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Class Introduction

Lesson 1 from: Create Powerful Photo Essays & Personal Projects

David H Wells

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Lesson Info

1. Class Introduction

Next Lesson: Pivotal Essays

Lesson Info

Class Introduction

So david is a photographer and video maker he's been working an industry for forty years and he's been featured in the new york times as well as my favorite national geographic I'm sure you guys have heard of those those magazines so david wells sir, come on out it's going to run a way we talked about this yesterday. Yeah it's nice to be here. Welcome to creative life. Thank you very much. We're very excited. You know, I've had a chance to look at your work over the last few days and last few weeks and I was like, I'm so excited to have you here in the workshop toe let us know your your experiences and teaches about photo essays good for doing a lot. All right, so I'm going to pass over the baton boy and we'll get this thing started. Thank you. Charge now, right charge. Thank you very much. They got one second. All right. Hello. How are you all doing today? Good. So you here for the class personal project and photo essays? I'm really excited to be here because for the next three days I...

'll be interacting with you guys working with creative live staff in the online audience, so it should be a lot of fun um, let me just give a teeny bit of background my brother was a teacher and so one of the things that I do when I teach these classes I'm trying to sort of honor her and so to share what I know tell people who want to get better at this to do that and so that's one of the big reasons we're here so I'm going to start at the very beginning and talk about my story as jim said I've been doing this actually for professional for thirty five years I'm embarrassed to say and I'm doing photography for forty years I'm gonna take a seat here feel better um I've had dozens of exhibitions of my work I had my first gallery show back in nineteen eighty three before some of you are probably born almost in the audience um my work has appeared in hundreds of magazines both has assignment and stock photography because they do both publication work and I do stock few more images are licensed after the fact I have work in private collections in public museums on three different continents I've taught classes at rochester institute of technology in new york, university arts in pennsylvania, syracuse university and the university arts in philadelphia. I've taught works out literally around the world and places like singapore, the objective center for photography made media workshops and partial school of photography and I hope you're looking at the pictures too because that's telling you as much about what I've done in the past this is a news photograph from my very early days as a newspaper photography back photographer back in southern california. This is from a story on a homeless family that he did when I was working in fort worth, texas, and to go on kind of what some more background I've had speaking engagements in north, central and south america as well as in different parts of asia. In europe I've taught photography both on the college level and in this kind of workshop format. So more examples this unpublished work from a magazine called saudi aramco world and left and the old life magazine when it was still functioning on the right on the right. Yes, please. Um as jim said, my work's been published in things like national geographic the new york times news week new york times magazine um work has somebody been exhibited at notre dame university, brown university ah, university of california, berkeley harvard and again I c p in new york city in the photo there is actually from photographing the first gulf war in nineteen, ninety one and I've had grants and fellowships from the fullbright foundation, the alicia patterson foundation, the rhode island state council on the arts, the new jersey council of the arts actually had a grant from the carter foundation, which we'll talk about a little a little while in the pennsylvania counsel on the r's and supposedly and recently I was honored to be featured in photo district news is one of the one of the best thirteen best works hot instructor so that was really cool so more examples of published work a story on pro processing in hyderabad, india a story on a city called biju pour in central india on the architecture and the history and I'm telling you all of these things not because I'm bragging but these are examples or what it called third party validation that's what the important things it's nice that I done all that stuff and I can tell you all that stuff but the really important thing is that other people publishers exhibition spaces, galleries, museums have decided that I know what I'm doing and they validated my work that's one of the most important things that were going to talk about over the next three days is how can you get that same kind of validation so when you put your work out there for other people they'll say oh yeah that person knows what they're doing that person is the one that I want for this project that I'm doing so that's just a bit of my backstory so you know what I'm going to be talking about how I got here at some point I'm guessing the online audiences think himself yeah I think I'll stay with this guy a little longer that's that's part of the hope so far um one of them ingalls is to show you how to achieve that same type of third party validation I see lorenzo is already pulling out the notebook which is exactly what you want to be doing um I think as they each session wears on I'm going to be throwing out lots and lots of information don't be afraid to pull the notebook out put that idea of third party validation is so important it's going to the core of a lot of what we're talking about all right so let me show you a little bit more work on the this is from a project a recent project that I'll talk a little bit more about the next couple days on shell fishermen or cua huggers in there against ban rhode island and this is for people that certain generation they remember which president this was right so now you know why I'm here and now you all get nervous because you know what's coming next right let's take a minute and meet each of which one of our in house in studio students here why you're here just introduce yourself it's real simple your name is you're from why you're here and what you're hoping to get from the next three days and today I'm going to start over here with granite will go this way and that don't worry tomorrow will be fair we'll go the other way okay so we'll take terms torturing him my name is gwen greenglass and I'm from benita springs, florida, and I'm here because I am I started last year working on some personal projects and I've always done storytelling, which I absolutely love, but I also want to find a way to take that to market, to do shows how to get it out to the world and how to help other people with it and sure share my vision so you'd work his primary portraiture its yes, I'm a professional photographer and I'm a portrait photographer, so I love doing people, although I like a lot of other jesus well, great welcome, I'm julie norton um I'm a student, actually, and the art institute second year