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Create Powerful Photo Essays & Personal Projects

Lesson 28 of 35

Instant Editing and Time Use

David H Wells

Create Powerful Photo Essays & Personal Projects

David H Wells

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Lesson Info

28. Instant Editing and Time Use

Lesson Info

Instant Editing and Time Use

I like to tell people that the h stands for homework, which everything we've been talking about is fundamentally your homework, right, and giving you homework for three days, and it's actually surprising you haven't or run off screaming because all we're doing is setting up the things you have to think about. Sometimes I've said, also, it stands for happy because I sometimes I'm happy, harried harang, but we're not gonna actually tell you what middle name is. It is important, though, because when you start branding yourself, I have this problem. I have a double problem. One is that there's, a computer guy in tennessee, who's been, um, on the web much longer than I have. So david wells, dot com hi, david, and so he gets my emails occasionally, and about once a year, he'll collect them up and send me the ones that people should have sent to me and so he's actually getting a slowly growing archive of prince because I sent in prince. Now, then say, thank you so much for doing correcting pe...

ople's problem, and then the other problem is you may or may not know there was a pretty well known baseball player by the name of david wells, who pitched for san diego and then new york, and I think, and describe believe in boston, I might be wrong, and when he was in boston, it was great because it was really good for restaurant reservations. You call a place up, and just for you can hear in the in the is he really come and they say, yes, you get a rest or reservation, no matter what. And then I walk in and they're heartbroken, but so your name actually can be a big part of your branding, and we're talking indirectly a lot about branding at the moment, though, we're actually talking more about narrowing your personal project or photo essay. And how do you start getting tighter? Because we've gone to this process now, I feel you should feel and I feel comfortable talk, too. You know what you want to do? You have some sense of what the long term goal is, what the intermediate steps are in a little while by their we're actually going to take one of you one of the time, bring the table out here and actually start looking your prints that's the segmented here today to give you some very specific feedback to start narrowing in. And so what I want to talk about next, and this is something any photographer can do, is what I call instant editing, and this is something I started with the foreclosure project and it helped me a lot I'm going to show you my newest project from india in just a second where I have been using this idea of instant editing even mohr and the idea was really simple to share the top images from one day shoot with about ten people right at the end of the day well I'm photographing in order to get some input it help me hone in on which images were working which things I wanted to do in terms of my future shooting and also which ones to add to the collective body of work and it's something that's completely a function of digital technology with the battle days you have to wait for the film to get processed you're going to make prince because you're not going to send the original slides out but I'm now able to send stuff literally the end of the day of the shoot to certain people get some feedback and then go forward and I encourage you to try to do that when you can further on your privacy because you're gonna reach a point where you're gonna be doing a fair matter regular work I'm guessing on each one of your projects when it kind of picks up a life of its own so the idea is essentially to crowd source your editing early on from people in and this is really important out of the photography field don't just stand on ly two photographers, okay? Because the whole point of getting input is do the images work for people not just for photographers so the list that I sent to is sort of a mix of people um in terms of some people are clearly photography expert some people are more interested in subject matter some people are just my friend, but these were all people who whose feedback I value and so one of the things to understand is you want to crowd source for editing later in the project to get people input from people in and out of the photo field and the topic field. So you're actually a large range in theory of people who you want to get input from and aiken think of each one of you a certain point time you're going to start interacting with people who will know the subject matter that you're working on okay? And they made it may or may not be photographers there gonna look out for the point of view of the subject and they're gonna be able to say to you, you know, I see what I'm picking on you, cindy, but I see I like you like about the photograph, but it doesn't actually speak to infrastructure for example, the way that this might and so they either given idea they pick a different one than you liked or some suggestions so this is how I did it I would literally make pfc of different shoots and send them out to get feedback while I was on location again on location rather than after the fact and so this is from the foreclosure project and if you look at some of the pictures you'll see these were actually looser edits I'm not picking what is the only one on the page on the left for example, I've got three different versions of this closet that I photographed and then on the page on the right I've got a horizontal and vertical of largely the same situation and I send this stuff out to people and I say give me feedback some other examples of it and you'll notice that this is a loose thread it than I've been showing you and that's really on purpose I know when I'm out photographing I had this one ideas I said before I take a lot of pictures I should loosely and then I'll go home we'll go back to the hotel or whatever and end it down but not so tight to get to the final one because I want to know number one for example on the left page which of the three birdhouse pictures work and then also if it works really, really well doesn't go into the final editors, it just kind of work well or am I completely off message another one is well, these were actually on the left maybe a tad hard for you to see. Those were actually like the stickers on close the pant size clothes uh hand size into getting close something had them stuck on their walls. All this stuff obviously is found none of it's opposed, as I mentioned before and these air just if pdf proof sheets and there's a I'll talk actually later about work flow in the software that I use, but I go through and pick out the ones that I think you're sort of the top twenty or thirty and then make them into to prove she's these pdf proof sheets, which are fairly small in size, and I'll email them to people when you're on location and you have to send data to ten of your friends. How does that work? What's the best way to send your pds and you just send e mails and just yeah it's, just an email it's actually email with what's called bcc you know bcc is you have the regular dress and then you have c c where it sends teo everybody but everybody sees everybody else is, and you have bcc, which is blind carbon copy and then on li you and the other person seeing nobody else sees so what it does is it actually goes to me and then it goes to ten people in the bcc list and they know that it came for me but they don't over the other nine are not that they would care but it's just I don't like to splash other people's emails and it literally it's an emits a little ian email attached is these pdf proof sheets it's great question and the edit that the subject line is instant editing and then the location because these are people who have worked with regularly they're getting prints from me they're old friends their support my efforts himself so they kind of know where they're expecting yeah it's ah it's just a simple email on the max at least if you go into it's called color sync profiles and I don't have a slight about it unfortunately but it's their color same profiles is a way to reduce the size of your pfc it actually shrinks your pdf so they're very small and I do that party out of courtesy the people of sending him to but also I'm not I don't want to send it hi rez giant pds I just want them to look at the pictures it's all about looking at him you get him you don't I don't want them sort of writing me back to ask me questions or anything nothing I'm antisocial but either they get the pictures or they don't and if they don't tell me so this is just a um a list of recipients of a typical thing this is in march of two thousand thirteen I was in florida and I was photographing some houses in florida and I was doing this instant editing that I was talking about and so I'm sending it to a different list of people for a friend named abigail who is a photographer on and she's a printer woman guy name my friend mark avery who's also a photographer in the picture editor barbara used to be a photographer but now she runs a workshop danza photographer david grows a friend uh dick is an editor mats of former photographer nancy is not loves photography but she's not a photographer per se I can go on nathan sarah these are all different people have different connections to me are people I trust who's input I trust and frankly you could put this work in front of almost anybody except your family and your loved ones and stuff and you certainly can the three of you I mean, I'm assuming you all gonna exchange emails afterwards because you now have a built in critique you right off the top and you all know how to speak the language and you know, we are now capable of articulating for each other what works and what doesn't work and not threat not being threatening that we'd discuss that at great length so there people who do that for me I send them out to them and the next morning I'll send out ten or twelve of the next morning, I'll probably have five or six because people are busy, I understand that, but I'll have some right away and then within a week, almost everybody answers me. So then I take that information, and this is an example of a this point time, this guy named dan picked this many pictures, and then in this case, michael picked a different set of pictures and that's the whole point of the endeavour, and then what I do is I'll take, and what I've done is I've actually had very small lo rez is of the actual images that's the quickest way to track them, and then I put them all together, and I do it's ad called aggregating too fancy name, fancy way for keeping track, and I noticed that certain pictures like the top row where they're all blue, a lot of people picked that picture, so that means that that one was working for a lot of people. So part of it's just a sort of mathematical calculation of what works for a lot of people and then part of this actual real feedback, which I'm going to get here in just a second. The yellow one that's highlighted right now what it is, it's, multiple versions, some horizontal cols! And some verticals that people couldn't decide between but the picture was generally working, and so that's how I track it that's how I aggregated and so here's some examples of the kind of written feedback that I got from one friend in particular with such a a nice piece of feedback that I'm going to show the whole thing with you. And so she wrote me that were, I think, there's six categories of feedback. Um, she said, I see the following categories, great shots on its own, with or without the story. It's nice to hear that great shot, and it tells the story and that's their different categories. It's a really? I thought it was a great wait. I'm not saying all your feedback should be this way was the great we're breaking down. Um, good shot and important to the story. Okay, too good shot that doesn't does not, uh, augment the story just okay shot doesn't do justice to your photography like something occurred to you at the time, but it's not coming across to her and my personal favorite, what were you thinking or is there such a thing of weight as wasting film at your age? It is a good friend obviously was perfectly comfortable not it was going to give you feel like feedback like that, but that it's one way to do it and you'll find some of the people literally sent me back. They're top ten and that's it, some of them go on in great length, and the aggregate of all of that goes in there and effects a my editing and be, as I go forward, shooting and that's what I should do for you. So I'm a this came completely out of the foreclosed dreams project it's part of what I think, what somebody asked along the way, but how do we keep motivated keep fighting new pictures? I'm so fast in getting to the point of finding out what works for other people that I can very quickly say, you know, I'm going down a dark alley and it's not gonna work as a theme, so I won't let that idea for photographs die, or I'm going to try something else new because I'm actually getting somewhere and this feedback speeds up the process and it's completely function of excuse me of electronic mail in pds. So I've been talking a lot the last couple days about my current project, and so this is the current project that I'm working on, and I alluded to it a couple times in the last two days. I think yesterday I mentioned that this idea that around a two year point you have to at least look back in your project, not two years from when you start photographing it because you all are just the beginning phase of gwen your little further on, but two years from when it's starting to go and you will get there all I have complete faith, I'm not sure when, but you'll get there, so I don't say two years from today because it may take you a few months or as much as a year to get it together, get the access, figure out how to take it to the next level, but at some point I'm your project starts moving forward, you're feeling comfortable, you're photographing well, you're getting access stuff like that. And so from that point on, I have this sort of mental two year calendar that if within two years all of the grant applications and the exhibitions and the museums that I submitted to the garrison submitted to if none of those come back to me positively in two years, frankly, they don't come positively in a year, I start to worry, I probably go back for another round of feedback or talk to people I know and say, hey, help me out here you can you can you can tell me what's wrong you need to be comfortable with that um and then at the end of the two year point I often think it's time to just say I have to give up on this so this project was about the eighteen month point recently it's about eighteen months point now and I just got word before I came out here that it's going to be exhibited in september I think september to november at the watson institute of brown university and is watching institute of international studies again they don't care about photography at all they just love photography because it tells the story they're not photography it's not a photography venue I actually had to shows it brown and it's not because I live in rhode island but because I've been ableto hit that button the last show I had a brown was in about ninety five, ninety six and it was the israeli palestinian project and it was connection with the middle east studies department of brown university it wasn't about photography again and so again it's this thing your subject matter is so important so the project the project is called half past the cost of india's modernization and you're probably the cost of india's modernization I think you get right half past you kind of right, so I'm going to see if I can keep your attention long enough uh india's on a massive nationwide road building campaign cutting shops and houses in half to make way for roads the work shows those houses and the shops after they're cut their typically caught up right to the point where the new highway will be and they're not cut beyond that's the interesting thing about this is they don't demolishing the houses they cut them right whether I was going to be a lot of times people in these houses are legal so that half the house remains sometimes they're illegal and they just cut him in half and it's and sometimes the roads this place houses into people owned them legally they are compensated but again the houses are typically left intact where the road is not um so you can see both the expressway that is um consuming the land and the mutilation of the building displaced by that same highway. And so my argument is india's air racing a piece of its history and its headlong rush into modernization. So there's about ten or twelve photos here and I'm just trying to show that they're building a road next to a house but the only car cut part of the house down literally partly because people want to continue living there partly probably because they don't want to displace these people I'm sure there's legal and political reasons, but there's a perfect example of this house is fully functioning from there in this's, one of the road markers and most but not all of this is in southern india and the state of karnataka, where my wife's family is a staircase in a building that was again partly cut. I think the color works, I'm deeply prejudiced, but I think the color works I'm trying to make it contemporary thes buildings by definition they're all about the color and stuff and I'm just in the process like I said, I've been photographing it we did most of the work on the last two trips I did the india and because I can't go back easily now I'm mostly in the promotion dissemination stage, hoping to go back later this year and do some or the watson thing gave me kind of a boost to feel like yeah, I really should keep doing some more obviously these air way used to be shops and they just leave parts the walls right there the national highway authority of india comes along and literally marks the buildings with stripes just like that and then a crew use a guy with a tractor come along and mash is just that part of the building down, and I've seen a little bit of that actually to me that's the least interesting part it looks like a construction site to me it's not about the building it's about what's left behind and how like, in this case, you've got people's houses and shops that are just opened in the wind same thing here used to be a clothing shop, and I'm really kind of excited about this project party because I'm prejudice and mine, but mostly I've been doing a lot of work on globalization in india, and this is one of those rare projects where I actually