People are fundamentally interesting to me, but I’m far better at photographing them than I am at talking with them. It’s not that I don’t want to talk with people, I do. I’d just like to zip past the pleasantries. Unless a massive storm is on the way, weather has no place in a conversation.
Yesterday was a fabulous day, indeed! I drove down to Calgary the night before in anticipation of the Joe McNally “The Moment it Clicks” seminar scheduled for Wednesday (put on by Kelby Live Training). I was fortunate enough to meet up with a girl I had met at David duChemin’s photography seminar in Bragg Creek a couple years ago. I find I always go to these events and end up sitting on my own so it was a real treat to be able to hang out with someone who is also interested in photography (ok ok, I could probably meet people if I put myself out there, but we all know I’m an introvert so that’s a bit of a chore for me :-)). I really enjoyed my time with her though (thanks!). Joe McNally was here a few years ago so it was a nice treat that he was able to come back again so soon.
The day was full with various sessions scheduled. Now my memory kinda sucks (I’m still calling it post-chemo brain) so I may not get all the order right of what happened during the day but I’ll try. The day began with registration at 9 am which gave everyone time to mingle, get their seats and score a coffee from somewhere (very important!). The show began at around 10 am with Joe McNally showing a slideshow of some of his best work. The pictures were incredible but it was the storytelling that went along with them that completed the picture and made it so compelling to watch and listen to. I don’t know where Joe gets his energy from but he was talking so fast you really had to be alert to keep up.
After the slideshow the first session, “Faces in Places“, began. As usual, Joe pulled someone from the crowd (I won’t even mention the obvious age/gender skew of the audience towards older, gray-haired men … ok, I did mention it). Joe began with very basic lighting and with a few tweaks and colour gels he was able to create some fantastic images. He also included the audience in some of the shots to show how it was possible to light them. He did comment that the lighting in the room was the worst he’d seen but he probably says that about all places. It definitely was not flattering lighting. It looked like the Walking Dead were alive and in the room!
The day continued on with:
“Live Shooting – Location Assessment“
“Live Shooting – Working the Scene“
“Review and Retrospective“
It really was fascinating to watch Joe work and see how he began with a poorly lit shot into a piece of art by the time he was finished and he was able to do it so quickly as well. So very impressive. You also have to include his sense of humour, it’s sharp and quick! You better be paying attention. He used other men from the audience as subjects throughout the day. They were all quite interesting and made for good subjects, especially one of the final men, dressed in red jacket and red cowboy hat (I guess he always wears that). Of course, it was Stampede Week as well, so you had to expect a cowboy hat to be in the crowd.
The final session “Open Critique” had a lot of people running for the door or ready to hide under the table. You could submit photos for review prior to the seminar, however most (all) people didn’t realize that it was NOT a blind critique. It was pretty funny as the first photo came up, complete with photographer’s name. Then Joe actually called out to see which person it was, haha. People were freaking out. Props to all who owned up to their photos, only one person didn’t come forward. Thank god I didn’t submit anything, I would’ve been horrified and definitely out the door! Joe did an incredible critique of all the photos though (just over an hour). He was honest, frank but not cruel in his critiques. He would try to find something good and encourage the person to work on their technique. Although sometimes it was pretty hard to find something nice to say, there was some bad shots for sure.
The day finished around 5:15’ish. As is my custom, I simply must get a photo with Joe McNally whenever I see him. I had my girlfriend take the photo but she wasn’t used to my point & shoot and I’m sorry to say there was a lot of blurry photos (it was on burst mode), booooo. The one I’ve posted here was the clearest I could find (Joe always looks good though, sheesh!). I did win a prize for a tweet and got a second chance for a photo with 2 other people and Joe. The Kelby guy took the photo on his iPhone so no idea where it ended up. I haven’t seen it posted anywhere (maybe it was really bad!).
It was a great day and I really enjoyed listening to Joe and watching how he works a scene. I wish I could remember everything he did a little better but it was so much information to take in. It was very motivating and inspiring.
Another fantastic course with Joe McNally, how can you go wrong?