Create Powerful Photo Essays & Personal Projects

 

Create Powerful Photo Essays & Personal Projects

 

Lesson Info

Creativity Quotes and Ideas

I'm going to now go into a syriza quotes that I put together when I was putting this talk together for creative live, and I wantto talk a little bit about each one how they resonate with me, a professional, someone who could do his best work when he doesn't feel like it, you won't be professionals when you grow up, right? This is really important actually came from alistair cooke, and it took me thus took me years to appreciate I can't believe I messed up my own this took me years to appreciate, I apologize, but yet as a professional that's, what you're going to have to do and member, I said, that thing about prostitution, yeah, it's the same thing are you willing to do it even when you're not one hundred percent of the mood? This is kind of a question to ask yourself, and I wouldn't be surprised if two or three people in the online audience were saying, you know, maybe adapt or die. This goes back to what we've been talking about over and over, and I'd heard this quote so many times, ...

and I was sure somebody was talking about digital or where we are three oldest attribution like that find actually was pw botha from south africa. And though it's too much of a downer, I really do think it's pretty important toe what we're talking about here so that one kind of went in there and even with the attribution of pw botha, unfortunately it's relevant for all of us adapt or die another one it is not the strongest of the species that survives nor the most intelligent but the one most responsive to change what you think said that, right? Exactly, yeah. So, um truer words were never spoken on putting these out here because we're not the only ones going through this change that you all know what the term creative destruction is creative destruction it's an economist term and I don't know the name of economists are probably looking at my phone, but the idea is that in a capitalist economy like the one we live in creative destruction is this process of new businesses, new business models, all these things coming along and creative news, creating new things and destroying the old models. The car industry went to creative destruction, though they look like they're all right now and we're going to creative destruction and the good news is it gives you all these incredible opportunities if you adapt that's why I'm putting all this stuff up here and I'm trying to help you in the online audience about this idea of how you going to adapt um life is a journey not a destination remember what my friend said this in college I hated this I don't just tell me how to get there just cut to the chase but of course is from wolf ralph waldo emerson and like I said I always hated it but I've really come to understand I think once I once I had a child actually I really think I thank my daughter for that was no it really is true you're never gonna get there and I mentioned that both in terms of this and my daughter but in terms of our process and the online eyes I hope you're not thinking that wednesday at four o'clock when we're done you'll be there exactly you're never gonna be there you just going to be closer than when you started right um this is one that you hear a lot from people came actually from joseph campbell of all people I don't know I put it in there sometimes I think it's too frothy you know it's sort of like over the top on the other hand it has to be the starting point remember I said you should always start with something I think you were talking about cindy this thing that you love and then our job is to align them so keep joseph campbell in mind um every child is an artist the problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up this was actually from picasso, and for me personally, the journey that I took you on already about how I got from there to here, because my childhood did not teach me that I had to learn it as an adult, I didn't grow up in a family with much of an interest in the arts or anything like that, and so that was for me personally, a relatively recent journey, which is why I took you on my journey earlier creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes are is knowing which one to keep, I think that that's a great one, this goes back to that was even an online question about the mistakes, and what do you do? We're going to talk a lot about editing over the next couple days, and this is a quote from scott scott adams, and what I liked about it was the idea that he was getting closer and closer to this idea of which ones you keep. How do you decide that process? And that's, partly a question of this skill of editing, but his party question of this thing, I'm trying to get you to do to kind of thinking your brain, okay, this is the point of view that I have all the other stuff we've been talking before that's going to affect your decisions on which ones to keep all right? And it looked like nobody fell asleep. All right, we're doing good, so I'm gonna show you some more pictures. I promise to alternate between pictures and, um, ideas, because that's, basically, how my brain works half my job, not a portion of my job is photographing the large portion. My job is just writing, thinking, etcetera. So the connection being this is a serious of photos that I made in new york city a few years ago, and what happened was and this goes actually to our business question somebody saw the train station pictures, and they said to me, you don't have anything like that in new york city, do you? I said, well, no, but talk to me some more, and so they said to me, we'd really love that kind of stuff in new york city, and we would buy it for office interiors if it was in color, and I literally said them, okay, how many pieces are we talking about? Give me a number and they says certain number and I said, I did the math and I said, I'm going to new york for a