Embrace The Grain - Workshop Review

I am not a prolific workshop enrollee!  In fact I've only taken 2 workshops total in the five year span that I've been intently studying the art and craft of photography.   I do think workshops are a great way to advance your skills and knowledge in photography, but for me I've really weighed the pro's and con's of the workshop before signing up and parting with my money.   I approached the Embrace the Grain workshop with the same careful consideration and in the end I decided to take the plunge and sign up and I am so glad I did!

Photographing with film is something that has intrigued me since I was a child, and film was all there was!  My father tried in vain to teach me the basics, and I just couldn't wrap my mind around it.  In highschool he gave me a nice manual, 35mm film camera, which I experimented with, only to get maybe one or two shots out of a roll. Eventually I moved into the world of point and shoots, digital and finally dslr.  About 5 years ago I managed to grasp the exposure triangle and really began to take control of my photographs.  Since that time I've studied exposure, white balance, composition, etc. with my dslr, but I still found myself mystified by and attracted to film photography.  Last summer I pulled back out the old 35 mm manual film camera, loaded a roll of film and began to experiment, applying what I had learned in my dslr journey.  Those first few rolls had some successes, but more misses.  I joined film groups, followed discussions, asked questions and learned as much as I could, but there was still an uncertainty and fear of failure that was holding me back.

I must be honest this same uncertainty and fear, almost prevented me from enrolling in Embrace the Grain.   I took some time to ask questions of both Joyce Kang, the instructor, and Heather Chang, the teaching assistant.  The two of them helped me think through why I wanted to shoot film and it was in my answering their questions that I discovered that I did indeed want to delve more deeply into film and a great way to do that would be this workshop.

For me the workshop gave me the permission to explore, experiment and fail.  I also had a group of ladies encouraging me and cheering me on.  Joyce, Heather and the other attendees were great in pointing out what was correct in each photo, instead of just what I did incorrectly.  This really helped me to embrace the beauty of what I was creating on film, even though much of it was imperfect by the standards I've learned in digital work.  Joyce's weekly pdf's were full of helpful information on exposing and choosing different film stocks.  We explored b&w, color, slide film, toy cameras, and more.  In addition to the technical information she also introduced us to several different film photographers and their work.  Questions were always answered promptly and both Joyce and Heather were open books with their information.  

The first couple of weeks of the workshop, honestly I was overwhelmed by the technical skills we were learning and using, but by the third week I began to ease back into my style and transfer my voice over to the images I was creating.  I would impatiently send my film off for developing, anxiously awaiting the scans to arrive so that I could discover whether or not I had captured my vision.

With each roll I realized that I was becoming more intentional and capturing on film, what I saw in my head before I pressed the shutter, and without any post processing needed.  I realized I had met my two main goals, becoming more intentional and regaining the time I was spending post processing my digital images.

As the workshop came to an end I had the knowledge and the skills I needed for capturing my vision on film and I had a great group of new friends and cheer leaders to rally on beside me as I continue to learn and experiment.  I also had overcome much of the fear and apprehension that was holding me back, as I realized that I really could capture my vision, and express my voice in the medium of film.  If you are considering this workshop, I say jump in head first and be prepared to be challenged and encouraged and to discover the beauty and imperfection of the medium of film!


A few more of the images I captured throughout the workshop.

All images taken during the workshop on either a Nikon f100 or Canon AE-1P, processed and scanned buy either The FIND Lab, or Indie Lab.