Vision-Driven Photography

Lesson 7/14 - Cliché Is Not What You Shoot, but How Your Shoot It


Vision-Driven Photography


Lesson Info

Cliché Is Not What You Shoot, but How Your Shoot It

What is your vision journals process? How do you go about doing that journaling that you've just been talking about as a really good question? Like everything in my own personal creative process? It can be a little messy, but I just I have a notebook and I just I always have a pen, and I'm always just making notes, so when I go to a place like a town, I do my word for it is visual inventory because I'm I'm creating photographs that are a representation of the thing that I experience in a town. If I have a week in a place, I will go, and I will make note of everything that I in my mind go look at that, and I will write down, you know, new york city, you know, you write down yellow taxi, and then you write down yellow taxi and then, you know, but after a while, I mean, if you shoot the first yellow taxi, you see, it just may not be the best yellow taxi and may not be in the best light. It may not be in the place the, you know, there's a lot of it just because it's a photograph of the yel...

low taxi doesn't mean it's good photograph, um the same thing with anything you know a rickshaw on the streets of old delhi goa rick shock like like like like well that's your first rickshaw right or your first giraffe in africa and used you're going to have a picture of a giraffe or rickshaw or yellow cab it may not be the best one I just write this stuff down and so I'll write down for example africa I would write down, you know, giraffe texture because I love the thie texture of the skin elefant and then I would write down impressions about the quality of light morning, morning, light dust and just the things that kind of are warmth anything that just is an impression whether it's an emotion whether something I've seen occasion tree the big thorn trees very sort of stereotypical I would write these things down lonetree on hill anyone that's watching that went on safari with me would you would find that funny cause that's half the time that's always shot alak lonetree on hill and we were actually going to call her safari the laundry on the hill sorry, because that was just one of those things that kept coming up and coming up but the first one you see may not be the best one so I take these visual inventories and it would be the same I think if you were doing even a one hour portraiture session with someone you'd be writing these things down or at least keeping track of them I mean an hour's not a long time too be writing copious notes but you're taking track of this like maybe the person that you're photographing has a particular way of biting you know what their bottom lip when they're deep in thought and you take note of that because that's one of their quirks and it may be one of things you want to avoid shooting if they're going for a particular look but if this is about portraiture session where you're trying to really get someone's personality those quirks are an important part there is as important to that person as thie yellow cab in new york city so you're writing down these notes so that when you see that yellow cab because now you're looking now you've gone you've made these notes I find any time I write things down and pay more attention that's why I write it down not because you know, three years later needed I just I know that if I write this stuff down, it'll be in my mind and so now when I'm walking through new york and I'm going for lunch every time I see a yellow cab I'm thinking it was the light right what's this neighborhood you know, what's this and and then I may see a situation where I go look at this if only there was a yellow cab that's a good sign for me that I should park my button wait for a yellow cab you know, put the camera on a tripod you know, maybe I want a motion blur on the cab so I set the end I just wait you find a great background wait for the foreground to appear so these little inventories that I take kind of help me figure things out because I'm not a reactionary shooter where I just go oh yellow cab click and it's the perfect yellow cab in new york city shot it's just very few of us to make that work but if you can kind of keep track of these things and then eventually you've got a whole list of things imagine if you could take three of those things that were great first impression and you got a shot where he could combine them then it's even more of that place because a picture of a cab in new york city may be very new york to a visitor, but what if it was a picture of a cab in new york getting, you know, hitting a pedestrian in times square that is like, oh that's really new york? You know, I don't know maybe they have you seen the movie elf there's this great line where we'll fear us like the yellow ones don't stop I thought that was funny my favorite scene anyway um any other questions from ah from the internet would you mind just repeating that question that she asked her would you mind repeating the question a lot of people on the internet didn't actually hear the question what was the question? The question what was my visual journaling processional so yeah so I mean I'm just writing down impressions I'm just writing now one word feelings thoughts you know blue cab fire hydrant ah you know any of anything that you know lots and lots of people or no people or like when I went to venice I was taking track of all of these things that I did not want to photograph like so so surprised by more action in the place you have a picture in your mind of what venice is going to be like and then you show up and there's these kitschy tourist stalls and everything is packed with tourists and you just like I want to get on the first bus and get out of here, right? But if you take note of thes things you could do one of two things you can say the's air all the things that venice is not to me like the more you explore the more you realize you know the venice I'm experiencing has nothing to do with these tourist stalls and lets your photo journalists that's been tasked to photograph the tourist saws, you can ignore them, create photographs that don't include those things find out what venice really is to you and for me venice was after those things all closed up and the tourists went home and I made a list of the things