week, I'm going to make the pictures and I'm not saying to do work on speculation, but it was a straight business, okay don't have the work, and then in my case these are photos hope you like them but you also concedes the kind of the way that I shoot light and shadow anyway so there's a lot of potential for stock we sail on the other side so when I'm doing that kind of equation in my head I'm saying yes this guy's going to buy these for his office but then I can reuse them over and over your question before is about I don't do much stuff that I don't own because I know the potential re sale on this kind of stuff and so these are just street photos that I made in new york city in one october they ended up in this office interior they've been used in some gallery shows they've been used a lot in stock photos and stuff like that and they are that time of day and that quality of light member I said for a m in the morning what I like more than anything else besides the political stories I like to get up early in the morning and go around when the sun's coming up and take pictures of the play of light and shadow that's my other favorite thing besides the political stuff so these are some samples from that is down south street seaport in new york I'm sorry also in new york city also in new york city so I talked a little bit earlier and jim asked me the question of photographing loose we're talking about a little more when I do work flow, but just to get you to understand what that means in this picture is a great example that's what reminded me of this is that was a new york city I was doing this, this essentially self funded shoot and what I tend to do is I tend to find places and take a lot of pictures of the same thing as I said before, I never want to come home and say I should have and so this is an example of one it's actually on ninth avenue in new york city near lincoln tunnel planted myself there with because that flag is so beautiful in the afternoons, lights coming, I just waiting for people to go by left and right a little lower little higher verticals to use the lines of the pipe horizontal sze to play up the flag, some of them I crop the people at the way some of them I leave stuff down there and the idea being that in all those pictures there's going to be the one that I want. So the way that my flash cards used to be filled, but now the way my flash cards work is that I'll have five or ten when I call misfires I walked up, I started photographing something I couldn't get started and then I'll have seventy five hund two hundred pictures of this and then I'll have five or ten misfires in seventy five hundred or two hundred or more pictures of something else and then maybe five or ten misfires in a typical morning shoot you know from sunrise until ten a m maybe three or four situations but they're very well covered and I know that one of those somewhere in there is going to be exactly the one I want and so that's my particular shooting a pretender saying you should do that but the result for that is I do almost nothing in post I do everything and capture so that's how I shoot so let me give you some or thinking points and then I'm gonna probably turn it back to you in terms of did any of this the mirror window question coming back to you guys okay just be warned um the truly creative mind is not alive unless he is creating which I found interesting that he is written by she so how come she didn't say the creative mind is creating what unless she is but only in my thirties that I finally get this one took me a long time to understand that I think because I came from a conventional newspaper background and evolved into long term projects doesn't really get that um happiness is not a goal it's a byproduct this from eleanor roosevelt ofall people so I feel like we're getting closer this is the one I saw years ago and I always loved with this one life without industry is guilt industry without artist brutality that's our job as artists as photographers is creative to make the work so you don't live in that barren world that john ruskin talked about this is a really important one for our process failure seldom stops you would stop shoe is the fear of failure this action port from jack lemmon, the actor and early on in my own career I have to admit there were moments where I was paralyzed by the idea what should I do? How do I move forward and risk that? Just tell me how to do it I got around that eventually, but this is really important to understand is you can't be paralyzed by fear that's why I talked earlier about breaking down the small steps one thing at a time you want to know about the long term goal but you really want to make it manageable because if we all thought about the end of our projects, what would you do? You probably I'll get terrified right over there going right? So you've gotta think in small steps that's exactly correct on a recent one that I dug out of the new york times reaching peak performance and a creative task is enjoyable for its own sake the creative person pursues that endlessly even with no external game the idea is we know this came from a psychologist that there really is a zone that we go into when creating and I'm from what I'm told it's also part of the process for live athletes there's an actual zone I've yet to read anything about if they if there's an overlap between that and the creative side I know from my own experiences I said when I walk around sometimes I'm doing physical things I feel the most creative so I'm guessing there is I've never actually heard about that I know you saying that that I can remember exactly whether claire might've been a quote that was kind of alluded to that a little bit as far as like you know, because as an athlete once when you are in the zone you don't feel anything is literally you're just watching yourself competing just like as that then I saw you doing I mean but you don't you don't feel as though you're I've gotten into that that