Experiment to Define Format
Saying while neither cool doesn't help anybody, if you develop a common language for critiquing, it'll help any photographer. We're trying to understand the tools and the elements that techniques that were used successfully, unsuccessfully to communicate the photographer's idea. And if you get good at critiquing photographs, it applies to any kind of photography. So this is a skill you'll have going forward. And by the way, in terms of your circle at school, you'll suddenly be even more popular because you can actually say something of value, and they can still only say, well, need you're cool. I was like, used is it harsher? Soft from what direction? How is time used? And we went through some of the photographs, like the dog photograph. That was a big component of time. We had both ah, high shutter speed to stop the action that we had a slow shutter speed. One of the dog photographs also dealt with the photographers. Low position, high position question. Um, a number of them you saw t...
he dog with the big guys at the end was a wide angle. Most of the dog photos were more likely be tele photos. For very obvious reasons. The india photo that we were discussing back and forth was, of course, a telephoto limit their depth of field. That was one to me where that white on the edge versus the white in the middle is that question white management we had somewhere we're talking about line texture, stuff like that how that was used, um how is focused used like the one in india? Some of the had compositional elements such as framing and negative space some of them didn't ah lot of stuff that I do that you see me do architectural stuff like that I often time use phrase framing dark tone to dr peoples interest in and then we were playing with horizontal and vertical orientation that most of dog photos horizontal dogs tend to move, kids tend to move, so that was relatively and again each of those tools are they used appropriate, ineffective way that's the question so now I actually am gonna put you on the spot and lorenzo bailed out he knew I was going to do this three questions about that idea of critiquing photos or three ways you think you might use it when you're going forward and I really was being serious by the way at school when you're in school because you can then go to the appears and say, let me see your project number one you're giving them something of value which is important community and the number two you're improving your skills of someone who can critique, please have classes where we have a glass that's photo critique really and I think that's going to be very helpful going forward knowing the proper language, I think you're also less apt to put someone off when you're giving him feedback um, neutral language so I mean that's that's precisely because a lot of students who interact with say well, I never took a class where they did critiquing it's great that they're doing that but your second point was exactly correct I'm trying not to make this about you about your work and when we look at your work later in the next couple days I do want you to understand I'll do my best not to it's not about you we have a problem because our photographs for our children we love them we put our heart night bends over there so we put our hearts and our souls into them. How can you not love my child if we make the language neutral enough and unthreatening enough? People are more open to it that was good right to more ladies she's done her job by taking other way, asking you a question early I find that I throw all this text that you're not you personally thought text you and them out there and I know that you've reached a saturation point and so if there's some way of getting you teo articulated back frequently it gets internalized better like what you did by going through the critiquing of others work I find I'm thinking back to things that I do and why do I do it? Maybe I wasn't consciously doing it, but how it would you know how it applies to yourself a swell, but at the same time it's great to be able to share with others it does both of those things it making back both ways with your work. And then the other thing is that in theory, if you think of us as sort of having this large pool of karmic photography carmen love, if you do it for enough for other people, they're going to turn around, help you and give you feedback of value when you don't have the kind of objectivity in analytical skills that you need it that moment, yeah, absolutely school I had never even thought about critiquing a photo um two quarters into school into school and everything I started actually going out and when I would see other photos and everything, I started looking at a totally different so the critiquing and everything I've actually learned through school um we collaborate, we do this, we do that we work in studio together, so the critiquing and everything has gone further for myself good um and this right here has just taken it one more step further teo to get away from the cools and the wiles and the highlights and I think we still use them in school but we take it even that you know I like the picture because off that last part is what matters because of you and that was one yeah and my son even looks at me sometimes is his mom you're not in school I'm like yes I am don't worry that it could go on but you bring your family into it and that's the perfect example there the other people who aren't they love you but they're not going to give you anything of value now in terms of feedback you know I'm just curious is there an etiquette to critiquing you know does it have to be solicited uh when you're