Five Questions with Schmoo Theune
Current Occupation: Staffer at DxO Studios
Workshop: Project New Orleans
Instructors: Jamie Rose
1. What motivated you to take a workshop and why did you pick Momenta?
Momenta does a wonderful thing by taking the busywork out of giving photographers direction and a safe place to practice their documentary skills. For those of us who love to document but don’t yet have direction on how to make that happen, Momenta is key. So many workshops these days take you somewhere pretty and then show you how to take photos that will satisfy you, but that’s it.
I love that Momenta’s workshops benefit local organizations as well as the students that sign up for them – it’s not one-sided, and story doesn’t end after the week is over. I appreciated that even though the networking had been done for us, you still had to practice your communication and business skills to get to know them, to schedule, and to get the job done. It was tough love in a truly loving way: a big, exhilarating responsibility because you can’t let the organization down!
2. What surprised you most about the country you visited or the experience of working with a nonprofit?
I was truly touched by how appreciative they were and how accommodating everyone was in working with a photographer. Many people freeze up when being photographed when they work. The teachers at my organization were proud to show what they did and had no issues with that. Some clients in the business don’t value photography, or the photographer, so I was truly humbled by how humble they were.
3. What was the best lesson you took away from your workshop?
Nothing at all ever goes to plan! So you have to be flexible, be prepared, and be sure to know how to use your equipment and craft something from (sometimes) nothing.
Also, the instructors are some of the most human, approachable people you’ll probably meet leading workshops, despite their successes and experience. No matter how busy they are, you can always ask a question.
4. What was your favorite photograph from this workshop & why?
This was my favorite photo of the week, although it’s unconventional. The school visited on this hour was scheduled for a craft class filled with soft zen music, where students were to chill out and build wind chimes for the community garden. Right after we arrived, the school experienced a “soft lockdown,” meaning no one could leave their classrooms or walk the halls for security reasons, until further notice. The teachers were noticeably disappointed and we weren’t sure what to do, but this is – after all – what sometimes happens in city schools where not everything goes to plan, and sometimes there are unexpected reality checks.
5. What would you tell a potential student to help them prepare for their experience with Momenta?
You won’t know what to expect when you walk through the door, but keep an open mind and take advantage of the incredible experience available to you from the instructors. You’re only there for a few days, so be ready to soak up as much as you can and make the most of it.
Schmoo Theune’s Biography:
I love dogs, cold weather, local history, and those vegan Persian lime tartlets they sell at the Haight Street Market. I’m terrified of muppets and I used to play the violin. I am secretly addicted to Million Dollar Listing, NYC.
I strongly believe that there’s beauty in anything, as long as you approach things with an honest vision. Whether you use a Holga, your iPhone or a top-of-the-line DSLR, you can create a beautiful memory.
See Schmoo’s work: