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Tagged With « mastery »

  • 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

  • Connoisseur of Light (Part 1)

    Every discussion about photography sooner or later includes the maxim about the fundamental importance of light. In my favorite workshop, the one I call Light, Shadow, Night and Twilight, students learn how I see and utilize the found light (as vs. controlled or studio light.) In the process of promoting that same workshop, I have repeatedly been called a master of light and shadow. While I appreciate the complement, having just spent a week in Finland, I am thinking I would prefer to maybe call myself a connoisseur of light.

    22

    Jun 12

  • Photography books with authorship

    Last week I blogged about a couple of my favorite photography books, neither of which have any pictures. This week I am thinking about photography books that actually have pictures in them. What got me thinking about these books is how the authors each bring something special to their projects. I am not writing about the books because the photographers are my friends (though some are.) I am writing about them because each of the photographers in question has done one or more things to make their books interesting and distinctive.

    13

    Apr 12

  • Photography book without pictures

    I just finished a great book on photography. It had no pictures. It didn’t have a whole lot of instruction or technology either. I will be the first to admit that I had my doubts about it when I picked it up, but I thought I’d give it a try. I should have known better, since the publisher also produced one of my favorite photography books. After reading it, I had a new perspective on photography and I also realized it was the kind of book I wish I had written. What book was it? Read on!

    06

    Apr 12

  • Two dogs

    I was on the other end of the camera recently, for the first time in a long, long time and it was a fascinating experience.  Being “on camera” is not something I do very often, so I was bit wary. Although the resulting images looked good (at least to me,) the entire process from start to finish was as interesting as the final result. A photographer being photographed! If that’s not the start of a good blog entry, I am not much of a blogger.

    16

    Mar 12

  • Where do you learn to be a photographer (part three of three)

    For the last two weeks I have been blogging about the important question of where do you learn how to be a photographer? To date, I have explored my take on the future of commercial photography, called into the question the value of formal schooling and offered some on-line resources that can serve as well as school, if not better (and they are much cheaper.) I want to deconstruct a few of those same resources to suggest how to find value in reading them.

    21

    Oct 11

  • Where do you learn to be a photographer (part two of three)

    In last week’s blog entry I started to explore the question, where do you learn how to be a photographer? Much of that entry was speculating on what the business of photography will be like in the future. I also called into the question the benefit of formal study of photography, at least for those who want to be commercial photographers.

    14

    Oct 11

  • Where do you learn to be a photographer (part one of three)

    Eager young photographers write me often, telling me about what they want to do as photographers and asking for my help. Part of me says to tell them to “…run as fast as you can, away, away from this ever more crowded field.“ Another part of me says, wait, the business continues and is (in some way) growing, doubly so, with the movement of most communications media to the web, which is an ever more image-driven media. So there will be photographers in the future, though not the same kind of photographers as there used to be. I recently blogged about the best college for photographers being the one where you learn how to “think,” not just take pictures. That begs the question, where do you learn how to be a photographer?

    07

    Oct 11

  • Blazing a new path in your photography education

    For me, blogging, like life, is most interesting when seemingly disparate things come together in unusual and thought provoking ways. A recent series of events got me thinking about photography workshops in particular and photography education in general. Since I studied the history of photography, work as a photographer, and teach a fair number of workshops, this is not new territory for me. What is new is where my thinking ended up at the end of the mental twists and turns that I recently went through.

    22

    Apr 11

  • Moral hazard and photography

    In another life, I think I would have been an economist. I have already blogged about why I say that and what fascinates me about economics. With that in mind, I have been thinking a lot about one of my favorite economics terms, moral hazard. I recently pondered how it applies to two of my favorite pursuits, photography and motorcycle riding.

    25

    Feb 11

  • Defining my own place in photography

    It is mid-September, which for me means the beginning of my working year. During the summer that just ended, like most recent summers, I certainly worked hard, but I also relaxed a good bit. So, now I am starting my busiest season of September to June. That is when I travel the most for work, teach most of my workshops, give most of my presentations, make most of my stock photos and do most of my assignments. I have been planning out the next nine months or so for the last year and a half. I am aware that in this age of last minute planning, this much advance planning seems counter-intuitive. But for me, such long-term planning allows me to get as close as possible to achieving most, if not all of my goals. Defining those goals has been a long process, as has been learning to manage my time in order to achieve them. That long (and continuing) journey is the subject of this week’s blog entry.

    24

    Sep 10

  • 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

  • Teaching mastery, ethics and excellence, in business and/or photography.

    I was discussing ethics and publication photography with a friend. We were e-mailing back and forth in the wake of the recent news of how the New York Times Magazine photos that were not supposed to be “photoshop-ped” actually were. He was joking that the only thing left was to ban digital cameras and force publication photographers back to using film. After laughing at the thought, we agreed that even that drastic a step would not make a difference. The history of photography is full of folks who exploited film’s perceived documentary nature to their own advantage.

    24

    Jul 09

  • On the question of creativity

    I had an e-mail exchange recently with student on the question of creativity. He was not asking about software or lens choices, though those are perfectly valid questions at different points. He was asking the biggest, toughest question of all. I was impressed that he was able to articulate the question. He seemed impressed with my answer. That was when I realized that our exchange was worthy of a blog piece.

    29

    May 09

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