Participants learned some great theory from photojournalist

On Dec. 7, participants gathered to learn more about photography in a workshop facilitated by Pieter de Vos, a photojournalist, and hosted by the Rat Creek Press

Frustrated with the limits of casual photography, de Vos sought to drive social change by applying the power of story in his images. 

de Vos says, “I’ve always seen a close link between photography and social action.” 

Photography became a means of honouring his commitment to carry a narrative forward for Donald, a South African resident of a squatter camp who wanted his story told. de Vos published a book called Homelands that tells Donald’s story in pictures. 

Participants listen closely to Pieter de Vos, a photojournalist who taught the workshop. | Rusti Lehay

Closer to home, photography may be added to the art forms that have played a huge part in revitalizing the communities the Rat Creek Press serves. Residents have seen many huge changes, often showcased both visually and textually in the paper, driving the insider knowledge of why residents choose to live here.

As the participants introduced themselves, the locals raved about a variety of joys and sense of pride inherent in their reasons for calling this area home. One woman from the west end said, “I’ll have to spend more time here. There’s nothing like this sense of community in my neighbourhood.”

The workshop drew people from local communities and beyond. | Rusti Lehay

“Where else can you gain twice the community for half the price?” was only one of the quips de Vos made, eliciting a shared giggle by the 12 participants. 

You can still visually share things you love about your community, even if technical talk of apertures, ISO, and shutter speeds befuddle you. Many practical tips were shared at the workshop that anyone can use. The best camera to own is the one you have right now. Use it to capture newsworthy images or memories meaningful to you. The publisher and editor are hoping more community residents will consider capturing moments on whatever camera they have and submitting those photos for possible publication. 

Alita Rickards, a Rat Creek Press contributor said, “It was interesting to see each other’s work, but I would have liked to learn more techniques. It did get me thinking about framing my photos with more intention.”

One alternate way to compose a photo is to place your central subject in the left or right third of the frame.

“If you don’t want to centre your subject, the rule of thirds helps maintain balance,” says de Vos.

For a series of photos, you might try finding a thread to weave the images together. For example, one participant shared some photos that all showed paths. de Vos showed some of his photos where each one deliberately featured bits of red, white, and blue.

Other techniques de Vos discussed included foundation and framing.

de Vos said, “Think of composition as the foundation of your image, and just like those of a building, foundations need to be strong.” 

One can also think inside a box for framing. “Framing draws attention to a particular part of your composition. It’s especially handy if you’re shooting a busy scene.” Use the lines evident in the landscape or connected to your subject to create a frame for the central symbol you are hoping to highlight. “Make the pieces work together to create a greater whole.”This photography workshop was the second workshop the Rat Creek Press organized.


Find out more about Pieter de Vos’ book Homelands

Featured Image: Pieter de Vos demonstrates one of the techniques photographers can use at the December workshop. | Rusti Lehay