140812 Lenswork - matthew piers robertson • photography writing creative toronto

I'm back, again, from New York City, again. This was an unusual trip for me because it wasn't primarily about taking photos – I was attending my first-ever photographic workshops.

Brooks Jensen, an excellent photographer who also happens to be the editor of Lenswork magazine, is simultaneously a high-level thinker and refreshingly practical in his approach. He also has a great voice that I could happily spend the day listening to, so that's exactly what I spent last saturday doing. The morning was about creating projects, and the afternoon was dedicated to working with both images and text. These are things that I already do, and have for years, but there's a good reason for that.

I consider myself incredibly lucky that I found Brooks Jensen's 2005 Lenswork article "Twenty-One Ways To Improve Your Artwork" [pdf] fairly early in my photographic education – and long before crap internet sites killed the listicle. This article gave me a direction fundamentally different from the web-forum and camera-club crowds that I was associating with, and almost a decade later I can trace so many of the ideas that are important to me back to it.

An additional benefit of going to New York for the day of workshops was to be able to see so many of Brooks Jensen's own prints and products. The 'Made of Steel' projects, which these photos include, was a personal highlight, and the Wakarimasen project was also a revelation. Electronic versions are available on the Brooks Jensen Arts page, but I still have the prints on my wish list.

I recorded about seven hours of audio and took over 1600 words in notes. I imagine that will spark some blog-worthy ideas and plans to share in the coming months, but there's so much more to be learned by going straight to the source.

Brooks has been doing his short and engaging Lenswork podcasts since before they were called that, and I'd highly recommend them to anyone interested in photography. There's also the free Lenswork Daily site, which isn't updated nearly that often, and the Lenswork Online site that I subscribe to. There's even a paper magazine if you like that sort of thing. Best of all, it's all about photography, and art, and life – cameras are incidental, if they're ever even mentioned at all. That's the way it should be.

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