Photography Workshop: Dupont Circle


I might not score a photo of the week in Nat Geo Traveler’s World in Focus Contest, but (as I mentioned I’d be doing in my last post) I spent Friday and the weekend in a National Geographic Photography Workshop with students from across the U.S., Canada, and as far away as Brazil.


The experience? Phenomenal. And my photographs will doubtless be better for it. Feel free to lie to me if you disagree!


We began with the stories behind several assignments and some rules of thumb when making good photographs (to be broken with discretion when making great photographs) from veteran Geographic photographer Mark Thiessen. Mark photographed fires—brushfires, building fires, forest fires—as a personal passion for years, building his experience and repertoire and even earning a “red card” so he could work right on the fire line, before getting a string of fire assignments for National Geographic magazine. Two, Fire Season and Russian Smokejumpers, ran in 2008. (Other recent assignments for Mark include Nanotechnology and Search for Other Earths.)


We also learned how the Geographic assigns stories and selects photographs for publication—perhaps 10 or 20 from as many thousand—from National Geographic photo editor Todd James.


Our coaches, including a team from the legendary Santa Fe Photographic Workshops, then set us loose on assignment in one of two D.C. neighborhoods, Dupont Circle or Adams Morgan. We had several hours to capture the character of the place, then returned to headquarters to review our work, cull favorites, and agree on three final selects with the instructors.


These are my best from Dupont Circle, plus a few that almost made the final cut.


More from the workshop tomorrow…

Photographs by Ford Cochran