Jay Maisel retrospective Day 1: Filled with nerves, new ideas, and pastrami

Taken on the first night on my way back to the hotel.

This is the first of several posts I will do reflecting on the Jay Maisel Workshop in New York City which I attended May 14-19, 2012.

The hub of the workshop is the first floor of “the building” – Jay’s 100 year-old, 35,000 square foot, 5 floor, Germania Bank building. Doors open at 8:30am and class begins at 9. Each day is consumed with teaching, discussion, critique, shooting, and eating. From 8:30 to 9 is your only opportunity to edit (choose) your 5 images to turn in for that day. There is no image processing – no cropping, no adjustment layers, and certainly no cloning. Ideally you are shooting RAW + jpeg, bracketed one-under and one-over, and turning in your choice of jpeg. Jay sets his camera to process his jpegs on Vivid with high sharpening. If you are facile with a Lightroom or Aperture, you can choose to import your RAWs and apply a standard preset in order to turn in a processed RAW instead of the camera processed jpeg.

Jay uses the first day to get to know us and provide us with advice. What is your most common error? How do you view failure? How often do you shoot? How many images to you take? Are you open? Is it fun? He reviews our answers each of these questions and uses each as an opportunity to start imprinting us with his philosophies: “Always carry a camera”, “One camera, one lens”, “You are responsible for every square millimeter of the frame”, “You have 2 tools: where and when”, “Trust your intuition”, “Not replication, revelation”, “Failure IS an option, this is not brain surgery”, and finally “You have no obligation to anyone [but yourself]” but “You must be your own severest critic, or you are you own worst enemy”.

Then we go to lunch at Katz deli and he sets us out shooting for a couple of hours. We haven’t looked at a single photograph and neither has he. We are filled with nerves, new ideas, and pastrami. We meet back at “the building” at 3pm for more.

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