My best prospect for finding subjects for my photo essay project was Monte Carlo. Flâneurs congregate around the casino there like wildebeest at a water hole. I hoped hunting would be good. First though, our group met at 0730 for a pre-departure portrait shoot in Nice. The local photographer assisting our teachers, Manu, had agreed to pose for portraits in a café near our Nice hotel. Our lead instructor Joe McNally had scouted the location and cleared our shoot with the owners. A fellow-student had also recruited a personable young musician, Coco, whom she had seen perform the night before, to model for us.
Joe is particularly known for his mastery of flash. On previous workshops I learned a lot from him and I now prefer to light my portraits. This workshop is about creating picture essays like those of the long-gone glory days of Life and Time magazines, however, so we were tasked to shoot with natural light. I had the most fun so far working with our two models and more of my final selects can be found here for Coco and here for Manu.
On the way to Monaco, we visited the little medieval hill town of Eze. It was raining steadily and the steep pavements were slippery but the buildings are picturesque and one of them housed a shop where I was able to relieve my sodden misery (not having brought a coat) with the purchase of an umbrella.
The weather cleared in Monte Carlo and we worked the scene thoroughly in our different ways. I came to the realisation that my original project was too nasty for me to pursue with any conviction. I am no fashion critic and as I searched for examples of OTT glamour, I decided to just look for "bling" instead. There's plenty of it to be seen in this part of the world and the people who wear it are not ashamed of it. With this in mind I shot over 500 images.
Manu, our model and guide, led us out to dinner at a remarkable French take on a burger joint. This was a problem for me on my diet, but I handled that well enough by ordering a chicken burger and throwing away everything but the chicken. There was an option to have a salad instead of fries so that (and two and a half litres of water) completed my meal.
I then paid the price of my intensive shooting by staying up until the early hours editing my images to find seven to present for critique. After too few hours of sleep I rose for breakfast and joined my fellow-students at our class, which (with presentations and critiques) took until midday.
We then set of for a splendid lunch at one of my favourite restaurants in the world; the Place de Mougins. This was my second visit on this trip to my favourite French village and the food did not disappoint. It was as refined as last night's dinner had been hearty. Having opted for the vegetarian version, I was able to eat everything except the dessert (a soufflé that my friends told me tasted as good as it looked) and the highly-decorative petit fours.
I have visited Mougins many times in the thirty years or more I have been coming to the South of France, so I am mainly interested to see how my fellow-students saw it with their fresh eyes. They are an observant bunch and never fail to photograph things I miss. Tomorrow's critique session should be interesting for me.
We returned to Nice via another medieval hill town - Tourrette-sur-Loup, which was picturesque with its steep, winding streets and oddly-shaped houses. It is almost entirely dependent on tourism, but was far less crowded than Eze or Mougins.
Tomorrow we are going to the town I know best in these parts, Cannes.