Coming up on its 30th birthday, the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops has long been an institution dedicated to the celebration, teaching and expanding of photography through classes, events and other opportunities. SFR reached out to president and founder Reid Callanan to offer our congrats and find out what he sees for the present and future of the medium. (Alex De Vore)
It's 30 years later—what might you say is the most important thing you've learned?
I would say consistency and routine are really important to me personally. It's important to the growth of a business, and … you've got to allow space for serendipity to come to you. You can't just do the same thing, which is what consistency and routine would lead you to believe—that's not what I'm saying. You need to build a foundation and a base you can work from, and I kind of have the same philosophy in how I live my life. At its foundation is 'Let's be consistent in how we get up each day and do our jobs as best we can, and when things get wonky, you go back to that place of consistency and routine and calm.' I'm the tortoise in the tortoise and the hare story—one step at a time, plodding forward.
Do you think cameras' ubiquity has made the field more crowded, or simply more accessible? Will it change the future?
It'll definitely change the future, no questions about it. That three quarters of the population have a camera is pretty outstanding. Now people can use image making to record things in their life that are important, they can use the camera to discover things. In that sense, it's a good thing. What it has also done, I think, is it has lessened the impact of great photography. Most people who have cellphones, and that's all they have, don't know the difference between a great photograph and a lousy photograph and why. It has cheapened the nature of what makes up a great photograph. Everybody now thinks they can make a great picture, and they can't. If you gave everybody a violin, does that make them all great musicians? The good news is that there's an increased interest in image making, and interest leads to passion.
Any sage words of wisdom for would-be photographers out there?
Learning technology, harnessing technology is only a small part of the equation. Important images, memorable images, the photography that stands the test of time is always made from other places besides the camera. Cameras don't take pictures, people do. We make pictures from our heart and our souls and our eyes—our beliefs, our imaginations, our curiosity and all those things that make up who we are. You have to learn the technical aspects of the tools, but once you learn it, and to a point where it's intuitive like driving a car, that's the place you want to be.