Autumn Workshop in Nantes and Saint Nazaire

Had the pleasure of being asked to put together a Street Photography workshop for Loire Atlantique Photo, which represents 24 Photo Clubs throughout the region, totalling some 800 members.
I have run half-day courses in Nantes for many years now, but this was my first chance to organise a more intense programme, extending over a full weekend, and including a preparatory Friday evening presentation and get-together.

For this inaugural Workshop (others will be scheduled in 2019), I was delighted to have such a nicely balanced group of men and woman, across a broad age range, with varied experience of shooting on the streets. I was also overjoyed to have such beautiful weather for both days, the early autumnal light proved a real inspiration to all of us.

Saturday we worked in Nantes. It is my strong belief that when starting out, it is really beneficial to choose an environment that is fairly safe, has good existing subject matter and where the light is well-balanced. When scouting a week earlier I had noticed in a particular side road some great street art. Here was our first location, with the figurative illustrations providing colourful backgrounds, where we could practise our skills at capturing passers-by at the opportune moment.

The rest of the morning we headed to a staircase which has good colour and graphic potential for incorporating figures in the frame and a few other choice spots in the city centre, which for the time being was relatively calm.

After a welcome sandwich break for lunch, we had the good fortune of there being a “ready-made” activity for us to feast upon in the afternoon. A demonstration was taking place, clamouring for the re-unification of Nantes within the region of Brittany, of which it had once been the historical capital. As the crowds massed around the castle in the build-up to the march, the atmosphere was good-natured. With a full array of flags and banners on show, along with a significant presence of interesting characters, we had a wonderfully rich source of material to work with at close-quarters .

From there a short walk to the castle and the nearby funfair, before heading back to Carquefou Photo Club, to edit and review the day’s efforts.

Change of scene for the Sunday, with a visit to the coastal town of Saint Nazaire, offering us a range of new environments: from the market place, where photographing strangers and stall-holders without getting noticed is extremely challenging, to the leisurely sea-front promenade where it is considerably easier to blend in with the crowd. In between, was the pick-out venue, namely the old submarine base. The special atmosphere here, generally very dark, though with an interesting play of light and shade, provided excellent opportunities to practise techniques and develop new skills.

A thoroughly enriching 48 hours, where every participant pushed themselves beyond their usual comfort zone, even if it meant taking a few verbal volleys along the way. Thanks to Kira, Piotr, François, Arnaud, Caroline, Daniel, Marie and Patrick, for making it such a success.


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