Workshop with Mike Langford and Jackie Rankin

I joined the Hawera Camera Club last August in the hopes of furthering my photography journey. I had reached a point where I needed constructive feedback from experts in photography.

Imagine my joy when I when I found out that Hawera Camera Club had planned a workshop with Mike Langford and Jackie Rankin. They are based in Queenstown and doing a workshop with them would have been nearly impossible had I not been a member of the Hawera Camera Club. Their tutelage commands top dollar and rightly so. Our camera club had received a grant to host the workshop with part payment made by members, truly a great opportunity for me.

One of Jackie Rankins prints influenced my Moose Tea banner shoot. Since seeing her prints last year at the NZIPP Iris Awards where she had entered a beautiful black and white print that implied that the trees were moving. I thought to recreate this image I had to be outside in the wind in order to capture it, actually you don’t have to wait for the weather, you just have to move the camera.

I want to explain a feeling to you. I have an urge deep in my gut to want to be a highly skilled visual artist through graphic design and photography. I understand where I want to be but I’m at a loss at how to get there. I would love to go to university and do a masters for the next few years of my life but that is not viable for a new mum who lives two hours from the nearest uni. So I spend hours learning online, reading books about design, composition, and digital retouching. I tried Linkedin Learning but found that as a subscription based software it would take money out on months where I might not use it, and once you cancel your subscription all your lessons are lost. Creative Live is my favourite. I pay a one off cost and I have those lessons forever. This urge to create and be good at it is something that is always in the back of my mind.

This is one of the reasons why I joined camera club. It provides ongoing critique by my peers and valuable new sources of learning such as this workshop.

I also had a feeling that to be a great Photographer I had to have the latest gear, the sharpest lens, that the photo had to be technically perfect. That the masters must have all this plus the finest retouching techniques to create such amazing art.

That was not the case at all!

In Mike Langford and Jackie Rankin words “We’re not that Techy.”  By using techniques in camera they produce artworks that invoke feeling.

We went to Pioneer Village in Stratford for the workshop. I wrote a list of all the new techniques I learned on the day:

  • Today I have learned how to make my adjustments in camera at the time of shooting thereby knowing exactly what I’m getting and saving hours of fluffing around in Lightroom or Photoshop.
  • Today I have learned that I am not making photographs for anyone else, I’m shooting for me, for what I see, how I feel, If I like the image or not and to own that image.
  • Today I have learned how to see shapes, how to see light, how to see lines and composition, how to tell a story and how to have confidence in telling that story. Oh and to see faces!

Today I learned how to practice photography. Photography like any other skill requires practice and you have to do your scales to improve.

“After 10,000 hours we hope to be a little better.” Jackie Rankin, March 2018

  • Today I learned that a photo has to tell a WHO, WHAT, WHY.
  • Today I learned that I need to finish projects by printing, otherwise what happens to the photo? It sits on the computer a collection of pixels or does it tell a story and evoke a reaction in your hands or on the wall?
  • Today I learned how important video is to tell a story.
  • Today I learned the value of not letting the moment slip by.
  • Today I learned that there is a good photo everywhere, you have to know the rules to break them.
  • Today I learned to study the masters.
  • Today I learned there are no mistakes. A little blur and a little noise are better than no photo at all.
  • Today I learned about separation and geometry in photography. I already new separation was important but I didn’t know how important.

One of the first exercises was to stand in one metre squared and 10 good photos. You could take more of course to practice. Rather than click and move on I was forced to ‘see’ other photographic opportunities using the tools at my disposal. This included in camera black and white with red filter, tripod use, trying different lenses, different aperture, different focal lengths and using movement. This exercise forced me to think and move and visualise.

Jackie taught us how to use double exposure to tell a story. I took a few shots to practice and then the final one I shot a photo of the desks in the room, then a photo of the old classroom. It wasn’t until I got home that I realised I had accidentally shot a modern day father and child, lending even more to the story than I had anticipated.

Mike Langford and Jackie Ranken still to this day go out to do their scales. Both are Masters of Photography and they still feel that they have more to learn.

I hope one day to be a master in my own right. Now they’ve taught me my scales, I’ll see you in 10,000 hours.

Doing my scales,

Taryn McCrory
McCrory Creative

P.S Do any of these photos speak to you? Let me know which ones.