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Food For Digital Thought: Making Not Taking Pictures

I made this picture.

I made this picture.

If I had to name one thing that I’ve talked about the most, both in the years I’ve been teaching online with the PPOP, and in all the “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I’ve conducted around the planet, it would be that the majority of my fellow photographers ‘take’ not ‘make’ their pictures.

I’ve seen it with my own eyes, so I know it to be soooooooo very true. They walk up to a subject whether it be a person, a structure, or even a landscape, and bring the camera up from their chest or swing it around from their shoulder. They look in the viewfinder and within a nanosecond (maybe a little more) they click the shutter and walk away. That’s taking pictures, and maybe they got something worth sharing, but more than likely it (hopefully) winds up on the cutting room floor.

Here’s the difference in that style of photography and mine, and it’s what I teach and preach to all my students: First of all, the most important step before even thinking about bringing the camera up to your eye is to determine where the source of the light is coming from. Unless you’re street shooting where capturing the moment is critical, light is everything!!!

I want to make sure I’m either side lighting or back lighting my subject and center of interest. I do this for several reasons: Texture is one of the basic Elements of Visual Design, and to bring out the Texture, you need to either side or back light it. Form is another Element. Form refers to the three-dimensional quality of an object. height, width, and depth are the three ingredients, and to show depth, you need to side light it. Anything translucent such as: grass, flowers, and water look the best when they’re backlit; I always position myself so that my subject is between the source of the light and my camera.

This is “making pictures”.

I show my students how to incorporate the Elements of Visual Design into their imagery, and these elements are put on an imaginary ‘Artist Palette’. The same ‘Artist Palette’ I’ve been carrying around in the back of my mind for the past forty-four years. When I’m out shooting I look for things not immediately visible without the help of my palette. I look for: Light, Texture, Patterns, Shapes, Vanishing Points, Perspective, Color, and most important Line. I look for ways to use Negative Space to define my subjects, as well as balancing my composition. I use lines to move the viewer around the frame, especially if i can introduce a Vanishing Point. I introduce Color on overcast days, and I also use color to communicate ideas. I see a tree, and I look for what else it is. This is ‘seeing past first impressions” and it’s what my fellow photographers and I work on.

This is “making pictures”, and a hell of a lot more fun than just bringing the camera up to my eyes and clicking the shutter.

BTW, here’s a post I wrote called, I came, I shot, I left

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my 2014 workshop schedule. I have a few places left at The Maine Media Workshop starting this coming July 27th. It’s the granddaddy of them all, and a wonderful campus filled with energy and photography talk everywhere. It’s the week of the Lobster Festival in Rockland just down the road and the State Fair in Bangor. A great week to forget everything and immerse yourself in photography. I also have two places left for my coordinated trip with Epic Photo Tours in Myanmar next February. a fabulous country rich in photo opportunities. Come shoot with me.

Don’t forget to send me a photo and question to: AskJoeB@gmail.com.


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    { 2 comments… add one }
    • Hai Bo August 6, 2014, 12:25 pm

      Wow! “Making”! This is the key teaching of Joe’s 44 years glories story telling career!

      Back from July 27, 2014 Maine Workshop, I start to systematically organize the workshop notes and read diligently Joe’s blog with new eyes, new mind set: Starting to get it!

      The most kept secret in the photography world is Joe’s SYFOM.
      It seems to me that most photographers knew Jay, lesser people know Joe.
      After carefully study their work on their websites, I found, that Joe’s work is more powerful than Jay’s. (Even I am looking forward to go back to Rockport, Maine with my classmate Bill to take Jay’s class next summer). AM I right?

      The key is that Joe is “Making” picture with his God given ” Artist Palette”!

      • Joe August 6, 2014, 6:29 pm

        Thanks Bob, I hope to see you in 2015 at one of my workshops.


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