It was nearly 6 years ago that my eternal learning curve in all things photography received one of it’s biggest boosts. It was over a weekend spent on a course with famed Land and Seascape photographer Jonathan Chritchley in his adopted home of Biarritz. There were supposed to be 3 more students but by some twist of fate I was the only one that made it! And when you consider that Jonathan has recently been voted in the Sunday Times ‘Top 100 Best Photographers of All Time’ and in Professional Photography Magazine’s ‘Top 100 Photography Heroes’ it certainly was a huge stroke of luck to have received 48hrs of 1:1 tuition from him.
I was still fully employed in my finance career at the time and needless to say I was hugely inspired by my weekend by the sea in South West France. I knew I wanted to turn my passion and fledgling business into a full time living but didn’t know how. But on discussing this on the way back to the airport Jonathan simply said to me ‘if you want to, you will’. The rest is history, as they say!
Anyhow over those 6 long years that have seen me make the transition from corporate life to a self employed pro-photographer I’ve been promising myself that one day I’d go and spend some more time with Jonathan. The only questions were when and where. Jonathan, under his trading name of ‘Ocean Capture‘ runs photo tours all over the world – China, Patagonia, Iceland, Africa…you name it. But one location he frequents quite regularly is Venice. I simply adore this stunning city. Indeed, I’ve been to Venice a couple of times and have captured some of my favourite destination wedding photographs there. I’m also completely mesmerised by it…what on earth led people some 15oo years ago to build a city on what were no more than sand banks dotted around the Adriatic lagoon using millions of wooden stilts gathered from ancient forests across Slovenia, Croatia, and Montenegro?
So the ‘where’ question was easy. With a busy diary the ‘when’ question was a little more tricky. However, during the course of a dreary morning a few months ago I took one look at my schedule and Ocean Capture’s workshop program and spotted the opportunity – a free diary one week in January happily coinciding with Jonathan’s next tour to Venice. And a new record was set for paying the deposit and booking the flights.
So why another course and why with Mr Chritchley? Well, as I’ve already hinted, in my view you can never stop learning – particularly in photography. I love Jonathan’s approach – mostly minimalist, fine art style, creating simplicity out of quite beautiful yet busy and messy scenes (and Venice presents the stiffest challenge for this!). I wanted to brush up on techniques for achieving it…not only for my own landscape photography but also for weddings too. Fortunately many of the locations that I photograph at are just gorgeous in their own right and I love creating fine art type images for my clients.
It’s quite difficult to achieve. An eye for a shot is the starting point. Then composition..and the trick is quite often in deciding what to leave out of the image rather than what to squeeze in. Long exposures (sometimes 5 minutes!) to create an ethereal effect and show motion in moving objects, such as cars and boats, are key. Black and White also provides a lovely fine art finish. Colour definitely has it’s place, and no more so in some scenes around Venice where it’s all about the pastel like colours – the teal coloured canals complimenting the terracotta shades of the buildings – but quite often by stripping away colour you reveal the beautiful subtleties of textures, shape and form and also light and tones. That’s what I love about black and white, along with it’s timeless appeal.
So here are some of the images that I created during my week of unabashed photographic indulgence in Venice. Some of the photographs are of the more familiar sites but there are also some of the ‘hidden Venice’, captured away from the main tourist drag and wigwams of selfie sticks!