O, Canada

Note(s) to self:

  • Vancouver has really, really good food.
  • Calgary is not only really cold, but really, really cool, too.
  • Try to brush up on your hockey knowledge before traveling to Canada, not while at the bar, trying to impress people.
  • Don’t underestimate the zealous-ness of Canadian Border Patrol Guards

That last point is especially important. Seriously, just take my word for it.

I’m finally out from under the mountain of backlogged emails, jobs, and chores that piled up while I was in Death Valley for a few days, followed by a few days in Seattle (truncated courtesy of the CBP), followed by a few days in Vancouver (almost eliminated by the CBP), followed by a few days in Calgary (nyah-nyah-nyah, CBP! Can’t keep a good man down!). I’m pretty glad to be home. Full workshop recap, with photos, after the jump

I was in Vancouver on invitation from Vancouver Photo Workshops, which turns out to be a MUCH larger operation than I’d originally envisioned. Marc “Red Light” and Xenija “Border Goddess” Koegel run an absolutely awesome studio/gallery/workshop space that is more or less any photographer’s fantasy. The caliber of instructors is quite impressive (or, in my case, intimidating): Arthur Meyerson, Greg Gorman, Dan Burkholder, Gregory Heisler, Ralph Gibson, Jay Maisel, Joe McNally, Freeman Patterson, Mary Ellen Mark…….and uh, me. Yeah, I don’t get it either.

We held the first workshop day in an absolutely KILLER architect-designed space full of compositional wonders. Arches, inverted arches, staircases, glass, stone, metal and the owner’s magnificent art collection. Here’s the group shot we made at the end of the day:

For Day Two, Marc booked us into a humble little 8,300 square foot bit of builder’s model that surpasses nearly any workshop venue I’ve ever taught in — on par with the Mediterranean Villa we used in Spain. Here we drilled into composition and advanced lighting skills, finishing up the day with a demonstration of the fabled 24mm Tilt-Shift:

Here’s the group photo from the end of that day:


Day Three was in yet another good venue, this time a townhouse about 45 minutes outside Vancouver – this place stood in stark contrast to the traditional architecture we had been in the day before – it was all modern and sleek and shiny edges. New challenges! Here’s one from the end of the day:

Marc, Xenija and the staff at VPW run a pretty awesome ship, and if you have a chance to take any of the extensive courses they offer, don’t hesitate, just do it. They won’t let you down.


With that, I was off to Calgary, where the temperature at landing was a comfortable 22 degrees. Below Zero. That’s -30 celsius, folks. Cold. Apparently, Calgarians are not affected by the ambient temperature, however. One morning, I ventured out of my hotel in search of some real coffee, bundled up in pretty much all of the clothing I had brought with me and still suffering, when I passed a guy on the street wearing nothing but jeans and a hoodie, drinking a Slurpee. True story.

Photo by Julian Ferreira

The Calgary workshop was organized by The Camera Store, which (like VPW) surprised me with it’s robust-ness. Why the hell doesn’t the Bay Area have a store like this?! Jim Slobodian, Evelyn Drake, Julian Ferriera, and Peter Jeune  (as well as the rest of the staff) were extremely good to me, even to the point of letting me more or less pillage the rental department to make up for my lack of gear (see: Border Patrol, above).

We held two days of workshop in a private residence made available to us by an anonymous donor who happens to have an utterly world-class collection of photo books that frankly made it difficult for me to concentrate on teaching. Day one we worked on the fundamentals of equipment, workflow, and basic lighting. Day Two things got more interesting; we had a little 2-hour boot camp of exposure/flash/ambient drills, followed by a series of increasingly more nuanced photos.

Photo by Julian Ferreira

This group, as much as any I’ve ever worked with, really got it. Some fantastic shots showed up on the backs of cameras, and there were a lot of “ah hah” moments. I know I had a great time. Evelyn Drake, Camera Store Web-Mistress, wrote up a little blog post documenting the day.

The inevitable group shot:

To everyone who participated in the Vancouver and Calgary workshops, and to those who braved the snow (Vancouver) and cold (Calgary) to hear me speak — THANKS.

I’ve got a long list of blog posts stacked up…..so stay tuned!

8 responses to “O, Canada

  1. Great work Scott!

    Are you doing another workshop in Southern California anytime soon?

  2. Why do you look so little in that first group shot?!

  3. Will you ever be coming to the Dallas / Fort Worth, Texas (or maybe I can get lucky and you come to Little Rock, Arkansas) area?

  4. Regarding other workshops — I have not been approached for any workshops in the US or elsewhere this year. I’m sure something will come up, we’ll see.

  5. Soooooooo – not coming back to Canada anytime soon eh?

    Got your e-book a week before my first job – loved it – client loved the photos, booked more. Still learning.


  6. Thanks for the great Calgary workshop. I got my money’s worth in the first couple hours. All the best!

  7. I second the motion of having a workshop in D/FW. There are good rates on flights to here. If you consider it and need me to spot something out for you, let me know.

  8. I have a feeling I could be the guy with the slurpee <.<
    self confessed slurpee addict.

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