Workshop Photography: The Picture Package

Over the past few weeks I’ve been having conversations with several of the people I’m working with on my upcoming workshops. I’ve also had a conversation or two with people who are taking the workshops. The energy associated with a class like this is creatively intense. People, staff and students alike, want to maximize their time. One of the ways I like to do this when I’m taking a workshop or working on a project is by thinking in terms of the picture package, a half dozen or so related images that tell a small story. Add all the picture packages together and you have a larger theme. This theme can then translate into a book, a multimedia package, etc.

The picture package allows you to feel small successes as the time, or workshop, progresses. If I look at my current New Mexico project, I have completed picture packages on the Spaceport, the UFO Festival, White Sands, etc. I could do an entire project on any ONE of these topics, but my goal is a broader look at a larger idea. So, I create packages.

So have a look and listen and see if this helps.

Polaroid from El Mirage

This baby was taken a long time ago, on El Mirage Dry Lake. I was shooting and traveling on my motorcycle with 4×5 Crown Graphic, and Polaroid Type 55, a unique beast of a film that is no longer with us. For you geeks who think you can fake this look by scanning the border and applying your digital file to the middle, think again. It wasn’t just the border, it was the lens and falloff of the camera that also made this look.

Not to mention the tones and feel of the “roid.” It was a grand thing. You can still get this film, in limited quantities, and for a much higher price than what was originally intended for this product. There are rumors of someone buying the machines of Polaroid and reviving this once great entity, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

This was a fun way of working. Slowly. Methodical. One sheet at a time, packing and unpacking the bike. Spending time with people. talking, telling stories, hearing stories. You can’t do a drive by with a 4×5.

I used to shoot portraits, and commercial jobs with this camera until parts and pieces of it began to break off and fall at the feet of the client. “Ah, something just fell out of your camera,” they would say. “Oh ya, I don’t need that anymore,” I would answer as I quickly tried to distract them.

I really miss this damn thing. A friend just made me a 4×5 pinhole, which I have yet to use, but I will in the coming days.