Contemplative Photography

DATES: 09/22/2018 - 09/29/2018
LOCATION: Tuscan Renaissance Center
PRICE: $2,795.00
ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR:
VISIT WEBSITE

Bob Younger has been photographing seriously since the mid-60’s when he traded his grade-school Brownie Starmite for a 35mm rangefinder. He picked up a 4×5 in the late 60’s and has been working in larger formats ever since, now primarily 8×10. Artistically, his work has gone from dramatic landscapes to closer, more abstract or metaphorical images. In the last decade Bob has discovered the value of spending time with a subject, of developing an understanding of a place or objects, and their relationship to the world. This has led to a realization that there is interconnectedness between the photographer, the subject, and the photograph; that there is an interdependence of all things in the world. The photographer must develop an understanding of his or her relationship to the larger world and to the subject of the photograph, and must wait on that understanding.

Shore Acres Oregon, by Bob Younger “A better and less ignorant photographer would certainly have come up with better pictures, but not these pictures; for he hardly could have been as well positioned as I was, moving through the scene openly and yet invisibly because I was part of it, born into it.” Eudora Welty

 

Bob Younger has been photographing seriously since the mid-60’s when he traded his grade-school Brownie Starmite for a 35mm rangefinder. He picked up a 4×5 in the late 60’s and has been working in larger formats ever since, now primarily 8×10. Artistically, his work has gone from dramatic landscapes to closer, more abstract or metaphorical images. In the last decade Bob has discovered the value of spending time with a subject, of developing an understanding of a place or objects, and their relationship to the world. This has led to a realization that there is interconnectedness between the photographer, the subject, and the photograph; that there is an interdependence of all things in the world. The photographer must develop an understanding of his or her relationship to the larger world and to the subject of the photograph, and must wait on that understanding.

Shore Acres Oregon, by Bob Younger “A better and less ignorant photographer would certainly have come up with better pictures, but not these pictures; for he hardly could have been as well positioned as I was, moving through the scene openly and yet invisibly because I was part of it, born into it.” Eudora Welty

 

Come join Bob Younger with a small group of photographers in Tuscany, Italy for a week of collaborative study and experience. We will be photographing Tuscan villages and landscapes; living in a restored thousand-year-old monastery, and enjoying marvelous Italian cuisine.

In this workshop, we’ll explore the experience of making photographs, with a focus on developing and understanding our place and our participation as a photographer in a much larger schema than the everyday world.  We will consider where we are right now in the world and the universe.

Atlanta Wall, photo by Bob Younger “You do not have to imagine things. Reality gives you all you need.” Andre Kertesz

We’ll also explore tools and methods for emotionally connecting with our subjects, while disconnecting from the random thoughts, concerns, and anxieties that continually bombard our minds and emotions.  Each day we will go out to the charming towns and countryside of Tuscany to experience making photographs.

I’ve been photographing since early childhood, but it took me decades to understand why I’ve always felt compelled to make pictures. Finally, I realized there was something about the process itself that I found emotionally satisfying. Fully engaging with the subject I was photographing, I felt an overwhelming sense of completeness. During our week together in Tuscany, I will be sharing with you what I’ve learned about this practice so far, and I look forward to learning from you as well.

Death Valley Sunset, photo by Bob Younger “I am affected by a visual experience – it is meaningful and beyond articulation. When I look at a tree, I cannot forget the invisibles – the ants, the water system inside the tree, the birds, the insects, and other animals who depend on the tree for shelter and food. I try to make the invisibles felt. I have a deep empathy with nature, and when I am photographing her I feel a certain communion. I feel in love.” Ruth Bernhard

To benefit from the wisdom and experience of other conscious photographers, I’ll provide a recommended reading list to all participants and send out readings by email over the months leading up to our time together in Italy.

Throughout the workshop, we’ll also look at photographs, mine and yours, with an emphasis on the emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual experience of making each one. We’ll discuss the emotional impact of our photographs and whether the photographer’s experience comes through the image.

La Purisima Mission Cell, by Bob Younger “We heal ourselves in the act of photographing by being fully present to the moment at hand. When we stand on the edge of that which is, we are released from the yoke of what has been, detached from the fear of what might be. There is only the moment, the light, the matter of our vision.” Jan Phillips

We will also explore the tools, nature and practice of creativity—how it enables us to see, and how it enables us to convey some aspect or level of the emotional experience we had in making a photograph, or a portfolio.

Because this workshop is focused on the experience of making photographs, we will spend very little time on composition, color or camera usage. Rather, we will expect that all participants are well-versed in the use of their equipment. Futzing with equipment, and being frustrated by it, will inhibit the emotional experience we are after. Similarly, understanding and feeling at ease with the rules of composition, tones, shade and color will be an important prerequisite.

