Cowboy Life - A Workshop With William Albert Allard
On the weekend of August 24th-26th 15 participants were given rare opportunity to take part in an on-location workshop with one of the world’s most highly acclaimed photographers, William Albert Allard. The group spent a day at Tongue Creek Ranch in South West Alberta capturing photos of cowboys and cowgirls against the beautiful Alberta prairie landscape. The main focus of this workshop was to create images that reflect each person’s creative vision. This is an excerpt from William Albert Allard’s Blog about the event:
“I returned this past Monday from Alberta where I conducted a weekend workshop for my friends Peter and Julian at The Camera Store. The workshop was held in a classroom in Calgary and on a ranch about an hour’s drive south of Calgary.
We had 15 students and were absolutely blessed with five individuals who gave us their time as models with no more compensation than some pictures. Rosemary, Tom, and Joe were the adults, Matt and Kate, Rosemary and Tom’s granddaughters, 10 and 6, rounded out the group. Nothing takes the place of the real thing when you’re looking to photograph people from a certain kind of country, who live a certain kind of life style, and our five subjects couldn’t have been better. They all rode in to meet us from their neighboring ranches and tirelessly gave us a full morning of their time. They rode good horses of a variety of colors. One paint, not a flashy horse, named Apache, had been used by actor Robert Duvall when he was filming in the area in recent years.
The attendees all made some fine pictures. One of them, George Barr, a physician and an accomplished photographer (I had to wonder why he was taking my workshop) normally does rather well studied and graphic images. He did slip in a PhotoShop manipulation on me but admitted to the horror of such a thing. Actually, those are my words, not his. But in my workshops one is not allowed such an utterance as “Oh, you can fix that in PhotoShop.” And you certainly can’t “drop in” someone from one picture into another. I don’t teach fixing, I try to work on seeing.
Anyways, it was an enjoyable experience. I was in Calgary briefly last year to do an evening presentation for The Camera Store. Calgary has changed so very much since I was first up there in the early 1970’s working the rodeo. There’s been lots of change since I was last there to photograph, also for the rodeo, in 1978. Calgary is enjoying (I guess that’s the proper term) a major oil boom and it seems everywhere one looks one sees skyscrapers rising, lots of glass and gleaming steel.
For those of you who don’t know Calgary but find yourselves in that town, if you are a photographer you MUST stop in to visit The Camera Store. It’s probably my favorite camera store anywhere, and that certainly includes New York City. A lack of attitude, or perhaps a really good attitude, is what truly seems to define the difference between The Camera Store and most big city shops. The place is full of people looking to help you with what ever your needs might be. The inventory is big, they seem to have every major and minor camera maker, lights, accessories of all kinds, and lots of really good photographic books. All in all, it’s a real treat. One walks in and feels good, at least if one is a photographer. Customers and store attendants are seen talking as if they’re old friends and in many cases it seems to be true.
Speaking of stores and cameras, this is the time of rumors regarding what marvels are about to be announced, what new and improved models are destined to be on the market. I’m sure they’ll be some wonderful things revealed. I don’t know if I’ll be trying any of them, we’ll see. I still think basically, a camera is a camera, is a camera. It’s the eye that has to improve and sometimes that’s a lot harder to do. I’m working on it, sometimes with more success than at other times.”
Words from the participants:
“A great time with great people.”
“Thank you for setting up this opportunity.”
“Just wanted to thank-you and, the team for such a wonder workshop with
Bill Allard. I've never taken a workshop before, it won't be my last from
the Camera Store.”
“The location, the family we photographed, everyone that participated and,
Bill's passion for photography/story telling, added to an inspirational
weekend for myself.”
“I can only imagine what it takes to put a workshop of this caliber together, thank you so much it was fantastic.”
“Its important to attend workshops like this to keep your creativity fresh.”
*Special thanks to Jessica Gergely for sharing her behind the scenes images shown above.