and I've got a personal project that I'm working on right now, and I think this is very timely this whole course, so I'm excited to be here and you'll tell me a little later on when I put you on the spot I was project well, unless you want it no, no, not right now, but we did kind of sheet we send you a little bit of homework, so I'm hoping you prepared you did your homework. Uh, cindy hale, I'm currently a student at the art institute also, um I wanted to go into sports photography, but I've kind of changed into fashion on portraiture as of now, and that could change. Teo, I'm fine with that, but I just got done with my photojournalism class, and so this is just going toe taking a little bit further on what I need to do, okay, my name is lorenzo hell, I am also a student at the art institute. We've all been in classes together, so as far as like personal projects, I'm a sports photographer and I like, you know, just pretty much featuring athletes from the beginning to the end, but at the same time, I'm using this class to kind of get a better vision on what I'm actually trying to put across as a story instead of mark, ok, I know where I'm starting. I know what I want to end, but what's all this stuff in the move. So that's, what I'm trying to get all figured out that it will actually flow better as a story as opposed to is jumping from one thing to the other. That's that's, that's great, that last point is exactly a big part of this process. You're going to see me do this gesture right here a lot the next three days with this idea that we, as photographers, we walk out there, we see everything, and we'll typically have the attention span right of like two year olds. But the reality is that we're going to spend most of our effort narrowing into one or two themes so a lot of times when I do this it's exactly what you said and that really kind of set me up we worked on that before right? It's a really, really important part of this because as a self employed commercial photographer, the only thing I have values my time and if I can use my time more efficiently like I said kind of narrowing ut here I'm more likely to get to where I want to go so that's a great starting point thank you. So um throughout the next three days I'm going to be doing a mix of photos which I hope you like but I also hope you learn from but I'm going to be throwing a lot of ideas and texts out there so I really love the fact that you got your notebook up there so right now let's talk about what I call the brave new world of photography that's the new photography market back when I started this years and years ago to be able to focus the camera and exposed to film reasonably well and all that that was what you got paid to do and not many people could do it and of course digital has democratized photography which has been great it's amazing actually the new world of photography but the flip side is that now everybody and their mother thinks they can do photography, and so differentiating yourself is a photographer's harder than ever and that's what we're really gonna be talking about the next few days, um, the skill focussing, exposing film, all of that doesn't matter anymore. It's been what I think of his vaporised doesn't exist images, they're cheaper and they're more common than ever, and so people think they can get the work in you where and then the new thing these days is what's called user provided content where they get work from people who don't understand the business of it. And then you have to the goal of all this is you have to differentiate yourself by creating and promoting a personal project. I know you know that, and I know that I'm going to repeat this with a lot of the next few days, but right now, at this point in our class together is kind of ah idea, and I'm going to talk about it, and then tomorrow is going to start going in there, and I'm hoping on the last day you're gonna say, yeah, that's okay, so now I own part of what it is that we started discussing vaguely on the first day and this is how I'm going to do it and that's what everybody basically said here you all have ideas or projects and by the end I want you to own them that's the hope all right um successful projects carry over from the personal to the professional this is really, really important people tend to divide it up and I don't want to do that you actually want to put them together? Um, best projects enable what I'm going to call the end users and I'm going to use that term a lot and and users an editor, a gallery, a publication, a client who might hire you to do a portrait job, those air all end users and on one level they're different, but another leveled all exactly the same they had this problem that they need solved and they need somebody to solve it and so that's going to be your job these same end users love exceptional photography that's why they're photo editors that's why they won galleries that's why they're publishers they love good photography and the thing is that they need thio understand who could do that and so your job is to get that across to them and the next thing is that since the skill component has been minimalized, they usually based they're do they're hiring on other criteria and one of the things you're probably saying to yourself I could see by looking your eyes lament is you know that but my job appears to kind of get you to think these things through write them down and then start applying them because the old skill thing, the ability of focus and all that doesn't matter it's about your personality, your authorship and all the stuff I'm goingto hopefully coax out of you actually days alright, the trick is to use projects to build visibility and get work even when the personal projects and the paying projects don't obviously overlap because you probably think of yourself well, what I want to do and what they're gonna pay me to do may not be the same that happens to me a lot in my work they look at the stuff that you've already seen, some of the work I'm going to show you the next few days and say, wow, that's exceptional, that guy can really do it and I know I gotta hire him to kind of do this, but the fact that he can do this guarantees me he can do that as well that's a huge part of what we're talking about here and make sure that the theme the pro topic in the approach dovetails with a larger political cultural themes ensuing, wider dissemination of the work what does that mean? It means I'll show you later in the week, my foreclosure project photographing foreclosed houses over the last five years, I started it for one reason, and I slowly changed it, so it became part of this larger economic discussion. So for example, canada's up here talking about her work on cuba at the in the beginning of the pre show, the first thing when I think about work about cuba is the inevitable change that's happening there, so one thing is a body of work about cuba. Another thing is, how can she take that work and maybe fitted in with that larger threat? So it's, one of the questions I'm going to ask you when we start talking about each year projects, is there some larger discussion going on about some theme in your work that you can put it together and don't expect an answer now? But I do expect an answer by wednesday, okay? And so let me go back and just remind you one of the reasons I'm up here over the last thirty