David duChemin Workshop & Seminar – The Soul of the Camera

photo of David duCheminThis past weekend I was indeed lucky to attend a photography workshop in Calgary. The artist was David duChemin, and if you haven’t heard of him, go look him up immediately! I’ll wait …

His website | Facebook | Instagram |

I don’t remember when I became aware of David and his work, but I’m pretty happy I did. I attended a workshop back in March 2013 at Bragg Creek. It was around -20 degrees C for the weekend and we were working outside. Yup, it was pretty damn cold. I had also just got released from the hospital 2 weeks prior as I’d had breast reconstruction surgery 4 weeks prior and then numerous blood clots on my lungs, so back in the hospital. But I was determined to be there!

David has recently release a new book “The Soul of the Camera” which was part of the focus this weekend. He has written several books and I’ve really enjoyed all of them. Do yourself a favour and add one to your photography collection!

Okay, so here’s my disclaimer, this is strictly my take on the weekend which will be different from every person that attended. We all perceive things differently and find words that resonant with us that someone else may not.


The weekend started with a seminar on Friday night from 7 to 9 pm and was entitled The Soul of the Camera: Better Photographers Not Better Cameras. The seminar was hosted by The Camera Store and there was an audience of approximately 45 enthusiastic photographers (keeping in mind that enthusiastic to the introverted photographer means quietly cheering inside!).

David showed many of his photographs and described his story/vision that went with each one. He also highlighted some guidelines for your own photography:

  1. There are no rules
  2. Exploration before expression
  3. Play over practice
  4. Sketch your heart out (what happens if …)
  5. Fear is the mind killer
  6. Study photographs not cameras
  7. Seek critique
  8. Get a life (find an interest and photograph that)
  9. Learn the language (composition, etc)
  10. Be apologetically you
  11. Personal projects – DO (focus on something)
  12. Learn to tell a story

A few takeaways of David’s discussion were these:

  • What is your photo about? (not “of”)
  • Tell a story

David is a fantastic storyteller and every photo has an accompanying story that explains/describes what he say and what drew his interest. I love his enthusiasm and passion, even though this usually leads to various tangents in his discussions, lol. If you are looking for an instructor that is quiet, boring and follows a set plan, don’t go see David. If you want someone who is dynamic, engaging, and inspiring, then you must see David. I find his style similar to Joe McNally with his passion and excitement to talk about photography and things they love.


Saturday and Sunday was a workshop with David and 15 eager students titled “Photographically Speaking”. We didn’t have a lot of time together (1-5 pm on Saturday and 11-2 pm on Sunday) but David made the most of every minute.


The workshop was focused on finding your vision of what you want to photograph and then your voice of putting that vision into action. Some main points from Saturday were:

  • Create constraints: We all work better when we are constrained, for example use only one lens, only colour or b/w, only one camera body, constrain yourself in some manner. Pick a theme (ex. Backlit only, selective colour, one subject, etc).
  • All projects are personal projects.
  • When arriving at a scene, assess the light, lines and moments (what is the light doing, what are the lines doing, use a composition to express the moment but treat with urgency)

What makes a great image?

  • Repeated element that is broken can capture the eye
  • Add tension to balance
  • White space (the eye needs room to move)
  • Visual mass in the frame (reduce size of stuff not needed)
  • Isolate your subject


Today everyone brought 10 of their own, personal images and our time was spent talking about critique (how to give and receive) and then critiquing others photographers (very nerve wracking indeed).

The Art of the Critique

David talked about how important it is to get and give critique with someone on a regular basis.

Giving Critique
  • What kind of feedback are you looking for?
  • What was your vision?
  • How is the audience reading the image?
  • What other decisions were possible?
Getting Critique
  • Consider the source (this is especially important, you want a qualified source that YOU respect)
  • Don’t take it personally (ha, easier said than done)
  • Is the critique valid?
  • Is it helpful?
  • Is it human? (Does the feedback support the artist? Is it kind, respectful?)

After such an incredible weekend, we were left with a to do list:

To Do

  • Print your work
  • Study the masters
  • Begin to teach

Obviously David covered a lot more information during our time together, so this was only a sampling of what we learned. I know David does workshops overseas and I have to admit, I was never interested in them. But … after spending this time with him again, it would really be a treat to see a foreign place through his eyes. So, another trip added to my bucket list!!

Thanks David for a fantastic weekend and sharing your knowledge, skills, passion, honesty and humour! Please come back soon.

Getting out

When I seen my doctor on Tuesday she gave me a note to stay off work until I see the surgeon (July 10), which was relieving news. Being at work has been nearly impossible over the past 4 months while suffering my illness. Now I don’t have to stress everyday about getting to work and being able to concentrate and not worry about needing to get home. 

For the first time in weeks, I was able to have coffee with a friend the other day and then yesterday another friend came over to visit. It really was a boost to my mental state to be feeling well enough to visit. 

I actually had a decent day yesterday and today hasn’t been too bad. It surprises me to have some good hours and I just want to jump around and scream for happiness to have moments where I’m not suffering. I’m obviously being taught the lesson, again, about how important your health is and having those good moments are so so so vital to living each day.

More results

It was off to see my doctor again, hoping she would have results from my scope last week. I don’t see the surgeon till July 10 for the results as he’s away … again. Thank goodness she had the results though and told me the pathology showed no cancer (the same as the first biopsy). So, that’s good news, not that I felt there was cancer, but it’s good to be for sure. 