get before and after in the same frame, which is a hard thing to do. It's pretty easy to show after it's easy to show before they're waking up, brushing his teeth on top of his half cut house, and they're, of course, is people are so used to functioning in things like this that they just go on, which to me, of course, makes the photographs that much more interesting, so they tore the stairs down, so they build a bamboo ladder to continue to get up and to go back to the last section. This is all done with the olympus cameras, although the micro four thirds actually, is, you see a lot of bright light, and I'm just working really hard to make really good raw files with lots of information, because I don't know how big the prince is going to be, the watson show prints aren't that big because of the space there in, I wouldn't be surprised if that leads to other shows that I aspired to do, and therefore it's quite possible that there will be bigger prints because the files will certainly go much bigger. And in terms of where I want to go next, this image here is kind of what I want really want to try to go next to actually see if I could find more and more space of where the people's lives are literally interrupted. Cut right in half there, it's something that mohr. You kind of someone it's get luck. Time of day people out there and stuff like that. But that's one of things I'm looking to add to the project. And this is a lie. I see a lot of us. Just one end of the building. I mean it's almost like a beautiful thing, right? Somebody did a really nice job cutting that building in half. And then I was working right after I did that. I did a little work in north india and where some of this tearing down of buildings for roads happened years ago. And you can see by the age of the building, in the age of stuff around that that these people have actually been living with us a long woman, they adapt to it, which is sort of part of the reality on the ground there. And so now I'm going to just go through some feedback that people gave me along the way this is the kind of feedback and I'm not saying you're going to get this kind of feedback but you want something sometimes they said some people are going to say that works that that doesn't work but you really want things like more more information tellingme or about what works? What doesn't work? I noticed all the color typical of your other work in india um I need some or context in some cases with the roads this next person said this was an editor actually this goes back to who's going to know what kind of stuff and it would be expensive, but I want to see the aerial of how the cut houses look that might really drive home the idea that they're being cut and so I wrote him back I can't afford a plane and get also getting permission in the india would be a major undertaking, but I keep I keep the idea in mind trying to do what are often called poor man's aerials photographing from taller buildings, water tanks, bridges and stuff like that so that was one of those dick makes a suggest and I can't do his suggestion, but it does affect my shooting when I go forward um what works for me is the images where the house has some contexts or some background in the surroundings um one reason I like the images despite the fact they're no people around them it's because the it provides the context of the scope and scale of buildings and the scale of the highways that is consuming the land and displacing the buildings and I stop on this last one cause that second second sentence is such a good explanation of what I'm doing it became part of my project proposal so when the other thing you're doing, you're not fishing for compliments you're fishing for feedback but also some people who give you that feedback we're going to be so articulate they can help you write that project proposal you're starting to write and if you get stuck in a certain point you send the workout that you may get some kind of feedback that'll become part of a project proposal um I like the ones with a sharp edge over the ones that have rubble that was helpful to know um a good jack's position of new roads and remains of the oven abode when photographing this is the bottom part section my oh no when I was photographing I often felt like the road was in the house and the people we're looking looking at the work got the idea um and then some more feedback it feedback I like when you can see through the streets in the highway and there are people in cars to illustrate that contrast this idea, the airless kind of repeats over and over. I almost wish there were things that were more structure to show. How was with house where the house was when the house was there? The ones I didn't choose. Well left out because the house parts just look rubble next to a street that's an important thing. That's. Why? I kept circling back in the final edit. You saw a lot of stuff of the people. Some of the women who keeping the houses and the clothes lines. Okay, so that means less rubble more about in use. Um, and this last sentence about the surgeon walk over there and so I can read it. Um, I always like to want to the people and the ones with surgical cuts. They give the idea that surgeons could not care less about their patients. That actually became a line in my project proposal, because that's such a good way of saying it right? I mean, you're getting hit. So you crowd sourcing your editing and to some degree your crowd sourcing your project proposal, writing and it's not you necessarily steal those lines, so they are good lines, but you're also just using them in your thinking process. Um but when I find the most compelling of the ones with people in the scenes which isn't a great surprise but it reinforced what was working for the people I was sending this stuff to, um with the demolished buildings there settings and the last question this the second part of this are you thinking this is a body of work as a new body of work or stand alone images? I'm kind of tornado my editing I like some of the images I don't think they necessarily tell the story alone but my work is a larger body of work and so one of the questions that some of them the beautiful colors and structures and some of them become part of that story and um I don't I'm still kind of going back and forth