A Challenge: What do you say to a naked ….?

Being out with my camera has not been top of mind lately, although I’ve made fairly regular trips to my ‘little wetland’ in the Lower Mission area of Kelowna. It’s always good to catch up with my friend, the Great Blue Heron. Nor have I spent a lot of serious time on my proposed book projects or on my website. And I have not written much on my blog. But with sunny skies,  warmer temperatures and a lightening of the Covid 19 lockdown that all seems to be changing. Motivation might just be returning.

During the lockdown I did take the time to view several photography specific You Tube presentations. In doing so I was reminded that early on, when I first started with digital photograph I committed to an annual in-service  program  tailored to 3 specific areas: composition, ‘seeing’ light and learning the processes of the digital darkroom.


A series of workshops conducted by Victoria professional photographer, Dave Hutchison related well to my goals.  His workshops located in the Tofino and Port Renfrew areas of Vancouver Island were excellent. I learned so much from him and hope in the future to get together with him on new learning experiences.

Also on Vancouver Island was a  summer symposium, ‘Image Explorations’, held at a private school in Shawnigan Lake, B.C. This experience was five days of intensive instruction. Except for sleep time it was photography all day every day.

While some of the attendees like me were serious amateurs, most were professionals. Over the four years I had attended Image Explorations I benefited from well known Vancouver photographers Aura McKay, Craig Minielly and Don McGregor as well as others from south of the border. Sadly, Image Explorations has ceased to operate.  I really enjoyed the total immersion experience it provided.

Triple Exposure

Renown U.S. photographer and  educator, Laurie Klein was one of the visiting instructors at Image Explorations.   I hadn’t heard of Laurie before reading her in the course sylabus. The questions posed in her course description were intriguing to say the least. “Do you want to awaken your senses?  Do you want to stretch your creative mind?  Do you want to release your inhibitions in order to go beyond self-imposed boundaries? Do you want to find your visual voice?”  She was obviously putting forth a challenge, which I decided to accept. It would be interesting to examine the intellectual aspects of my art and photography.


Within the course description was the mention of working in some situations with models, some of could be ‘au natural‘. At the time I registered for the course I gave this information little to no attention. But as July approached and the course was immanent I wondered how that was going to work. I hadn’t photographed nude models before! How do you speak to a naked person, especially when you are holding on to camera equipment?

By the time I.E. finally arrived my mind was tied up with so many questions and  ‘what ifs’ that I was becoming distracted from the real purpose of the course. I don’t think I was the only one in our group that inwardly wondered, “What in the world am I doing here?’

Back to nature

That’s where Laurie’s original challenge became so relevant. She kept delving into the thought processes we engaged in to make  our images. What were you thinking? Why did you choose to set up from this angle? What is with this composition? Tell us how your images makes your feel?

It didn’t take long to put our models, both female and male,  in proper context. The subject matter became irrelevant. Composition, light and creativity are what mattered.

In my mind I botched the course. I came to the conclusion that my approach to photography was just too mechanical. Rules needed to be bent, even broken. Understanding why I made my images in a certain way was what I needed to work on.


When I learned that Laurie would be returning the following summer I  registered again. I enjoyed the depth to which we  examined our collective work. As a group we worked well together. We were engaged  in the language of art and creativity. I needed to continue.



This entry was posted in Education, My Work, The Creative Process.


  1. corolp July 26, 2020 at 9:40 am #

    I really enjoyed this insightful post, Stu. Your images are stunning; the creative process intriguing.

    • Stu Dale July 27, 2020 at 8:43 pm #

      Thanks for commenting Corol. I really appreciate your thoughts.

  2. Alan Flynn July 26, 2020 at 10:12 am #

    An interesting insight into your course Stu and lots to consider when taking shots in the circumstances facing you with the nude models. I will stick to what I am doing although I don’t know much about cameras and techniques and no doubt I would benefit from a course.
    However, I will continue with what I have been enjoying like the bike rides, walks on the seafront ,countryside and the golf. Also of course Canada whenever we manage to visit our family again. Very worrying times.

    Stay safe and enjoy whatever you do.


    • Stu Dale July 27, 2020 at 8:42 pm #

      What I’ve learned is that the camera is just a tool. I try to remember that. Each camera has its technical limitations but the mind is where the image is really made.

  3. Vic Kirby July 26, 2020 at 11:22 am #

    It was a great workshop – not technical at all, but one that made you think and feel. Such a pity the Image Explorations series came to an end!

    • Stu Dale July 27, 2020 at 8:40 pm #

      Thanks for commenting Vic. I too miss IE. I attended for its last 4 years. If it was still in operation I think I’d still be going. I’m enjoying the work that you are posting.

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