The first time I seen the surgeon he told me surgery was extremely unlikely and it was a condition I would have to learn to live with and manage (WTF?). I’m afraid my mental state took a huge hit after that news as I felt like a normal life was over. The report from him today said surgery was most likely now good grief. So that gives me hope that I’ll be able to have a normal life again at some point. Not that I want to have surgery, but if I can actual do things and plan things and live, that would be most awesome!

Concert tickets

Def Leppard/Poison Concert – Missing out

Tonight Def Leppard, Poison and Tesla will be performing at the Calgary Saddledome. I did have tickets … I was going … until I had to sell my tickets :-(. Unfortunately the stomach issues I’ve had for the past 3 months have persisted and I just couldn’t make it to the concert (and I’m waiting on biopsy results). I am so disappointed and sad. Now, I have seen Def Lepaprd roughly a 100 times, LOL, but I still want to see them every time they come around.

When I purchased my tickets back in January, I did have a concern about being able to go. This wasn’t because I was sick at the time, no, it’s because I’ve had a bit of bad luck when I’ve gone to their concerts. A few years ago, I fractured my ankle tripping on loose wires at the Saddledome while getting to my floor seat. I was in agony, but we stayed for the whole concert!! I’m a dedicated fan, lol.The time after that, I suffered a gallbladder attack throughout the entire concert. That was agonizing as well, oh my. Yes, Def Leppard and I are a bit of a bad combo, to say the least.

I probably shouldn’t have bothered pressing my luck and buying tickets, but, you see, Poison was going to be performing as well (another of my favourites) and I’ve never seen them in concert (and never will I guess). Ugh, argh! My husband seen Poison years ago. We had actually just started dating the month before and he already had tickets to go with his cousin, so I missed out on that time and we’ve never had another opportunity.

So tonight, I’ll try to avoid looking online at all the postings by people attending the concert (as I’ll be entirely too jealous!). All I can do is cross my fingers they all come back around again (hahaha), although with my luck, it’s probably in my best interest to not buy tickets!!

Doctor, Doctor!

So it’s been 3 months since I’ve been feeling poorly (that’s putting it mildly). I’ve seen my doc and we done bloodwork, scans, x-rays, etc but she can’t figure out what is wrong (meanwhile, I suffer). I finally got an appointment for a specialist for that wasn’t until the end of September which would mean 4 more months of suffering. A total write-off of this year. Luckily, I went back to my doctor in the hopes of going over my symptoms again and finding out what is wrong, she then suggested she’d contact the specialist and see about moving up my appointment. By the time I got home from the appointment that day, my doctor and the specialist had called and got me a new appointment within 6 days! I’m pretty sure my doc played the cancer card, but you know what? I don’t care, going through all that shit has to come in handy once in awhile! haha

I seen the specialist yesterday and the test went good, however he didn’t talk to me after like he was supposed to, he just left me a note. While nothing serious was found, I didn’t have the opportunity to ask questions. Now I have to wait 3-4 weeks for the results of the biopsy to see what is going on and then decide on treatment. Holy moly, drag this thing out, that’ll be 4 months of pain.

I’ve been unable to leave the house very much so it’s made my world shrink very small, nothing to look forward to as I don’t dare plan on anything. I’ve even had to give up tickets I had to one of my favourite bands as I can’t chance travelling to see them and being ill. It seems once again, I am being taught the all important lesson of valuing your health and not taking for granted those days when you feel good and happy and pain free. It definitely makes you want to enjoy all the small things so much more.


And the results are in … mammogram

Met with my doc again today to go over my test results. I thought she was just gonna tell me about having to do another mammogram in 6 months. Boy was I wrong. Apparently the Radiologist has reviewed my wonky mammogram and decided that an MRI was required instead. I guess that’s a good thing as it means we will know specifically if something isn’t right and we’ll know sooner than the 6 months. However, they don’t do these very often as they are expensive and show more detail (so everyone would want one! haha). I guess it’s your health … at a price. The fortunate (?) thing for me is that having had cancer, it usually means you get special treatment and tests that mere mortals do not. Sweet eh?

So I’ve been put on the semi-urgent list which means I’ll be having my MRI within 30 days. The only other problem is I have to go to a bigger city for it, as they aren’t able to do this kind here in town (what a pain in the butt). Oh well, what can you do?

Enough knitting projects … onto crocheting now!


In my yarn stash, I found a bunch of purple and cream that had been my mom’s. Not sure what she was intending to make with them but I have a feeling it would’ve been for me, since purple is my favourite colour (and green was hers). The problem is this yarn is old (Zellers Sayelle) and it’s difficult (impossible) to find something to match the colour and texture.

So, I decided it would be nice to try my hand at crocheting as my mom had taught me how years and years ago, but I somehow have leaned towards knitting. I got my sister to send me a nice, easy crochet pattern since I would be trying this for the first time in a long time (since I was a teenager, yikes!). We even had a long facetime session so she could show me the different stitches. Surprisingly enough, I was able to get back into crocheting quite easily.

The only problem that remains is finding a coordinating colour to go with the purple as I don’t have enough purple to complete an entire afghan. I’m thinking of doing the purple/cream on the ends and then the middle section will be a matching purple/cream. I’ve already made some trips to Michael’s and Wal-Mart, this is not going to be an easy task matching this colour (it’s probably from the 80’s …).

Purple afghan -crocheting