When I launched Danna Writes it was out of love for telling artist’s stories with words. When it comes to attributing other people’s work with appropriate captions, I’m stricter than my stuffy high school English teacher in the bow tie and blazer. I naively thought I would depend on images gleaned from galleries, PR people, and my Pinterest account, slap captions on them, add them to my blog posts and voila.
After a few months of using other people’s polished up, press ready images, I got really frustrated. The same Dropbox file of images are usually sent to all the journalists and bloggers and often don’t cover my favorite details. Sometimes it takes a few days for images to be uploaded after an opening or event, which means that my stories get posted late. Blogs are like picture books for adults and the right or wrong images affect the character of a post regardless of how strong the accompanying writing might be.
Disclaimer: I can declare with confidence that I am the least mathematically blessed person in town. Let’s just say that if you ask me to solve a fractions problem for you I will require an apple pie and knife to get the right answer. I’m that bad! I have avoided taking a photography course for years out of fear of having to do the math required to shoot in DSLR. Despite my math allergy I enrolled in the Digital Photography Level 1 Workshop at Gulf Photo Plus (GPP).
The course was broken down into 4 morning sessions over a two-week period. On the first day of class Imraan Dudhia, our kind instructor, put my mind completely at ease with his casual and approachable style. Held in a bright classroom space at the back of GPP, my workshop had only 5 other students, who happened to be very sweet ladies from all over the world. The quality of preparation was quite professional with power point slides and handouts, but Imraan kept it informal and encouraged us to ask lots of questions. I really liked that each session of the workshop included practical activities that allowed the students to experiment with technique and get help and feedback.
Due to a partnership with Canon, GPP lets students test out cameras in workshops and I was given a Canon EOS 600D to borrow and use in class. I loved that I didn’t have to invest in equipment in order to take the class and could dip my pedicured baby toe into photography before having to swan dive into a roaring current.
The math really wasn’t that bad after all and Imraan broke previously intimidating terms down for us. Now I can experiment on my own with shutter speed, ISO, and aperture and (very slowly and only with my lips pursed together in concentration, which is why this blog post doesn’t yet rely on my own images) adjust a camera’s settings in manual mode on my own. The quality of my images in manual mode are already leaps and bounds crisper and more sophisticated than the blurred automatic snaps I’d been taking for years. Imraan likens learning to use a camera with being taught to drive—at first the buttons, gears, and pedals in a car feel foreign and frightening, but after hours of practice, using the machinery becomes second nature to point that you forget you’re even operating it.
The only thing that could have improved the workshop was to have slowed down the pace slightly on the super technical day on which shutter speed and aperture were introduced in order to have a slightly longer time to experiment and ask questions. I am dreaming that one day in the future GPP will offer a specialized intermediate photography workshop just for bloggers.
Good Ideas: Gulf Photo Plus is headquartered in Dubai on Alserkal Avenue in Al Quoz. To learn more about workshops, courses, and exhibitions go here.