Okay, now "past" is a very relative term and given that the last Abbey Adventure workshop has taken place just about half a year ago, you might think that's no time at all - but given the fact that the new workshop season is in full swing already and that I have been spending most of that last half year to get everything ready and up to speed for 2010 (yes, that's twenty-ten), half a year feels like a very long time.
Which makes this video even more fun. It was entirely shot and edited by Ingo, one of the participants, and it just brought back a ton of great memories about a fun workshop group.
Oh, and sorry, there won't be an English language Abbey Adventure this year, and the German one is already sold out, but if you're interested in any of the other workshops, just follow this link.
Do photography and typograhy have more in common than the "ography"?
I remember back in high school I used to doodle my own fonts on checkered paper instead of paying attention to the math lessons. And not just individual letters, I drew entire alphabets. Numbers and special characters and all. Many of them were quite similar, rather geometric, and I distinctively remember trying to make them look well balanced and getting the distance between the individual letters right.
This all came back when I ran across an article on typographica.org titled Making Geometric Type Work.
I knew almost nothing about typography back in high school, and it was years later that I started to read up on the subject. However, what I did know was what I liked. And I tried to figure out why I liked things.
Typography is everywhere. Look around you, the world would be quite a different place if you removed all the written words from it.
Typography is about design as much as it is about helping to convey messages. If you talk to type designers, you'll hear them use words like balance, width, joins, alignment, spacing - the exact same terms that we photographers use in the context of image composition.
And yes, it isn't that much of a difference - actually learning about typography and other visual media will inevitably influence the way you compose your pictures. Mind you, not always in a conscious way. I often catch myself almost accidentally having applied some of these principles when I revisit my images later.
Having made these principles conscious while learning about typography has helped slip them into my subconscious without me even knowing it.
And when I notice the results, it makes me smile.
Do you have anything visual that influences your photography? Let me know in the comments.
Four hundred episodes of Tips from the Top Floor. That's over four years, and you ain't seen nothing yet. Tips from the Top Floor has evolved and changed and morphed over that time and has become what it is today. I thank each and everyone of you for listening to the show and for making it into what it is with your questions, your inputs, your support both with the donations and through your moral support. I couldn't wish for a better audience!
Questions (and answers) on this episode about filters (square or round?), cigarette roll paper (to clean lenses), manual focus (and how to make the most out of it), the truth about where Chris comes from (is he really Indian or Pakistani?), some thoughts about model releases (see the links below), breaking beer bottles in Utah (thanks Trucker Tom) and ways to earn money with your photography.
Video is wonderful. It lets you develop this quick feeling for something, usually much quicker than reading through paragraphs of copy or listening to lengthy audio. And social video is even cooler, as it lets the producer get his video out to so many more people, and collect inputs and get social linkage, and sometimes... very rarely, one might even go viral.
The flood of video sharing sites also has its drawbacks of course, as you might eventually end up with quite some fragmentation as to where your videos are. I sure experience that. Some videos are on Youtube, some are on Vimeo or Blip.tv, just to name a few. And pulling those together into a coherent user experience has been pretty difficult in the past.
Because now there is yubby, a free online service that lets you quickly and easily create a channel with videos from all types of sources, that you can then embed in a web page as a widget.
I have just done that. Thanks to its great search capabilities and somewhat consistent tagging of my videos, it took me about five minutes to pull together a channel of the videos that I (and others) produced at various workshops, and place it on my main workshop page.
Yubby lets you then choose one of several ways to present your videos, from a grid down to a small player, which is the one I opted for. I should actually even be able to embed it here. Let's try.
See? It's that easy.
With Brooklyn Cookin', the workshop that I held together with Chef Mark, this year's season is now over, and what a great final workshop that was. Both Mark and I found that we'll have to do a workshop along the same lines again next year. The concept is perfect: the target audience is couples where one half is into cooking and the other half is into photography, and here they have a way to learn and spend time together.
Even though this year is over from a workshop perspective, it actually isn't. At least not for me. I am going to spend most of November preparing everything for a smooth 2010 launch. My goal is to have everything ready by December. And there are a lot of things to be worked on. Luckily most of my workshop locations are already nailed down, some helpers need to be briefed, and then there's the whole registration process. I have looked into offers in the cloud, but there is no workshop/seminar management system that even remotely seems to fit the bill.
All I need is to manage the registration process and payments for about ten workshops. Internationally. With deposits. And limited number of seats. For a decent price. And no, in an economy where everyone needs to think twice before spending anything, I consider taking 10% of the workshop fees *not* decent, because that would eventually increase the workshop price by that same amount.
So in short, I haven't found a good and easy way to automate this yet. Which is why I've taken things to the cloud in a different way for 2009 and why I'm going to go even further in 2010. In short: I'm using online services and forms to handle the sign-ups, I have simplified the confirmation and registration process using Services on Mac OSX Snow Leopard, I use PayPal to handle the bulk of the payments, and I use my own time to keep it all together. Not ideal, but workable. The KISS principle applies. Keep it simple, stupid. I don't need a full-fledged database to handle a couple of hundred participants. Every participant ends up in a spreadsheet with a status field depending on where in the registration process they currently are, and if I need to send out a bulk mail to all participants of an individual workshop, a simple copy/paste of the email address column for that workshop will do just fine.
The biggest item are the workshop pages on the web site. This is where everything is supposed to come together in a nice and easy to navigate way. I have spent hours and hours to design something that ties together everything from basic information about the workshop ("why would I want to come to this workshop?"), the agenda ("what are the workshop details?"), timing ("when does the workshop start and end?"), accommodation ("what hotel is near by?"), navigation ("how do I find my way to the workshop?") and pricing.
Obviously I design this once and duplicate it for all the workshops, but the content will be different for each workshop. The overview, the detail description, the example images, the example video, the FAQ. And the language.
So I guess I better get busy and finally start tying all those lose ends together to bring you not only an excellent 2010 workshop season, but also a great experience when it comes to finding the right one for your needs and going through the registration process.
If you want to be notified as soon as the 2010 workshops are ready, please make sure you are on the newsletter (get the newsletter here).
Got a way to help me simplify the registration process? Leave a comment!