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  • Ways not to ruin your photography workshop experience

    I love teaching photography workshops. I get to help others improve their photography. I get to see the world through their eyes. I get to see new and interesting ways to see and photograph the world. I get to go all sorts of interesting places. I even get paid to do all that. Along the way though, I see people make the same mistakes over and over which ruin their workshop experience.

    28

    Dec 16

  • Situational awareness is the key to better photography

    I teach workshops overseas and domestically. I photograph overseas and domestically. In both cases there is one skill that I practice over and over that makes a huge difference when I photograph. It is the one thing that every photographer should master, whether or not they are attending one of my workshop (or anyone else’s.)

    28

    Nov 16

  • Jurying the Far Away Places competition

    I was asked to be the juror for a photography competition on the theme of Far Away Places. As I reviewed the work, I tried to keep in mind the summary of the call for entries: From the far corners of your backyard to the far away country it takes weeks to traverse to, we want to see where you end up when you go “far away”. As I was editing, I was thinking how could I explain to those photographers who did not make the cut, why that had happened? So I kept notes as I went, which make up this blog entry, one that ideally would serve as the answer to those photographers who did not make the final cut.

    10

    Oct 14

  • Zen and the Art of Photography Maintenance

    I started riding motorcycles before I even took up photography, way back in 1972. Both riding and photographing require a lot of practice to achieve mastery. Both pursuits can be rewarding (or frustrating) as that expertise develops (or fails to.) Both involve complex technology with numerous opportunities to spend more and more money. Both are frequently enjoyed outside. Both involve disciplined vision and constant awareness of your surrounding environment. Thankfully, in only one pursuit can a mistake result in injury or even worse—death. While I was riding recently, I was reminded of what is arguably the most important similarity between the two, at least in the eyes of a photographer.

    22

    Aug 14

  • The last film project

    Old projects seem to have an odd way of circling back to haunt you. Sometimes that is economically, other times stylistically. An old project is back in mind right now which has prompted me to reconsider how, sixteen years ago I started an informal collaboration with two other photographers, using a primitive imaging technology called “film.” Almost two decades later, that project is coming to fruition, which prompted me to look back on one of if not the last projects that I worked on using film.

    08

    Aug 14

  • A GREAT question

    A former student of mine, who has gone on to great accomplishment, wrote me with a GREAT question. My answer was be used on his blog page, but I thought it was such a good question that I am cross posting it on my page as well.

    06

    Dec 13

  • Seven Questions You Should Ask Every Accomplished Photographer

    I have been taking photographs for almost four decades—mostly for money and always for myself. Over those forty years, I have slowly figured out what I wanted to ask the many photographers I encountered along the way.  I have distilled this down to a list of questions that I would ask any photographer, knowing that the answers will help any photographer.

    02

    Aug 13

  • Being interviewed via Google plus

    I had the pleasure of hanging out on Google plus (and being interviewed by) Frederick Van Johnson, the ball of energy behind many interesting photography projects including This Week in Photo. I enjoyed the hangout immensely wanted to share it.

    25

    Jan 13

  • Getting to the emotional core


    A friend recently attended a portfolio review event for photographers. In reporting back on her experience, two things were very apparent. First, her work was very well received, which was a “pleasant surprise” to her. While the reviewers varied in terms of exactly which images they were drawn to, there was near unanimous agreement about one problem with her presentation, which is what I am going to build this week’s blog entry around, a lesson every photographer should heed.

    02

    Nov 12

  • The idea behind instant editing

    When I was younger, I envisioned the end of the business as a nightmarish world where editors would seem to be working inside my head, through some futuristic technology, telling me where to stand and when to push the button. My great fear was having the imaginary editor see what I was looking at through my camera, telling me (through a seemingly permanent earpiece) what to include or exclude and when to click. When that day arrived, I said that I was sure I would quit the business. The onslaught of live television broadcasting, as it overwhelmed the still image, only exacerbated my worst fear. At first I thought digital imaging would be the technology to drive the last nails into the coffin. A recent informal experiment proved that, at least for me, the future is not so grim and I actually have digital imaging to thank for a bit of new optimism.

    23

    Mar 12

  • The color of black: The paintings of Peter Holmes

    An old friend is a painter whose use of black has captivated my interest (and that of many others.) To introduce others to his work, I made this profile video..

    14

    Mar 12

  • About ongoing, on-line critique groups

    The photography world is often dominated by the rage for the latest camera, software or accessory. We all know that (and I am as guilty as the next person in terms of talking those up.) Long after the latest/greatest photo “toy” has been forgotten, there is one timeless thing that will make every one of us a better photographer, which is feedback. There are many ways to give and get that all-important feedback, much of which I have blogged about in the past. In my experience, one of the very best ways to get that is through an ongoing, on-line critique group.

    30

    Dec 11

  • Lessons learned judging a photo contest

    I spent time in early October judging the annual Pollux Awards, which are given out by the Worldwide Photography Gala Awards. The juror’s statement, which I wrote after the judging, was recently posted along with the winning work. The whole process was an education for me. I thought that turning my experience into a blog entry would enable me to take others on the same educational journey that I recently undertook.