You don’t need any particular camera to participate in this workshop. Both digital and film cameras are welcome. If you’re going to buy a new camera for this trip, give yourself several months to learn to use it so that it feels second nature to you.

Please plan to bring photographs to show and discuss in the group. We will talk in particular about the thoughts and feelings you experienced while making the picture, including the experience of working with the image in the darkroom or on the computer.

I’ll provide additional logistical information in the coming weeks. But for now, mark your calendar for September 22-29, 2018 to join me for unforgettable week in Tuscany. Give yourself the gift of this transformative, creative experience!


“Every work of art that does not cause God to be felt misses the true potential of art.” Alex Grey

General Activities:

In addition to the activities of the workshop, we will also see and explore this area of Tuscany with various excursions:

  • Chianti winery tour and tasting
  • Escorted visits to hill towns
  • A day in medieval Siena
  • Visit to open air market
  • Optional dinner at a local enoteca (wine bar)

We’ll return each evening to relax in our monastery. Then we will move to the dining room (the authentic refectory where the monks used to assemble) to enjoy the authentic, home-made Tuscan meals prepared for us by our local chef.

Every moment will not be scheduled. When we get to our destinations, I will let you explore things in your own way and let you know when to return for your ride back to home base.


Price:

Zabriskie Point Canyons, photo by Bob Younger “If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.” William Blake

$2,795* p/p ($2,495 for non-participants)

— Ides of March special – $100 discount if registration received by March 15 —

Optional supplements:

  • $550 single room
  • $250 p/p Jr. Suite

Includes:

  • Shared double room in restored monastery (single room available for supplement)
  • Daily traditional breakfast and dinner, including wine
  • Daily workshop activities
  • Excursion to Siena
  • All local transportation
  • Fully escorted excursions
  • ½ day excursion to nearby hilltown (suggested: San Gimignano, Montalcino, Castellina-in-Chianti…)
  • Pick up from Florence train station at 3:30pm on arrival Saturday
  • Transfer to bus/train station in Siena on final day

Does Not Include:

  • Airfare
  • Lunch (lite lunch will be available for 15 euros on days we are not out on excursion)
  • Gratuities
  • Independent meals and sight-seeing

Redwood Root, photo by Bob Younger “The soul should always stand ajar, ready to welcome the ecstatic experience.” Emily Dickinson

To Register:  just click on the Sign Up Now button.  A non-refundable deposit of $500 is required to secure your spot in the workshop.  Payment can be made on line with a credit card, or you can follow the instructions to send in your registration and payment by mail.  Once we receive your deposit we will send you a formal Registration Confirmation with further information about the program.  You will receive 2-3 other correspondences by email prior to the workshop with information about Italy, a supplies list and an electronic invoice for the balance.  Final Balance is due by August 15th.  Any time prior to your arrival, if you have questions about anything regarding the trip or the program, you can contact us by email or phone and we’ll be happy to assist you.

Contact us for more information: info@ilchiostro.com or speak to us live at 800-990-3506.

Borgo San Fedele

— San Fedele is a restored 12th century monastery floating in the Chianti hills —

T©Lester Lefkowitz 7003-001he Il Chiostro at San Fedele is the combined skills of Linda and Michael of Il Chiostro joining together with Nicolo and Renata of San Fedele to produce a unique and inspiring environment rooted in the traditional Tuscan values of beauty, great food, an appreciation for nature and the value of community.  The monastery, dating back to the 12th century, was meticulously restored using traditional building methods and all original materials. Today, the monastery remains true to its original spirit, rich architectural detail. The 16 rooms and suites where participants are housed have lovely modern bathrooms, screened windows, air conditioning, period furniture, wi-fi internet service, satellite television and minibar, all designed to perfectly complimentthe medieval surroundings.

The original soaring chapel is now used as a large art studio or workshop space. The monks’ refectory, where a lost 16th century fresco was uncovered during renovation, is now the dining room connected to a state-of-the-art kitchen and the old stone cantinas where they stored their wine have been transformed into studio and classroom space.

For information about the history of this monastery, Click here to go to San Fedele’s web site…

lester-lefkowitz-room1

Rather than  hotel, San Fedele is classified as a historic residence in Italy.  That means that it is an intimate setting, preserved along strict historical guidelines to preserve the spirit of the setting.  The owners are on site to oversee this unique combination of historic landmark and modern day comfort.

Accommodations are spacious shared double rooms or junior suites. Each room, because it was converted from the original structure of the monastery without altering the building, is unique in shape. Furnishings and decor were selected to coordinate with the historic, subdued feeling of the monastery, but in a comfortable, modern style. All rooms have two beds that can be separated into twins or combined into one large matrimonial. There is a sitting area, refrigerator, DSL wi-fi, television, air-conditioning, heating, modern private bathroom with shower and hair dryers.

lester-lefkowitz-room3 lester-lefkowitz-room2

There are a limited number of single rooms available at a supplement of $550.

