25th January- 1st February 2020
CREATIVE RETREAT FINNISH LAPLAND
25th Jan - 1st Feb 2020
Our Creative Retreats are designed to help you re-engage with photography as a way of exploring your inner creativity and create meaningful photographs that show others how you see, feel, and understand the world around you. We will help you see with fresh eyes and encapsulate your essence and the essence of the subject in your photographs. We will focus more on the why, rather than merely the how of photography.
Our Creative Retreats propose you a very different and rewarding approach: to slow down and create personal work about an inspiring area for a whole week, covering all the steps of the photographic process, from the original message to the final print.
Indeed, light, visual design, composition, post-processing, printing and presentation are not independent steps, but an extension of each other. For this reason, our Creative Retreats have been designed as holistic creative experiences that will combine moments of total immersion in the field with work in the studio and with round table creative discussions among the group members.
Firstly, in the field, you will spend plenty of time exploring and immersing yourself in inspiring environments, carefully chosen by us, having the chance to work with different subject matter and under different conditions. Unrushed, you will be able to slow down, connecting more with the place and allowing your inner landscape to blend with the outer one.
Then, in the comfort of our lodge, we will spend time critiquing the work we have made in the field, analysing the message and its coherence in our images, finding patterns and traits that reveal our personal vision and finding ways to make our images more expressive. Then, we will spend time post-processing our images and printing them, through and iterative process guided by intent. At the end of our Creative Retreat, we will edit a final selection of our prints and make a hand-made book that we will all take home with us. This will close the creative circle and provide meaning and purpose to a holistic and thorough photographic experience.
During our Creative Retreats, you will benefit from one-to-one tuition from Rafael Rojas. You will learn by doing, taking the reins and tackling every single step of the photographic process, including post-processing, printing, editing and bookmaking. You will also learn thanks to the enriching feedback from other members of the group. Our Creative Retreats create the perfect environment where to engage in enlightening round table discussions about our photographs, sharing and learning from each other how each of us see and photograph the world.
Because the context is essential to set up an inspiring and creative environment, all our Creative Retreats take place in exclusive, private and high-standing lodges that we book just for our group, with plenty of space to work and organize our creative discussions. These lodges are all ideally placed in magnetic locations surrounded by nature, from where we will have easy access to our working areas. Rather than spending too much time on the road, we will take the most of our time creating out in the field. Because we cannot be creative when we are hungry and because we simply love eating well, we will make sure our Creative Retreats become culinary experiences in themselves. Get ready to a feast of great food and first-class attention to detail.
Our Creative Retreats are the perfect combination to our online MasterCOURSE “Photography with Intent”. In fact, during our Creative Retreats we will refer students back to many concepts discussed in the MasterCOURSE, and for this reason it is strongly recommended that you have enrolled in the MasterCOURSE before or right after the Creative Retreat. It will make your learning experience incredibly more effective and surely become a turning point in your photography.
Photography is not the goal, but the path. Nowadays, we all rush through our life. We travel fast and we see the world without experiencing it. We think that in order to see more, we need to move faster. But the truth is that travelling in time and light, travelling through mood and weather is often more rewarding. Feelings and emotions, experiences and souvenirs, are not measured in quantity, but in quality. Slowing down makes you connect more with a place. When you slow down, your inner landscape tends to blend with the outer one. And then, magic happens.
Our Creative Photo Retreats offer a different and more authentic approach: to slow down our pace, to forget about running after photographic trophies and to focus on creating highly personal work about a specific area for a certain number of days.
During our time in the field, we will allow you plenty of time to immerse yourself and work undisturbed unless you need any help. Rafael and Anca are always available for participants, anytime, anywhere, to discuss technical, compositional, artistic, or philosophic aspects while we work in the field. Participants will not only get a lot of hands on tuition from Rafael during the indoor sessions, but they will also have the possibility of seeing how Rafael works, how he visualizes, composes and creates his own photographs in the field.
