Image © Jez Coulson, courtesy of World Photography Organisation.
World Photo London is just days away, packing a series of events and seminars as the Sony World Photography Awards are announced. Jez Coulson, a street photographer, wil be hosting a three-day seminar on the Economics of the Street. He speaks with BJP.
BJP: Why are you running this particular workshop?
Jez Coulson: I am interested in all forms of reportage photography and a broad range of subjects but I try to work on particular themes or stories in a unitary way instead of doing all sorts of different things at once. So I try to work to a tighter brief myself when I am shooting and I therefore set a similar perameter for students in a workshop situation.'The Economics of the Street' is a tighter brief than just 'Street Photography' but it's in the same arena. It does reflect an interest of mine in revealing the mechanics of society through economic activity, I've always found street markets and street stalls fascinating. I am also interested in coffee wagons and ice cream trucks for the same reasons. They are a draw to people, people gather around them, they are like small stages full of life and activity, but they also represent the most basic functioning of the economics underpinning our entire society, so thats it : The Economics of the Street.
I want people to come along really participate and have a completely lifted experience. I know some people have come to these workshops and have literally made what they regard as their best photograph, it really motivates them to do more, and lifts me just to be involved with them. I want people to enjoy their photography and really work at it to produce fantastic telling images.
BJP: What will you be doing?
Jez Coulson: We begin the weekend on Friday evening with a session led by me in which I show a lot of work and talk through the ideas and practice that defines my reportage photography. The things I have done. The way I did them . How my style and technique would be deployed in all sorts of situations and how I would apply myself to this particular assignment: 'Economics of the Street'. This session is always interactive and lively. People can always ask anything they like.
All day Saturday is taken up with shooting. The participants get out there and make the pictures that tell the story required by the brief. I try and meet up with them all individually or in small groups as they are shooting. So we can shoot together and assess how they are doing. This can sometimes help guide people and just get them to shoot in a lifted way. We normally come together as a group towards the end of the day.
The Sunday is given over to editing. Myself and WPO editors go through the material the participants have shot. I sit with each person and go through their images. We discuss how and why somethings have worked and others have worked less well. In the end I help each participant to come up with their best image to be printed large and included in the exhibition.
At the end of the day on Sunday we come together as a group and show and discuss the final images.
The images are printed and the exhibition is mounted we then invite all the participants back to the launch of the exhibition this is normally on the Tuesday evening.
BJP: What do you expect to see from your "students"? Do you learn something from them yourself, as well?
Jez Coulson: What I love to see in the participants is enthusiasm. I have led workshops with all differing standards of attainment within the group but as long as all share a level of enthusiasm actually we all function as a fantastic learning group. I myself love to be with people keen to progress in their photography. I love to share my enthusiasm and get that feeling of enthusiasm back. Professionals, full-time students, keen amateurs, people who just bought their first camera last week, as long as they have that enthusiasm it all works. They are all taking something out , they are all putting something in, they all come away having had that lifted experience of really having worked and pushed their capabilities further.
BJP: How important do you think World Photo London can be for the photographic industry?
Jez Coulson: It's brilliant as an established professional to have that feeling of contributing to the body of photography as a whole. It is so great to have the chance to run workshops, partly just to share your passion for the images that define your life, but also it helps you articulate and assess for yourself the things that you are doing all day. The things that make photography so important to you, and you successful at it. It is also fantastic to do something as the leader of a group. To get that group dynamic where people are collectively lifted to achieve their best work. I only do relatively few workshops in a year and I certainly regard these WPO weekend workshops as an enjoyable privilege. On a workshop we all push like crazy to do something fantastic by the end. I definitely enjoy the enthusiasm and vision of the participants. Often I am in contact with them long after that workshop is over.
The significance of photography is growing worldwide. World Photo London is part of that, a fantastic event expanding annually in stature and appeal. It is important for Britain's photographic industry to have presence and reach. To project in the capital and the UK but also across the world. Photography in Britain is world class and world beating, it is great the that World Photo London brings the best photography in the World to London and projects the best of British photography back to Britain and the world. It is a great event embracing all aspects of contemporary photography, anyone with an interest in photography should come along and get involved. See the exhibits and join the discussions maybe even sign up for a workshop and get their own pictures on the wall.
City Project: London with Jez Coulson runs from 27 April and cost £275, but the World Photography Organisation is offering 50% to BJP readers.To benefit from the special offer, enter the following promotional code at the checkout: BJP50 when purchasing your ticket. The promotional code will expires on Monday 23 April.
For more details, visit the City Projects website.
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