Why Photography Workshops Should Have Table Saws and Arc Welders

DSC_1705 copyAre you sick of everything being a “workshop”? Or people “workshopping”? I am. It is a travesty on the language.

A workshop is a shop where you work. A physical building that has a door, a light hanging from a cord, and a beer fridge. It also has a ratty old chair and a wooden stool and a workbench. You may have arc welders, drill presses, table saws, or gun lathes in there but it is a world of difference from a place that has chairs, tables, an overhead projector, and a world-famous iconic master mentor award-winning photographic legend superstar who needs the money.

That is not a workshop. If you have to sit there in silence it is a lecture and if you have to stand up and tell everyone your three favourite colours and animals it is a seminar. If they pass out pledges it is a temperance meeting and if they pass out time-share contracts for apartments on the Gold Coast it is an intemperance meeting.

If you have a room set aside for cutting square matte boards into trapezoids and gluing things to your fingers it is not a workshop either – it is a workroom. It is like a darkroom only you can see your mistakes earlier. You can’t do anything about them because the art supply store closed 15 minutes ago, but that is just bad luck. Trim the print smaller and mount it again. When it gets to the size of a matchbox you can invent a story that makes it into a bold art statement.

All this is prompted by my justifiable pride in saving a sinking ship. I went out last week and bought a roll of Epson printing paper for my R3000 printer and asked for the wrong size. The shop sold it to me, and that was a little odd, but really the initial fault was mine. Well two nights ago I made a jig out of plywood, an X-acto blade, and a cardboard tube and successfully trimmed the 17″ roll down to 13″ – all 100′ of it. I have just fed the first of it into the printer and got a passable print. So the money spent on the paper has not been wasted – now all I need to do is figure out a use for a 4″ x 100′ roll of paper…


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