Oct 162015
 
The Altenburg home prepares to begin another day as the sun rises. © Harald Claessen

The Altenburg home prepares to begin another day as the sun rises. © Harald Claessen

Photography fulfills many roles for each of us.  It can be a way to unwind from work, a creative outlet for a spirit we always knew we had, or an excuse to spend idiotic amounts of time comparing tools that all basically do the same thing.  Regardless of your goals, the thing we all have in common is that We want something out of this world and believe that photography is one way to get there.

A\M Matera Workshop 2015

Just a few weeks before the workshop, Harald Claessan asked if there was still a spot available.  A photographer needed to postpone for medical reasons so Harald was able to join us.   For every workshop, my suggestion is to COME WITH A GOAL.  It does not need to be complicated, elaborate, or even impressive.  The simple ambition to shoot on manual or be comfortable talking to a model is a great start.  What always happens is the photographers who set goals accomplish them and the others…well, they tend to feel unfulfilled but never know why.  I’m happy to see more of the first group and very few of the second.

Harald’s Matera goal was straight forward.  He wanted to focus on making a single image.  He wanted to know:

  • What mistakes he was consistently making?
  • How could he spot a picture before it happened?
  • How could he stop making the same mistakes so he could move onto new ones?

If he could get 10 solid pictures by the end of the workshop he would be happy.  More importantly, he wanted to take his photography up one level.  But what does “up one level” really mean?

I’m not sure there is a workshop out there that does not promise to:

  • Take you to the next level
  • Help you find your signature style
  • Tap into your creativity

But in reality how many programs actually do this?  Sure it’s a great marketing pitch, but is it all meaningless fluff?

When I say next level, I mean that a photographer is working their way up the ladder from camera owner, to photographer, to eligible professional.  The reason I say eligible is because many people would like to know that they COULD get paid as a photographer or COULD win professional level awards.  They might not want to leave their current job and do this, but they want to know they are good enough to be able to play ball.

I always tell people, if you came to me and said, “I want to be a sculptor or I want to be a professional builder, can you teach me?”  The answer is no…I would need you for at least a few years.  But photography?  Absolutely…you can go from zero to fully functioning in less than a year.  Why? It’s just not that complicated.  Having studied drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, and worked as a professional builder for 12 years…I can say from experience, some things take longer to learn than others.  This is not to say that photography is any less of an art; it’s just got a shorter learning curve.  I’ve taken people through it…it is much easier to get people up to speed than the other arts I practice.

“Nikki is living on borrowed time,” said Danielle, as she and her husband Shane administer medicine to Nikki in her bedroom. They give her medicine every morning following her daily dialysis. Nikki has had multiple kidney transplants in her life and last December, it began failing again. The couple married last year. © Harald Claessen

“Nikki is living on borrowed time,” said Danielle, as she and her husband Shane administer medicine to Nikki in her bedroom. They give her medicine every morning following her daily dialysis. Nikki has had multiple kidney transplants in her life and last December, it began failing again. The couple married last year. © Harald Claessen

After the Matera Workshop, Harald and I stayed in touch.  He was thinking the next level for him meant working on his story telling.  To do this, he wanted to apply to the Missouri Photo Workshop.  In case you have not heard of it, a photo journalist friend of mine, Sebastian Meyer, said this week,” It’s one of the top two programs in the country.”  (Sebastian is one of the co-founders of the first all Iraqi photo agency Metrography and a top tier photojournalist himself.)

In order to apply to the Missouri Photo Workshop, Harald needed a letter of recommendation which I was happy to provide.  I felt that his professional background and his dedication would make him a strong candidate.  A few months later, he was accepted.  The program was a huge success for him and he sent me this note once his story was published:

Hello Adam,

Today I return from the Missouri Photo Workshop and I wanted to share with you the story that I made last week. Thanks again for your support. I would not have been able to participate without your support. Thank you!
Harald

 Here is a link to the story that he researched, pitched, shot, and edited over the course of the workshop.  It was really exciting to be a part of the process.  View Harald Claessen’s entire story here.

Too many photographers sell themselves short, talk themselves out of possibilities, and never reach anywhere near their full potential.  But when someone comes to me with specific goals and the willingness to learn, the results speak for themselves.  Please join me in giving Harald a huge round of applause and I hope that his story encourages you to take the next steps, whatever that means for you.

See you at the “Next Level!”

Best-AM

 

  9 Responses to “A\M Workshop Alumni Success Story: Harald Claessen”

  1. Congratulations Harald!

  2. These are fantastic images Harald. Really enjoyed the story from your images. What an incredible family. Your images really showed the absolute kindness of the family. Truly beautiful. Thanks for sharing these Harald

    • Michelle,
      It has been great to see how much you and Harald have accomplished since the Matera Workshop…it is outstanding.

      Keep up the good work.

      Best-AM

  3. Dear Harald,

    your images capture the intensity of an extraordinary life.
    Extraordinary people, situations and an extraordinary way of taking care.
    Creating a good life for everyone.

    Head on the floor – as my Japanese friends say
    Monika

    • Dear Monika,
      Always great to see you encouraging the other photographers. I am very pleased that the comment threads here are strikingly different from what I find on other site. You guys are the best.
      Bowing many times (partially in preparation for Japan)
      -AM

  4. Great story which expresses the life of this family with passion and emotion.

  5. Adam, what a thought-provoking and inspiring text !
    Thanks

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