    04

    Nov 11

  • Seminar, workshop or class?

    I admit it! I am obsessed about photography education. Of course I am. I teach workshops around the world. My wife is a university professor teaching photography. I run two web sites focused on photography education. I write about photography education on this site (and on other web sites.) I do all of this because as a photographer, I grow as I teach. The more I teach, the more I grow. And I love to grow as a photographer. So, a recent question about education got me thinking even MORE photography education.

    09

    Sep 11

  • Failure is a requirement

    I have been thinking about failure recently. What first comes to my mind when I say that word is the phrase, “failure is not an option.” NASA engineers made that line famous during the nearly disastrous Apollo 13 space flight. The phrase and its very focused message have long since entered our collective body of speech. The older I get, the more I think that at least for creative people, like photographers, failure is all but a requirement. For me this dichotomy is doubly interesting since, had I not become a photographer, I would have probably become an engineer of some sort.

    08

    Apr 11

  • What’s in a name

    I am in California, working on my project “Foreclosed Dreams,” where I have been photographing inside foreclosed houses. I am also teaching a series of classes. I am spending a lot of time on my new MacBook Air, running my photography business from the road. In between all this, I am working on building Photo Synesi ( http://photosynesi.com ), a new on-line critiquing system that connects serious photographers around the world. Through Photo Synesi, we help aspiring photographers get better through personalized feedback of their work. The title of one of the projects that was recently reviewed caught my eye because it perfectly described what we try to do.

    01

    Apr 11

  • Introducing Photo Synesi!

    Photography has been one of the constants in my life since I fell in love with the medium back in high school.  In the nearly forty years since then, I have been continually experimenting with different ways to both photograph just the way I want while making a living at it.  Along the way, I have worked selling cameras, done portraiture, weddings, studio work, fine-art photography, university teaching, etc. Of course, I have also done a lot of the editorial photography that has sustained me for the last decade.  During the last couple years I have finally come to appreciate the upside of what once looked like an helter-skelter, ever-changing career path.  

    27

    Nov 10

  • Musings on developing a style

    I have been back in India for a few days after a week in Singapore. Returning reminds me how the chaos of India contrasts dramatically with the order of Singapore. As a street photographer, that same unruliness is one thing that makes India so compelling. On the other hand, as a person who thrives on efficiency and order, Singapore holds an equal attraction. I wrote in the first of these three blog entries about the “journey” that Singaporean society as a whole is trying to take as it moves up the economic ladder. As I see it, such progress will only be made when individuals embrace the more unruly aspects of the creative processes. In this blog entry, I will answer the query of one Singaporean who has taken on that challenge.

    26

    Jul 10

  • Gear and old gear

    My last blog entry, exploring gear and goals left me thinking about my own gear acquisition history. I have written before about how, these days, I tend to be slow to adopt new gear. I only displace technology that works well for me if the newer technology is a notable improvement. (DSLRs that capture video are one example of a notable technology shift.) I will be first to admit this was not always the case. In college and during my first few years as a freelancer, I churned through different sets of gear. I was trying to figure out who I was as a photographer (and which technology would help me make the photographs I wanted to make.) In looking back, I have noted that certain pieces of gear have stayed with me throughout over my career, including some that have been with me a very long time.

    14

    Jun 10

  • Goals and gear

    A friend wrote me with a variation of the most common question I am asked, “What gear should I buy next?” In a technology-based pursuit like photography, the question appears to make sense. This is doubly so in a creative pursuit which is largely shared through advertising driven media. Before I answered him, I grilled him with a few more questions. Then I came back to him with a suggestion for the one thing that every photographer should be spending more time and money on, especially these days.

    11

    Jun 10

  • Exploring our responsibility to the people we photograph (part two)

    In the last (and the next) few blog posts, I am exploring the question, what is the photographer’s responsibility to the people they are photographing? On one level this is an intensely personal decision that is best answered after an equally intensely process of decision-making. On the other hand, it has to be guided by some larger philosophical framework. If that sounds like an ethical dilemma, I think it is. Because I am slightly closer to the end of that long process rather than the beginning, I can identify and share some of the milestones of my own journey.

    31

    May 10

  • At the intersection of the art and craft of photography

    While spending a week in Calcutta, India, I saw (and photographed) many things. Having previously spent little time in Calcutta, everything I experienced and pondered there seemed to be doubly intense. This was quite a sensation, since going anywhere in India is always so intense. In the future, I will share some of my experiences and thoughts that came out of my time in the place also known as the “City of Joy.” One thing I did that was especially interesting was to see an exhibition by an Indian photographer, Prashant Panjiar. The work I saw exists almost perfectly at the intersection of the art and craft of photography.