spot maybe one or two times I can remember but it's in photographing in creating a cz an athlete, right? But I mean as far as like, you know, doing aiken, I've come up with a couple of shots that I've been like, you know, okay that's that's bad that's a good that's a good shot and puts another term for but there will be something I just completely after back just loving and there would be one that I was just like, hey, you know that's, what I did and again is that considered part of me just like you know e decided that yes, I did that, but it means the same thing I I just know it is justice and it's an odd feeling that you get but you know what immediately have you ever all of you had that feeling I might have had that feeling when I'm when I feel like I'm working hard and doing really, really successful like there's there's a moment there where you all shaking your head where sometimes I feel like I don't fit zone per se but I could be the middle of photographing somewhere like in india or something and it just it just keeps going and going and the other thing that I find everything but that is all come back and I'll do the edit and there maybe like three great pictures in one day and that's that's amazing did you know the ansel adams and you hundreds of pictures and you get one good one a year and so if I get three good ones in a day that's the that's a powerful day could this was off went the wrong way funny one that I came across recently um famous the industrial disease of creativity there's a talks to toxicity to fame this is actually by mike myers the comedian of all people and I like it so much because he was actually in an article where basically was talking about the idea of be careful what you wish for because you may want you think you want to be somewhere but all right and then you don't know where you're going you end up somewhere else you probably all know who said this that was easy just right all right so okay so now before we go on last bikers were almost done with here today and I'm going to take some pictures from the online but is there somebody's work you can think of that is more of a mirror is there some way of putting more of your own self or personality or your own experience into the work which kind of goes to what I said before about authorship but this is really ratcheting up? Is it something that some kind of work that you've seen? How many know the work save cindy sherman cindy sherman's most famous for her film stills work where she's doing work that looks like references film posters not the same way about my wife does but vaguely simmer and you look at them at first they look like film posters but then they start becoming a about this sort of secondary level of message how she's dressing how she's presenting herself and it's another set of working might look at I'm not necessarily saying teo use it but what cindy sherman does how well is that we have an idea in our heads about what film posters look like and movie stars and celebrities and she takes that kinds as well not quite we're going to turn it a little bit and so that's an example of work that is a mirror about her own experience and how she sees the world but it's also using that kind of window motif of film posters which is a language we think we know well anyone diving here on this one any questions from them out there over here we're in great shape but we do have one question if you wouldn't mind people were loving your wife's work and do you have her website oh not we can grab it later as well yeah we have to post later basically it's anew and n you matthew m a t h e w dot com a new matthew dot com perfect okay thank you. Um please one question okay so you're talking about we're trying to define whether we perceive somebody's mirror window and I think there's a lot of like you said overlap in some cases if you look at an artist like you picasso what his work be more of a mirror because he's reflecting his vision in his head of how he sees the world I mean where would that be? A window? Well, it's a great question what szarkowski was talking about. I think this is kind of the base of that question. Is it? When you look at a picasso painting your piece of any kind of print or paintings you know, right off the top is not reality. Yeah there's no presumption of reality with a photograph. And this is this is part of our are the good news. And the bad news is that everybody looked at a photograph presumes and you thought well, my wife's worth they presume it to be real where with picasso's work there's never a presumption of reality there's only a presumption that toe what degree? And this has made the answer question did he interpret it like guernica of the big poster? I don't, I would say that's more of a window because he was still interpreting but it's largely derived by that thing his experience during the spanish civil war versus some of the other stuff that's too abstract it's on ly about and what what went on inside this crazy head. So I think that the difference is that with with paintings and other media, you don't have the presumption of reality, we have a unique problem, this photographers or filmmakers that's good question you get close to an answer yeah it's still charming like we're like our projects fall you know because like with mine with the dancers it's still my vision they're dancing but I'm telling them what to do and I'm capturing where I want them so is that a window or is that a mirror of how I'm feeling? That is exactly the question that that's what that's what we're supposed to do here that's what I'm asking youto tease out and I don't make an answer right now but one of the questions would become if I was a client coming to you to hire you to do this and I don't know the answer by the way do I want to I want you to do that I as thie dancer want to control that mme or do we want to have a dialogue? I don't know the answer but that's the question there and so there is actually a potential component