Spend Christmas in Rome With Us

My husband and I are excited to finally announce our upcoming workshop in my favorite city in the world, Rome! I love Rome any time of the year, but for many, the summer crowds can be overwhelming. The best time for a visit is in the winter, when the city is left to the Romans. The light is beautiful and soft, the weather more comfortable for walking around, and the streets and shops are decorated for the Christmas holiday season. And don’t forget the delicious foods. We have thought of that too.

We have planned a fantastic time in Italy for you. Eight nights in Rome and two in the 14th century village, Assisi. Our boutique hotel in Rome’s Centro Storico is perfectly located for you to explore the city and for our easy access to many of our photo walks, expertly guided tours, and delicious meals. We have many wonderful photographic and edible excursions planned for you.

As this is over Christmas, your family members are quite welcome to join us. While we encourage everyone to bring a camera, we realize that not everyone is interested in making photographs or moving at the pace we photographers usually take. So, during the excursions that are designed specifically to work on learning a new photographic technique, we are happy to arrange private tours of local museums, concerts, and walking tours for those who are not in Rome for the photography. We have designed this workshop to accommodate photographers and their family members. Please get in touch with me at neeley@drown.com if you will be traveling with a non-photographer, so we can make other arrangements for them. The excursions we arrange will be based on their interests and how many non-photographers we have on the trip.

Happy Easter

To many Easter is the beginning of spring, but for those of us living in Northern California, we have been enjoying spring for about six weeks. The spring flowers have been beautiful this year. I have had a chance to visit Filoli, a local country estate that is now part of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The gardens and the house are worth a visit any time of year, but for me, spring is the most special.




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More than Tech Geeks

Most people perceive the San Francisco Bay Area, and specifically, Silicon Valley as the the epicenter of tech nerdiness. Images of computer engineers, software designers, young Googlers, and Facebook-ers fill magazines and newspapers. The reality is that the San Francisco Bay Area is one of the most diverse areas of the United States and I am blessed to call it home. We are diverse in the number of cultures represented, languages spoken – both human and technological, educational and socio-economic levels and industries. This past year I have been photographing Bay Area people who do not work in the tech industry. Below are three images that I have made recently – a waitress, a fitness professional and gym-owner, and a magician, formerly in the semi-conductor business, but who left to follow his passion.

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Progress and Changes

After several attempts at different website themes, I found one that works with the gallery plugin that I like to use. The problems that I have had in the past are that my site was too fiddly, so I took forever with updates and the site was never really scalable across platforms. I realized that simple on the front end isn’t always simple on the back end. I also learned, the hard way, that paying for a theme doesn’t always mean that it will work better than what is available out there for free.

So this is it! Welcome to my new website. I have some edits to make, updates on things like my CV (one of the languishing sections of my site) and the gallery. I have a whole gallery of street photography that I am putting together and will put up this week.

I am making some big changes this year personally and professionally. Travel and more travel photos, will, of of course, be on the agenda along with some other exciting things.  For now, I have a few gigs for which I am feverishly editing photos and I am preparing for another photo shoot next week with a magician. Yes, a magician! I’m pretty excited to be working lately with professionals in variety of industries. Most people think of Silicon Valley as a tech hub, and it is, but there are all sorts of interesting people who live here as well as engineers. Also, I am in the process of putting together some really fantastic international photography workshops for later in 2015. The details will be announced shortly; please stay tuned!

Thank you for visiting my new site. Do let me know what you think.

-Neeley

 

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Website Redo

After being unhappy with my previous website for over a year, I decided to redo my site. I wanted it to be simpler, look cleaner, and work better on a variety of platforms. I finally settled on a theme and have been working to get things up and running. Keep in mind that while my camera gear is technical, I am not the most technically savvy photographer when it comes to anything other than my gear. Now 13 hours later, I am finally going to bed.

We leave for Washington, D.C. tomorrow morning and I haven’t even started packing. I have been told that despite my dislike of cold weather and the expected high temps in the low 30s (F), I cannot wear all of my clothes at the same time to stay warm. It will be far too cold for my Californian blood. So, I am off to see how many wooly sweaters I can stuff into my carry-on luggage. I will get back to the site next week and will have some photos from our trip to post. Thank you for your patience.

