I’ve been back from Rome for almost two weeks now. Every minute of each day has been filled with answering emails, taking registrations, planning new workshops, scheduling, writing, recording… I’ve have had very little time to take my camera on the streets and I really miss it. I also miss the friends I left in Rome.
Photography and friends is such a happy mix! I remember the days when I was a commercial photographer, the daily routine of Shoot – Edit – Repeat was not entirely satisfying. Making the decision to quit and follow my true passion to see the world through my camera and inspiring others along the way was the best risk I ever took!
I immediately realized that teaching what you are truly passionate about is the best job in the world. The friendships that developed in the process came as an unexpected gift. I could not think of a more satisfying way to live my life.
Live your dreams!
Speaking of friends…
I photographed this woman on a bench in Rome. As a street photographer, I always look for the extraordinary in everyday life. The fact that she was sitting alone in the middle of the bench struck me as unusual. She looked lonely and a bit sad. I grabbed a shot as she made eye contact.
I waited a couple of minutes, enough time for her to forget I was there and… She was joined by two friends, her body language changed entirely. She became alive!
“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” Marcel Proust
Shot with the Fujifilm X100T at 23mm, ISO 1250 F/5.6 1/250 sec.
Thanks for visiting my bog. Join me on a photo adventure!
The news of Prince’s death came like a shock in the entire world on Thursday, April 21st. Even if you are not a Prince fan, you cannot deny his incredible talent and the influence he’s had on the music scene for several decades.
You can imagine the impact the tragic news had in his own city of Minneapolis. The home of First Avenue where Purple Rain was born. Prince put Minneapolis on the music map. Minneapolis is also my second home…
Instead of staying glued to the news, I needed to be with people one Thursday night and mourn the passing of this amazing talent with music, tears and hugs.
I went to First Avenue (the club where Purple Rain was filmed) where a large crowd had gathered to attend an all night music block party that was to take place just hours after the announcement of Prince’s death.
It was an emotional evening. Everyone had a story to share. Prince had touched so many local lives in so many different ways…
I went back to First Avenue on Saturday afternoon. Today, Sunday, Minneapolis is crying purple tears. After visiting the new mural by local artist Rock “Cyfi” Martinez in Uptown, I made my way to Paisley Park Studios several miles away. It was an emotional day, but I needed to document it. My way of dealing with one of the greatest music loss of our generation.
Rest in Peace, Purple Prince…
We are gathered here today
To get through this thing called life
One of the best parts of any photo workshop is the final presentation where students share a selection of their favorite photographs of the week. I’m always amazed at the growth they experience in just a few days. For some, this workshop marked their first steps as street photographers. Others, more experienced, challenged themselves by chasing the light. They all learned to photograph with more intent and made great strides in their craft. I am very proud of their accomplishments!
As a group, we not only shared our passion for photography for a week, we also shared many conversations and good laughs over great Italian meals.
Each workshop holds a special place in my heart as I make life-long friends along the way, and that’s a beautiful way to live your life!
Here is a slide show of some of my students’ work captured on the streets of Roma last week…
I would like to give a special thank you to my dear friend Karen Hutton for sharing this wonderful week with the group and to Fujifilm USA for supporting our efforts to share the passion with others around the world. Never forget to LIVE YOUR DREAMS!
“Life doesn’t get much better than spending a week in Rome with Valérie – she’s a superb guide to the street photography experience. Her love of the genre is contagious – helping me see in new ways in special places – while both learning and having fun together! She pours herself into her workshops and you come away awakened and refreshed. Go if you can – magical moments flow!” — Scott Loftesness
Scott also shared in experience in this blog post.
“Valerie’s vision is an inspiration. She exudes passion for her craft and is equally passionate about helping others learn to create images that effectively show their own vision. Her easy going nature and sense of humour can be infectious. All in all, the week was lots of fun with my new found friends and I would do it all again. If any one is interested in one of her workshops you should book immediately!” Jane Sheers, Australia.
Jane Shared her experience in this blog post.
Ken Lyons shares his experience in this blog post.
“I flew all day yesterday from Rome where I had participated with 9 others in a week long photo workshop. We had people from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, England, Belgium, the United States, and Texas. Five men and five women whose experience levels ranged from well established and well known professionals to amateurs who had been filling family albums and making occasional online postings.