in your project for that mirror is the mirror ewers the mirror to rive derived from the subject who he or she thinks of themselves a certain way and I don't know the answer but that's part of the question okay okay let me let me turn that back to you as commercial photographers one of our biggest jobs is to come to the client like the subjects and say to themselves say to them this is how I think I could solve your problem okay and so the offer them kind of like okay, this is your interpretation this's my interpretation let's go back and forth because if if you offer a client something that sort of they open ended their going to kind of go like but especially in this case if you tell them this is how I might see you these are some things to think about maybe show them some other work that's a question you have to kind of decide then they can come away from say actually yeah okay you're close to solving the problem therefore they're close to hiring you all this other stuff so that actually is a good question it does speak directly to the sort of mirror mirror question or problem okay your stuff that's what I'm trying to get you thinking but you've got me thinking my wheels are spinning think time that I was watching your eyes they have the eyes of record because I think like when I photographed my dad I'm the one controlling what pictures I share right? I can control if it's a bad moment good moment but yet that again he's running the show I mean it's what he does when I'm there that I capture right but it's how you just but you said that really the more honest part which is what do you choose to capture and also what do you choose to share right in it sounded like I went off message a minute ago when I was talking about the flag picture but I wasn't I was actually speaking to you in the sense that you are there every once a week yeah, and the reality is that there's a finite number of those visits we all know right? I talk but there are a finite number so if it were me, the first thing I'd be doing is trying to do is many different pictures as I can and as time goes on, the idea will resolved and you'll get more efficient you'll know okay, next week I'm really interested in doing that kind of stuff I wonder about the mirror thing in the sense that it's obviously looking your face you love your father there's a comfort issue there's a loss issue there's a change issue? Why not maybe actually use some of that except for the the emotional journey you'll have to take? But I think it's going to make better photographs and you said when we started talking about a few minutes ago that you're surprised at how many other people know I was florida well, they all they're all going on that it same emotional journey give or take a little bit with their fathers or their mothers they have some things in common with you maybe, but they're fundamentally going on this and they're looking for any kind of guidance on how to get through it so why not? I'm getting thinking about my own father or so right, I'm putting this back on you now working our way through very well, yeah, well, and she may because my my dad passed away two years ago on was cancer and dementia that we found out, so, you know, so you can you can connect her. Oh, yeah, yeah, but with my project, I'm not sure if it would be I think it's I think it's more of a window than a mirror, it sounds like it on the face of it, a moment question when you were describing it, especially at the end when you said there's, other places that are going through this process because of the evaluations. If I heard you correctly, my first thought would be thinking myself, I wonder if there's something you can do those areas to see about how much the's bridges air kind of at the core or the lifeline or what's the proper word to these areas. Most of them are a lifeline, too, those they're connecting to two or three or more communities together. This one was connecting two major, uh, communities and everything together, and it walked it off for three years, and then all of a sudden it's open now and it's I mean, I haven't been across that yet, you know, to see just what the difference is going to be like going back and forth, but that that would be something that I would be thinking about remember the ironies we're actually moving towards a linear story in the sense that you might find an area where you have a before and an after it's the bridge is open, the state finds it doesn't meet standards to bridge is closed for two years what happens there and then what happens to years later? It's a longer term and it's not as overtly a mirror project quote unquote but it's still about how this affects people and it pushes the larger buttons of infrastructure, how we spend money, how we build communities and the other thing I know from the brief timeout my brief timeout, seattle last couple times the very different relationship you all have with water in the bay and all that stuff because our apologies pewter sound, then say we do you know, in new york kind of the same thing but it's very different in here, I can't put my finger on it, but I know that with the islands and the bridges and all that stuff it's really part of the ferry system too is part of how everybody lives out here, so somewhere in there there is something that I would do think it would make it to the next level um it doesn't turn his overtly mirror resc but we'll come back to that coming back to you yeah I'm still trying to figure out you know as far as like the last photo essay that idea which was on crossfit kind of look at whether or not it was ah mirror or ah window and know that I want to say for the most part of it it was oh our kind of portrayed it as a window as you're looking into that particular sport trying to understand you know why these athletes do what they do you know and that's the that's the hard part of and that's one of the whole parts of it was trying to you know have these guys are actually were more