Adam Marelli Photo Workshops
Before & After
[ CYRUS ]
There are a lot of photography
workshops out there. How can
you be sure you are getting
the best value out there? Here
is the first case study to share
the before & after success of
an Adam Marelli Photo
Before I start working with someone, whether it is a workshop or a One-on-One, I try to get a sense of their perspective. Its helpful to understand why a someone decides to pick up a camera. I want to know what motivates them to devote the thankless hours of research, study, and practice. Once I can see where they are coming from, I can start building a program that is right for them. Depending on whether they are a workshop veteran like Cyrus, who completed Jay Maisel’s workshop twice before working with me or they are a total newbie, the approach needs to be different. When it comes to teaching photography there is no “one size fits all” solution. While the proverbial mountain may be the same the routes to success are as varied as the rocks on Mt. Everest.
The set of images that Cyrus sent me were all street photography. With his British sense of humor he enjoyed playing with the relationship of billboards to pedestrians. The literal translation of the images was visible, but visually they were not working. He could sense that and wanted to know how to make a picture stronger. Like many people, he felt that something was off, but could not put his finger on it. That is where I come into the picture. When he arrived in NYC, I took some of his favorite photographers (Cartier-Bresson, Manos, ect.) and showed him the tools they were using in their picture, but they were not revealing in interviews.
Out on the streets, just after a freak ice storm, we walked downtown to find some ideal situations. During the learning or re-learning phase of a workshop we are not looking for the next cover of National Geographic. We want to simplify the elements, so that he had lessons to practice when he returned to London. I wanted to give him a set of ideas that would not be overwhelming, but rather they were intended to be just at the threshold of his skill set. We found all the examples we needed to set Cyrus off in a new direction.
A few months after the workshop I checked in on his progress. His new image were striking. They were clear, powerful and a long way from his earlier shots. He said that he felt like he could SEE a difference when he was walking around. His busy schedule only allows for him to shoot sporadically. Many of the lessons he learned were internalized over the coming months. When he returned to his photo library he was seeing the same shots by Cartier-Bresson and Manos in a completely different light.
When I asked him if the lessons I gave him were helpful he said:
My Invitation to You
I never set out to be a teacher and in many ways that is not how I see myself. I prefer to think of myself as an artist who opened his studio to people dedicated to learning the visual language. It is something that grew very organically. The further I pushed my own practice, the more often I found people asking me “Hey how can I do that?” or “How did you figure that out?”
By approaching photography after years of drawing, sculpture, and building, I realized that the systems of design really do connect all of the arts. The visual language is something that we all want to learn. Next time you are with a group of kids, take notice of how many of them say drawing is their favorite activity. Humans are creative beings. Its in our nature. These workshops are an opportunity for you to reconnect with the primal impulses that got you to pick up a camera in the first place. We all have a unique perspective and deserve an opportunity to learn the tools that will allow us to express our thoughts, emotions, and indescribable feelings about the world around us.
Hope to see you at a workshop soon.