As Lou O’Bedlam tries to leave the country plane permitting, there is an odd feeling that he could still be grabbing another train back to Brighton for one last workshop and to once again show us his clear, concise thinking process, whether on photography or the rest of life.
In the last week Lou’s teaching and personality has spread with wild fire tenacity as each student taking something from his talks and workshops, posts a version of their work with a new way of shooting or with a more critical eye for the details that they love.
So again we introduce a guest blogger, someone else to express their opinion and tell us how Lou affected them and their photography. So go on tell us Pete what did you think ?
Pete Repka - aka www.flickr.com/pedrokid
“I’ve followed Lou O’Bedlams work on flickr for flinkin ages.
When Kev asked about interest in people seeing a talk or attending a workshop at Garage Studios, I immediately thought “Yeah, that’d be Awesome !!”
However, as the weekend drew closer I realised that due to a birthday double-whammy I wouldn’t be able to come down from London to Brighton and attend the talk or workshops. I was gutted, but chalked it up as one of those things.
So I’m stupidly hungover on Sunday and browsing the interweb, and all these photos of Sally Reynolds and Rosie Cherrington from Saturdays workshops are being displayed and i’m thinking to myself “Dammit, stupid friends and their stupid birthdays” *huff*
(well not quite, but you get the idea)
I drop an e-mail to Kev and ask what the chances are I could get onto the Monday evening course last minute & he only bloody said “Yes”
So I charged up my battery, and got myself ready. Went to work on Monday, then hopped on a train to Brighton and high-tailed it down to the studio. I’d spoken to The Kendall who said he’d loved the workshop and that Lou says Awesome a lot and is a seriously chilled dude. I expected nothing less, I’ve been to California.
I arrived a little early, and Lou was already there chatting to one of the models Tess. I introduced myself then hung back and watched as Lou shot Tess on a polaroid. He then gave me the first rule. “Always put film in the camera” well we all forget now and then, but it was nice to see he’s as human as the rest of us.
A few more people started arriving and once everyone had arrived and was seated and ready, Lou got started.
Lou explained a little about himself, how long he’s been shooting and what he likes to shoot. He spoke at length about how a good way to learn & improve is find what you like about a picture you’ve shot, then try and re-create it, and repeat, and repeat. If there’s a mistake, or something bothering you, be aware of it, and to remember that when shooting.
Something that really stuck with me was Lou’s philosophy of shoot SLOW. I mean slower than a pack of turtles stampeding through peanut butter. Don’t rattle off shots. Shoot a picture, review, assess, and then shoot another picture. You can understand now why he shoots on digi or polaroids.
The other key think Lou talked about was his interaction with his models. He’ll often take a model he’s shooting for a walk for maybe 20-30 mins and just shoot the breeze with her. get to know her, find out what she’s about, only then will he shoot.
Obviously we didn’t have the luxury of a 20 min chat, but we were encouraged to engage with the models, talk to them, and like the act of shooting, it’s all about the repetition. The more you talk the better you’ll get at it.
So we dispersed and headed outside to shoot the 2 models, Tess & Georgie. I introduced myself to them, and struck up conversations. I tried to get them to relax, and tried to engage with them and get natural expression (I learnt from Georgie that she’d missed her and Kev’s regular thursday shoot after 30 weeks, so last Thursday she went to the studio and took him out for a cup of tea and that she’d also had a cheese sandwich with her tea). I was conscious to not over do it as there were 15 of us, and everyone wanted to have a go at shooting and talking to the models, but it was enjoyable to be able to chat to them.
After quite a while and once everyone had shot some photos, we all trooped back inside for Lou’s critique. The interesting thing was to hear how Lou always had a positive spin in his critique. He would often talk about how a slight crop one way or the other might change it. or a step back to allow more in to the photo, or how a slight change to the light or angle of the face could alter the picture, to be aware of lines in the background that might be off-kilter with the model in the foreground. All really useful stuff.
Overall the evening was a nice relaxed way to learn some tips on portrait photography and how interacting with models and talking to them won’t kill you. It was also really great to meet the man with a 1000 polaroids on his wall, and who thinks every photo of himself is either “awesome” or “solid”. Lastly, always remember that when Bruce Lee was learning to punch, he broke it down. He repeated each punch slowly, and built it up from there. Lou O’Bedlam is the Kung Fu Photographer.”