I returned this past Monday from Alberta where I conducted a weekend workshop for my friends Peter and Julian at The Camera Store. The workshop was held in a classroom in Calgary and on a ranch about an hour’s drive south of Calgary.
We had 15 students and were absolutely blessed with five individuals who gave us their time as models with no more compensation than some pictures. Rosemary, Tom, and Joe were the adults, Matt and Kate, Rosemary and Tom’s granddaughters, 10 and 6, rounded out the group. Nothing takes the place of the real thing when you’re looking to photograph people from a certain kind of country, who live a certain kind of life style, and our five subjects couldn’t have been better. They all rode in to meet us from their neighboring ranches and tirelessly gave us a full morning of their time. They rode good horses of a variety of colors. One paint, not a flashy horse, named Apache, had been used by actor Robert Duvall when he was filming in the area in recent years.
The attendees all made some fine pictures. One of them, George Barr, a physician and an accomplished photographer (I had to wonder why he was taking my workshop) normally does rather well studied and graphic images. He did slip in a PhotoShop manipulation on me but admitted to the horror of such a thing. Actually, those are my words, not his. But in my workshops one is not allowed such an utterance as “Oh, you can fix that in PhotoShop.” And you certainly can’t “drop in” someone from one picture into another. I don’t teach fixing, I try to work on seeing.
Anyway, it was an enjoyable experience. I was in Calgary briefly last year to do an evening presentation for The Camera Store. Calgary has changed so very much since I was first up there in the early 1970’s working the rodeo. There’s been lots of change since I was last there to photograph, also for the rodeo, in 1978. Calgary is enjoying (I guess that’s the proper term) a major oil boom and it seems everywhere one looks one sees skyscrapers rising, lots of glass and gleaming steel.
For those of you who don’t know Calgary but find yourselves in that town, if you are a photographer you MUST stop in to visit The Camera Store. It’s probably my favorite camera store anywhere, and that certainly includes New York City. A lack of attitude, or perhaps a really good attitude, is what truly seems to define the difference between The Camera Store and most big city shops. The place is full of people looking to help you with what ever your needs might be. The inventory is big, they seem to have every major and minor camera maker, lights, accessories of all kinds, and lots of really good photographic books. All in all, it’s a real treat. One walks in and feels good, at least if one is a photographer. Cstomers and store attendants are seen talking as if they’re old friends and in many cases it seems to be true.
Speaking of stores and cameras, this is the time of rumors regarding what marvels are about to be announced, what new and improved models are destined to be on the market. I’m sure they’ll be some wonderful things revealed. I don’t know if I’ll be trying any of them, we’ll see. I still think basically, a camera is a camera, is a camera. It’s the eye that has to improve and sometimes that’s a lot harder to do. I’m working on it, sometimes with more success than at other times.