Four days with Richard: The Magnum Photo Workshop in Goa

by Daniel Hofmann

It’s over. Yesterday the Magnum Photography Workshop with Richard Kalvar came to an end and it was quite the experience. I was one of twelve photographers who had the fortune to be selected for this program in Goa. For four days, we talked, criticized, edited and, of course, took pictures. Every day until lunch, we would talk about the pictures we created the day before and in the afternoon everyone would work on their own project. It was a stressful but rewarding time. It’s not only the review of my own pictures that brought me forward; seeing and analyzing the work of other photographers helped me grasp the difference between good and amazing work. It can be the smalllest elements that make the biggest differences sometimes.

I am still trying to pinpoint out exactly what the workshop did for me as a photographer, but it is hard. Kalvar is not the type of person who will tell you bluntly what is wrong with your pictures. The worst comment I heard about one of my pictures — the one to your right — was “boring”.

I can live with the critique, because he is right. It’s a guy doing a handstand and that’s it. I still like it, but because I have an emotional connection to it, I failed to see just the picture. That is one thing I take away from the workshop (so now you can save yourself the money after having read this); you need to learn to look beyond the emotional attachment or personal moment, and judge the photo for what you captured.

There are different kind of workshops out there. Some of them are a great experience to see your favorite photographer work in the field and walk around as a group. If you want something like that, then a Magnum Workshop is probably not for you. They challenge you to work on your own and to be consistent with the work you produce. Now, as I write that, I realize that this is actually the most important thing I learned over the last days: be consistent, always challenge yourself and work , work and then work a little bit more until the picture is more than a snapshot. "We are here to create more than just a good picture", Richard would say.

The pictures you are going to see here are part of this process; they are the final selection I presented at the end of the workshop. The project concentrates on the repair men around Goa. From little things like knifes to huge ships. It’s amazing to see how your work changes when you have to reduce it to ten pictures. You have to be hard on yourself and cut some pictures out. It hurts but in the end, this makes the set stronger and your vison becomes clearer for you and the viewer. At least, I hope it worked!

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