The first workshop I ever taught was at the Maine Media Workshop in 1984, and up until the last few years I’ve been teaching while shooting advertising and corporate photography ever since. That’s thirty years of looking at my fellow photographer’s photos.
If I were to pick out one thing that I’ve seen over the course of my teaching career, it would be the fact that the majority of all my students just go out with their camera and take pictures. I wrote a post about it called “I came, I shot, I left”, which somewhat touches on the subject at hand.
One of my favorite lines that I say to my students is, “I don’t photograph what I see because I never see what I want, so I photograph what I’d like to see”. What does that mean you say? It means that I’m in the business of making, not taking pictures. My background isn’t in photography. Truth be known, I didn’t hold a 35mm camera until I was twenty-one. I was an art student who loved painting and design. The day I picked up that camera was the day I changed my favorite medium, a paintbrush, to a 35mm Pentax Spotmatic with a 50mm lens.
I still consider myself an artist. Now, instead of a canvas on an easel where I was making works of art, I have a camera on a tripod, and I’m now making pictures.
If you’re out with a camera over your shoulder with the intent of coming back with your ‘work of art’, and you’ve taken my online class or my workshop, you have an ‘Artist Palette’ with you. You’re using the elements of visual design to help you see things you wouldn’t normally see and be able to make a picture from what you looking at by using one or all of these Elements.
Think about going out and making pictures; here’s what I mean: Before you click the shutter, take some time to walk around your subject, center of interest, or even the entire location your about to shoot in. Shoot it from different points of view. Before you even bring the camera up to your eye, look where the sun or light source is coming from. Position yourself to side light then backlight your subject. I’m not a fan of front light, but there’s time when it works so look for it as well. I wrote a post about looking at things in a new way. It’s also about making pictures.
Think about scouting the location ahead of time to check on the direction of the light. Maybe there’s some props you’d like to bring to help tell some kind of story. Being a storyteller is about making pictures. Maybe adding a person would help, so you drag one of your kids (you do have to pay them something if you want their undivided attention), or a spouse or friend. If you live in or close to a large city, Google up that cities Tourism Bureau or Film Commission for places to shoot; they love to help photographers. What about festivals (lots of photo ops) that come once a year? These are the kinds of things that change your thought process, and now you’re also in the business of making pictures.
Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my 2016 workshop schedule at the top of this blog. come shoot with me sometime. In conjunction with the Santa Fe Workshops, I’ll be leading a group to Cuba for the third time next March. Come join me in what I’ll guarantee you to be an amazing experience, and you’ll return home with memorable photos from a wonderful country.
Don’t forget to send me a photo and question to: AskJoeB@gmail.com, and I’ll send you a video critique.