Paris, quickly!

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Matt and I stopped in Paris for a quick two days on our way to London. It’s a trip of firsts for both of us. Matt’s first trip up the Eiffel Tower; our first time staying in an apartment instead of a hotel; and our first time taking EuroStar through the Chunnel. So far the first two have been just great! We’re about to head to Gare du Nord to catch our train.

Paris in August is beautiful. The city is fairly quiet because many Parisians are on vacation. Lots of shops are closed, which keeps many of the tourists away. We felt like we had the city to ourselves. The weather has perfect with wonderfully photogenic clouds. Exactly what we wanted for our photos.

Renting an apartment was a smart move. We used Airbnb. This is our second time using them and it’s been really fantastic. Katharina has been a great host. It was easy to get here, the building is on a quiet street, and the apartment is perfect for the two of  us. I highly recommend this service for your stay in Paris.

We’ll be back in early September with our workshop group. Now we’re off to London!


À bientôt Paris!


Photographing a Person Who is Homeless

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As I am preparing the materials for my next workshop, I came across a video about homeless people. As a street photographer, I regularly encounter people who are homeless. Homelessness is a complex and emotionally difficult issue to photograph well. I don’t think that it can be done well as a snapshot. I teach my workshop participants to never grab a photograph a homeless person. All that photograph will tell us that there is a homeless person in that spot. When photographing people who are in such difficult circumstances, a single snapshot does nothing to tell their story and it is in some ways exploitative.

As a photographer, I want to show more about a person than just their face and body. I want my images to have emotional and educational impact and for the viewer to make a connection to the person in the photo. When we look at photographs of homeless people, the first thing we see is “homelessness” and nothing else. It’s hard to get past that one fact. Sure, we feel sympathy, but I would rather feel empathy; to share the pain in some way. To do that, we need to connect with that person. So, I advise the participants, that if they are going to photograph a homeless person, that they should talk to their subject. Share something with them, even if it is just some time. Introduce yourself, ask them their name, and then ask if you can photograph them. This experience will not only connect two human beings, but that connection will come through in the photograph. The viewers will gain see and gain a deeper connection with person who is homeless. As viewers, we may not know their name or their story, but we will know that they are more than just a homeless person. They are a person who happens to be homeless.-


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photography by Carol Gray

When I started college, many moons ago, I wanted to be a high school history teacher. Then I became what some would call a “professional student”. I got my BA in European history with a minor in film history and went on for an MA in international affairs. As I finished each degree, I found myself working in academia.

When I finished my AA in photography from Foothill College, I considered various options within the field of photography, including weddings, commercial, fine art and even going back to school to get my MFA. While I do occasionally photograph weddings, as well as, family and corporate portraits, for me the most fulfilling is teaching workshops.

After I taught my first workshop and received the responses from the participants and saw their photos from the day, I just knew that teaching was what I was meant to do. I believe that everyone has an artist within them, it’s just a matter of finding the right medium for their creative outlet. If I can guide students along through photography and help them to discover their inner creative soul, I feel like I have accomplished something wonderful.

In this past year, I have heard from students who have won awards for their photographs that they made in my workshops, some have discovered that they really do love street photography (the style that I generally teach), one embarked on a documentary series after I worked with him to discover the best way to use photography to tell the story he wanted to share with the world. It’s so exciting to help other artists grow and find their artistic voice. Though, honestly, they help me to find mine. I guess all those years ago, I just knew that I was meant to be a teacher and now through the support and inspiration of so many, I have found my medium.

Two students have mentioned my workshops in their blogs. I am honored. You can see their work and comments on their sites linked below. The photograph below was taken by Carol Gray after my workshop at Chinatown’s Flower Festival on January 25, 2014.



London and Paris Workshop Announced

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I am thrilled to be going back to London and Paris at the end of August!!!

This time I will be going to teach a workshop with two other fantastic instructors:  Keith Lee, the professor at Foothill College who inspired me to leave my desk job and study photography full-time, and award-winning photographer, and soon-to-be my husband, Matt Drown.

Please, join us as we photograph our way through the two cities that gave birth to photography, London and Paris. Both are rich with visual history and the dynamic energy of truly global cities. We will spend nine days in London photographing the city by foot, Tube, and boat. We will visit the world-famous Getty collection and get behind the scenes on private tours at the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Museum of London, and others. We will explore London’s markets, ethnic neighborhoods, parks, busy streets, and quiet alleys. London is becoming the restaurant mecca of Europe and we have arranged for some special culinary treats and visits as well.

We will then take the train to Paris, to spend five days walking in the footsteps of photographers such as Henri Cartier Bresson, William Klein, Robert Doisneau, Brassaï, and many others. Like London, we will tour city by foot, metro, and boat. There will be daily walking tours to various points of photographic interest and beauty.  We have arranged for private tours at the Henri Cartier Bresson collection and Le Maison Européenne de la Photographie, two of the premier centers for photographic art in Europe. We will tour the medieval corners, the bridges, the narrow alleys, cafés, markets, gardens, and cemeteries in this incredible city.

This unique workshop has been developed to be quite different than most. We want to combine the best of a travel photography workshop and a photography class. On top of the excursions, visits, and photowalks, we will also conduct regular group meetings and photo critiques so that each participant can work to improve their skills and return home with the best photographs they can take. We want you to return home with more than postcard-quality images.

