I always think that I was fortunate to not have studied photography, but to have studied art instead. That’s not to say Photography isn’t art because I’ve been preaching to my fellow photographers that take my online class with the BPSOP, and my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet, that a camera on a tripod is just the same as a blank canvas on an easel.
I still consider myself an artist, I just changed the medium from a paintbrush, pastels, and colored pencils to a camera. When I did it was “instant gratification”, instead of the hours and sometimes days or weeks finishing a drawing or painting.
When I got my first camera and looked into the viewfinder, I saw a rectangle. Since we perceive and process information in a rectangle (3:2 aspect ratio), I simply applied everything I had learned from studying all the elements of visual design in my drawing and painting classes to Art History and Color Theory into my new found passion….photography.
Throughout my education in Art I studied its history from the Italian Renaissance painters of the 15th and 16th century, to the Impressionists, Post Impressionists, to the 20th century modern artists…my favorite being the very founder of abstract art, Wassily Kandinsky.
Although Dadaism and Surrealism were not my favorite movements, there was one painter I liked, Man Ray. I tolerated his paintings, but what I enjoyed was some of his photography. Over the years I’ve occasionally seen his work in museums and galleries and one day, not having anything to do, I googled him up and found one of his quotes that I immediately related to.
Man Ray once said, “Of course, there will always be those who look only at technique, who ask ‘how’, while others of a more curious nature will ask ‘why’. Personally, I have always preferred inspiration to information”.
I could relate to this because on a couple of occasions when I’ve been talking to one of my students, I was told that I could explain the ‘how’, but what they liked most was that I could also explain the ‘why’. In other words I could show them how to take stronger images, but then I could explain why they were.
One of my online classes is all about the psychology of Gestalt. In this class I talk about the fact that humans rely on perception of the environment that surrounds them. Visual input is a part of our everyday life, and as photographers it’s our prime objective to present this visual information in a way that takes control of what the viewer sees when looking at our imagery.
This is where the elements of visual design and composition come into play. These elements have been a part of art since the beginning, and knowing how to use these elements when creating your photos will always answer the ‘why’. Once you’ve put these elements on what I call my ‘Artist Palette’, it enables you to see what others can’t and this has always been the inspiration that has kept me going…after fifty years of taking pictures; the same inspiration my students walk away with.
I guess the only way to really explain it is when you take my classes or join me in one of my workshops. The end of July marks my twenty-eight year at the Maine Media workshops. It’s a wonderful way to immerse yourself for a week and think about nothing but photography. It’s the same week as the Lobster Festival down the road in Rockland, and offers a completely different set of photo ops than the beautiful Maine coastline, amazing lighthouses, and quaint fishing villages. The full description is at the top of this blog.
I have added a new workshop to my 2016 schedule. On September 21st, ten photographers will get together with me at my evening “meet and greet” to begin a fantastic five-day workshop in New York, New York. Check out my description at the top of this blog. Come shoot with me.
Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out the workshops I offer at the top of this blog. Come shoot with me sometime.
Keep those photos and questions coming to: AskJoeB@gmail.com, and I’ll create a video critique of your photo.
Man Ray’s work made Dali seem like Thomas Kincade.