looking at someone's someone else's work I would never could take someone's photo unless they asked for it specifically is there kind of any kind of rule like what a great place well there's a couple things one is I know I'm throwing a lot of you and like I said on friday it's all going to sink in there but I'm hoping for example from now on you for the rest your life finding choke points right and looking at fedex eros differently and even if you're not formally asked for critical photo should look at it, analyze it above and beyond wild need cool in the school environment it's pretty easy the real thing and maybe this is the real answer you're going to an exhibition, you're going to see a book you're going to look at something online where somebody else has accomplished what you aspire to or somehow get somewhere near there that's when you want to look at it in terms of these things some of the things I talked about on the career path things that I talked about earlier and some of the promotional things they'll talk about in the future so it's a skill you want to use no matter what in terms of that's sort of a social graces thing but but critiquing is a is a memory thing it's a skill just like you're learning to photograph your earning promotion you're learning business the more you critique the more articulate you are, the better you get at it for yourself, for others people is you said discover the value of it become kind of this karmic thing where you give back to each other it's all of the above I don't solicit I don't critique unsolicited I could take a lot though, because people have the presumption and I know what I'm doing um and I'm relatively good it's sticking to a non threatening set of language I mean that was a great way of articulating I never thought it was unthreatening, but I just thought of it is impersonal as in not insulting somebody, which is what I'm trying to dio because of that we love our baby's problem good, good. All right, so what we're going to do now is that after class today remember we're gonna take a little photo walk, we're gonna go out and walk around here for about an hour I'm going to do some pictures I'm going to suggest you do some pictures were going to look at the back of the camera, we're gonna kind of do this same critiquing process I'm going to talk a lot about the idea of working a situation like I'll walk up to something and I'll show you maybe I will take seventy or eighty pictures or at least talk out loud about how he might take seventy or eighty pictures, so you three will benefit directly from that ah, the online audience obviously won't be included in that directly. So when I was here sunday, I did basically the same thing here in the creative live building, and so we're going to show now ah little five minute video that we made on sunday of me doing a shoot in the creative life studio talking about this idea, working situations and ideally, a lot of these questions will as you see me working, you'll probably see me mentally processing in answering them and if I don't answer them in the video, ask me after that until this should I I'm david wells and I'm here in the office is a creative life doing kind of a demonstration shoot to show you what I'm doing when I'm photographing both in terms of the actual photographing and my thinking process, especially when I'm looking at the back of the camera, to see what I've got and what they need to keep going forward photographing so obviously this is a demonstration shoot for the creative live lesson, but fundamentally, this is the kind of thing you encounter any time working as a photographer, you have some idea what you're going to see, but then you get there and the reality of what is in front of you is oftentimes different than what you had in mind. So the first thing I do is I am literally going to be looking around thinking what might be interesting, what are the points of problems going to do all that before even start photographing? I walked around in advanced kind of cheating a little bit and I noticed that there's a lot of stuff that people do to personalize this space, so I'm thinking that might be one of the things that I'd be photographing I'm also, of course, going to photographing people using the space I see you got two people working over there. Um I'm also going to be looking at things like the bright light coming in from this side darker light over here going to do some stuff photographing into the sun to get silhouettes and some reflections off the screen and I'll probably go around the other side and photograph back with this light over my shoulder to get softer light so walking around I saw this personal note somebody left somebody else at the desk here says cm iliana there seemed to be a lot of these small notes around here okay, so what I've got in the foreground is the note and the background is the keyboard and as I change position down here for example of the notes with the big and the keyboards pretty small as I get appear they get more equalized and then by the time I'm here they're virtually fifty fifty I shoot a lot of pictures when I'm photographing because the one thing I never want to do is come back look on the computer and say oh I should have been higher I should have been lower I should have been left where I should have been right? So my theory is shoot all the different pictures and then decide later in terms of whether I want the horizontal or vertical next thing I'm going to do so I'm gonna look at it horizontal there so this is another space it has another personalized note on it and for now, that's, the thing that caught my attention the most is just these notes