that I was really resonating with and yes, maybe they were cliche and yes, maybe they were stereotypical venice, but that's what I was experiencing on top of that, I was experiencing loneliness and rain and drizzle and gray and blue. And I just wrote these things down so that when I was sitting afterwards in the coffee shop thinking, what am I gonna shoot tonight? I would be reminding myself of all these little visual clues that I wanted, you know, and and so in the skate park yesterday it would have been lines and dust and mountain bike maybe or for someone like natalie, it would have been flowers and you know, someone found an old umbrella and there was theis you of found objects. All of those things would go into how you react, forget how anyone else would react, just write it down. It could be scribble that community, use your ipod, whatever whatever works for you and I think building on that and you just answered zack our own zacarias his question was not watching yeah hey yes he is people exact do not have anything better to do with your time but you already just answered it question which was as you work a location do you think about what? Maybe cliche about that environment and avoid it or explore it to make and make it better? I always explore it at least at least initially because I really believe cliche is not in what you shoot it's in how you shoot it because everything has been shot and like kittens and rainbows and stuff and I carry this over from my comedy days because there is nothing you can really there's nothing you can talk about is a comedian that has not been explored by another comedian and it's to some degree everything is can be cliche it's not what you talk about airplane food as a subject is not cliche particular jokes about airplane food are very much cliche how you approach it can be very original so it's not again it's not in what you approach if I get to a place and I'm a zac's alluded to there's the issue of cliche rather than just ignore it and find something else which you could dio I prefer to explore and say how can we turn the cliche on his head? How can we use the suggestion of cliche? Because there's a reason things or cliche people keep going back to them because they're there are wealth of you know something's resonating that's why we keep talking about airplane food is comedians because it just is so truly horrific and everyone knows it is and they say you know it's funny because it's true we latch onto these things so I think it's the same thing in photographs you just have to now take that unique perspective that is yours alone and figure out a way to express it without venturing into the realm of cliche so I think it's always there's never a situation where it's a good idea not to explore an idea you know, because that's probably the area where theon thie unexplored stuff obviously the unexplored stuff is and that's the stuff that gets us out of cliche so you gotta gotta punch through itand explorer and that sort of thing top secret stuff going on with her internet people um yes, please. In the chat room, um, question reads like this isolation being away to focus I'm a little confused about howto to show complexity without confusion. Many of my images are too busy, but complexity is often the story I want to tell I that's a really good question how do you talk, uh, complex story without it being too complicated and I think that the similar challenges how do you tell a simple story without it being too simplistic and I'm not sure I can answer that, I think it's a question of again, you ask yourself what elements are absolutely necessary for the story? So in the case of I want to tell a story that's, a little more complex, you're more open to telling a story that has more elements, but those elements, I think, still all have to be a part of the story. So the question is, how can I do that without all of the other stuff? And, again, it's really a question of how can I simplify this it's? Not really a question of whether the stories complex or not, whether the story is complex or simple, is not really relevant. The question is, what element do I not need in it and get it out? If you take that one element out and you've now lost the heart of your story and it's no longer the way you want to tell it, put it back in, but everything else, so I'm not sure if I'm explaining this well, I think you need to tell a complex story in us as simple away as possible, otherwise all those details they do, they clutter it up and they make it very difficult to and people start going, what am I looking at? There's there's too much here, so I would say that like as as I've said, my compositions are often very simple and one of the things that I'm trying to do is make them a little bit more complex give them a little more depth, a little more texture this was part of that effort was to include mohr elements without diluting my story with too many elements and so I put on the wide angle and I got in this close as I could and I was playing with the lines and that's one of the reasons I chose to blur him, I shot at a number of different shutter speeds when he was sharp, I found it was too complex because I'm I I was drawn to too many places now that he's blurred my eye, says there's, no detail there it's just a mountain biker it's not relevant who he is and I can look at other things when he's sharp suddenly it's that one element too much and by taking an element away I don't mean take the mountain biker away I mean take the sharpness of the mountain biker away and I may have to chosen in fact there may have been a lot of color in this quadrant I may have gone you know what the color is is getting in the way of me enjoying the story and grey scale the image again, I haven't taken a physical element out of the frame I've simplified it by removing some of the color so you can have a complex or mark for me this is his voters complexes I get I'm baby steps right? But I've still kept it a simple asai possibly could and I've removed as much as I could and part of that for me again was removing the sharpness that occurred with the show with a faster shutter speed was one of the questions earlier about this photo was why you chose the tent while he shows the filter color and how did it fit into your vision so I chose it because I was looking for something kind of a little bit um I mean, my thought about this image