All participants were required to post ten to fifteen photographs that represented their work and style of photography, to give David an idea of what each participant was capable of. The most memorable to me were from someone that submitted some amazing Holga shots of Coney Island. She even had some superwide stitched together in-camera shots. David asked her http://www.flickr.com/photos/deborahsmith/ if she was going to use the Holga for the class but sadly it would've been too consuming for her. Needless to say I was very impressed with most of what I saw. David selected a few photos from each portfolio for later review against what we shot during the workshop.
David looked over my photos that I submitted prior to the workshop and commented "I can see your influences, Winogrand and Friedlander. You have a firm grasp of street photography and know what you are doing. Are you going to continue shooting street in this workshop, or focus on a specific topic?" I had never had my shots in front of a workshop critque so was very nervous about this how my shots would stand up against the rest of the participants. It was great to get them in front of someone that understands street photography (for lack of a better term).
We got out of "class" around 1pm. I brought my lunch with me each day of the workshop in order to save time for shooting. The last thing I wanted was to wait for the check or be dependent on someone else to finish eating. I wanted to spend time talking with the group out of class so I ate my lunch with them, finished early, and left to go shoot on my own.
I had been shooting at SXSW 2010 the weekend prior to the workshop to see if I could come up with an essay; something that would be of interest to me. Even just prior to the workshop i wasn't at all sold on the idea of "creating" an essay. It still seemed foriegn to me; forced. I decided to be open to it nevertheless.
I should point out that Austin Center for Photography arranged for David to give a lecture to the public at the Blanton Museum on Wednesday evening of the workshop (Day 1). We weren't required to attend the speech, but how could we miss it? I have to say that one of the selfish reasons to take this workshop was also to meet and get to know more of the photographers in Austin. An expensive way to network, but also a way to show them my photography.
After lunch, I headed for the action. My turf was going to be 6th Street between Congress and Red River. This is where the action was. Bands playing in 20 minute stints and rotating between clubs. Indie rockers on street corners playing for anyone that might listen. Film people waiting in line to attend debuts of up and coming documentarists, and movie makers. There were private parties put on by sponsors; free booze, eats, etc. If you've never been to SXSW (South By Southwest), you might want to check it out some time in the future.
I never felt so alive in Austin. The amount of people on the streets exhilerated me. I couldn't believe what I was looking at. It was at this point that I let loose. I didn't really care about my "essay," I just kept shooting what was in front of me. I ran into several from the workshop, and expressed to them that I felt so free, free from my essay idea, almost as if selecting an essay set me free from the restrictions of it? The burden of it? I wasn't sure how this would pan out, but at this point I didn't really care. I never had this feeling in Austin before while shooting.
I didn't want to leave the streets but knew that if I didn't get home soon I wouldn't be able develop my film and get to the lecture on time. I got all seven rolls developed, gave them a once over glance to see if I had anything, grabbed a quick bite to eat (salad and a piece of steak) and headed to the lecture.
The lecture was great and I'll comment on this later. More free food after the speech, book signing by David. Several people were heading out for drinks, I headed home to my darkroom. I was excited to see my shots for the first time. I never know what to expect from my shooting. I always approach this process as if nothing has come out. I probably didn't expose properly, or didn't focus sharply enough. I printed contact sheets and while they were washing, selected the shots I wanted to print. I found about fifteen shots that I thought represented my essay and printed those. Once done printing, I dried them and then scanned them in order to digitize them for class.
I didn't want to stop printing but thought that a crop of 15 prints was enough to go on for the first review against my essay idea. When I was a teenager I can remember thinking that I had taken all the shots I can think of and was done with photography; nothing else interested me. I was done. I had this same thought with my photo essay idea. I had what I thought was 15 solid shots that exemplified my idea and wanted to move on to something else. I would tell David this when I reviewed my shots with him at the next day's review. )