years, I've made thousands of mistakes, some of them technical, some of them professional when smiling and going, yeah, right? And so I made lots of mistakes as I learned what I'm trying to share over the next three days. I hope you internalize some these lessons so ideal you'll make fewer mistakes and since you three are students that's the definition of hwe go to school right so you don't make is making many mistakes you can learn from people who came before you so that's why we're here so let me give you what I call a course overview and to talk about the benefits of the class this class should give you a tn dove the class you should have the confidence so you can go out and create and promote your own personal projects and that create and promote those were two really important things if you create the work and you don't promote it doesn't do any good and if you promote something that's not really powerful it doesn't do any good so they're inseparable those two parts and if you follow these steps and you do the exercises because the end of every session you and the online audience will actually be given an exercise for a couple cases called action if you really want to get the most out of the class you want to actually sit there and do whatever they are written or find the images or go online or something like that um you'll get more out of it if you do that and in the end you will do what you want to do just create more visibility for yourself create more satisfaction with your projects the other thing about this and the reason and lawrence you alluded to this idea of using your time more efficiently you have five children yes okay you must have time issues right off the top that alone is I have one she's enough of a time issue let alone five so the idea is that if you if you do what I'm asking you to do you get more control over your work get more control over your life and then you get to use it however you want personally professionally for your family for your children so that's the sort of object of the game in terms of time management and I guess I do move around a lot somebody asked me when I was preparing for the class yesterday do you move around a lot in the answer's apparently ideo so I'm going to try to stop dancing around here we'll see all right this is important because when you said you actually do primarily portraiture and I'm not quite so clear yet on what three of you do but I will learn the insights and the examples that I'm sharing come from my experience in the world of photo journalism okay but kind of ignore that it doesn't really matter the key principles apply to all markets later too today I'm going to introduce you to my wife work she's also a photographer she's in a completely different market she's in the fine art market and the connection being that if it works in her market it works in my photojournalism market and with a little work we can talk about how it'll work in your marketing your market so don't think oh he's a photojournalist it doesn't apply to me it's not true it actually does all right with the explosion of choices brought on by the internet big trend is what's called curation this is another one of those words you really wanna write down you're shaking your head you know I mean by curation it's simply the idea of somebody going through all the stuff that's on the internet and sharing it with other people's in an organized way and a lot of your end users want that kind of curation or third party validation if you want to call it that so they can actually see that yes, you are the right person and so that idea of curating is really, really important curating and third party validation of basically the same thing it's a way for some end user to say yes pecan lorenzo lorenzo knows what he's doing or gwen knows what she's doing so they're the ones so this idea of curating which you read a lot about on the web these days applies to us as well it's a signal to the end user that this is the person to do the project as versus the next person this is doubly so on what's called the business to consumer site which is the portraiture businesses typically as the photographer you're dealing directly with the consumer I'm typically mostly dealing with what's called business to business I goto a magazine editor I goto gallery curator those people in my business who in theory a professionally a stewed in terms of evaluating photographers on the business to business side ah lot of your end users are literally looking to say give me some guidance of why this person is better than the other person and that's a really core part of our process over the next three days okay, I think I'm going to sound like I said in the beginning like I'm repeating myself but I think by the end it will move from something I'm saying cindy shaking of heads yeah the other thing is I was reading on the new york times when I was flying out here those of us of a certain age apparently the older we get the more things need to be repeated so apparently my twenty one year old can take it in once or twice but at my age it takes four times so I will be repeating myself all right so when people talk about photography they talk a lot about the idea of personal work and professional work and when you get photographers talking a lot of time they actually they take those things apart they moved them literally apart like this, and I've never understood why, because to me you want actually merge them together, your professional working your personal work shouldn't be two separate projects they should be, uh, hand in glove, I guess is the expression so you end up more like this, where there, together and to me, that's what I'm trying to do is the photographers to make my personal working, my professional would go out there, so whoever my end user is khun see and say, oh yeah, he could do this, we can do that, and the way that I do that is to photo essays the class is called personal project and photo essays, and I'm going to use those to interchangeably. I just wanna let you know that the folks in the chat rooms are just having a great time listening to hear the backbone of your of your work, so they were already charming inn I posted the question in here about what they're looking for, and they're in their personal projects and their work. And chuck says, hey, jim and david, I'm just trying to figure out how to better tell the story of the places I photograph just a week shooting wildlife in yellowstone it's a good start, but I know I can do better okay, so that's. Yeah, we're getting a lot of people that are doing wildlife kinds of things, and they want to learn how to build the stories around that great, great. One of the questions is and this will be go to what we're working on. Here is how much of this is excuse me, taking existing set of work in organizing it as you just described, and how much of it is saying okay, from now going forward, I'm going to do this and the best of all worlds. I'm hoping that when you leave on wednesday, you can say, okay, so I've got this from the past, and this is how I'm going to restructure it. And then I've got this new thing that when I go forward, I'll use it that way. That's, in the best of all worlds, will be a good class, and I'm going to spend on jim and on you for t keep me going forward with that.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

