Feb 272015

It pays to be a Winner

Workshop Alumni Success



Robert Van Koesveld winner of the Leica Akademie Australia 50/50 Contest

Robert Van Koesveld winner of the Leica Akademie Australia 50/50 Contest

What’s a workshop do for you

You do not have to look very far to find the world of photography workshops on the Internet.  Run by the very best and very worst photographers around the globe, they all make big promises, but who ever checks in to see if they were successful?  Today we will congratulate an Adam Marelli Workshop alumni who took the lessons he learned, applied them, and landed on the high side of victory, both personally and professionally.

© Robert Van Koesveld

© Robert Van Koesveld

Robert Van Koesveld

Last week, Robert won the Leica Akademie Australia’s 50/50 contest which carried with it a new Leica D-Lux Type 109.  Not a bad prize to take away.  Reviewing the submissions, it is no surprise that Robert won.  Why?  The picture carries a number of strengths that are tough to beat, especially in competitions….Here is a list, in no particular order.  You might want to review your images and see how many pictures you have that possess all of these elements simultaneously:

  1. Simplicity. Look at a small thumbnail of the photograph. It is amazingly simple and clear, which gives it the best chance of communicating clearly.  Too many images suffer from unnecessary clutter and are passed over because the viewer just can’t figure out what to look at.
  2. Action.  I could not say how many times I’ve written that the action in a photography is best set on a diagonal.  By using the static staircase, on a diagonal, it adds movement to the picture and enhances the flutter of the feet because one gesture echoes the other.
  3. Color.  The easiest way to approach a color image is to have either a cool background with a warm subject or a warm background with a cool subject.  In this case, the bulk of the image is cool (blue/green/grey) and the subject (the feet coming down the stairs) are warm.
  4. Proper Contrast.  The area of highest contrast will always pull the eye.  In simplified language, the lightest light, up against the darkest dark, will attract the eye.  If the subject is somewhere else, there will be problems.  But here Robert has the highest contrast in his subject.
  5. Location.  Photography is a medium that travels well.  But many pictures look like they could have been taken anywhere.  Here we get a sense of place without the obvious gimmicks of street signs, written language, or over the top local dress.
  6. Patience.  The one button you will never find on any camera is “Patience.”  Just from looking at this photograph, I have a sense of how it was made, even though I have not talked to Robert about it yet.
© Robert Van Koesveld

© Robert Van Koesveld

Robert is not my typical workshop attendee.  He lands on the more accomplished end of the photography spectrum because he runs his own photo tours, he has published photography books, and this is not the first award he has won.  But while we were in the Kyoto Workshop together, one thing he wanted to understand more fully was how do I visualize a picture, before it happens.  We spent time walking through locations, eyeing up potential shots.  The advantage of a workshop setting was that we could shoot, side by side, he could ask questions, make corrections and re-shoot immediately.  After five days together, he said he understood more clearly how to anticipate a shot.  Now, I don’t actually know if he took this shot before or after the workshop, but my guess is that it was after.  I could be putting my foot in my mouth with this one, but it seems to me that Robert spotted this image, without the feet coming down the stairs, and waited for it to happen.  What do you think?  I think Robert was able to add another tool into his photographic repertoire and the results are clear.  It pays to be a winner.

Congratulations again to Robert and we look forward to seeing you in a workshop soon…

Up Next Florence Workshop

  • Florence/Italy, 2 spaces left
  • Matera/Italy, SOLD OUT
  • Berlin/Germany
  • London/England
  • Prague/Czech Republic
  • Venice/Italy, SOLD OUT
  • Kyoto/Japan, SOLD OUT



  6 Responses to “It pays to be a winner | Robert Van Koesveld”

  1. This is beautiful on many levels, especially in its simplicity. Congratulations to Robert. I am printing this post to keep your points for a quick reminder before every shoot.

    • Rebecca,

      Was thinking there should be a little notebook with bullets for people to carry around.

      Great suggestion…its always great to have a useful voice in your pocket.


  2. When I saw for the 1st time a photo from Robert at the introduction session in Adam’s Kyoto workshop… I thought “wow”. And now again “wow”!. Congratulations Robert!

    • Dirk,

      Always great to hear from you…Its impressive to see how many winners are coming out of the Kyoto Workshops. You guys are doing wonderfully.


  3. Thanks Adam – a beautiful photo by Robert and very instructive notes from you. One day I’ll get to book one of your workshops. Definitely on my wish list!

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