girls that was guys teo to continue doing their work out without changing anything because I'm there with a camera and and I couldn't get them like, you know continue doing what they're supposed to be doing and they were tryingto in a sense look good for the camera and it's just like okay, listen, I know how this lift is supposed be done just do it don't worry about me and that was the hardest part trying to get them to just get back into their you know them doing that particular you know, training or work out but isn't it may be the point that isn't that may be the point to embrace that exact idea, which is that that's how they want to project themselves, I'm gonna kind of drag do a line all the way from lorenzo over to quinn because glenn's project, we're talking about this idea of how you see them versus how they see themselves and you've got to come up and I don't know how to do this yet, but you have a cup with some kind of way of have taken those two things, your perception, their perception blending them overlapping stuff like that, I'm listening to you, my very first thought is actually let him do whatever they think they want to do because that's how they write that's how they project themselves, right? But but the thing is, when you're talking about these guys move in, you know, two, three, four hundred pounds, you're off by one inch, and then you're down at the hospital, getting certainly think so that's the only that because it's like, you know, I mean, when you're doing like olympic lifting or power lifting, I mean, you wanna have you no small amount of your bodies out of line, you know, you're you're on the ground and you're hurting pretty bad, so I'm guessing you feel like you don't want to be responsible for that. No, I tell him I'm like listen you do what you're supposed to do don't pay attention to me I'll be able to capture what I'm looking for don't try to change it and do something that you don't normally do right but what I'm saying is to me is an outsider I'm actually and I know there's a safety issue and I know there's other concerns but I'm still mostly interested and I'm just maybe just me in this idea of they do this whatever this may be and they perceive themselves as whatever right and so how can you kind of take what how they perceive and project themselves and use that is kind of a starting point and I don't know the answer by the way but that's a very first thing that comes to mind because you're kind of but it has with him and I actually think you'd be more like thing well if that's what you want to put in front of me I'm going to photograph it and I'm going to show the world that you show yourself that way now I may include things I may do things and that's what I'm trying to be insulting to run but I want to show that that's how they see themselves these all the things they do and a lot of times when I do project I'll show people the back of the camera give a polaroid of one picture which is the one how they think of themselves and that's what they take home and they're happy but the one I used for the project may be different because it says no actually they they think that they are whatever this image they're trying to project and that projection to me as clean outsider by the way you're following me you're saying because I'm watching cindy over here she's going yeah yeah well I kind of know what he's talking about because when I was doing the the photos up on the bridge the old part of the bridge there's a bunch of construction workers and it was like they realised that a different photographer was there so they stopped and I finally I looked at the chief engineer and I said they need to just keep going because I need pictures of them working needs their general day of what they do and so we turned everything off you know and we got to talkinto him and they were like oh, we thought we had to just quit because you wanted pictures of what we were working on I'm like no I just need general pictures of what you guys are doing just keep working keep you know if the concrete splatters everywhere great you know so that's a little bit of the inverse of that but it still that same ideas that people have one idea they project themselves different and keep going to go in and I'm actually gonna pick on julie two because there's also this thing of how your father well I don't know how cognizant it is how he wants to be perceived also I'm guessing your siblings yeah actually I have a brother how does he perceived the same thing? Well that's actually kind of interesting because this goes back to the back story my brother has he's forty two he's got down's he's he's down syndrome well, so there's just a diversity my family yeah, so my mom was actually the caregiver for both of my dad and my brother so that's kind of the backstory so the dynamics is I mean, how many people see our family is just very different but very real the real and not many people going to have that exact situation many people are going through the sandwich generation thing caregiver onset of dementia and you have it access to it and you have a, uh, emotional stake in it. So you have to kind of figure some of these things out, but I would be looking at the work again to struggle back to ed cost and there's some other people I'm going to try to come up with some more useful name's um is it the sack of rene buyers? You might look at her work as well um she won the pulitzer if for a few years ago bye b y e r s first name is one day got it um and again it's not like you're gonna copy homework but no but it's good to see all that work especially on the subject like that a lot of people have an interest in there's kind of been a number of treatments of it and you need to be aware of who else has done what else because you don't necessarily want to do the same thing um yeah I mean somewhere you know all of that there is something I guess I guess when I look at the prince and then when you go forward photographing um it'll