2 Jr. Suites for a minimum of 2 people are available for a supplement of $250 per person.

Night shot piazza©Lester Lefkowitz 7003-010© Lester Lefkowitz 7184-022Archway from rose garden and breakfast buffet in the refectory (photos by Lester Lefkowitz)

Terrace-MJossThe back of San Fedele is surrounded by a large al fresco dining terrace with the original terra cotta tile designs reproduced down to the smallest details. The terrace overlooks the same organic vegetable and flower garden tended by the monks for centuries. Beyond are the rolling Chianti vineyards that make this part of Tuscany so breathtaking.

Other common spaces include a large classroom carved into the rock of the ancient wine cellar, an expansive private piazza, a 16 x 7 meter swimming pool and sprawling landscaped grounds on a rolling hillside.

To San Fedele-LMFlorence will be our meeting point on the first day of the workshop. A van will pick up the group at the train station at about 3:30 pm on Saturday afternoon.

We recommend that you fly into either Florence, Pisa or Rome (Milan is a bit too far away). Florence is closer but it doesn`t have an intercontinental airport, so there are no direct flights from the US. You would have to change planes in a larger European city. From the Florence airport you must take a shuttle bus (Volainbus) into the center (20 minutes).

There are more scheduled flights from the US to Rome, many of them direct. From Rome, you will need to take a train to Florence (about 2 1/2 hours).
Important! In making your return flight arrangements, if you are flying home on Saturday after the workshop, try not to book a flight too early. From our location allow 1 ½ hours to get to the Florence airport or 3 ½ hours to get to the Rome airport.

For suggestions about getting to Rome or Florence, accommodations or other logistics, please consult ourTraveling to Italy link. Renting a car from all the major rental agencies is possible if you prefer to be more independent during the week.

Fall vineyards

Fall vineyards

 

Borgo San Fedele sits conveniently on a country road connecting the charming medieval walled town of Radda and the village of Vagliagli. Other nearby hilltowns include Castellina-in-Chianti, Monteriggioni and Volpaia. It is about 45 minutes from San Gimignano and Volterra. Many of these towns have roots in the earlier Etruscan civilization that permeated this area prior to the Romans.

San Fedele is located about 12 km northeast of Siena and 45 km south of Florence.

The Food

For us at Il Chiostro, helping our guests to experience the traditional food in one of the earth`s richest, most sensual areas is our pleasure. The Chianti region of Tuscany is Italy’s famous wine and olive oil producing region. Here we want to expose you to the wonders of simple Italian cooking known in the area as cucina povera. Our chef Andrea is a Tuscan native who uses recipes from his mother and grandmother to bring the tradition of not only Tuscany, but specifically the Chianti region, to the table each evening.  We use seasonal, organic products, locally produced by small farms and family shops. Our chef searches for the best of Tuscany to serve you. Tuscan cuisine is a simple art that has been refined over the centuries to surprise our palates while the red chianti wine comforts our souls. Come explore what food can really be all about.

© Lester Lefkowitz 7184-057Candle Light Dinner2-CharlesAnderson
About Your Il Chiostro Hosts
Linda and Michael, and their program managers will host your program in Tuscany. They have been organizing workshops in Italy since 1995 and each person brings a special talent to the program. You can read more about them by following the About Il Chiostro link. At the Tuscan Renaissance Center, the owners of San Fedele, Nicolo and Renata, live on site. They will be available throughout the program to talk about the history of the monastery, the renovation and this area of Tuscany they call home.

In addition to your workshop
Optional activities offered with this program will focus on the cultural, gastronomic, historical and artistic heritage of Tuscany. This area has been an inspiration to countless people for centuries. What Tuscany offers its visitors is truly astounding:

Bell tower-smallArt – San Fedele is located conveniently between the cities of Medieval Siena and Renaissance Florence packed with some of the most famous masterpieces in the world.

Wine -You are in the heart of the Chianti region, synonomous with the most famous wine that Italy produces. But the innovative Tuscan vintners are also producing Super Tuscans, red varietals that are quickly ascending the ranks of world-class wine.

History – this area was settled by the Etruscans centuries before the Romans were a civilized society. Their necropoli dot the fields throughout the area. Nearby towns like Radda, Vagliagli and Castellina date from the early Middle Ages. Florence was the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance. San Fedele witnessed most of this from its panoramic perch atop the hillside.

Foodcucina povera is the typical Tuscan cuisine that has become popular around the world. The recipes are simple, emphasizing local and seasonal products: porcini mushrooms, salumi, legumes, vegetables, pasta, bread and game meats. Visiting an outdoor food market, you will understand the wisdom of this very healthy cuisine.

Crafts – perhaps the harmony of the landscape has been the inspiration for many local craftsmen. Exquisite hand-painted ceramics are the prime example, closely followed by mosaics, leather, woodworking, and textiles.