and how I think people are trying to humanize what is obviously very technologically based base because of all the giant monitors and stuff like that. In the last picture, the personal note was at the bottom of the image and keyboard was at the top. This is the exact opposite, so not sure quite yet what I'm going to do, but maybe not. I'm using olympus micro, four thirds cameras, one of things I love about these cameras, and you've seen it already in the short time I've been working disease folding screens, I've been doing photography long enough to go back to the old twin lens cameras that you looked straight down, and so I'm very much used to this idea of using a twin using a camera where you look straight down just like this, and so I'm looking at a picture right now, that's slowly coming together, this is going to be self portrait with itself port company will be called self portrait with video camera a little bit of bird highlights that I gotta work on that. So what happened in that case is I was actually literally looking at the post it note right here. And I couldn't get it to work because I think there's too much other stuff there but I noticed this great reflection in the monitor so that's when I started working on next in a a big big part of my process is always trying to be open to that kind of change where okay I started with one idea for a picture which was about the post it note in sort of the personalization but then I realized that that reflection was actually the best thing so I'm good I did that for a while it leads me to believe that there's probably more reflections to do around here so my next thought probably would be to go all the way around and look at the different reflection says I go and so shot I'm working with right now is the two people who are silhouetted against the glass and then the exact same thing of them reflected in this slightly dusty monitor and what happened just now was very typical what I do do I was focusing on the two people working in the background that I noticed something in the foreground so I shot one version focused on the people the background and then one version focused on a cable in the foreground one is not better than the other but again I never want to go back and say, oh I should have shot this I should have shot that so I'm gonna look at the same picture with a different lens. This is pretty typical set up for me. I've got after the conversion factor. This lens is a twenty four eighty two point eight throughout, and it zooms so I can experiment with focal length and on the other camera, I'll typically have one fixed focal length lynn's either telephoto or a wide angle, depending on the situation I'm shooting, both of them are the olympus is with the nice folding screen so I can get unusual angles. Um, and so I'm just gonna toggle back and forth between the two different bodies and typically figuring out sort of the general scene with zoom and then maybe using the fixed focal length lands to get a little better control over the depth of field. So that's, how I work, I hope that some help um, the videos were here to help me explain my thinking as I'm photographing, and when I'm looking at the back of the camera, I'm doing what's called shrimping, you know, I'll know where the term chipping actually, I heard it first, ironically, from a photographer from the seattle times years ago, and apparently what shrimping is is that you've got your camera and you've made your pictures and there's two. Stories that I've heard about chipping one is that you're here and you have your arms out kind of like a monk and you're looking, you're pictures, and the one I like the best is you're so excited, you know who like that that's supposedly where chipping comes from, um, I used the olympus michael, four thirds cameras as you saw it's, not a commercial for olympus, but I will talk later in the week about the year, but you probably saw this. I do a lot of these dogs and giraffes because it just solves that problem so easily. And so that's what I was doing when I was shooting and I was narrating to some to be the idea if I take a picture and I looked at the back and then I keep going and keep going and to be open to everything from seeing out of the corner of my eye, something that might have made a good photograph toe looking at the back of the camera and saying, well, I thought it was this, but it really turned out to be that and so that's a big part of my process. So, um, for you all earning your project, you need to experiment as much as you can we've been talking about this collar versus black and white thing, the square format pain, ramez hdr stitching any of a number of things you need to be experimenting with a different formats, different approaches to point of view. Idea all of that to figure those things out. And so I was just taking you on that little chute right there to just give you a sense of how I work and that's what I'm doing, I'm doing a whole bunch of photographing. Normally, I wouldn't be babbling like I was talking to about what I was seeing. Only that's an internal dialogue. I was speaking out loud for the microphone, but I literally do that. Look at that. Post it note. Wow. That's. Quite a nice little heart. I do that and I walk around and you should. You should be comfortable doing that. You should never talk yourself out of anything. Okay, we have this internal thing that says you got to make a better guy to make you better get to it fast in the beginning. You should really say no. I'm just trying everything I got plenty of time to be told, especially when you start getting with clients and stuff variety beginning is you just