Workshops Update

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After the 'soft launch' for my photographic workshops and tours, I'm delighted to say the uptake and response has been really encouraging. I was worried that I might not be able to cope with the B&B side of things as I've never catered for resident guests before and I was a bit nervous about making sure they liked the food and getting the right atmosphere. Therefore I only announced it over facebook with a view to taking magazine ads once I've honed the service.

So I've now had four sets of guests and each have been totally different in both level of experience and location preferences. I've had two couples, and two individuals with an even split between workshops and tours. In truth the tours became more of a workshop as there are so many things to take into consideration if you are not used to shooting on shorelines and cliffs.

I've learned that 'al fresco' breakfasts are a winner and that cooking for vegetarians is relatively simple. One evening I rustled up a vegetable curry with spiced cheese samosas and pilau rice that came as a revelation to even a dedicated carnivore like me!

I've also learned how different people see a location in totally different ways and how their approaches change. Moreover, I've learned that everyone responds to incredible scenery and a helping hand.

As for the Cornish Summer, what can I say? I was prepared for wet weather shoots and blustery, moody skies interspersed with a few sunny days. Yet this year has been incredibly bright. So there has been loads of slapping on sunscreen and polarising filters. There have also been lots of tourists! So knowing where to go has been a real bonus that has gone down well with everyone. One couple who I introduced to Polly Joke cove liked it so much, they asked to be left there for the afternoon to sunbathe. I happily slipped away to go online and searched out the spiced cheese samosa recipe, for one was the vegetarian guest who had made do with a Greek Salad and agreed to grilled Mackerel on her first night. I have made a note to ensure to ask for specific dietary requirements in future!

I also had some international interest! My facebook page appears to have quite a wide following for a really lovely budding photographer from Sweden got in touch and made a booking. We had a great time and he was right up for taking the sea kayak out in the Fal Estuary. As opposed to the other guests who were very happy with more sedate walks and locations, David wanted to get right into the action. So much so he, was absolutely saturated by a big wave on the steps at Carnewas.

Yet, soakings aside he had a good time and here's the message he sent upon his return...

"Hi Chris,

I just wanted to write and thank you for what turns out to be a list of things about your photography workshop!

Firstly, many thanks for letting me book at such short notice, it was good to be able to get away for a few days.

From what I experienced – and learnt – over the three days you are going to be fully booked as soon as people find out about you.

Coming from Sweden I thought I knew about dramatic scenery but what you showed me of Cornwall in such a limited time was really amazing. I will never forget the big beaches and little harbours. Especially the beach where we were by ourselves for a whole afternoon!

Also it was great teaching me about all the functions of my new 7D and exploring the different ways of image manipulation. There is so much to remember and it’s great that you can remind me of the things I am not sure about, that’s a great feeling.

I can’t go without mentioning the food. The outdoor breakfasts were delicious and the steak we had on the second evening was good enough reason to make the journey in itself! As for the lobster and chips, I am still thinking of the taste. My thoughts on British fish and chips will never be that same. Amazing!

Anyway, once more, many thanks and when I am back in the UK later in the year I will book the second visit we spoke about. Good luck with everything and say hi to Sam, it was lovely to meet her.

Kindest regards,

David Johansen"

In a more concise way, Annette Larkin simply wrote...

"Dear Chris,

We didn't know our cameras were capable of taking such photographs! See you again. X"

Very kind messages and really inspiring. I have thoroughly enjoyed this new venture and found good company and had great fun being in the company of kindred spirits and showing them around Cornwall. But there have been a couple of observations that need to be worked on...

Firstly, the length of a day out. Being Summer, dawn was early and dusk was late and I really wanted to fit as much in to the days as I possibly could. So there were a couple of requests for a less busy schedule and more rest time. So I know now to ask exactly what guests want to do at each stage of the day as it progresses.

Secondly, I have only really worked with high end image manipulation programmes, so my post production techniques are fairly involved. Therefore, for novices I am trying to find middle ground in showing how files can be manipulated using the entry level Photoshop Elements programme.

Other than this, and a crash course in catering for vegetarians, I think it's all going swimmingly well.

I've decided to keep September and October free due to work and family commitments but am then starting again in early November with a Photo Tour. The guest is an experienced photographer with her own commercial interests, and she has asked to extend her stay by a day. This is no problem for me at all, and I am really looking forward to showing her Cornwall's incredible scenery when cloaked in Autumn's glorious colours and softened lighting.

Oh how I love this job!..