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Creative Expression in Photography

Lesson 4 of 10

Chasing the Unattainable

Joel Grimes

Creative Expression in Photography

Joel Grimes

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Lesson Info

4. Chasing the Unattainable

Lesson Info

Chasing the Unattainable

So now we're going to start building our foundation, right? Yeah, we'll talk about some cool stuff. I mean, have we yet? I hope so. I think we have to. All right, well, why don't we just let you jump right back in? All right, so we like we've been building already on a solid foundation, but we'll continue. And and what I said before is I don't know if this is working, but I like to kind of just keep going, keep going. And so now I hope you believe you're an artist, you believe it and that you have a voice it's built into you. We live in the greatest age of photography and all these tools we have the web we can share. I mean, just having a website is an amazing thing. I could turn someone to it say, hey, look at my work, having an ipad iphone with me, I can promote recruit and I talk a lot about that when my kids, the art of recruiting, getting people in front of my lens that's a lot takes a lot lot er to win somebody over alright, so chasing the unattainable I love this session because...

it kind of again member said, I want to shatter some of your definitions and his shattering definitions it opens a door for something new and so when we open the door to something new hopefully there's growth in encouragement inspiration in whatever. So when I was in school um in college I wrote a paper he was like my senior year so I was you know, getting up there should've been spartan smarter than this but I wrote this paper and in the text of the I said that talking about when the painters we're around and then photography came along there's that shift people believed a photograph was really right and so and I cast at that point still kind of looked at photography is reality I take a picture of todd it's a todd past hob that's riel well, my professor gave me a big fat f now actually getting the big fat f wasn't a surprise I'm not a very good writer, but he sent a note come talk to me, you know, in my office hours so went in there and he said, I want you to think about photography is not reality missing a representation of reality and so I rewrote the paper maybe think a little bit but even today most of us think that we photograph somebody take a picture it's reality to some degree and so I get people coming to me all the time joel um there's this way you can hack into your cannon firmware and you can load anew color profile that gives you more realistic skin you know and you're all image like I'm color blind right number one um but it's like what are you chasing what are you chasing reality never achieve it no digital camera will ever achieve reality so I have a client let's say it's ferrari I wish I did have that client but let's say my client's ferrari and they want me to photograph their red ferrari and there's a certain color red fedora ferrari that you gotta have it nailed right but no photographer on the planet can photograph a red ferrari and be exactly accurate with the red it's impossible now we get his clothes we can and we could say that it's a representation of that red ferrari but it's not really red ferrari and so why is this important? Because as an artist my goal is not to represent reality I'm not representing the world around me in reality in fact even if I could even have my camera could represent red ferrari exactly read do I want to now for client maybe but when I did a book on the navajo indians I spent two years in the field I looked at that book as a art book and when it was published there were curt critiques on the book and some of the negative critiques were what about the poverty on the reservation? What about the drunks and gallop on the streets of gallup I didn't see show any of those as an artist I want to show the best of what the navajo people were that's my vision so I'd pass over things and shoot and so even from that perspective as as a subject matter I'm excluding and including things don't you say that you free yourself from responsibility if you take on a task like then don't you feel that you have a responsibility to tell the whole story there you go okay if if that's my goal as as a human on this planet to tell the real story then yes but as an artist what's my goal to create beautiful photographs that's my goal in the back of the book I said this is not a book that represents the navajo people completely it is a book that represents joel grimes is an artist something to that matter that's what I wanted and I got criticized but that's okay and so but as a photographer with tools and I go out and create something I make choices and it's not my goal is not to achieve reality that's my goal and as an artist I have freedom to create in a world that allows me to be a representation of me that's the process but again if my goal was to photograph the poverty or a struggle of a nation at war or whatever s honorable goal but even then you make decisions you make choices when you cook the camera, what lives to put on and there's a part of you that comes through and there's a lot of war photographers that have manipulated the scene to get their point of view across and there's lots of cases of that photo journalism but um so I look at a photograph as as an artist here I am an illusionist I am selling I call it a fake, but I'm selling something that's not real I'm taking elements that are real like I say person jumping through an alley, but that person is not actually in that alley I photographed this girl elizabeth in florida the alley is two blocks from my studio that's not reality she's never was there. I don't think ever in your life I know she wasn't jumping there, so what happens is when I look at myself as an illusionist with all these tools, the world's at my fingertips so I have a responsibility to sell the joel grimes concept and put it down so I'm not chasing reality so that's why I can put a girl in an alley as an artist and get away with it? I believe I can get away with it because I'm illusionist I'm not chasing reality and so look at my look at my retouching is that reality? No, you know you have a strange pair of glasses on right but the fact is is I'm creating that I'm building