The Hunter and the Fisherman - Venice 2014

Earlier this month (June) I and the accomplished landscape photographer Steve Gosling hosted a 3 day photographic workshop in Venice, Italy for Olympus UK. It was well attended by photographers from as far afield as Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, Austria and London. They were a very interesting and enthusiastic group. The concept behind this workshop, to have two tutors, one who focussed on landscape and one who mostly now photographs people, was Steve’s idea. It turned out that this was indeed the main attraction for most of the participants who booked up. All well and good in principal then, but how did it actually work in practice?

Steve Gosling (by NBG)

Neil Buchan Grant (by SG)

To put two photographers with such different approaches together to instruct a group with a coherent voice could have led at the very least, to a degree of confusion on the part of the students and at worst, chaos, anarchy and possibly even ‘tripods at dawn!’ I’m glad to say however, that it went extremely well. I suspect this was in part due to the fact that myself and Steve get on very well and have a healthy respect for each other’s work. Additionally we both appreciate the many routes one can take to achieve the same goal. The workshop members seemed to enjoy the contrast of styles and utilised the information that most applied to their own photographic aims.

Over the three days, we did many shoots together throughout the back streets of Venice in addition to focussing on our own specialities. Steve conducted two dawn shoots around the most iconic parts of Venice, allowing the students to see Venice without the crowds or the harsh sunlight that normally obstructs good landscape photography. Regardless of the very early starts required for these, they were very well attended, so I’m told!

I ran two sessions with models, one in the late morning and one in the late afternoon. We worked with reflectors and off camera flash to achieve a variety of looks. The two models who helped us were quite different too. Our first model, Ira Lothiriel was 23 years old and had a very sweet nature, she enchanted everyone with her enthusiasm and innocent demeanour. Chiara Sgarbossa, a more experienced model who also presents a weekly show on Italian television, displayed a great range of dramatic looks and brought with her a stunning wardrobe of designer dresses. We shot her on many of the canal bridges and in no time at all the gondoliers were serenading her. To her credit, she handled their advances with the charm and wit of a movie star. We had several challenging but highly rewarding sessions with Chiara in the beating heart of Venice, Piazza San Marco. Chiara was wearing very high heels (by Gucci) and a beautiful Venetian mask with great big feathers. We nearly started a riot as the hoards of tourists clambered, shoved and ‘elbowed’ amongst our group to get a picture. At one point the police even asked us to move along as we (mostly the tourists) were causing a blockage in the colonnades! We also managed to squeeze in a number of individual portfolio reviews with most of the participants and we shared several enjoyable meals and drinks with those who were staying near us. Overall, it seems our two-pronged approach was a big success with the workshop attendees, with many expressing an interest in doing more such workshops. I’m very grateful to Steve for asking me to share this workshop with him and to his well-humoured, lovely wife Julie who came along on many of the sessions to keep him in check! So watch this space! I think there may be more “Hunter and Fisherman’ workshops happening in the future! That term by the way, refers to Steve’s astute observation that there are two types of photographers, those who seek out their subjects and move straight on to the next and those who find the perfect location and wait for the right combination of light and circumstance to make the picture complete. Both entirely valid approaches which can, it seems, be taught and learned very well on one single workshop!
Here are some of my ‘hunter’ shots from the workshop and also some made during the days and nights before the workshop.

The Grand Canal

Chiara Sgarbossa staying cool under pressure

the delightful Ira Lothiriel

Ira Lothiriel

Chiara Sgabossa being serenaded by gondoliers

Chiara Sgarbossa

Ira Lothiriel

Chiara Sgarbossa in a dark alley

Ira Lothiriel

Chiara Sgarbossa

Romantic moment in Piazza San Marco

a constipated chiwawa who’s eyes and growl suggested imminent photographer castration!

Well dressed man happy to be photographed

bridal shoot in the Piazza

Piazza San Marco after midnight

the astonishing Irving Penn exhibition at Palazzo Grassi

a mystery lady at the exhibition

Venice resident and eager location scout

back streets of Venice

the colonnades at Piazza San Marco

a cocky delivery boy chances his arm with the unimpressed florist

a market trader at the Rialto bridge

well dressed man seen at 5.30 am

a stylish couple watch the bands play

Catarina Brunoni who joined me for a test shoot

pre-dawn shoot in Piazza San Marco

Caterina Brunoni

pre-dawn Doge’s Palace

Caterina Brunoni

Dawn breaks over Venice

an intrepid Julie Gosling finds the perfect shooting position


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