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My Favorite Quotes

My Favorite Quotes: Elliott Erwitt

As some of you might know and hopefully read, I have a category I call “my favorite quotes”. These are quotes I’ve picked up over my forty-four year career as an advertising, corporate, and editorial photographer.. Some I’ve stumbled on by accident or by reading, and some I’ve been sent by friends who are always looking out for me.

These are not necessarily quotes by famous photographers, but quotes by well-known artists in their own right. Painters, musicians, poets and writers all share a common thread, the ability to think, see, and feel with both the left and right side of their brain. From Marcel Proust to Bo Diddley, and from Bob Marley to Claude Monet, these artist share a common bond…basically, the ability to make people feel good through each of their individual artistic mediums.

One of these quotes was written by Elliott Erwitt, an adverting, corporate and editorial photographer who at the age of eighty-six is still making his art. He once said,” Photography is an art of observation. It has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them”.

In my online class with the PPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshop I conduct around the world, I tell my fellow photographers that once you start seeing past your first impressions, you’re pictures will take on a different, more pronounced look. A look that will keep the viewer an active participant, and as a result will stick around longer.

So many photographers just don’t spend the time looking. They all seem to be in a hurry and as a result they miss out on the ‘good stuff’. I teach people in my online class with the PPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops how to incorporate the elements of visual design and composition into their imagery, and they walk away with what I call my Artist Palette that holds these elements.

I tell my fellow photographers  that there’s two ways to see things: with the left side of your brain and the right side. The left side is the analytical side and that’s what Erwitt’s message means when he says photography has little to do with the things you see.

The right side of your brain is the creative side. This is where the second part of Erwitt’s quote comes into play.He finishes the quote by saying it’s everything to do with the way you see them.

I had just checked into my hotel room and as usual the first thing I do is look out the window. What I saw is the image shown above. It was a bridge, according to the left side of my brain. However, upon closer observation, the bridge transformed into several elements of Visual Design. Here’s the elements that I saw: A Vanishing Point made up of two converging lines that moved the viewer across the frame and met at a point on the horizon. I saw shapes consisting of a beautiful triangle that the converging lines created, squares made by the trestles, rectangles made by the reflections of the trestles, and lots of diamonds. There was Negative Space that defined the trestles, and patterns created by the trestles themselves. Not to be missed is the Visual Tension created by showing the bridge and its reflection.

This is the way I saw the bridge.

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my 2015 workshop schedule at the top of this blog. I have two openings left in my next “springtime” workshop in Portugal.Next July 26th I’ll be back at the Maine Media Workshop for my 27th year. a fantastic place full of energy and lot of photographers on the campus to share your experience with. I always pick this same week as it’s the week of the Lobster Festival down the road in Rockland. A different set of photo opts: people watching and portraiture, color, light, and design.

I have one spot left for my “Autumn in Provence” workshop to be next October 21st. We’ll be shooting during the Fall foliage.Don’t forget to send me a photo and question to:AskJoeB@gmail.com, and I’ll send you a video critique.


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