    25

    Dec 09

  • Thoughts on getting feedback

    The class that I was teaching in India ended on the same note that many of my classes do. The students had made good progress and wanted to keep their creative growth going, after the class ended. I teased them, saying that about a week after the class they would all be “master” photographers. I say that to almost all my classes, because the things learned in a workshop take about a week to become an innate part of any student’s photography. The follow-up point is that about another week later, the skills they had learned in the class would start to diminish. The end of the joke is that about a month later, they would still be better photographers than when they entered the class, but no longer the “masters” they had briefly been. So what did I tell them to do to try to hold on to the “mastery” they had briefly achieved?

    21

    Dec 09

  • Singaporeans and Creativity

    I just finished classes in Singapore and India, two countries that could not appear to be more different. In Singapore I taught evening seminars, while in India, I taught a class over four days on “light, shadow, twilight and night.” Regardless of length, all the classes were journeys of sorts, physical and/or intellectual. On all of these “trips,” I was accompanied by different groups of Singaporean photographers. Working in such divergent countries, just a few days apart, got me thinking.

    18

    Dec 09

  • Watching as artists embrace and transform a new technology

    In my last blog post, I discussed ways artists/photographers use technology in both intended and unintended ways in order to tell their stories and/or express their ideas. This kind of hybrid-ization of technology is an ongoing process. For me, the latest stop on that path is in multi-media/video. My wife’s work, animating family photos, is her newest step in that ongoing process. I was recently reading about a new technology that I have already been using in its intended form. I realized how ripe that same technology is for experimentation. Soon artists/photographers will be exploiting that same technology in new and unintended ways. I think the really fun part will be watching this happen, observing the explorations as they happen rather than looking back after the fact and only then connecting the dots.

    11

    Dec 09

  • The Wells Point after one year

    The Wells Point celebrated its first birthday yesterday. It has been quite a year. We launched last year just before the big Photo Plus trade show in New York City. This year, I am writing from NYC, where I am again attending the Photo Plus show. So, just what has happened within The Wells Point since the website went live on Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008?

    23

    Oct 09

  • Learning the language of photography

    Besides teaching workshops around the world, I run a few small on-line critique groups. These usually arise out of workshops where the students in the group have bonded and do not want to end the critiquing/dialogue that is at the core of any good workshop. So we meet in a conference call approximately every six weeks, catch-up on photography happenings and review work together on-line. Some interesting dialogues are born in these meetings. One particular thread of discussion from one meeting is well worth sharing.

    19

    Oct 09

  • Working outside of the Photo-shop centered mainstream

    On my ride home from the Maine Media workshops, where I was teaching a class in street photography, I reflected on everything that happened during the workshop. It was a great group of photographers, who grew as individuals AND supported each other as they went through the sometimes-difficult process of growing and changing. Many things that were said and/or done are potential seeds of blog entries. One difficult question that I heard from two different photographers is what I am writing about this week.

    31

    Aug 09

  • An update after a week at the Maine Media Workshops

    I am finishing up a great week at the Maine Media Workshops in Rockport, Maine. There were a whole bunch of small highlights during the class that I think are worth sharing.

    28

    Aug 09

  • The Wells Point after six months

    The Wells Point site is now over six months old. I am still going strong, having written 65 blog entries and posted 13 pod casts. I have learned much along the way, about myself, the folks who visit The Wells Point and a bit about where this enterprise will be going in the future.

    09

    Mar 09

  • The workshop I always wanted to attend

    As an aspiring documentary photographer/photo-essayist there was always one workshop I always wanted to attend, but I never could. Now that I am in fact “established,” there is one workshop I really want to teach, but I wonder if other students would want to attend such a workshop.

    06

    Feb 09

  • One photographer’s career path

    This podcast explores my career path, from student photographer to established professional. As I tell my story, I show photographs from the many phases of my career.

    28

    Jan 09

  • Photographs as mirrors and windows

    I often tell my students that their best photographs are the ones that reflect their personalities, life experiences and outlooks.  I was recently giving a presentation, when an audience member’s question stopped me cold and forced me to articulate how that same idea has played out in my own work.

    26

    Jan 09

  • Where I learned the most about photographing

    I recently realized that if I carefully look at my career as a photographer, I can pinpoint where I learned the most about the act of photographing.  It was not in high school, where I learned the craft of photography.  Nor was it in college, where my study of the history of photography taught me about the art of photography.  It was in a different place, one that I fear is fast disappearing from the photographic landscape.

    16

    Jan 09

  • The questions I would ask any accomplished photographer.

    If I could corner an accomplished photographer in a bar and ask them anything, the questions I would ask are not the ones you might expect. They have little to do with the camera brand they use, the paper they print on or the bag they carry.

    05

    Jan 09

  • Keeping up on the stock photography business

    If you are interested as I am in keeping up with developments in the rapidly changing world of stock photography, you should be reading a new blog called “about the image.”

    06

    Oct 08

  • Photography driven Marketing campaign

    My agency, Aurora photos, is running an interesting marketing campaign that explores both the artistic and commercial aspects of photography.

    19

    Sep 08