Paris, quickly!

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Matt and I stopped in Paris for a quick two days on our way to London. It’s a trip of firsts for both of us. Matt’s first trip up the Eiffel Tower; our first time staying in an apartment instead of a hotel; and our first time taking EuroStar through the Chunnel. So far the first two have been just great! We’re about to head to Gare du Nord to catch our train.

Paris in August is beautiful. The city is fairly quiet because many Parisians are on vacation. Lots of shops are closed, which keeps many of the tourists away. We felt like we had the city to ourselves. The weather has perfect with wonderfully photogenic clouds. Exactly what we wanted for our photos.

Renting an apartment was a smart move. We used Airbnb. This is our second time using them and it’s been really fantastic. Katharina has been a great host. It was easy to get here, the building is on a quiet street, and the apartment is perfect for the two of  us. I highly recommend this service for your stay in Paris.

We’ll be back in early September with our workshop group. Now we’re off to London!

 

À bientôt Paris!

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Photographing a Person Who is Homeless

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As I am preparing the materials for my next workshop, I came across a video about homeless people. As a street photographer, I regularly encounter people who are homeless. Homelessness is a complex and emotionally difficult issue to photograph well. I don’t think that it can be done well as a snapshot. I teach my workshop participants to never grab a photograph a homeless person. All that photograph will tell us that there is a homeless person in that spot. When photographing people who are in such difficult circumstances, a single snapshot does nothing to tell their story and it is in some ways exploitative.

As a photographer, I want to show more about a person than just their face and body. I want my images to have emotional and educational impact and for the viewer to make a connection to the person in the photo. When we look at photographs of homeless people, the first thing we see is “homelessness” and nothing else. It’s hard to get past that one fact. Sure, we feel sympathy, but I would rather feel empathy; to share the pain in some way. To do that, we need to connect with that person. So, I advise the participants, that if they are going to photograph a homeless person, that they should talk to their subject. Share something with them, even if it is just some time. Introduce yourself, ask them their name, and then ask if you can photograph them. This experience will not only connect two human beings, but that connection will come through in the photograph. The viewers will gain see and gain a deeper connection with person who is homeless. As viewers, we may not know their name or their story, but we will know that they are more than just a homeless person. They are a person who happens to be homeless.-

What we’ll do in London and Paris: Workshop Itinerary

Well, there are only a few more days to sign up for our workshop in London and Paris. Keith, Matt and I are excited to see registrations coming in and are looking forward to showing you these two amazing cities like you have never seen before. Our workshop is designed to combine the best of a travel workshop with a photography class. Below is the basic itinerary to give you an idea of the excursions and locations we will be visiting. Once we get a sense of who has registered, we will finalize the itinerary to best suit the interests of the participants, while keeping to the the desire of the instructors to show you these two cities in a new light. Our goal is to help you to improve your photography so that you return home with new or improved skills and the photos to show for it.

Feel free to contact me at neeley@neeleymain.com or 650-315-8812 or Keith Lee at leekeith@fhda.edu or 650-949-8812 with any questions you might have. We look forward to hearing from you.

Itinerary – 15 Days

London – Day 1 – Sunday 8/24 – Arrival and City Orientation
Arrive in London and check into the accommodations. Optionally spend a few hours with your fellow photographers riding a Hop On/Off bus for a tour of the city and an early dinner. This is a great way to combat jet lag, and get a good overview of just some of the areas we will be photographing during the next week.

London – Day 2 – Monday 8/25 – Intros, Regents Park, Early Dinner
We are arriving on a bank holiday weekend and are lucky enough to arrive the weekend of the famous Notting Hill Carnival. It’s one of the most loved street festivals in Europe. So, we are going to start the day off running by photographing the festival and parade in Notting Hill. It’s a great introduction to photographing people in the streets because this is an occasion where people want to be photographed. After a full day of photography, we’ll wind down over a relaxing dinner together, go over the rest of the itinerary, and review the day.

