24 October 2016
London RPS had a very exciting workshop last weekend and I booked a place: Beyond The Surface. Well, I did happen to organise it as well, but that means I know when it goes up on the events page and can get a place before they all disappear.
Peter Fraser ran the workshop. He is a fine art photographer with many exhibitions (Tate St Ives, Photographers Gallery) several photobooks, plus his photographs are held in museum collections such as the V&A.
We started on Friday evening with a 2 hour overview of Peter’s work with slide show including personal anecdotes about how he started in photography and his time living with Eggleston. It was great to have our very own talk and to be able to interrupt with questions, not to wait till the end and put our hands up! Approaching Eggleston and asking if he could stay with him in America was the most difficult thing, he says, that he has ever done. He was at an event with Eggleston, he knew the great man liked a drink or two so he kept an eye on the drinks table, when he saw Eggleston head that way he made a beeline for the table and the rest is history.
I was very excited for the Saturday as Peter said that our photography will “never be the same again”! But we were not given any clues. So, Saturday morning Peter explains his theory that the conscious mind is small in comparison to the vast unconscious mind, and it is in the unconscious that our deepest creativity lies and all that makes us unique and different from anyone else. He said he would teach us a technique to bring our creativity to the surface and then we can take photos, just following whatever pulls us towards it. In essence we were to find a safe place and shut our eyes for 20 minutes, relax and on opening our eyes we had to start photogaphing because of the way we felt, not because of the way things looked. This might last 2 minutes or 30 minutes so during the day we had the opportunity to try it out several times. We were based in the middle of Regents Park, we had a wonderful range of locations to explore -urban streets, park, zoo.
The final day we spent back in the room going through all the images and learning a little about editing. Peter chose some images taken by each of us and explained why he thought these were the best. We then made him choose his favourite two and that is the selection at the top of this page. Peter is looking for the photographer’s attention to things overlooked, to a sense of being invited to enter the world of the photographer, to the details that we often pass by and for an image to “delight the eye”.
It was certainly quite a different way of taking photos for me. I have only been doing this for a couple of years and the weekend really threw many rules into the bin. Composition proved to be a dirty word, don’t worry about blown highlights and having much in focus. Peter said many of the best images are due to intensity of feeling in the photographer at the moment of taking the image, so lots to think about there.
If you think you would be interested in a similar workshop with Peter Fraser, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and if there is enough interest we can ask Peter if he would like to run this again.
If you would like to hear Peter Fraser speak about his work you can do so on 9th November when he is giving a lecture for London Independent Photographers, details here http://www.londonphotography.org.uk/events/2016/Fraser_JHLecture.php