PORT ELIOT - Tommy Hatwell

Back in September 2018, I emailed the organisers of Port Eliot festival to see if they would be up for adding some photography workshops to their busy festival line-up. After initial replies and then go-ahead, I created the Outdoor Photography Workshops for adults and U16’s alongside a Night Workshop. These would be shorter than my full day OPW at 2 hours but still include the technical intro and plenty of time for exploring with the cameras.

The variety of activities, people and landscape at Port Eliot Festival is a treasure trove for any photographer with any level of experience so I knew we wouldn’t be short of opportunity. I got down to writing all of the details for the workshops and sending it off to the organisers, this would go live on the festival website with a link for people to book directly.

My next move was to create some worksheets full of ideas, tricks, tips and easy to understand technical information so I could teach the workshops, this took some time, both condensing the important questions and adding images onto an A4 page meant the design had to be tweaked often. I finally landed on a good looking worksheet with everything people needed to know to get started.

The festival runs from Thursday to Sunday, over this time I would be running ten workshops, each potentially with 8-10 people attending, this raised the question of how I was going to deliver the workshop information. I didn’t really fancy printing over 100 copies of the worksheet, as I figured they would get trashed or blow away and the environment didn’t need all that wasted paper. Luckily my printers at More Creative Solutions had recently put some of my images onto a tough banner material so after a quick email I sent the 3 worksheets off to them and they came back as 1-meter tall versions of my A4 pages, complete with eyelets for easy hanging on location.

The morning workshops were for the U16’s to explore photography, using a slightly less technical and more imaginative approach to coaching we were soon all shooting like various wild animals from above, below, behind and through objects. With the majority of the participants using the camera on their phones, it was simply a case of finding interesting subjects and making fun images and seeing light a little differently. Below you can see some BTS shots from the workshop in action.

<<<SWIPE<<<

<<<SWIPE<<< BTS (originals) @KenCox^^^

The afternoon workshops saw the groups dive into a very visual introduction understanding what they were looking at but actually seeing, followed by a technical approach to creating an exposure. The majority of the groups had cameras with manual controls, but those with phones and film cameras were also on-board. After blowing minds for 45 minutes of jargon, we took off to different areas of the festival, under their own steam the photographers made images and we connected along the way to improve, talk about the ideas they were trying to capture and then they were off again.

It is really important in my workshops that I don’t have 10 people all standing and shooting the same things, we can all look at the same scene but see different things and really this is at the heart of my workshops. The pictures are your own and come from your heart and vision, I just simply help you to explore ways you can frame it to the best of your knowledge at that moment.

As the evening turned to nighttime the festival took on another level of interest and excitement for festival-goers and photographers alike. Small groups for the two workshops actually worked very well and with a little introduction, we focused on low light shooting, mainly by hand but later on with a tripod. Shooting into the tents full of light and music was a challenge, as was approaching people to make portraits. A really interesting and enjoyable angle at the festival.

I was super stoked to have over 50 people attend workshops throughout the weekend and inspired to see so many youngsters having a great time learning about photography, It’s a beautiful way to see the world, build confidence and meet people.

I was joined at the festival by my buddy Ken, who took some of the behind the scenes images above and hopefully will be sending more across soon, a quick shout to him for his support not only with a light stand here and there but also his approach and guidance to the photographers young and old on the workshops. I reckon this moment was a highlight of your weekend...#WHIPPEDBYTHENUNS


As for my own personal photography, I was actually surprised at how much the workshops took out of me, and between them, I would wander with my camera making images here and there, really aware that I didn’t want to leave the festival with thousands of images that meant nothing to me. 

Much like when I travel to beautiful places, I see images everywhere but not all are mine to make, and those stories are sometimes better left for someone else to capture and share. I only shot moments that drew my honest attention or that I had previsualized and I shall be sharing these shortly once I have connected with the people involved.


If you made it this far, thanks for stopping by...T

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