Valerie is becoming a Rock Star and yet if you have gone to her website and read her blogs, listened to her podcast, looked at her photos, you know Valerie Jardin. That is exactly who she is. There is no pretension. She is generous with her time, generous with her praise, helpful with our stumbles, clear and appropriate with her critiques, tolerant, and disagrees agreeably.
This was my second workshop and other participants had attended many workshops with Valerie. I too hope to attend more. In both that I have attended I have been impressed with how well all get along. Perhaps this is due to a common interest we all share, perhaps this is because we came together as individuals, i.e., we left our partners at home, or as a group we too are tolerant and respectful of differences and learn from one another. […]” John M, Texas.
The workshop ended last night. It was a busy day. After a morning photo walk, we met again at the conference room for a final presentation of a selection of the students’ images. It was really fun, and I saw many photograph I wish I had taken myself! Being an educator is so gratifying, I am always amazed at the growth and confidence I see in each participant in just a few days. And, for many, year after year as I see them in different workshops around the world.
We enjoyed our good bye dinner at a very special little restaurant called Le Mani In Pasta where authenticity is evident as the staff speaks Italian only. We all parted ways later, with hugs and tears, as a good week with friends should end.
Many are flying home today, with renewed vision and full memory cards.
Fortunately for me, my dear friends Karen Hutton and Ken Lyons are still here and we are going to hit the streets of Rome on this beautiful sunny Saturday and enjoy La Bella Vita.
The story behind the photograph: Before the start of the photo walk yesterday, I spent a few minutes in the Jewish Ghetto chasing the light. I found this great spot where bright light and deep shadows meet and waited for an interesting silhouette to walk through the light. This gentleman with a small cap crossed through the light in a determined stride. What makes this photograph special to me is that nothing times it and it could have very been shot half a century ago.
Shot with the Fujifilm X100T at 23mm.
Most students experience something very special on a workshop: They become aware of the light. Being able to see and use light, any light, is a big step in the growth of a photographer. The realization that there is no bad light and that it’s your responsibility as a photographer to make any light work for you is a huge step!
On workshops I always point out to my students opportunities to use challenging light to create stronger images. It adds to the already challenging task of capturing the decisive moment, but makes photo walks so exciting and rewarding!
The story behind this photograph… I was on a side street near the Spanish Steps in Rome when I saw the dappled light on the sidewalk. I immediately saw a great opportunity to make a photograph using the light pattern. The timing was challenging. Not only did it require an interesting subject to walk at the right spot and on the right step, it also had to happen while the light was available. Light is fleeting… Lucky for me, this elderly woman entered my frame, I was prepared to press the shutter at the right time AND she turned her head towards me at that same moment. The connection between the subject and the camera made the shot.
All the pieces fell together in a fraction of a second. And when that happens, you have a VERY happy photographer!
Show with the Fujifilm X100T in B&W with yellow filter in film simulation.
A photograph is a reflection of who you are. The way you see and capture a scene is unique to you. Some street photographers are in your face, others prefer a more minimalist or anonymous approach. Some photographers prefer an interaction with their subject.
There is no right or wrong way to do this, it all depends on what feels right for you and makes you happy as a photographer.
The way you photograph also reflects your personality. Respect is my number one priority. I have no problem getting close but I don’t like to provoke. It’s not who I am. I prefer to observe and remain inconspicious in order to capture a truly candid moment.
Talking about reflection… I shot this photograph today during my lunch break in a full day of critique sessions. By positioning myself slightly left of the mirror, I was able to capture passersby and their reflections in the glass. I was very fortunate that this woman looked in the direction of the mirror at the right time and in the right step. This moments happen when serendipity meets vision and preparation.
I was shooting with the Fujifilm X70 and its 18mm lens. The wide angle is really handy on the narrow streets of Rome.
It’s individual critique session day! I just spent the morning with half the group, going through a selection of their photographs, commenting on what worked and what didn’t, discussing their strengths and weaknesses. The 1:1 critique process should be always a constructive and positive experience. It’s not about correcting the image we are looking at, but pointing out potential mistakes that the can fix the next time they hit the streets.
I will spend the afternoon with the other half. Each student attends the critique session of their friends as well as their own, thus enhancing the learning experience.
I always look forward to the mid-week sessions, listening to each student share their experience and the story behind each photograph they are presenting. I saw a few this morning that I would love to hang on my wall. That’s so gratifying for a teacher!