the connection they're being who I want to have them as the storytelling objects you want to have this beautiful photographs especially when they get bigger become about the culture and so this person was sort of pushing me to think back and forth one of other comments that didn't make it into this was the connection that I was trying to create or not create between this and the foreclosure work because there's some overlap but there's some difference right? So those are the kinds of things that I was looking for and that's the kind of feedback in terms of um what to shoot how did change the next day's effort of the next locations effort, and also some really great lines to use in my project proposal, writing so that's what I call instant editing and that's what I would suggest think think about when you're project reaches a certain point and not something new right away, but that's going to help you narrow it down and also it's gonna have to use your time more efficiently, because everybody here has another job, another life, and so you have to use the free time, what little free time you have this official news camera, so are actually leading right into my next little peace, which is on time use jim's or any questions on that last part before I go on. Yeah, so an easy says how quickly does david get an exhibition literary journal publication of any kind before he re evaluates? How quickly, how quickly do you get an exhibition or literary journal publication of any kind before you re evaluate? Oh, I'm sorry, I'm having a little trouble in the sense that I guess what I'm saying is, if I don't get one within two years, then I definitely reevaluate, ok? And I think that was the that was the question the actual outside is two years, but I have to say that once it reaches gets up to speed which is different than just starting but once it's up to speed after the first year if I haven't got something good I start worrying I'm working hard it's sending it out and then because the time cycle on the grand see exhibitions the journal's publications all that is so long they can't expect anything in sixty or ninety days so the one year point I start thinking of the two year part I really start wonder if I might give up and so I'm lucky with this project I just got at eighteen month point got my first sort of affirmation great cathy s would like to know I have a frog in my throat how often do you over overrule their choices? I almost never over rule their choices remember back early on I talked about the ideas I'm a commercial photographer I'm a prostitute my goal is to make work for people out there to get my wife overrules me and other people all the time because that's what in her role as an artist she feels and that's her belief is it's more about her opinion authorship and her point of view but I oh I and almost never overrule the aggregate all overrule any one person but the reason if an image gets ten votes in that process I just showed you clearly means something's working for a lot of people so I don't overrule that pretty much it all great, good, good. All right, so let's, talk about time. Youse all right? How do I use my time? There's this weird idea that a professional photographer is procedure someone who walks around all day and just take pictures that would be so nice in a troop it'd be nice. Though. I've been a professional for over thirty years, my work life has never, ever been that simplistic or idyllic. Esso in spring of two thousand thirteen, I tracked everything I did for seven days, and I do mean everything and it's certainly a lot of minutia, but I think at the end of the you'll understand what I'm getting at for anyone considering going pro, which you all you are and you aspire to be doing spending some time looking at how you use your time is enormously important thing, and the idea is not so much now because your students and you in this transition period but you want to look at people like me who supposedly know what we're doing to see how we're using our time. All right? So in spring in twenty thirteen I tracked everything I was in india was my wife, who at the time was on a fulbright fellowship thank thank you very much. It was very kind of you to send us to india on your tax dollars and it was not a typical week in some ways it was a bit more relaxed believe it or not unusual since we were nearing the end of her fellowship um but on the other hand, it was a pretty typical week where I was working in a dozen different kind of rolls or projects all right, so I'm going to show you a spreadsheet here in just a second for seven days every half an hour's blocked out of what I was doing I don't only work in half an hour block so it's not like I stopped and started, but I wanted to have some way of just tracking what they actually do for I think there's one hundred sixty eight hours in a week if I believe if I now math is correct one hundred sixty eight hours in a week so how am I going to use them so there's my little chart and I'm going to eventually fill them in with and these air just quick categories promotional marketing actually photographing for my projects, assisting my wife on her project emailing travel stock, commercial photography work of my own personal time and I get to sleep once in a while, all right and so it's going to end up looking like that, but I'm going to actually fill it in more slowly with for example the first one is this's promotional marketing social media for myself and pretty much every day of the week. I was doing some of the different times a day. This is photographing for my own projects, my own stock photography, etcetera. And if you look there's, one big shoot for the, uh, cut houses project that you just saw. So on, I think that's that's monday of that particular week, I did a half a day's shoot for the foreclosures. What for the cut houses project. Sorry. Um, assisted my wife with her project some prep, and then some shooting. And then some. In this case of hanging posters up, I did emailing every day like clockwork. I mean, just you got to do it every single day. Um, travel preparation. At the end of the week, we actually flew to north india. Most arrested time was just sort of preparation for travel. Um, stock, commercial work and other paying work. As versus my personal project. I'm trying to