Zenith Beach With The Focus Group

July 20, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Zenith Beach, Port Stephens, New South Wales. 
Photographed with an Alpa TC, Phase One IQ180, 23mm Rodenstock Digaron.

I think the Focus Photographers (focusphotographers.org) have got it right and wrong. The bit they got right was the idea of spending some time with an expert photographer in order to advance their own photography.

I remember a group of 10 Australian professional photographers (they imaginatively called themselves 'Group 10') pooled their resources to bring out Norman Parkinson from London (a legendary fashion and advertising photographer) to spend a week with them. Norman was flown first class and put up in five star comfort. There was no agenda, just a requirement to go shooting and talk about photography. The late John Whitfield-King, who was one of the group, said it was one of the most valuable learning experiences of his professional career, one that Group 10 repeated several times. So the idea has merit.

Where the Focus Photographers let themselves down was inviting me! John Armytage organised a first class, four-day weekend up at Nelsons Bay (two hours north of Sydney) and along with Olga, Helen, Sean, Tony, Mike and Adam, put up with my sense of humour. We shot early morning, late evening, from a helicopter, from a whale-watching ferry and from the balcony of a very up-market holiday house with expansive views. We talked about photography, processed our files and shared meals. I had a great time. Thank you!

I'm not fishing for more of these weekends, although I will return with the Focus group for sure. However, there are lots of amazing photographers out there who are more than willing to share their ideas with an enthusiastic audience, if the right program and compensation are there. The idea of forming a 'collective' can really accelerate your learning.

The Focus Photographers have over 4,750 followers on Facebook and 1600 on Flickr where it started. They also meet in person most weekends, all around Australia. Obviously, not all the members attended our little weekend - it's a matter of finding a small group of people who get on with each other and have the same passion for standing out in a hail storm and getting pelted, all to take a photograph.

My mistake was standing out there with them, although it did lead to the above photo with which I am quite pleased.

The weather last weekend was sporadic. It varied between rain and heavy rain, but there were little interludes that tempted you out into the elements. We had already been caught out that afternoon and were rather damp, so this impending downpour didn't frighten us, but the hail was a surprise.

At this point I'd like to do a little advert for the Ridgeline Torrent jacket which the Photographic Society of New Zealand kindly gifted me following my presentations at their national convention in Blenheim last year. It is simply fantastic! Made in New Zealand and made to survive torrential downpours. I was very dry underneath and my North Face waterproof overpants also did their job, but unfortunately the water-shedding effectiveness of my upper garments resulted in my boots filling up with water.

#focusaustralia #phaseone #invisiblephotoshop


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