probably continue evolving jim how we doing? All right, I'm just about near the end here so I wonder if they got any questions online you know we're really good here people were asking about the photo assignment for later so works we're getting him excited for that we're gonna be talking about that later, correct right in the next one I'm going to talk about actually writing project proposals and the homework will involve actually writing a project proposal so you all thought, for example oh tonight I get to go out in the town on seattle you gotta do me you have some hope you'll have some very serious homework to do tonight, okay, so let me give you the homework for this little section write out a list of personal projects or photo essays that you have seen or liked these are other people's and you you certainly welcome to use mine you're welcome to use any of the ones that I've shown you earlier you just want to like the name of the project proposal the photographer were they mirrors or windows and if you're not sure that's fine but some point time you want to ask me you won't ask somebody else you want to maybe read their project proposal you want to try to get a sense of was the photographer who's projects you're looking at primarily telling their own story we're telling another story sorry were they what I would call artistic his commercial and that's not a value judgment but my projects are primarily when push comes to shove they go out they're in a commercial market I'm trying to get them published I'm trying to get them exhibited trying to get paid for them my wife's by comparison are what I would describe as more artistic again that's not a value judgment but it's primarily about our her personal journey another way of saying mirrors and windows and then a third way of saying beers and windows and these are all kind of echoing the same idea is it a public project or a private project and yes it's going to be shared for everybody to see so on one level it's obviously public but for example, julie, your stuff what you're talking about is a very private thing in theory, you're going to put it out there for the whole world and hopefully will do a good job of kind of aligning the two but fundamentally it's a private experience, right? And you're sharing it with the world is in theory, what's going to make all the other people who have some of these same questions and issues look at their own experience, and their emotional challenge is a little bit differently, hopefully better okay, so that's what I mean by private or public? I'm just picking on lorenzo or cindy's bridge project almost by definition, that is more of a public thing. And again, none of these dualities our judgments, our value judgments or one's better than the other, but they're all a syriza decisions thief right now what you want to do is you look at other people's work and you want to go forward looking other people's work and be ableto run to this question list, okay? And then eventually, when you start creating your own work, you're gonna want to run through that same question list, but apply it to yourself so that's the homework for a section right now, all right, all right, and we're also encouraging the folks out on the internet, too you know join us and do these exercises along with us okay great was good stuff so we just talked about seating right seeding these projects and in our next segment we're going to talk about forming the personal project can you talk a little bit maura's toe diminution of what we're gonna be tackling absolutely the next section has essentially two components one is I'm going to take you through my project for closed dreams which is this project where I'm photographing inside foreclosed houses for the last five years and I'm taking you through it parties so you can see how it evolved because the evolution and you're you're all talking about projects already but you're kind of going not sure am so I can take you back to the very beginning and you and I will be in the exact same place and then it we'll go forward and hopefully years will go forward as well um so though it's a documentary project don't pay attention but pay attention to what were those milestones and those learning points in those decision points where I got lucky or succeeded in something and in the second part is how do you have to write a project proposal? Okay, because disseminating this work getting it out there you're not going to have the luxury of sitting across the way from mia's the end user you're going to have to convince me unfortunately usually in writing and with photos after the fact, but usually writing first. And so the idea of writing a project proposal is going to be really key. Part of the next one.

Class Description

The most powerful way to establish your voice and distinguish yourself as a photographer is to conceptualize and shoot a photo essay. Photo essays are compelling, dynamic, vivid mission statements of your work — every photographer should have a working knowledge of this narrative art form. Join David Wells to learn how to create a captivating photo essay from start to finish.

This course shatters the myth that photo essays are only for photojournalists; you’ll learn how all photographers can use photo essays to tell the story of any subject, in any style. You’ll learn how to present your unique point of view and communicate a coherent aesthetic through a compelling photographic essay. You’ll build strategies for tackling the complex task of assembling, editing and presenting a large photo project that speaks to its viewers. You’ll also learn about the techniques that are essential for keeping yourself inspired and organized while maintaining an effective workflow.

By the end of this course, you’ll have the skills it takes to stand out in a crowded marketplace and create a compelling project that showcases your skills, communicates your style, and helps others understand your personality, passion, and talents.