Photographers from afar gather at Old Car City
by John DeFoor
Mar 11, 2012 | 5169 views | 0 0 comments | 39 39 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Country and bluegrass singer Ricky Skaggs seems to have traded his guitar for a camera as he photographs an element of a vehicle at Old Car City Friday in White where he was participating in a photography workshop led by renowned photographer Bill Fortney.
SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
Country and bluegrass singer Ricky Skaggs seems to have traded his guitar for a camera as he photographs an element of a vehicle at Old Car City Friday in White where he was participating in a photography workshop led by renowned photographer Bill Fortney. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
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Workshop photographers gathered at Old Car City in White on Friday and Saturday to photograph antique cars, learn new techniques and join together in Christian fellowship.

Leading the workshop was Bill Fortney, a 42-year professional photographer who won a shared Pulitzer Prize for a photograph he took at a race riot in the 1970s -- a photograph of a burning cross falling toward running Ku Klux Klan members -- that was included in the winning newspaper's portfolio. Today, Fortney works as the Nikon tech-representative for the southern U.S. as well as with his own independent photography company.

"I've started a company called His Light Workshops," Fortney said. "It's a workshop company that's basically aimed at the Christian market for people who want to learn photography but do it in that kind of atmosphere."

"His teaching is really more spiritual," said country and bluegrass musician Ricky Skaggs, who attended the event as a photographer. "It's all life lessons, you learn how to see ...To see the important things in life, not just to be the best you can be at taking pictures. Be the best person that you can be. He's a great teacher."

The workshop was also attended by Charles Stanley -- the senior pastor of First Baptist in Atlanta, and various other photographers from throughout the U.S.

"Many of them have been with me before," Fortney said. "We have 27 people here plus I have five instructors. They're enjoying this incredible Old Car City, which is for someone who wants to photograph old classic cars in a rustic state. As a fine art photography, it's becoming one of the go-to destinations."

Raymond Jabola traveled from California for the workshop, his fourth with Fortney.

"This is like a gold mine of cars," Jabola said. "You can find almost anything and everything you want to shoot out here -- it's photography heaven if you like to shoot old cars." Saturday, Jabola focused on photographing the antique cars' hood ornaments.

"Most of the people who come to his workshops have been shooting for a long time," Jabola said. "It's more about composition. You shoot these kind of pictures different than you would landscape or portraits -- it's a different style. You're learning how to shoot cars and what you look for. You hone in on little, different parts of the car. [Fortney] calls it extraction. You may take part of a door, part of a fender, and part of a wheel wheel. You're not seeing the whole car but it's art in itself. You're looking for lines, texture, color, as far as to make a good image."

"It's not necessarily that we focus on one thing, it's go out and have a good time," said Liz Smith from Alabama. "We've been studying a process called HDR -- High Dynamic Range. Because there are so many variations in the cars with the rust and the colors, it makes really great HDR images. [Fortney's] been helping us with those and just helping us to take better pictures in general."

His Light Workshops features photography sessions at locations across the U.S.

"This is what we call an Americana workshop," Fortney said. "where we go and do stuff that's of historic value. We've done Shaker Village in Kentucky, we're gonna do St. Augustine, [Fla., and] Nashville, Tenn. -- the country capital of the world. We just go to a lot of those kind of places.

"You're always hoping to get a lot of good quality images," Jabola said. "With [Fortney's] workshops, more than that it's the fellowship with all the other workshop attendees and with all the instructors. It's more than just photography, it's a common bond that people share. I've been to three of [Fortney's] other workshops. You come away inspired, not only photographically but to be a better person."

"You meet the nicest people," Fortney said, "They come not only because they want to become better photographers and they want to make great images -- everyone wants to do that -- but they come because they want to grow spiritually. They want to learn how their walk with the Lord can be stronger and deeper. It's exciting because you see people who come and on the last day they'll say 'Boy I had a wonderful time. I learned more than I ever thought I'd learn. I got great images, I love Old Car City, but you know what the best thing was? Man, I just got fed spiritually. I'm ready to go home and be a stronger Christian.' That's the most important thing to us."