this drama I'm building a mood, I'm building all these things emotions that come into play we'll talk about that a minute, but I have the freedom to do that I'm an illusion so when you'd look at david david copperfield or criss angel one of those guys that has the big sets or he's no magician they're creating an illusion now we all know it's a trick right for the most part but they do it so well it's believable you're like that elephant disappeared john you know that a photograph is a trick so it has meant magician you expect the viewers to know that you do a trick, but they had impressed that they get confused, but when you show a photograph people expected to be close to reality okay, maybe a picture like that about a picture like the one with the tree there it could be it could be reality could be a trick, so we'll think of this back when photography surfs first started coming into the homes back in the early nineteen hundreds or before just before that I'm trying to think when garrett types or whatever came along, but the perception of a photograph was so real that you and they've got documentation of this that you never put a picture of aunt betty and your bed room because ewan changed unclothed in your bedroom that's how real people believe a photograph was and even today we still have that perception that's really and so um and that and that's like even on a magazine cover look at a magazine cover there's not a magazine cover today of a beautiful woman just not retouched it's not real but even in camera un retouched slapped on a maggot and I'm gonna cover it's not really still an illusion and so my point is this is that when we let go that my goal is to capture reality we can't achieve it so I tell this story when I was in school I did uh track and field and before I did u mass expected track and field and that was a long jumper and at the time I knew the world record was held by bob beamon and it was somewhere around thirty feet and so let's just say that bob beamon and I went to the grand canyon when he was at his best and we both jump off the edge of the grand canyon and try to get to the other side he jumps thirty feet I jumped ten feet where we both end up the bottom so no matter what you do no matter what profile you used no matter what lindsay's used what camera? What sensor seamus ccd whatever it is will be on chip whatever it is that you're using that tool it'll never achieve reality once you understand that it's like okay what's what's my goal. So people always ask me, do you color uh correct your monitor colorblind. Can you do that? Why would I do that? You know what? Your profiles with this all this? I'm just creating images that fit my vision is an artist. I'm not trying to achieve reality folks. The minute I go that freedom so that's why she with wide angle lens up close or whatever I do, I do some really creative things. And even even when I look at my lighting by lighting, sometimes you go away there's two sons, right? Are two sources edge lights that's not riel. Well, I'm not trying achieve reality. I'm trying, I'm trying achieve drama and so as an artist I get away with it as a photographer, I have to defend it differently, right? And so that's the beauty of but not hanging on to reality. So from the moment I conceptualize an idea to the moment when I hang a print on the wall, these air siri's siri's of creative choices that I'm making and on lee mi is an artist can make constantly making choices, but here's the problem with this we get very nervous at making choices and why is it? What do you guys think? Rejection, fear of criticism so if I do this and I put it out there some of that uh you got a girl in an alley and she doesn't look like it really fit right? So then you get you open the door to criticism so we don't go down that path why we go down the path that's most safe but don't be afraid to make a decision so now you're an artist you're not a photographer, you're an artist, you got a vision you like it you put it out there and you may have to defend it but you know you say that's just what I that's what I was what I was thinking this wasn't my brain that's my idea and remember we talked about yesterday country western versus rap not everybody that loves country western loves rap probably very few or vice versa so who's your audience someone that loves wrapping your producing country western don't be surprised if they don't like it but we are we're shocked oh my gosh, it hurts because you're weak, fragile in secure and so um but if I if I recognized number one that I'm not trying to achieve reality that I can achieve something that's not reality and get away with it and so that's the beauty of that's the beauty of being an artist it's so much fun it's so much fun to work within what fits me and then let it be

Class Description

This course is part of the Joel Grimes Bundle.

Every photographer is an artist, but few consider their photographs works of art. In this one-day online workshop with iconic photographer Joel Grimes, you will learn how to ditch ratio-driven staid photography techniques — and how to embrace the artist within. By unlocking your true creative potential and tapping into your artistic intuition, you will radically transform the quality and range of your photography.

This one-day workshop will teach you how to identify your unique way of seeing the world. Joel will walk you through every step of the creative process, starting with the human condition, how we define art and what constitutes an artist, and why chasing the unattainable is a process crucial to your success in the industry. A photograph is not a reality; it is a representation of reality.

By the end of this workshop, you will understand how to harness the artist within, take bold risks, and make a name for your unique style.



I loved the course, i laugh because Joel and I are kind of alike in General. Hey Joel if you like Ray's music you might like A guy by the name Amos Lee, Different than Ray but great song writer.

Kelley Hurwitz Ahr

One of the things that I love about Joel is that he has a great message along with great photography! I find him to be relatable, an expert in the field and quite motivating. Highly recommend any of his classes.


That was excellent. Loved the seminar and you hit on a lot of great points when it comes to defining yourself as someone who uses photographic equipment as a tool to be creative.