London – Day 3 – Tuesday 8/26 – Victoria and Albert Museum, Afternoon walk in Kensington and Hyde Park
In the morning we have a private tour of the Victoria and Albert Museum history of photography collection. The latter half of the day we spend exploring Kensington and Hyde Park. Optionally we will begin the day with a sunrise photo shoot along the Thames.

London – Day 4 – Wednesday 8/27 – Carnaby and Oxford Streets, Getty Archive, and Night Shooting in Piccadilly and Soho
Today we start with a photo walk through Carnaby and Oxford streets. following up with an afternoon visit to the Getty Archive and, time permitting, the Photographer’s Gallery. After dinner, we go back out to get some night shots in the busy Piccadilly and SOHO areas.

London – Day 5 – Thursday 8/28 – South Bank and the Tate Modern
Up early for those who didn’t do the sunrise Thames walk earlier, as we make our way to London’s fabulously delicious and photogenic Borough Market and then on to the Tate Modern. After lunch, we will tour through London’s historical South Bank, home to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and the remains of Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre, the HMS Belfast, Tower Bridge, Blackfriars Bridge, etc. The evening will include a ride on the London Eye for amazing sunset views of the London skyline.

London – Day 6 – Friday 8/29 – A Day of Classic London
We start in the morning with the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. Those who have experienced this previously, will be given some challenges of what to photograph. We will explore the area, St. James Park and make our way to Westminster Cathedral for some fantastic bird’s-eye views of London. The later afternoon and evening are free for you to explore more of London on your own. Optionally, the group can decide another excursion based on everyone’s interests.

London – Day 7 – Saturday 8/30 – Portrait Day
Today we will start at the National Portrait Gallery and learn how light and posing are important to a masterpiece. We will then spend time photographing in the crowds around Trafalgar Square and the Houses of Parliament. Again, the late afternoon and evening are free.

London – Day 8 – Sunday 8/31 – London’s East End
London is a special place in the summer with so much to offer its citizens and guests. One of the best things to do on a Sunday is to visit the Columbia Flower Market in London’s East End. Today we have a couple of options for you. We will explore and photograph this popular market and the neighborhood that is chock-a-bloc with antique stalls, buskers and street musicians and vendors offering delicious treats from all over the world. This market will challenge your street photography and portrait skills. The afternoon includes a photowalk of London’s historical and culturally vibrant East End.

Optionally – The Aldershot Banger Races: for those who are interested, you can gather and go out to the Aldershot Race Track for a unique race experience. Banger Races are races in which drivers drive old (scrap) vehicles against one another on a race track. We will likely be the only non-locals at this event, giving us, as photographers an opportunity to photograph something quite English and quite unique. This excursion will be at your own expense.

London – Day 9 – Monday 9/1 – Architecture from Medieval to Contemporary
The City of London is really a small area in London. Despite the small area, it is probably the most diverse architecturally of any city in the world. This area contains buildings as diverse as St. Paul’s Cathedral (1675-1708), Leadenhall Market (from the 14th to the 18th C), the Gherkin (2001) and Temple Church (1185). It is the area that received the most damage from the plague outbreak in 1665, the Great Fire in 1666 and the Blitz during World War II. We will explore this area, stopping in at the Museum of London, and spend the day photographing this unique area of London.

London – Day 10 – Tuesday 9/2 – San Pancras, King’s Cross and Platform 9 3/4 and Museum of London
Today we will photograph around San Pancras station, completed in 1868 during the height of rail travel in Europe. With its red brick facade, San Pancras is one of the world’s most famous Gothic buildings. There is an underground walk way connecting to King’s Cross Railway Station. Perhaps we’ll find Platform 9 3/4 and catch Hogwart’s Express? This location is a fantastic place to practice both street photography and architectural photography. On our last night in London, we’ll say farewell to this great city with some pints at a local pub.

Paris – Day 11 – Wednesday 9/3 – Morning Trip to Paris, Eiffel Tower, and Optional Boat Tour
Today we catch the train to Paris! After checking in, we’ll take a late-afternoon walk around Champ de Mars and the Eiffel Tower. We have an early dinner and follow it up with orientation for the rest of Paris. Optional trip out to take a boat tour along the Seine to see the City of Lights at night.

