Urban Travel Photography:
Hands-On Educational Seminar

by Suresh Sharma – April 2018
(Originally published at the Images Alberta Camera Club Website)



The Fantastic Four © Vincent Morban

Fifteen members of our Images Alberta Camera Club (IACC) had a unique opportunity to attend Rick Hulbert’s Educational Seminar on Urban Travel Photography held in Edmonton from Friday, April 13 to Sunday, April 15, 2018.

Rick is an international award-winning photographer and a teacher with a depth of knowledge in modern architecture. Attendees were impressed with Rick’s infinite patience, humility, depth of knowledge and humour.

Prior to providing the Educational Seminar, Rick made presentations to local photography clubs— one to the St. Albert Photography Club (SAPC) on Wednesday, April 11 (about 50 people attended, including a dozen IACC members); and one to IACC on Thursday, April 12 (about 100 people attended, including 10 guests from SAPC). Both these presentations were appreciated with thunderous applause from enthusiastic photographers.

Rick emphasized that Urban Travel Photography must capture the “spirit of the place” by photographing its “local” people and “unique” buildings. People are best represented by candid street photography against the background of the architecture of the place. The architecture should not only be visually pleasing but should also conform to how the human brain perceives images. Hence, urban photography is not only an “art” but also a “science,” satisfying both sides of the brain; i.e., artistic and logical.

Rick provided practical tips in overcoming any hesitation in photographing people. The attendees got an opportunity to practise their skills at the Old Strathcona Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning from 6:30 to 8:30 a.m. (just as the vendors got ready for a busy day and the customers arrived humming along to buy and taste locally-produced goods). Rick was on hand to answer any questions and provide his insights about what would make a good photograph.

Besides providing several practical presentations on Urban Photography in a classroom setting at a rented lecture room in Lister Hall at the University of Alberta (U of A), there was an opportunity to practise the skills at the U of A Centennial Centre for Interdisciplinary Science (CCIS) building on Saturday, April 14. This proved to be an excellent venue as the building’s interior is in a modern facility spread over multiple levels with glass enclosures, resulting in very interesting light conditions.

The group also had a chance to practise sunset (Saturday night) and sunrise (Sunday morning) shots of the Edmonton downtown skyline. As always, Rick made sure that everyone’s questions were answered. In fact, throughout the entire Seminar he always created a safe environment in which participants could interact freely. While the sunset and sunrise were not perfect on both days, the spirit of the participants was high as they interacted with each other in pursuit of using newly learned skills.

The highlight of the session was on Sunday, when Rick provided a constructive evaluation of attendee Raw files captured during indoor and outdoor practice sessions. The group was mesmerized while watching how, through his workflow sequence in Lightroom, Rick transformed seemingly ordinary images into jaw-dropping images. All the techniques that he emphasized during presentations became abundantly clear in this session. The important lesson was that we should gather correct data in the field so that we can transform that data into a great photo when we process it later. We should not be concluding the quality of the photo by just looking at the camera screen. If correct data is captured, there is a huge potential in turning the data into a great photo.

This is the best seminar that I have ever attended! It was so meaningful and practical.

On behalf of all the participants, we would like to give a big “Thank You” to Heather Kuchma, IACC’s Program Chair, for making all arrangements for the seminar, renting the facilities and seeking permission from the Farmers’ Market and the U of A for the participants to practise their newly learned skills. My personal thanks to Heather for helping me with camera settings and for doing it with such a friendly and gracious attitude.

Heartfelt thanks are also extended to Bob and Wendy Royer for hosting Rick.

Through Rick’s vast knowledge, humility and humour, the seminar was truly illuminating. His vision and mission, “Enriching Peoples’ Lives through Enhanced Visual Perception,” was the clear focus throughout all the sessions.