Last month Winslow and I co-led a Venice Within The Frame photographic adventure during Carnival, and it was, well, nearly perfect. The weather turned out to be far nicer than it should have been for February in Venice. There were far fewer people than anticipated for Carnival; so there were never really any crazy crowds. On the last night we even got the high water (acqua alta) that we wanted (and for which we were prepared). There really is something great (albeit surreal) about Piazza San Marco being under 4-6 inches of water. Fortunately, we had our rubber boots. Well, OK, one forgot his back at the hotel, but he was very willing to just plunge in. And certainly not least of all was the fact that the group was truly excellent (as was the food and wine!). There was a lot of laughter. There were even some tears. There was always a great bond.
I learned a few things during that adventure, which was the fifth Within The Frame in Venice. The first is that while Venice is fun during Carnival that really isn’t the best time to visit Venice. It’s not the real Venice. It’s a make-believe Venice, and Venice really is spectacular enough on her own. She doesn’t need any make-believe. Others pretend to be Venice; Venice doesn’t need to do any pretending. I also realized what a great place Venice really is for photographers — not just to photograph (obviously!) but also for learning to photograph better. One of the reasons that Winslow and I spontaneously decided just last week to organize another adventure to Venice this year is because it really is an incredible place to learn to see, and we’re going to spend extra time on that aspect when we go back this September.
We got to see some other “workshops” while we were there for Carnival, and, well, I’m not impressed. One participant in our group said he saw 20 photographers lined up along a railing waiting to photograph a gondola with a couple in Carnival costume as they came around the corner of a canal. It was 100% setup with the photographers all taking the exact same photograph—even with a countdown for when to take the photograph! Why go all the way to Italy just to photograph what 19 others next to you are also photographing? Where is the learning to see in that? That workshop might as well have just been held at the Venetian in Las Vegas! Now if you’re thinking “Cool photograph. I could do that.” Yes, you could. ANYBODY could. You should demand more of yourself. If you want to learn — to grow — then that’s a great way of making sure that you don’t. If your only goal is to have photographs to take home to wow others, then, well, that might work. But you needn’t even bother getting out of bed. Just ask one of the other 19 participants to give you a copy of their identical photograph. Well, I guess there is a place for everything, but there isn’t a place for that in Within The Frame. We may stumble upon something and photograph it together, but you’re never going to go home with the same photographs — day in and out — as everybody else in the group. The Within The Frame leaders are not going to direct you. They’re going to assist you. They’re going to help you see. They’re going to help you realize your vision. They’re going to help you make YOUR photographs. They’re not going to have you simply recreate their photographs with your camera.
Anyhow, we had a great adventure in Venice, and the feedback has been absolutely brilliant. Actually, I can even say that the feedback has been inspiring. This was the first Within The Frame that Winslow and I have led together, and, well, we’re a great team!
Here is just some of that feedback…
We’ve also been getting a lot of photographs from participants on that adventure via email, and it’s been wonderful to see what participants are working on after the adventure and how their photographs are finished in post. I even got a gorgeous 17″x22″ print that I love. (Thanks Craig!) That was an unexpected gift—for my birthday. I can’t wait to hang it.
Well, I had meant to write a recap a couple of weeks ago. In the end, this is both a recap and an announcement. If you’re interested in exploring your own photography, discovering new skills, laughing (and maybe crying) during an adventure in Venice, well, just click on the graphic at the top to learn more. (Or just click here.)
Thanks for reading.