Headed home yesterday. No break in the action, though. Today I am in the city and I start Jay Maisel’s workshop at the bank. Had to cancel a couple times, and it took a year and a half to send in checks in increments, but I am finally here. Jay’s reaction to all my shilly shallying? “I knew you were gonna be a pain in the ass, McNally.”
We could all use a dose of such direct honesty when it comes to our pictures, trust me. The congenial, supportive, “Awesome frame, dude” that gets tossed around the internet is all well and good, but there are times when our pictures just suck, and we have to hear that, too. There are days when, to borrow my buddy Moose Peterson’s phrase, I can’t find a pixel with a shovel. I hope I don’t have one of those this week, but it’s highly likely.
Classic Jay critique…..”See, I don’t think you gave a shit about this picture when you shot it cause you’re not making me give a shit about it now.”
Jay’s pure New York, and has incredible visual intelligence to boot. That’s a tough combo to weather. Maybe that’s why you get a “I Survived the Jay Maisel Workshop” t-shirt at the end of it. (I spent a week in New York and all I got was this lousy t-shirt?)
That, and hopefully a few good frames. Good, bad or indifferent, I will blog everyday next week, and post results of my shooting. Readers/editors/art directors (even Ranger 9) are invited to comment as you see fit.
Classic Jay….to someone who was obviously velcroed to their tripod, and shot an extraordinarily large number of uninteresting photos from the exact same spot. “Move your ass.” Presumably the camera moves with it.
I broke into the business in the city, shooting newspaper and wire service work. But then, seduced by color and the realization I would have never made for much of a newspaper shooter, I migrated to magazines. So shooting consistently on the streets is something I have not done in a long while, and I am looking forward to once again pounding the pavement, camera in hand.
Classic Jay at a Rich Clarkson workshop in Wyoming….A participant’s photo of a bedraggled elk with fur so splotchy it looked like a walking piece of carpet from a Motel 6 is on the screen and the faculty member next to him utters an unfortunately audible “Awwwww.” Jay looks over and says, “There’s a sucker born every minute.”
It’ll be an interesting week. Jay has already looked at me with a wicked gleam in his eye and said, “I’m putting you out of your comfort zone, McNally.” Broad smile. “No lights.”
Now for the Second Part of New York, New York…
I’m teaching a Nat Geo Expeditions workshop in NY the week Oct. 26th. From what they tell me down at the shop, there are still spots available.
We did have a blast last time. Toodled all over NY, cameras in hand, shooting people, skylines, bridges, you name it. It runs really smoothly, mostly cause I stay out of that aspect of things.
The organization is taken care of by the incomparable New Yorker, Liza Politi, who just may have originated the phrase, “Let’s do it my way, shall we?” Roughly translated, “Politi” means, “she who kills silently with a knife.” It’s handy to have someone with her grit and skills leading us through the mean streets of NY. Last time she was handing out subway tokens, giving a brief lecture on the historical significance of the neighborhood we were about to photograph, and single handedly subduing all three members of a Chinese street gang who got too close for comfort and were eyeballing a couple of our participants from the Midwest like they were overlarge dumplings already on toothpicks and coated with a zesty sauce. It gets interesting down on Canal St., sometimes.
We go uptown, downtown, round the town. A week of camera basics, hand holding, exposure, lighting, seeing, showing. Emphasis on the seeing. And there’s a lot to see in New York.