Rebirth workshop + Mississippi

As you may or not know (probably know if you follow me on facebook) I recently took a trip down south which started with an evening in Memphis and continued to Mississippi for the Rebirth Workshop and Retreat. You can check out the Memphis images HERE. Whenever I travel in this fashion by car, I always find that half the fun is finding off the beaten path spots to photograph  which is where I found these first 2 images.


The workshop was held in Clarksdale MS, pretty much considered the Birthplace Of The Blues. There were about 11 students in all, and we all stayed at a VERY unique spot called the Shack Up Inn, which are basically repurposed sharecropper shacks turned into rooms


Lets just say that I have never stayed in a place like this before—


it’s a little like someone went to an antique show, bought doors, window frames, pieces of metal–old signs….and then used then all one way or the other in the cabin


the building across the way was an existing cotton gin turned into more ‘hotel’ type rooms.

  Theres an interesting article here in Delta Magazine about the property


we all gathered Sunday afternoon for a meet and greet and an overview of the weeks schedule. Diving right in obnoxiousness, I started shooting right away…


the next morning we started with an overview of palladium printing, with New Orleans’ Thom Bennett


lots of photo visual goodies!


We started each day with a writing assignment as well as an unexpected drawing task as well! The writing was based on a website called Unphotographable, where you are trying to think more consciously about what you are seeing when you ARE not photographing (as well as when you are!) So we had about 5 minutes to write a brief statement which started with: This is a picture I did not take

 Not as easy as it sounds, but it DOES get you thinking in a different fashion in day to day life


We were paired up in dreams and had 30 minutes ( 15 minutes each) to do a portrait of our team member. Shari and I went into her cabin where she had a random piece from a church we incorporated in the the shot. I was playing with my tilt-shift lens for this image


I was grabbing quick portraits when ever I could.

Will took me out for a ride to a town a bit south of where we were, and while pretty typical shots, I enjoyed the patterns of the cotton/soy bean fields

this particular one with the dust in the distance was my favorite

I went out later on my own and found a few interesting things right near town.

the open hydrant and bright colors against the abandoned house was just too odd not to photograph

a few shots of the famous New Roxy theatre, which plays a big part in Blues History.

I was ALL OVER this pristine Greyhound station !


later on, I got to use a large format camera for the first time EVER (I still can’t believe I have NEVER used one of these!) The negative from that ended up being used for a palladium print, but I also grabbed a few shots digitally..

just a random hook I spotted in a garage.

My cabin at dusk.

That night, we had a little evening get together after a long day of shooting


the next day we had a fast project to go out and shoot shapes – trying to look for the space BETWEEN things rather than the thing themselves. I also grabbed a few train shots right as it started POURING rain!

you can see the rain below if you look carefully

It was one of several pretty intense Mississippi storms to pass through

goofing around some more with the tilt-shift lens…

don’t ask me why, but I was fascinated by my shower head

I grabbed this series in maybe all of 5 minutes–a little tribute to Diane Arbus

the final day (the day of the gallery show–more on that in a moment) I spent a little time in a part of Clarksdale I hadn’t driven through before

I had been shooting 2 1/4 film with my ancient Hasselblad and had 3 shots to kill to finish the roll–and this actually turned out great!

this was the Wet Plate image I did…you can see a little video I made about the process HERE

driving to Cleveland MS, there was this little abandoned taco stand in the middle of nowhere.


so the entire week we were working towards creating an image suitable for a gallery show at Will’s Gallery Thursday evening.

here I am watching everybody else get stuff done.

our ‘unphotographable’ writings were all grouped together on one wall.

Will Jacks and Chris Williams


afterwards we strolled through town to Wills house where his wife Jamie and his Mom had prepared an amazing dinner for us. I took this snap on the way ( …trailing behind as usual!!)

the image I ended up choosing (after much internal debate) to put in the show. If you’re in Mississippi–stop by: its up for about 5 more weeks


a group shot after dinner (snagged from Will’s blog)


and what better way to end than with more vintage neon?…

It was such a very fun week and so great to have a chance to get out of the ‘normal’ way of thinking, especially when all you start to think about through the year are wedding images. And doing things out of the box was really cool and a good eye-opener before I head into Wedding Season— I have not sat and drew something for no good reason for 30 minutes like we did there in I don’t know HOW long. I cannot believe i finally got to use a large format camera and the Wet Plate process is simply Black Magic , if you ask me  🙂

the evening ACTUALLY ended when about 6 of us went to ‘Po Monkeys…there are bo photos but check this out and you will get the idea….


  1. […] If you happen to follow me on facebook then you have no doubt seen a few photos of late rom my recent trip to Memphis and Mississippi. I flew to Memphis and spent an evening (and part of the next day) before driving to Mississippi for the Rebirth Workshop I was going to spend 5 days at. My dad was from TN, but I had never been to the Western part of the state. You can see images from that part of the trip HERE […]

  2. dave noonan on April 18, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    Love it Robert! Looks like you had an amazing time. Diggin’ the tilt shift lens images too!

  3. Vicki Souza on April 18, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    So much goodness!!! I love that purple door in the Shack Up Inn, and that open fire hydrant image is so cool!

  4. Jacek Dolata on April 19, 2012 at 8:17 am

    So cool!

  5. Crista Acosta on April 20, 2012 at 8:00 am

    Love this whole post… this workshop sounds so incredibly inspiring, and I love your images of that old green car and the giant barrel in the storm.

  6. Lowry Wilson on May 29, 2012 at 6:33 am

    Robert – glad you enjoyed your time in Mississippi. As you discovered, the Shack Up Inn and surrounding areas are very unique. The photos you have posted are great.

  7. Robin Colonas on July 3, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    Thanks for taking the time to comment with this link on my web page so I could find these great pictures of the New Roxy. I just now found the comment but better late than never.
    All your photos from the trip were delightful – even though I get to see all many of these views often, I never tire of seeing great photos of my adopted town.

  8. […] fun trying to recreate a vintage wet-plate process look (which you may recall I did for real at the Rebirth Workshop in Mississippi in 2012 ) Anyhow, I know this isn’t the kind of thing you can do to EVERY photo, especially […]

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