During this Creative Retreat, you will have the chance to:
Photograph a wide array of different environments
Photograph a wide range of different subject matter
Be taken to the most magical areas, unknown to many people
Enjoy a slow-down approach that will provide you with plenty of time to create
Spend less time travelling, and more time creating
Enjoy a safe and perfectly organized logistics
Post-processing should not be considered a separate step in photography but rather as the continuation, or culmination, of a whole photographic process that started the moment we had an idea in our mind that we wanted to capture in a photograph. During our Creative Photo Retreats, we will study the most important and difficult task for the digital photographer today: knowing what is the intent and final vision we want for the image and what are the adjustments that need to be done in order to get there. All this is independent of the software we use, and will give us the most important foundations of knowledge in order to post-process our images using any kind of software or tools.
During this Creative Retreat, we will teach you how to:
Hone your post-processing skills in order to create coherent bodies of work
Use visual design to provide emotional connotations
Use post-processing to enhance the composition made in the field
Hone your post-processing skills in order to create coherent bodies of work
Analyze and plan the post-processing for a given image in terms of message, emotional connotations, visual design, composition and context
Master the use of global adjustments and local adjustments
Use post-processing in order to alter and enhance the feeling of balance, depth, rhythm, visual dynamics, visual relationships, harmony and dissonance
Use intuitively tools like Adobe Lightroom or Adobe Photoshop, without having to rely on trial and error or a process based on rudimentary “like-no like” decisions
Printing our photographs cannot be understood as an isolated task, but as the continuation and final culmination of a complete photographic process. If a clear intent will guide us in a converging process during post-processing, in the very end, the same intent and visualized image should guide us through the preparation of the file for printing and the choice of paper and inks.
During our Creative Retreat, we will teach you:
How to obtain prints that are coherent with your vision and enhance the composition obtained in the field
What is color-management and how to use it when printing and post-processing
How to prepare your files for printing: tone and color, sharpening, resizing, etc
How to soft-proof: testing the suitability of different media and how to make the final adjustments of the files depending on the printing method chosen
How to evaluate your prints and reassess the post-processing in a cyclic iterative process
If we were to define the most important quality of a solid project or body of work, consistency would be the word. When we put images together to tell a story or convey a message, we want images that align in a similar register, that approach the subject in a consistent way, images that do not break the rhythm of the story and that resonate with each other. We want images in which the overall effect becomes much more than just the sum of the parts.
When working with projects, it is a good idea to consult with other people to see what they see. Even if personal photography remains personal, when it comes to editing a group of photographs that are to be displayed together as a coherent body of work, this exercise can cast an additional light that can help us realize even better what we wanted to say with our photographs.
During our Creative Retreats, Rafael Rojas will help you edit the final selection of images made during the Creative Retreat, in order to compose a body of work where every image resonates with each other.
Finally, once printed, you will learn how to bind the prints and make your own artist book, the culmination of the whole photographic process and the reflection of your personal vision of the place we have photographed during the week.
During our Creative Retreat, we will teach you how to:
Identify your personal vision finding patterns in your work
Identify the intent encapsulated into your images
Find consistency and coherence in your work
Learn how to edit your work and make a final selection
Learn how to make a handmade bound portfolio with your prints
We will provide you with a magical and inspiring setting. Single Occupancy accommodation in a luxurious log house rented as a whole just for our group, with sauna and a lot of space to work with our computers, by the fireplace, while Anca prepares a delicious lunch…
We will take you to some of the most intimate, hidden and magical places of the area where to create personal work. Then, back at the lodge, we will spend time learning how to shape it into expressive images full of intent and meaning.
Every day, we will print some of our images made the day before. At the end of our Creative Retreat, you will go home with a portfolio of a dozen of your most expressive images made during the retreat, printed and bound by you.
In winter, the boreal forest of the Finnish Lapland becomes truly a kingdom of silence where trees turn into sculptures, the sun skims the horizon and the northern lights paint the skies. Nowhere else is winter as magical as here.
On the verge of the Arctic Circle, the Taiga turns the landscape into a ruffled sea of snow-laden spruces, pines and birches stretching towards infinity, broken only by frozen lakes scattered across the valleys and isolated hills rising like islands. Atop the hills, the forest thins out and isolated trees remain isolated, covered in snow and frost and transformed into surrealistic sculptures of sleeping creatures patiently awaiting the arrival of spring.
