Thursday, November 15, 2012

Visual Story telling - Training to fill the gap

It’s no secret that the marketplace for professional photographers has undergone a massive change over the past decade. The affordability of good quality equipment and opportunities provided by the web has been a double-edged sword for the pro shooter. It’s never been easier to get your work out there, but in a world saturated with images, a lot harder to make your images stand out from the crowd. Having the gear and knowing how to use it is only part of the equation, being able to create multiple meaningful images that stand out from the visual pap and linger in memory of the audience is a bit more difficult. Creating visually compelling photographs is important, creating a body of work that has structure, narrative and successfully compete for the audience's attention, more so. 
East Timorese return to the burnt out remains of their homes only to find rogue elements with the departing Indonesian Military burning nearby buildings. September 1999 © David Dare Parker 
Most professional photographers know this and many have diversified their product range to include workshops or training packages to cater for a growing market of amateurs or semi-professionals who want to take their picture making to the next level. Over the years I have had a lot of experience with photographers workshops, from the perspective of participant, organiser and also presenter. If there is one thing that I have learnt from that experience it is that being a good photographer does not equate to being a good educator. These days, the bulk of my income is derived from providing training to aspiring professional photographers, and trust me, being a good photographic educator demands very different skill-sets to being a good shooter.
Maubisse market, East Timor  © Martine Perret
So, I became very excited when two friends of mine told me that they are developing a visual story-telling workshop that will be delivered here in Perth. Not only are David Dare Parker and Martine Perret internationally recognised photographers, but based on my own observations whilst working alongside them delivering photographic training, they also know how to teach. It's an extremely important point to consider when looking for a training provider. Despite their reputations, ego has not got the better of them and maybe (probably) because of the work that they are both renowned for, I found them both to be patient, empathetic tutors who are able to break down information into easily understood building blocks, providing their students with a solid foundation of real knowledge, not just the feel good factor. These guys know how to inspire, entertain, but most importantly, inform.
Martine Perret (right) acting as model during a workshop we conducted for the Timorese professional photographic community. Dili, Timor-Leste, January 2012. © Julian Tennant

David Dare Parker (left) discussing some of the issues facing Timorese journalists during a visit to the Dili office of the International Centre for Journalists, Timor-Leste 2009. © Julian Tennant
Their Visual Narrative workshop, which runs in Perth on the weekend of 15th and 16th of December costs $475 including GST.   Across the two days, David and Martine will mentor you through the craft of visual storytelling. You will learn about:
* Tools of the trade: still photographs, video and audio
* The craft of storytelling through photographic images
* Finding and researching a subject and theme
* Shooting to tell the story
* Editing your photo essay
* The use of multimedia in storytelling: Platforms and trends
* Developing your personal vision or style
* Ethics and responsibilities in documentary photography

I think that this workshop is extremely useful in helping all photographers develop a skill-set that is often neglected, but vital in taking image making to the next level. Whilst David and Martine’s backgrounds may be photojournalism and documentary photography their workshop will be useful to all photographers. Visual story telling is something we all do, from those holiday snaps to weddings to developing an advertising narrative for commercial applications. Great value and an ideal Christmas present IMO. For more information go to