Now for the postcard… When you are in Rome, you can’t help but notice the elegance of men and women of all ages. They make wonderful subjects in street photography. Very much like the French in general, Italians take care of their appearance and embrace their age.
This gentleman caught my eye by the elegant dance-like motion in which he stepped down from where he was sitting.
Shot with the Fujifilm X100T in Classic Chrome.
It’s Tuesday and time is already going by too fast. We walked for 5 hours today. We started along the Tiber river and wandered through the colorful narrow streets of Roma.
Everyone is taking a break mid-afternoon to go through their images, making a first selection to present at their mid-week critique session tomorrow. Those who still have some energy we join me tonight again and capture life on the streets at dusk and at night.
This afternoon I was working with a student on a narrow street near Via dei Coronari. I was pointing out to him that the color and texture of the wall matched this beautiful bicycle parked by a window. It was a nice shot in itself, but it was missing some life. This little dog walked by and made the photograph. Streets photography is not only about people. Dogs count too!
This was definitely a Fujifilm Velvia moment, shot with the X100T. Note that NO contrast, vibrance or saturation was added, this is how vibrant the streets of Roma actually are!
LOVE! I love what I do!
I met my group of 10 photographers yesterday. After a two hours presentation in the conference room, we went on our first photo walk and ended the day eating outside at a very friendly restaurant off the beaten path.
Everyday I spend 1:1 time wandering the streets with one or two students while the others disperse within an interesting location. Then we all regroup, I work with one or two other students, etc. And that’s how the week works, with a day of critique sessions half way through.
Today we spent hours in one of my favorite neighborhoods: Trastevere. We all stopped for lunch and enjoyed local cuisine Al Fresco on a pedestrian street while grabbing a few shots between bites… Everyone is relaxed, making new friends and enjoying what they love most: Making pictures!
I photographed this silhouette of two lovers in Trastevere this morning using my X100T and the TCL, I positioned the camera on the ground. Still in Classic Chrome
The workshop starts today! It’s always exciting to meet a new group of 10 participants with whom I am going to spend a week. There are usually a few good friends in the group, students that I met for the first time two or three years ago and who follow me around the world on various adventures. This week they come from Australia, Canada, The United States, The UK and Belgium. Seven of them have already participated in one or more more workshops with me. I’ve had hundreds of workshop participants in the past few year and so many of them have become life-long friends. It is really the most heart warming experience.
The best part: We all share the same passion for photography and adventure!
Yesterday was my day off. I don’t always have a day to wander before a workshop. I usually land and start teaching right away. This time I decided to take a few extra days on both ends. I was really surprised at how familiar the city felt right away. I wandered the same old streets as if I had never left.
My good friend Ken Lyons had arrived from Australia the night before so we met for cappuccino at nearby Campo De Fiori. I hadn’t seen Ken since my Melbourne workshop 2 years ago. He had also participated in my Paris and Normandy workshops before that. We’re old friends now! It was really fun to meet again and we set out to get lost on purpose with our cameras in hand. A few minutes later I heard someone call me name and it was Judy from Vancouver who had just landed with Cindy from Detroit and were having breakfast at an outdoor cafe. We joined them.
Later in the afternoon we met up with my good friend and travel photographer Ugo Cei who had travel from Milan that morning. Ugo also came for a visit last April during my last visit. We had been online friends for a few years and had talked on Skype many times, it’s always so fun to finally meet virtual friends in person! Karen Hutton met up with us and we walked all afternoon with our cameras and had a late dinner at a lovely restaurant on Isola Tiberina, the island located on the Tiber river. We parted ways close to midnight after a day of great conversations, many good laughs… and some photography too!
The photograph below was shot during lunch. I always try to pick a table that will give me photo opportunities during the meal, inside or outside. It’s easy to do when you are having lunch with a photographer friend. I must that I am guilty of doing the same thing with non photographers as well… The camera is an extension of me, you really can’t take it away. Plus, I shoot with very small camera, it’s unobtrusive and doesn’t even make a sound!
Several interesting people walked through my frame between pizza bites. This father and son duo, in step and identically dressed, definitely made the cut!
Shot with the Fuji X100T in Classic Chrome with its 23mm lens.
I’d love to hear from you, please leave a message below!