Coffee and Calligraphy

A Saturday of calligraphy, coffee and capturing the moment.

My introduction to calligraphy came when my girlfriend started practising her calligraphy. A deceptively difficult practise that tests patience, skill and steady handedness. Things I have in limited supply.

Amy found out about Joyce’s calligraphy classes after seeing her writing in the Paperchase cafe one day. I pushed her to be nosey and it paid off, Joyce mentioned she ran classes. Amy attended and I filled in as a photographer for an hour or so.

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The feedback I received from Joyce was great and she was keen to get me along to photograph other projects when I was available. The most recent of these being the class she ran last Saturday (14/11). A 3 hour modern calligraphy class with students eager to learn the process and build up their skills. The classes are held at Foundation Coffee House in the Northern Quarter of Manchester. The place is great, it has a very Scandinavian feel to it, dark wood, clean lines and an industrial aesthetic. To the point that I think I need to get some good photos next time I am in there, love seeing the baristas process and the art created, all the contraptions and the variety of the end product.

Photographing the class

When I go about shooting documentary style photos of events I try to saturate the participants with clicks. In as much as I take lots and lots of photos. The people who were being careful to pose at the beginning of the shoot give in and people get accustomed to hearing the click of the shutter. So, in time, I am able to get candid shots of people as they carry on with their class.

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I try not to get in the way, I was there to get photos, but I want people to enjoy their class. Artsynibs being the client doesn’t want images but no happy customers.

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I enjoyed the shoot as it let me tinker with a lot of lens choices, the sorts of lenses I don’t usually use in the same shoot. For this shoot I used my 35mm, 50mm, 90mm and 11-16mm. This wide array of focal lengths allowed me to capture what I needed from the sidelines and without getting uncomfortably close to the subject. Using all natural light on such a miserable day it pushed the capabilities of the camera body but I feel the end results are fantastic in terms of low noise and sharpness of the image.

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What it’s all about

At the end of the shoot all the students packed up, all seemingly made up with their new found skill. The feedback that Joyce receives is fantastic at the end of each lesson. The students are all well engaged and the class sizes are small enough that each student has significant opportunities to ask for help and improve their techniques.

It is not just a case of teaching the way to write but quite comprehensively over the 3 hour period. Covering the basics and the terminology to practise strokes and actually starting to put the lessons together. Leaving at the end of the day with a notepad, ink and pen of your own. It’s a great idea for friends or even as a gift. My girlfriend had a blast.

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Thanks for reading.