say, well, let's, see where that goes, what do I have to lose? Researching and planning an important up to a point, but having a plan and clear goals is important, but you also need to be flexible. I talked about this before, both on my shoots like you just saw him and you saw may I have this one idea and I started in there and something else came up and on projects it's exactly the same thing. You haven't idea you have a goal. I've done this gesture before. You start with this idea in mind. This is what you write, how this's the proposals like your proposal you started here. We've already kind of massaged it over here, and I know from our little chat at the break you were feeling better about that. So we're going to do that. And then now you have the next project, of course will be writing it. And then you're gonna go out in the field and tweak it a little further. And but at some point, time is going to start coming together. So you have this weird balancing act between having faith and what it is and being open to change at the same time. So, david, we did no no specific comments, but two things people are asking about the equipment, which we're going to cover, I believe tomorrow, and then also people are asking, since you take so many pictures and culling, which we are also going to be coming up to later this afternoon, I believe, right? I mean, basically, I do very similar in terms of the editing process to what I did with the peppers thing, and I use a program called media pro, which I'll talk a little more about later, but I've gotten very good at looking at a hundred pictures and going through them right away and getting him down in the top five, and it is that exact thing that I'm trying to get you to do in the critiquing exercise of I never say aye don't take it wrong. I never say I could spend an extra minute and take that sign out. I'm going to look for the picture where the signs that a problem I never I try never to say, oh, if I was to the right where I was to the left, I'll have a better picture because somewhere in my set it's there and so it's a process of going through them really quickly. No emotional attachment to the images, which I know is really hard to do, but you do want to get there I want to get to the point where you could just look at it and say I did that's what it is I can let go of it and then pick the pick out the best ones please if you're doing eight shots, say for instance, you're doing like she does portraiture everything is it better to go ahead and do two shows the eight shots all the way around and have your model and everything stands to stand just perfectly still and do all eight shots and then when you're back looking at trying to find the best shot for the client everything, then you've got the eight shots to say maybe a hair shot or something like that I'm going to get another one of my long answers I apologize, but it will actually make sense in the end, the answer isn't in the beginning you want to do exactly that, but we've been talking pacific is gwen's projects a little further along in the formation and member I said she might actually want to take a step back and run, move the let's find clients now and go right to the create the selling body of work and so I think in the beginning next few months of this project he's going to start doing that but eventually she's going to start discovering the different models different environments lend themselves to not this necessity to do that but to visualize a little walk up and say there's no giraffe there oh if I do a dog I'm going to get a telephone pole so to at least visualize it look but not necessarily shoot it in the beginning though you actually literally want to do that so you are comfortable enough in the future to mentally walk through it cause that's what I was doing in there I'm literally walking through say, well if I put that in the background and because I've been doing this so long so in the beginning you do and as time goes on that that's an internal process rather than a literal shoot sitting there and I gotta do a shot go ahead and do those eight shots go ahead and do whatever okay as much as you can, okay? And you're going to start discovering what works for you both aesthetically, technologically what you're most interested in you like the alternative perspectives you really don't like the alternative perspective and eventually you'll walk into situation to say I only need to do one three and seven and that's when you're becoming and that's when you're achieving mastery absolutely it's a great question but it's a great breaking it down to please more all right? So the idea what we're stopping here is exactly that were in the skill building process in the beginning you probably do want to do all of them you want to do a lot of planning but as time goes on you're going to start narrowing both you're thinking and you're photographing all right um this kind of experimenting is really early important early on in the projects and your question is exactly we'll put at some point in time in years as an example we're going to settle on some visual language and going forward you're only going to use that visual language to photograph the people I'm guessing you don't tell me this and the structure because those seems to be the two things nope, no pun intended the connection between I mean that was a great contribution from the web out there, that idea of the connection so in the end you'll only be photographing pretty narrowly, but in the beginning you really want experiment and color first black, white all the stuff I've been talking about a potential experiments um when I'm starting a project, I often