Today I will give an idea what is going on in an Overgaard Workshop. In the first day of my workshop, the only thing the participants have to hold onto is their coffee and their camera. So far, so good, you could say.
What happens next is a process of self-realization, because my workshop is not an instructional workshop. There is no program of doing certain things. The only program is to observe and photograph.
Coffee and Leica's. Fundamental.
As most the participants in my workshops are entrepreneurs, artists and leaders, there’s a silent sigh of relief not being back to school and hot being told what to think or what to do
Unlike the format of some workshops, I am hands-on and I am with the group at all times. I also photograph myself, because (I like to photograph, but also) I realized that you want to see what I do and how I do it. You can read and study a lot, but often simply seeing how something is done is the fastest way of getting the idea.
Then you look at what the other participants do. They all take pictures, sometimes of the same, but more often they see different things they decide to indulge in. Everybody is taking pictures together, yet in their own universe.
We walk as a group, and we talk, I answer questions, and you start to realize you are in a cozy group of people that as enthusiastic about photography or Leica as you are: But they all have a professional life in the real world. You let a group of professional and ambitious people loose with cameras, and something starts happening. You are in a holiday camp of likeminded and you probably haven't been in a setting like this since kindergarten.
On the second day of an Overgaard Workshop, it starts to dawn for you. We edit photos and as we do, you start to see what you did, as well as what the others did. This day is where you realize you are actually not that bad at all. In fact, everybody did good, and everybody did something different.
You may already now start to realize that your strength and biggest talent is that you are you. Somehow you start believing in yourself. Your level is very acceptable, and instead of focusing on your insecurity and the things you don’t know if you need to know, it becomes clear that you can learn things. But it’s not a mystery what you have to learn.
It becomes simple from now on, and it becomes more fun.
On the third day you will experience to get specific instructions as we deal with other people when we do portraits. There’s a set of technical aspects that has to be in a certain way, and the results of a given standard. It’s a two-hour crash-course in perfection, and it’s simple once you know.
It’s always simple to do things; it’s the learning how to do them right that is the tricky part.
The take-away from an Overgaard Workshop might be hard to quantify or classify. You feel inspired and you start producing more photographs. You believe in yourself, and you’re not waiting to be good enough. You are now on a mission to improve on what you see is a good foundation.
In the aftermath - the months and even years after a workshop - people report that they hear my voice in their head when they go out and photograph. They know how to do this, because they head that I said how to, it’s like a movie you saw and now you re-experience that situation.
The workshop was just the beginning.
I hope you enjoyed today's Story Behind That Picture. As always, feel free to e-mail me for ideas, suggestions, questions and more.
Thorsten von Overgaard is a Danish writer and photographer, specializing in portrait photography and documentary photography, known for writings about photography and as an educator.
Some photos are available as signed editions via galleries or online. For specific photography needs, contact Thorsten Overgaard via e-mail.