From Mill Valley to Havana: The Image Flow Offers New Workshops

Jock McDonald

Cuba, a country of contradictions: Victor stands outside the body building center in Havana, his gladiator physique contrasting with the tattoo of his newborn daughter on his back and the classic American car speeding down the near-forgotten street.

The Image Flow (TIF) has long been known for its fantastic assortment of photography workshops, geared to all levels of photographers. From basic digital camera operations to alternative darkroom processes like platinum printing, cyanotype, and gum printing, TIF has a workshop for you.

This spring, The Image Flow is expanding its workshop offerings beyond the boarders of Mill Valley, and even beyond California: A Cuban Vision of Cuba (April 20 – 26) will take eight lucky participants into the nooks and crannies of Havana, Cuba, ordinarily reserved for the city’s citizens themselves.

The workshop is led by an impressive team of local and Cuban photographers: TIF founder Stuart Schwartz and local explorer Jock McDonald (who has run more than 20 workshops in Cuba) will team up with Cuban photographers Alex Castro Soto del Valle (son of Fidel!) and Ramses H. Batista to lead this all-inclusive workshop with an unprecedented 2:1 student to instructor ratio.

“With the intimate size of the workshop, participants won’t be herded about, spending the majority of their trip getting from point A to point B,” said Schwartz.

“We’ll be traveling on foot or in a couple of old convertibles, going into private houses and small repair shops, as well as getting a backstage pass to some of Cuba’s most important cultural events,” Schwartz said.

Indeed, the workshop’s itinerary includes walking the streets of Old Havana, shooting kids’ boxing and the Afro-American Cuban Dance Troupe, and going backstage at the Cuban Ballet Theatre, as well as ample discussion time with the instructors.

“We have a really great team of instructors put together, who are all dedicated—myself especially—to helping our students expand their vision,” Schwartz added.

Also on the TIF schedule is a three-day workshop in San Francisco with National Geographic photographer Catherine Karnow (March 12 – 15). Born and raised in Hong Kong (her father Stanley was the bureau chief for Time-Life), Karnow now calls Mill Valley home. This workshop will offer photographers new to the city a crash course on some of San Francisco’s most photogenic neighborhoods, while challenging local photographers to take a step back so that the ordinary becomes fascinating.

Digital Photography for Youth (February 26 – April 2) is designed especially for young photographers ages 11–14. This new after-school class meets once a week at The Image Flow and will include classroom discussion, assignments, and photo walks in the neighborhood with the instructor.

The idea is to help young photographers learn how to create beautiful images that are youthful, but not childish. “It’s important to give young photographers enough so that they can advance their photographic skills, without inundating them too many rules,” said instructor Hillary Sloss.

To discover these workshops and more, visit The Image Flow’s website or call 415-388-3569.

The Image Flow offers exhibition-quality printing services, image retouching and restoration, and a full-service studio and darkroom available for rent. Open Monday through Saturday. 401 Miller Ave., Mill Valley, CA 94941