Learning Photography Will Enrich Your Life

Lupine Hill, Givat HaTurmusim, Israel, Spring wildflowers, photography workshop
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There is a battle raging today and we are all engaged in a fight for our lives. Granted, there is no imminent danger of physical harm, but rather technology is threatening to hijack our most precious moments if not steal our consciousness entirely.


Think this sounds a bit dramatic? Look around. How often do you see someone distracted by a digital device, or more insidious, using their cellphone to preserve a moment of the present so that they can relive it later? A gallant and beautiful effort it will be. But futile.


I have been teaching photography for more than two decades and what began as traditional lessons in apertures and shutter speeds has shifted dramatically over the past five years. Now, my Jerusalem workshops, my Israel photography tours and my courses emphasize the most important skill necessary to photography: awareness.


Of course, an ability to see, to recognize form and qualities of light, to previsualize and anticipate the decisive moment – these are the time-honored skills employed by the great photographers. Today, though, we first need to master an ability to tune out before even trying to tune in.


Learn photography and reclaim the lost moments of your life

Fortunately, there are remedies to this malaise and photography is one of the best. A camera is a powerful and proven tool for developing visual skills and mental focus, mindfulness and awareness to discover details that a glance overlooks or a distracted mind will not perceive. A camera is a weapon to reclaim the lost moments of your life.


It may seem paradoxical to suggest using one form of technology to overcome a problem created by that same technology. But it works for two important reasons. First, there is no need to abandon the technology, go cold turkey and find a new source to nourish our addiction. When adopted prudently, technology can improve and enhance our lives tremendously.


Secondly, learning to see, to slow down and observe more carefully – through the act of picture taking – is a natural remedy to repel the plethora of intrusions that invade our consciousness.


“More than anything, the camera taught me how to see without a camera,” said Dorothea Lange, a 20th-century American documentary photographer. Though she offered this observation more than 70 years ago, it remains robustly true. When you learn to see – to truly see and not just look – the quality of your life is elevated at all times, whether or not you are holding a camera to your eye.


A more fulfilling life

Photography is not the only medium that will accomplish this. Various martial arts, meditation practices and even prayer aim to center and focus the mind in the moment. It takes commitment and practice to develop this skill, but it will certainly make you a better photographer and quite possibly a more fulfilled person.


I’m gathering a group of photographers to join me on a 9-month creative journey, using photography as the medium to build our identities as artists. Much of the work we will be doing together is aimed at developing visual thinking and observation skills, both for the purpose of improving one’s photography and deepening one’s appreciation for the precious moments of our lives.


What you will learn in this course:

  • How to view, conduct and present yourself as a serious photographer/artist.
  • Motivation, determination and inspiration to produce a creative project.
  • How to connect the inner world of thought and feeling with the external, physical world we document as photographers/artists.
  • How to develop your personal style.
  • Techniques in portraiture, street photography, landscape, documentary and abstract photography.
  • How to overcome the fear of/resistance to creating and sharing your creative work.
  • How to critique and receive criticism/feedback on your work.
  • How to think visually.
  • How to tell a story and what is unique about you.
  • To master the creative trinity: Subject – Composition – Light.
  • A history of fine art and photography through the works of the masters.
  • A wide range of technique related to cameras, computers, printing and psychology.


Class Topics (partial list):  

  • Seeing and How to Look at Photographs
  • Visual Thinking
  • The Pictorialists: Ansel Adams, Eliot Porter, Galen Rowell
  • Edward Weston: Beyond the Self or When a Rock is More Than a Rock
  • Street Photography: Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank, Gary Winogrand
  • Post Processing: Editing Techniques in Photoshop and Lightroom
  • Judaism and Creativity
  • People and Portraiture
  • Abstract Expression: From Kandinsky to the Digital Age


Field Workshops (partial list of potential workshops):

  • Desert Sunrise Landscape Workshop
  • Making Photographs: Using props to create intentional images
  • Natural Light Portraiture
  • Nachla’ot Street Photography Adventure
  • Spring Wildflowers – Judean Mountains, Ruchama Forest, Coastal Region
  • The String Bridge by Night – Geometry on three legs
  • The Blue Hour and Night Views of Jerusalem
  • Sataf Nature Reserve – Techniques in macro and nature photography
  • Abstract Extractions – In search of the hidden form
  • Museum or gallery exhibition visit


Those interested in further details may write to yh@yehoshuahalevi.com.


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