Workshop Dates: Monday, August 25- Monday, September 8

What is Included:
A small group tour (Maximum 15 participants)
Professional instruction, guidance and regular critiques by three photographers
Lodging in London and Paris
Entrance fees to all activities included in the itinerary
Tube (Oyster) card and Metro card for use on public transportation
Private tours at museums and galleries
Train from London to Paris (one-way)
Breakfasts (except arrival day) plus welcome and farewell meals and at least one extra in each city (to be confirmed in final itinerary)
14 days of photographic fun
What is Not Included: 
Airfare to and from Europe
Transportation from and to the airports in London and Paris
Expenses of a personal nature
Tips for restaurants and local guides
Travel and emergency medical Insurance
Meals outside of what is offered in the itinerary
$3500 (price subject to change based on fluctuations in exchange rates and final excursion confirmations) final price will be confirmed at time of deposit. We are working to keep the price low. If there is a change, we expect it to be lower.
A deposit of $1000 is required to reserve a seat by May 15.
The final payment is due June 30.

Please contact me at  (650-315-8812) or Keith Lee at (650-949-7145) with any questions and to be added to the participant list. Online registration and a detailed itinerary will be available online by April 18.

A few reviews from previous workshops that I have taught:

“You have been the best photo instructor I have worked with, thank you for your energy time and patience.” -James D.

“I thoroughly enjoyed the workshop, and was really pleased with the images I was able to capture. Your enthusiasm for street photography was infectious. Thanks so much for all your guidance and suggestions.” -Janet R.

“I learned to look, see and notice everything in that one spot that I would ordinarily have passed right over.” -Cathy Y.

“I want to particularly thank you for being so organized and informative. So often I end up in a workshop or class where the instructor has not given the format and presentation sufficient thought to make it a truly learning experience. Not you. You really did a beautiful job on all counts.” -Tom S.

“You did an outstanding job of being our mentor, cheerleader and more! The best in so many ways! You have a real gift for being a fabulous workshop leader” -Mary J.


Photos below by Neeley Main, Keith Lee and Matt Drown. 

Camera Clubs – upcoming lectures

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I am honored to have been asked to give a talk at two local camera clubs. The first, on Thursday, March 20, is for the Millbrae Camera Club. The program begins at 7 pm in Room A at the Millbrae Library, which is located at 1 Library Avenue, Millbrae, CA 94030

The second talk is at 7pm on Thursday, March 27 in Pleasant Hill at the Winslow Center for the Contra Costa Camera Club (see the flyer below).

At both, I will be presenting and discussing my work as a street and travel photographer.

In Search of Unique Experiences

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Trinidad, Cuba

As a photographer who loves to travel, I crave unique places and experiences to explore with my camera. As the world becomes smaller, it becomes more difficult to find those special places that have not already been exposed by hundreds of thousands of photographers before me. I search for unique locations with beautiful scenery, warm and open people, and fascinating culture and history. In 2010, I found all of this and more in Cuba..

Cuba is only 90 miles from Florida and yet, it is worlds away. When you arrive in Cuba, you are immediately struck by the smells of tropical flowers mixed with salt air and gasoline from the American Chevy’s from the 1950s and Soviet-era Ladas. The sounds of old cars, salsa music, kids playing baseball in the streets, and their mothers yelling after them fill your ears. The heat from the Caribbean sun warms your skin as you notice the incredible light bouncing off of the stunningly beautiful Spanish and French colonial-era walls coated with layers of peeling paint and years of incredible history. Cuba radiates creative inspiration and you will want to pick your camera up and start making photographs right away. It truly is a photographer’s paradise

The most incredible thing about visiting Cuba is that you actually can pick up your camera and start making photographs as soon as you step out of the airport. Cubans are so open and friendly, that engaging them for photos is as easy as walking down the street. In Cuba, everyone is in the streets, in their doorways, or out on their balconies. Cubans are genuinely curious about the United States; as curious as we are about Cuba. This mutual interest opens doors for us as photographers. Being invited into their houses and shops is common and gives us more than mere glimpses of how Cubans live and work. They don’t mind if you photograph in their houses, their places of business, their classrooms, farms, bars, or during their dance recitals and musical performances. There are few places in the world where this kind of access is possible. This openness is what I seek as a traveler and as a photographer. I am free to make the photographs that I want to make, to create the images that make others envious and that help me to tell the story of an incredible and unique place. When you visit, your experiences in Cuba will shape your photography in ways you can never imagine.

I have since returned to Cuba and the changes between the first visit and the second were quite dramatic. As the world opens to Cuba, Cuba adapts and modernizes. The changes are energizing, and the old Cuba is slowly disappearing. That is why I am excited to return in October as an instructor with Incredible Travel Photos. This is the most exciting and important time to visit Cuba. The tropical beauty and charm of old Cuba is still evident while the dynamic changes of a modern Cuba are rushing in the most Cuban way possible, with open arms and set to a modern salsa beat.

Bright Lights, Bustling Streets Workshop – San Francisco

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Despite the bitter cold, my workshop participants persevered on December 7. We had a grand time and with all the wonderful activity around Union Square, there was plenty to photograph. In the evening we practiced using available light for our street photography. Using the bright lights from a shop window is always fun. It requires patience but if you find a great spot, stay there and someone will walk past and give you a great image.

January is sold out, but March is available

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WOW! What a fantastic way to start 2014! My upcoming photography workshop with Incredible Travel Photos at the Chinese Flower Festival and Parade is now sold out. I have just scheduled another for March 22, 2014. In this next one we will be photographing in San Francisco’s Chinatown during one of the busy market days of the week. March is still early enough in the spring that the number of tourists is fewer than usual, so there will be a more intimate feel to the neighborhood. As always, there will be surprises because we never know what fun we will discover.

Workshop Update

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WOW! and WOW! My January workshop is already half-way sold out! Thank you! Thank you! I feel so honored to have such wonderful students. Below are a few snaps from my Chinatown workshop held on November 2. I don’t take many photos while I am teaching, but occasionally I have a moment to grab a photo with my cellphone camera.