Home > Bhutan Workshop > The Old and the New: Advanced Workshop, Day 1

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It’s been was great to work with some of our students from last year!  Some of them are a little taller, some look a little older and some have even headed off to study at universities in other districts. The boys are changing into young men and the girls are developing into strong young women. It’s so wonderful to see them blossoming into young adults and it seems that their talents and passions have grown with them as they’ve grown taller! A few of the students have started photography clubs in their schools over the past year. Sonam, the youth center coordinator, has been busy checking cameras in and out to the students who want to go out and shoot!  The highlight of the morning came when Tashi, one of the young women from Fred’s group, showed up unexpectedly after we had heard she couldn’t make it home from University!  It was such a great start to the day!

Sadly, not all of our students could make it back to the class, but the ones who could were thrown in immediately. We started with a review and covered everything we learned in last year’s workshop in about one hour. With hardly any ground lost, we were able to plow ahead and began discussing some of the purely aesthetic concepts of photography.  After the review, we began by talking about the “rules” (cringe) of composition… and then began discussing ways to break them. (Apparently we’re hoodlums who struggle with authority because all of us LOVE to break the rules.) After talking about about the rules of composition and concepts like leading lines, graphic composition, the rule of thirds and light, we set out to apply and break the rules all over Bhutanese architecture.

After lunch, and of course tea, we headed out to explore the ideas of traditional and modern architecture in the city of Thimpu. The capital city of Bhutan is changing rapidly, and while some of us think of cities like New York or Tokyo or Hong Kong when we hear the words concrete jungle, to the Bhutanese, their capital is becoming just such a place.  All over and seemingly overnight, multistory buildings of concrete are popping up and surrounding or even crowding out homes that have been in the city for generations, and in a few cases, the ruined remnants of homes long gone.  This rapid and dramatic development of the city is an issue the people are clearly having to come to terms with, and it offers us an opportunity to see the old and the new collide in colorful new constructions of concrete and paint instead of wood and brick.

One such area we were able to explore is called Hejo, the location of the new Supreme Court of Bhutan. When it’s finished sometime later this year, it will be the heart of the national legal system and will be a neighbor to the Tashichoedzong, the seat of the government and monastic bodies of Bhutan. This new building sits almost completely alone in what was (until recently) a wide swath of rice fields at the edge of town.  The only other structures, aside from the adjoining shop buildings and new tzongka (temple), are the modest homes of those who lived on the outskirts and worked the land.  Now this palatial symbol of justice exists side-by-side with rural homes in the middle of old rice fields. This is a truly striking juxtaposition.

Once we finished our tour of the town, we came back to do our nightly ritual of downloading and editing our photos. However, for our advanced class, we’ve also added a section on working in Lightroom.  After our groups finished with the edit, which was amazingly difficult given the number of fantastic images, we sat around and began our exploration of Lightroom.

Lightroom is a computer program that allows photographers to catalog and manipulate their photos after a shoot.  It’s important that these students know how to take a photo shoot from beginning to end and to deliver great photos to their clients, so we are equipping them to use Lightroom to this end. On our first night, we talked with them about managing their photo collection, importing and copyrighting their images, and editing and selecting images to share with their audience. We did a lot of the talking this time, but they will be getting a chance to practice tomorrow. Now off to bed…we’ll see you guys tomorrow bright and early for another long day!

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