At the end of the evening, a low winter sun skims the horizon, casting a golden light over the summits, painting the snow with tones of yellow, orange and red. As the sun disappears, the sky fills with a profusion of pink and violet pastel colours over a landscape which seems to have been taken from a Dali painting. The silence is intense, only broken by the wind and the sound of our heartbeats.
Later, we move into a tiny hut surrounded by the snow-laden trees in the depths of this pristine wilderness. Inside, we make a fire, sit down and prepare a hot tea to warm up. Then, through the window, a green light starts to dance above the tree tops. We go outside and our hearts beat faster: It is the aurora borealis. What started as a faint light becomes a powerful display of green light, swirling and dancing over the snowy landscape. Minutes later, the aurora disappears, but the show is far from being over Around us, dwellers of a world of ice and cold wait in silence. Nothing moves, nothing seems to be alive, and nothing is felt besides the crisp freezing air. Across the glinting snow, elongated shadows creep without unveiling their provenance. Maybe we are not alone, after all ?
Under a starry sky, we go down the hill, feeling the snow crumble under our snowshoes. We head home along icy roads. The forest never abandons us. In a few minutes, we reach our place, a traditional and cosy big log house, just for us. We sit down around the fireplace and wonder whether the whole day was real, or just a dream. Our incredible photographs tell us the answer...
Along the border between Finland and Russia, another surprise awaits us. There, the Oulanka River runs through one of the most interesting national parks of Finland. This is a pristine landscape of untouched and unlogged boreal forest, in which a unique river ecosystem flourishes along a valley flanked by steep canyons of rock and filled with rapids and waterfalls. In winter, the place becomes particularly amazing when ice clings from the rocky cliffs, waterfalls freeze and pieces of ice are carried by the black waters through the forest. Here and there, tiny wooden cabins invite us to rest and swinging bridges allow us to photograph over the raging waters.
But the mystery of the north is all around us. Here and there, large frozen lakes become blank canvases where only the animal tracks in the snow and the tree line in the distance break the emptiness of the white expanse. We experience the pleasure of photographing the void and the minimal landscape which covers it all.
There are few places as surreal, magical, eerie and extraordinary than the frozen forests of Lapland. The trees, covered by a thick layer of frost, ice and snow, seem to come alive. Under the magical light of the Nordic winter, this is truly a place you will never forget, and you will feel as if stepping into another world.
We will not only photograph open expanses and wide minimal landscapes, but also dynamic, chaotic and complex intimate places like rivers, canyons and lakes surrounded by millions and millions of trees. Snow, ice, water, wood. This is a great environment to hone your compositional skills. Say more with less.
We were the very first to take international groups of photographers to the Finnish Lapland, and after many years we have grown to know the place intimately. We will spend time lost in the backcountry, going to places so quintessential of what this region means and has to offer. Beautiful details await us, truly genuine, truly fascinating, truly authentic.
Rafael Rojas (Master Hasselblad 2014, MA Photography, ARPS), is a Swiss and Spanish full-time artist photographer, lecturer, author, and creativity mentor.
Rafael has been involved in teaching since he was in his teens, and well before he took a camera for the first time. First helping out young students, then teaching undergrads and later on as a University lecturer.
Nowadays, his teaching activities focus on helping photographers see the world with different eyes and use photography as a tool of personal and creative expression. This is mainly done by means of his MasterCOURSE “Photography with Intent”, a coherent, structured and comprehensive online mentoring program for expressive photographers, and through Creative Retreats.
Rafael is also co-founder of “Platinum Press Editions”, an independent finer art photography publishing company devoted to the creation of photography books of the highest quality.
Participants can expect to find in this Creative Photo Retreat the teachings of an expert, backed by:
Solid photographic expertise, with more than 40 international awards, including the prestigious Master Hasselblad award in 2014
Recognised professional activity as a published & exhibited photographic artist
Large teaching experience, with more than 10 years of experience organising workshops all over the world
Strong pedagogical background, based on many years of experience as a University lecturer
Deep academic background, provided by a MA in Photography
Extensive writing experience, as a regular columnist and contributor to several international photographic magazines
Creator of the online mentoring program: MasterCOURSE “Photography with Intent”