Paris – Day 12 – Thursday 9/4 – Notre Dame, Île de la Cité
Another early day to catch sunrise photos – Notre Dame,Île de la Cité, and Île Saint Louis. We then visit La Maison Européenne de la Photographie for a behind-the-scenes visit of this amazing collection of photography. After lunch, we will use the inspiration from the photographic masters we saw earlier and head out to photograph around le Marais, one of the most unique and delicious neighborhoods in Paris. After dinner, we head to the Louvre to photograph the architecture, the gardens and the visitors (the museum is open late on Fridays). This is a great chance to practice all of the techniques we have been working on for the past 12 days.

Paris – Day 13 – Friday 9/5 – Pere la Chaise Cemetery, Edith Piaf, Le Marais and the Bridges of Paris
This morning we will continue our search for inspiration and history during a private tour at La Foundation de Henri Cartier Bresson. Then we travel to the Pere la Chaise Cemetery to explore this picturesque neo-gothic cemetery. We will then walk walking tour in the afternoon where we will explore the neighborhood around the cemetery, perhaps pop into the Edith Piaf museum, and make our way through Belleville, one of Paris’ most interesting neighborhoods. After dinner, Keith will lead a special evening photoshoot photographing the bridges of Paris at night. Optional day excursion available is a bike tour of Versailles.

Paris – Day 14 – Saturday 9/6 – Markets & Parks
Our time this morning will be spent exploring the famous Marché aux Puces (flea market) followed by escaping the crowds of the Marché to the Parc de la Villette to practice some urban landscape photography. Afternoon and evening are rest or free time. We are offering an optional night shoot around Monmartre.

Paris – Day 15 – Sunday 9/7 – The Gargoyles of Notre Dame and the Gardens of Paris
We get up for a sunrise walk in Parc Monceau, then climb to the top of Notre Dame to commune with the world’s most famous gargoyles. You will literally be inches from the gargoyles. This also happens to be the best location to photograph the rooftops of Paris. After a much needed snack after all that climbing, we will tour around the historical Latin Quarter with its beautiful cafes, churches, bookshops and book sellers along the Seine. We will end our trip by photographing in le Jardin du Luxembourg; Paris’s most famous and beautiful park. After our photoshoot, we celebrate our last day with dinner and stories.

Paris – Monday 9/8 – Fly Home
We say our farewell to two great cities and fly home with amazing memories and photographs. If travel arrangements permit, we will arrange for a morning meeting to share a few photos from the workshop.

Teaching

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photography by  Carol Gray
photography by Carol Gray

When I started college, many moons ago, I wanted to be a high school history teacher. Then I became what some would call a “professional student”. I got my BA in European history with a minor in film history and went on for an MA in international affairs. As I finished each degree, I found myself working in academia.

When I finished my AA in photography from Foothill College, I considered various options within the field of photography, including weddings, commercial, fine art and even going back to school to get my MFA. While I do occasionally photograph weddings, as well as, family and corporate portraits, for me the most fulfilling is teaching workshops.

After I taught my first workshop and received the responses from the participants and saw their photos from the day, I just knew that teaching was what I was meant to do. I believe that everyone has an artist within them, it’s just a matter of finding the right medium for their creative outlet. If I can guide students along through photography and help them to discover their inner creative soul, I feel like I have accomplished something wonderful.

In this past year, I have heard from students who have won awards for their photographs that they made in my workshops, some have discovered that they really do love street photography (the style that I generally teach), one embarked on a documentary series after I worked with him to discover the best way to use photography to tell the story he wanted to share with the world. It’s so exciting to help other artists grow and find their artistic voice. Though, honestly, they help me to find mine. I guess all those years ago, I just knew that I was meant to be a teacher and now through the support and inspiration of so many, I have found my medium.

Two students have mentioned my workshops in their blogs. I am honored. You can see their work and comments on their sites linked below. The photograph below was taken by Carol Gray after my workshop at Chinatown’s Flower Festival on January 25, 2014.

Patrick

Sonny