shoot a lot of do a lot of small shoes to practice the approach developed the idea and to refine it, which is kind of what you said and you really have to give yourself a lot of license, okay, one of the things to understand at this point that project don't get obsessed about the end I don't think I know what I wanted to look like when it's done because if you get obsessed about the end you're never going to take the journey to get there I just want to solve the color versus black and white question I just want to solve the dog draft problem I just want to understand what's the visual language square hole go all I want to do is get past that and so just look on the very short term and I do a lot of test shoots and experimental shoots and I would say ninety five percent of them are completely worthless okay and you'll never see them and that's they're not the shows and I probably you know they should have me do it talk every train wreck I've ever created photographically every disaster which you would learn tons from but it would just look bad bad after bad but it would be a great lesson but these are all the successes but you really want to be comfortable trying those and people talk about test shoots you were talking about what was the word you used portrait studies right doing doing studies of the models and the dancers before you actually do the real thing to get a sense of them that's the kind of thing where you want to do some experimentation because the real thing is the next one yeah that's that's a great intermediate step absolutely all right so I'm going to show you a couple more of my light study projects that I've done over the years because today has been a freddy text heavy day and so now the session for a tech savvy soon I'm going to show you some or my photos this wass what is it's a prison in pen philadelphia called eastern state penitentiary and it was a prison built in the late nineteenth century and I think in the fifties they decommissioned it and then in the nineties they decided to redevelop it and I lived right around the corner and sew a bunch of photographers got together and we created what became a fundraising calendar it's actually now a prison that you could take tours of and people go when they photograph there movies are shot there people get married there though I can't imagine why so I was one of a number of photographers who were involved in creating the fundraising calendar for for eastern state penitentiary and it was using this light and shadow skill set that I have shown you extensively and obviously it's a prison and obviously it's olden abandoned but I'm okay with that I'm riffing on that that's the point of this this is the skyline of center city philadelphia in the background and there's been a couple times this question of doi post things do I move things I'm just not smart enough to put a sheet a cheered with you know, god, god gives me that kind of white I don't actually need to set it up, but that's just me obviously tons and tons of peeling paint in this place and old locks on the cells is a guard tower through one of the windows in in the central central section of prison all the all the buildings and this is one of those projects that I just love to do this is what I love about photography and this is one of the things you want to take away from class what is it three or four things you I love about photography and I know you want to get paid and I understand that, but I love two things the political ideas that I've teased out with the israeli palestinian thing of the past, aside poisoning of farm workers thing or the foreclosure thing, their political ideas that get my attention that I want to create a story around that I want to get other people to go through the emotional experience of I love that and then the other thing eleven you've seen this on all the street photography I love wandering around a place and doing the play of light and shadow, you know, it's like, was your photo one assignment when you first started school? I'm still stuck on that when I got past that one, so that was one of those projects this was another assignment is for a magazine called rhode island monthly which is monthly magazine and rhode island and I went met with him when I move first moved to rhode island show them what I did and I said to them you have this incredibly beautiful statehouse in the heart of rhode island which looks just like that pay me some money turn me loose and I'll check in with you in a month they said what a great idea and they wrote me a check and I got to do in the context of the city people using the building and of course it's a beloved building in providence so it's not a hard sell to get people either to pay you to do this or to get people to go there lobbyists trying to stay away from photographing politicians for fairly obvious reasons ironic cause that everybody loves the building everybody heats the occupants and all the skills that I have been building over the years this goes back to question no I don't photograph is eight ways because I've been doing this a long time so I can get down to the one or two ways how many know malcolm gladwell is he's a writer and I think social philosopher technically a harvard I believe he's written a number of books one is called blink about the importance of your initial intuitions great book he also want a book called outliers charles who encourage you to look at and outlines he profiles a siri's of people who have achieved mastery and very different professions in areas of expertise and one of people actually profiles of steve jobs and one of the malcolm gladwell quotes in the book is that to achieve