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Food For Digital Thought: The How and the Why

Explaining the How and the why.

Explaining the How and the why.

Several of my students that take my online class with the BPSOP, and also in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around our planet say to me that what they like most about my classes is not only do I show people how to make stronger photos, but why they are.

The how comes from teaching people how to incorporate the elements of visual design into their imagery: Line, Pattern, Form, Texture, Balance, Color, Light, and Shape are the elements that my students will eventually wind up putting on their new Artist Palette. With this palette (that also has shadows, silhouettes, and vanishing points on it) they can start using the right side of their brain (the creative side) instead of the left side (the analytical side).

For example, a photographer looking at a tree with the left side sees only a tree. That same photographer looking at the same tree with the right side sees patterns made by the bark, the texture of the bark, negative space separating and defining the leaves and branches, the lines that make up the trunk and branches, the way the light falls on the tree (side, back, or front lighting), and the color of the leaves.

The why is all about perception. The goal is to present your photo in such a way as to take control of how the viewer perceives and processes the information we lay out to him in the form of a photograph. If that same tree is presented in such a way as to keep the viewer around longer by looking at the warm late afternoon side light emphasizing the patterns and texture of the bark, then you’ve done your job.

If that same light is coming from behind the tree, it passes through the negative space that was created to define the leaves. It will turn the tree into a two-dimensional silhouette but because of those green, yellow, red, and orange leaves being translucent, they will glow; and don’t forget about that wonderful shadow (your best friend) that lies on the ground stretching out to the camera…again you’ve done your job, and a job well done.

In the photo above taken at LaDefense in Paris, with the left side of my brain I saw a man sitting on the steps. With the right side I saw Line, Pattern, Texture, Shape, and Figure-Ground…a dark subject against a lighter background.

The people that look at your images created by the right side of your brain will undoubtedly find more visual interest than those created with the left side…they just won’t necessarily know why…it will be our little secret!


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. 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.

The Los Angeles Center for photography has invited me to come out and conduct a three day intensive workshop over the July 15th weekend. I’ll be making a presentation of my work on Thursday July 14th and the public is invited. The full description can be see at the top of this blog, with a link to the site. I hope to spend the weekend with all of you.

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.

Don’t forget to send me a photo and question to: AskJoe@gmail.com, and I’ll create a video critique for you.


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