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April 2013
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August 2013

MontanaFair Workshop

Kenneth Jarecke/Contact Press Image © 2013

State fairs are wonderful places to make pictures. They’re the perfect training ground for photographers seeking to become better. The fair offers different events and fresh faces every day, but it also has its own daily rhythm. This gives a photographer with a near miss the opportunity to learn from their mistake(s), correct them, and try again.

If a photographer can make great pictures of people they don’t know, without posing them (or at times not even talking to them), I believe they can make great pictures anywhere.

I’ll be helping you raise your photography to a higher level at the MontanaFair in Billings starting August 9. Each workshop participant will be issued a special credential to the MontanaFair which will give them photo access for the duration of the fair. Students will work personally with me, both in the field and in the classroom. I’ll help you learn to recognize and capture interesting, unposed images on the fly.

Kenneth Jarecke/Contact Press Image © 2013

Our schedule is somewhat flexible, because we may want to take advantage of special photo opportunities or spend more time in the classroom.

Day 1 - August 9th (Friday)

At 1pm our group will meet at the Toucan Gallery at 2505 Montana Avenue in Billings. I’ll show images I’ve made in the past, from the MontanaFair and other situations. I’ll start with basics like digital workflow and how to get the most out of your photography equipment. We’ll look at street photography (which is in essence what we’re doing). I’ll describe how to recognize and approach a subject. I’ll explain how I identify situations that may lead to interesting images. Finally, we’ll set our goals for the workshop.

At 5pm we’ll head to the fair. I’ll find situations where I feel a photograph might happen. I’ll explain why I think so and describe specific reasons for my thoughts. We’ll work like this until we run out of light or energy, whichever happens first.

Kenneth Jarecke/Contact Press Image © 2013

Day 2 - August 10th (Saturday)

At 7am we’ll meet at the fair. We’ll work until the morning light disappears.

At 1pm we’ll meet back at the Toucan and go through our work from Friday evening and Saturday morning. I’ll look at everyone’s images and make suggestions on how to make them better. This is a group event which will allow us to learn from one another.

At 5pm we’ll head back to the fair and work our butts off.

Note: This will be a long day, or how it’s known in the world of editorial photography, a normal day. Workshop participants will not be required to work past their comfort levels, rather they’ll be encouraged to take a break, eat some deep-fried something or other, and enjoy themselves. Photography and learning should always push you, but that doesn’t mean they also shouldn’t be fun!

Day 3 - August 11th (Sunday)

I’ll be at the fairgrounds at 7am. Whether you join me or not is up to you.

At 1pm we’ll meet at the Toucan for another grueling editing/therapy session.

At 5pm we’ll head back out to the fair grounds!

Day 4 through Day 9

From August 12 through 17 you’ll be on your own. You’ve got your credentials and your fellow workshop participants for support, and by now you should have learned the skills to make the kind of pictures you’re after. How hard you work during this time is completely up to you. I won’t be there, but I’m leaving you with the gift of motivation.


Kenneth Jarecke/Contact Press Image © 2013

Day 10 - August 24 (Saturday)

At 9am we’ll all meet at the Toucan. We’ll edit our MontanaFair work. My critique will be somewhat brutal, because our final selects will be submitted to the owners of the Toucan Gallery who have generously agreed to curate and exhibit our images. That’s where your extra motivation comes from. The best of our work will be hanging in the Toucan Gallery, matted and framed, for our family, friends and neighbors to see (yes, every workshop participant will be represented) and purchase (we can only hope).

August 31 - Our final prints will be submitted to Mark Sanderson and Allison O’Donnell, of the Toucan Gallery.

September 18 (Wednesday) - Opening night reception at the Toucan Gallery from 5pm until 8pm.

Note: Our print size will be uniform. The paper will be 17 x 22. The image size will be approximately 12 x 18. The cost and making of the prints are your responsibility. I can help you, maybe even produce some of the prints with you at my office. The gallery has graciously offered us a heavily discounted rate for matting and framing (but you can have this done elsewhere if you like). Equally gracious, the gallery will only take a 20% commission on print sales. Amazing, since normally galleries take no less than 50%.

The workshop fee is $695 and limited to twelve participants.

To reserve your spot contact me at,  "website(at)".

Old Cowboy #5

© 2013 Kenneth Jarecke / Contact Press Images


Is this a cliché? It certainly feels like one. Not because of anything I did (or failed to do). The light was what it was. The cowboy is who he is. So, what do you want me to do, not shoot it? Still, at this point it has about as much freshness to it as those Twinkies I've got stored in the root cellar.

Like the zombies I'm waiting on before digging into those golden, cream filled beauties, there's just no life left in this picture. That's the problem with clichés. By showing it you're telling the world you've got nothing new to add to the conversation and you probably kill your chance of getting a new client. Or do you?

I looked through a ton of professional photographer's websites today and my eyes feel like they've been clichéd right out (not that there's anything wrong with that, we've all got bills to pay). These are busy, successful folks, shooting big jobs for big clients, so what gives?

Listen, I've got no answers to this one. I'm just starting the conversation. Do you show the expected stuff to prove you can do that kind of work? Do you show your favorite work and hope the art buyers can make the visual leap? Do you show the stuff you love and would like to get paid to make?

These are the type of questions that always come up when it's time to buff up the website. Personally, I like to show what I like, but I'm not sure that's the wisest business plan.

Then there's the actually editing part too. When it comes to editing my own work, I'm my own worst enemy. Not fun and I always show too much.

At the end of the day, I've got no place on my soon-to-be-updated website for this image. That's where I'm at.

For the record, I use aPhotoFolio for my website needs. The best design, admin, and support by far. They give me one less thing to worry about.

As far as the above image goes, it was made on a first generation EOS 5D with Canon's 85 f1.2. The metadata tells me a stopped down to f1.8 (at 1/80th of a second) and it shows in the bokeh. No need to do that again (live and learn), as I'm not sure the extra 1/16th of an inch of depth of field was worth it.

Now, I think I read that somebody was going to start making Twinkies again... I know, I promised. No zombies, no Twinkies, but now might be a good time to "rotate" the stock.