separate those out on purpose. And then this was a personal time. I'm allowed to have meals time with my mother along my family. And then you let me sleep, right? It was a busy week. It's, not a busy week is pretty normal week. Its a great exercise, by the way, that the the exercise at the end of this section is I'm going to say you should start doing this at some point up again for the two of you maybe not right now because you're in the middle of this process but you want to start doing this and the other job is clearly going to take a lot of time but you do want to be paying attention to you know, I just burned now on behalf on social media and it wasn't related to my work maybe I shouldn't be um I brought my time down into those eight categories to keep things simple again in no particular order I spent thirteen and a half hours over seven days emailing sorting, answering emails I spent about nine and a half hours over seven days either traveling because we went to north india or preparing for traveling. I did about sixteen hours related to either shooting stock or some other kind of paying work isis said my wife on her project I did about uh fourteen point five hours over seven days for my own project, which was the cut houses thing that I just showed you I did fundraising, promotional, marketing, social media seventeen hours right distressing I got to sleep and then I had personal time and so we can zoom in on it and you can see here I broke it down a little bit tighter starting almost every morning and we probably all do this with with email right? You check your email first and then and it's a great exercise really really every photographer who's thinks they want to do this is a pro should do this there's no right or wrong answer here but if you really say well did I spend half a hour on that um sometimes I had I had an hour and a half for dinner sometimes I had thirty minutes for dinner and you'll notice one of my favorite things is to read the new york times on my iphones white when I'm in d especially so I don't feel so disconnected so if we add up all the numbers I worked eighty hours during this particular week which is pretty typical for me and this exercise is not meant to scare you from away from going pro is designed to give you a realistic breakdown of how you're gonna use your time and again I keep point back to you because you're in this transition period but once you go out and you start making that transition from student actually doing it full time you really but I gotta be cognizant of your time um I was taking pictures less than ten percent of the time that's the question that people always say how much time you get to spend taking pictures ah good week is twenty percent bad week a normal week is ten percent um I was managing my stock business, taking care of paying work and using social media for self promotion for about twenty percent of the time. Travel time was less than usual. Um as was my time emailing this particular week but in the aggregate helping my I mean helping my wife was a little higher than usual, but in the aggregate this is a pretty typical week and so at some point in time you really want to do this exercise that's actually the sort of lesson in the uh called action at the end of this section. So again, I promise we're going to ask late between pictures and personal projects there's a personal project I did about seven years ago what I call the water project these are all just extreme close ups of moving water, no politics, no investigation, nothing nothing, nothing more exciting than really, truly going out to somebody water with the tripod of cameron's from film because this was the battle days of film um and sitting there looking at the water for a long time contemplating in taking pictures and it's a complete departure from everything that I did before but it was very lot of thunder in the time I did it I had a few shows I had a friend of mine runs a gallery in london he sold the entire show out so it all that all that alone almost paid for the project and certainly paid for my airfare back and forth to london and I'm not saying to go and do these, but again, this is a different part ofthe what I do and I'm going to talk a little bit later when I talk about my revenue streams about fine art print sales, I don't sell a whole lot of fine art prints my wife does I'm sure there's a lot more stuff with galleries than I do um I have a pretty narrow fine art market it's mostly for, um I would've called corporate art peters hospital interiors, building interiors, office parks and stuff like that. As you might imagine, this stuff does very well in that market. The other pictures to do very well in that market or the train station pictures. Those are about the only two sets of pictures that I have much luck selling in that kind of a market. And when I was starting out working in the gallery role, I met a gallerist and I showed him the pesticide poising pictures and he's very nice, and he said to me, you don't get it said no, he said that work the pesticide poisoning pictures, it doesn't pass what he called the kitchen wall test and the kitchen wall test apparently, is your stumbling down it's saturday morning you're a little bit hungover. You want to get your coffee because he had a hard night the night before and you're looking around and you're only half awake and you look up at the piece of art that you just bought last week that's on your kitchen wall, this would be, you know, you'd like to have this on your kitchen. Well, you'd like to have this in your kitchen wall, right? Because you think, oh, that's soothing and sort of atmospheric gets me relax. Stuff like that in his point was the pesticide poison pictures would never fit. I'm somebody's kitchen wall because it's not the kind of stuff that you want to come down and see in the morning when you're a little bit not firing on all thrusters. So now that I went out and made this work, but because of that, because what was going on in my life and a lot of other reasons I work for a few years on this part time and made this project on did and had continued to sell some, mostly in that corporate fine art hotel interiors, hotel lobbies market

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.



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.