David H Wells - Business
David H Wells - Literary Journals List.pdf
David H Wells -
David H Wells -
David H Wells - Sample
David Wells - Keynote Day 1.pdf
David Wells - Keynote Day 2.pdf
David Wells - Keynote Day 3.pdf

bonus material with enrollment

David H Wells -

Ratings and Reviews


First off, I was a photo assistant for a few years to a photographer who did numerous multi-day workshops. This was my first time as a student sitting in on a webinar that actually kept me interested. Sometimes I'm turned off by the pace of the teacher, his or her voice, or the manner in which they disseminate the information. But this was truly fantastic. David showed lots of his work in a way that was NOT egotistical in any sense (something that does happen quite often). I was utterly impressed by the quality of his work, the wealth of knowledge he has on the world, culture and politics, and how he shoots "on the go". All of those qualities are essential parts to creating a great photo essay/story. I came into this seminar needing inspiration and in the end I have more ideas than I know what to do with. David's work is truly magnificent; his photo stories pertain to people and their struggles, which really could be something any one of us could go through at any point, but he shows it in a way that is beautiful - either beautifully desperate or beautifully destructive - instead of in an exploitative way. On a side note, he also offered up a lot of great information having to do with funding, exposure, workflow, time efficiency, income streams, releases... you won't find this a lot with other photographers. You will find the "go find the info yourself" attitude. This has been my problem as of late with photography - we don't work together as artists, we work against each other competing for what, I'm not sure. David's seminar seemed to embrace photography as the art form it is, and shared with us the tools that we as artists need to really understand and utilize in order to get our story out there. A story it seems he really wants to see/hear. Just an amazing "Thank You"!!!!

a Creativelive Student

I have purchased a number of classes on Creative Live. This class taught by David Wells is one of the best. David is a thorough teacher, personal and connects with his students. Along with his superb and inspiring imagery David talked about his experiences in getting funding, his workflow, developing his stories and distributing his work. David is talented, generous and an excellent teacher. Highly recommended class.

Anjani Millet

Just completed the course. Fantastic, practical information on everything from grant writing, finding foundations, proposal development, even how to shake hands overseas. I am not sure where else I would have found this information for photographers. So appreciate it. One friend asked if this would be worth watching for anyone outside the US and the answer is a definitive yes. Very happy I purchased, and already starting to implement.

Student Work