master you have to have two, ten thousand hours everybody's heard this quote you takes ten thousand hours to achieve mastery in the second part which people don't pay attention to what I think is really important we're working on today he's actually he says ten thousand hours of good practice you can take ten thousand hours of bad photos and you'll be no better off than you were when you started but the reason I can cut to the chase and get to the only two or three photos that I need rather than noon is that I did so many of those and I really love that analogy do the eight yes, I've done ten thousand aids so now I only have to do two and four but I've done so many of them and you will if you go forward do so many of them that you know when to skip that's what our song was great for he did all of that internally he knew exactly what the machine would do where he had to stand all that stuff in the same thing with this it's this is not a story that takes many, many hours you don't go there midday you don't go there on weekends midday the light's bad weekends nobody's in the statehouse basically you're going afternoons and mornings to get a nice light you're sneaking around among the politicians who were, you know, doing things in their various rooms but it's not about them and you're making pictures of light and shadow and that's the other thing that I love to do, those the two things that I love about photography the most I'm pretty good at it the business side of it these days I like to think I'm a reasonably good teacher because you're all awake, but the core of it is those two things and I keep coming back to that because if you can get to the core of what you love the most it shows it becomes part of who you are, your backstory, all the things that people going to hire you for anyway because they know that you really it matters to you it's not just a job. All right, so we're going to give you an exercise the three of you and in theory, the wevers audience is going to do the exact same exercise, okay, so what you have to do is that I'm going to during lunch, I'm gonna hand you this exact a stack of photos nice case, right these are machine prints from the lab a little ear machine prints off their one hundred pictures from the foreclosure crisis project that I've been doing and I want you to pick out the top fifteen three of you okay so the quicker you work and I'm gonna give you fifteen minute deadline by the way the quicker your world's listen to eat lunch and then you give me the fifteen back and then the other eighty five you're making two piles the three of you are doing it together okay let me walk you through this exercise in detail both for you and then again for the rest of the people to really understand what you're trying to do okay you are in theory the editorial board of the national geographic magazine okay things have gone very well in your photography careers right good you're going to edit these one hundred pictures down to a top fifteen that's the object of the game okay you have fifteen minutes to do this the geographics a union shop the printers are all getting itchy so you have fifteen minutes to do it plus you wanted lunch okay your mission is to balance the competing interests of the art director and the story editor which basically if you think about it is form content information artistry it doesn't much matter um okay I know gwen use the art director okay? You're concerned is about the visuals how we see the story ok cindy you're the story person you're gonna argue with her because you're most concerned about the information okay and guess what you're the boss you name is chris john's okay, I think he might have just left it used to be I think it's christian's you're the boss and you're going to direct this thing but in any edit not just this one in any of it it's a tug of war between the information the bridge is the people who are impacted and the actual visuals in any kind of editing and so somebody has to be the final arbiter in to make this go fast okay, you have fifteen your final fifteen have to strike a balance between the information on the aesthetic so the final set is both formally strong and strong in terms of content the key to great photography and this will make a lot of sense here in just a minute is knowing how to edit your own work and first you're gonna learn by anything somebody else's work and eventually you're going to start working together especially at school and then eventually get good at it and your own work okay or another thing you can do is knowing who well tohave the edit your work which is a great thing a dispassionate engagement an observation is the hallmark of practitioners of the world's oldest profession I'm joking doctor psychologist and therapists and who else photographers, if you want to end it, you actually have to have what I call dispassionate engagement. You look at the photographs, you have the emotional assurance, but in the end, you can say, no, no, yes, yes. Nope, nope, all right, the best photographers and the best editors practice that same dispassionate engagement in observation. They love what they're doing, they love the photos, but they can also step back and solve that editing, structuring. How do you put the photograph together? Problem. All right, you need to do that, whether you're looking at your own work of the work of the others, that's, the whole point of this exercise, and so again remind you you will. When we finish the section right here, take these fifteen somewhere else, pick out a take these hundred, pick out a top fifteen balance between the art and the information, with the final arbiter sitting in between.