was just urban grit was what I was thinking and I tried black and white and it didn't have the warmth that I wanted because I liked you color I'd like the warmth that was under there I like sort of the concrete concrete has a color and I just I really liked it it's my first inclination was to take away the color, but I also found that it kind of made it a little harder to tell what was going on um and so I put the color back but I don't want all the color and so I just played around until I got that feeling but I went into it saying what do I feel about this image? And I knew that I wanted after I figured I wanted color, I knew I wanted some of that kind of warmth and so I just brought back a little and it's just across processing, I think in fact, it's just one of light rooms, creative cross processing presets that I just applied and it seemed to work for me. I again, I this was a five minute job in the hotel room getting ready for so in the end, I may actually choose something very, very different than this, but I need a little more time with the photograph. Um, but you can still tell a complex story, you just have to tell it in a way, that symbol remember, we've only got one frame. This is not a movie, this is not a play there's, not a lot of room for all of these various characters. You have one moment and you have to strip away as much as you can and still keep it as complex as possible. So I I'd be interested in whoever was tweeting that I would be interested to know if they're looking at this if you know if my answer satisfied them if they feel that this is a complex story told in this simple a way as possible or five just completely skirted the issue um so feel free to put out put that one out. Um, yes, please. So I have a question about vision, and so you're talking about taking risks. So yesterday, obviously, shooting mountain bikers is not something I normally do under the freeway, so, you know, taking a risk shooting things I don't normally shoot so some things where I wasn't even shooting people, um, and I'll do that, I have no problem doing that, but then I find that, like, something switches and me when when I get the shot, I think the first one was when I got nathan with all of the columns, and I went, oh, okay, this is it, I don't know, like I wake up or something, and and then we were shooting natalie, and then I shot chris and I was shooting you, so I and I find that so I'll I'll take the risks, and I'll shoot the other stuff, but then I don't really like it. I mean, it just doesn't resonate with me. So how oh do you identify whether it's you not taking risks or you staying true to your vision because they could look the same way? Like, if everybody had my shots always have people in them, they they don't always look the same but there's just a certain thing that I always like and I gravitate towards I don't know I'm not taking whether or not I'm not taking risks I think is a really good question I think um the differences uh how do I put this? Um there may be a difference between what you shoot and how you shoot it in the sense that you know is a photographer I don't I don't I don't always want to reinvent myself that's not the goal, but I do want to tell the stories that I'm telling in in different ways in new ways I don't you know I don't want always repeat myself and so this for me is both staying true to my vision it's because I look I don't like it I was really surprised cause honestly I thought I'd come out with nothing I liked and but I look out and I really like it but it was taking risks and I think you take risks even just creative like even if you like nothing from what you shot yesterday, the fact that you do did have these little moments where you go oh, that was really cool you may actually go home at some point be shooting something you really love and remember those little creative exercises and the fact that you know you were shooting natalie against thes these columns those pictures of natalie may just be what I call sketch images they may just be once he put in the back your mind and and you drawn later so the creative exercise doing that is always worth it yeah even if you're polluting your vision even if your doing stuff you never want to do you're you're increasing your vocabulary visually how you know whether you're risking or not um I don't honestly I don't know I don't I don't see shooting the pictures of natalie as risky I mean I don't they weren't I mean that is something I like to know I think we already are on the you know on the bigger side of things I mean I don't really mean like little tiny risks moment by moment and I mean like shooting stuff you could just totally fail at and very often steven press field wrote the book uh called the war of art which is ah powerful book and everyone should read the war of art in it he talks about the idea of the thing we fear most is actually it's a good compass it indicates what we should actually be doing we should be trying those things and so I I don't think every artist should all the time be taking risks I think that when you encounter one of these forks in the road artistically where you have an opportunity to take that risk I think we should explore it and so the gate name of the game is not every day go out take creative risks because I'm not an artist just so I could be always risk taking I'm an artist to create sometimes that involves risk other times it actually involves period of repose where you're comfortable with your craft and you're just creating the stuff you're happy with. But again, when you get to a point where that's beginning to a plateau most of us will experience an opportunity to take a chance you could still keep doing this stuff and that's the thing about creativity it's not like you now you've ventured off you could only ever shoot this risky stuff keep shooting this stuff but if you have a chance to also risk something to a personal project that's a little bit scary do something that's a little bit different for you have a chance even toe shoot a project with a new lens if you're getting in a rut you know I often tell people especially commercial photographers we allow our you know, there's all this talk about marketing mission, that sort of thing it's good to have a marketing these it's great to have a marketing meeting but to let that become your creative right so that's all you're ever shooting you will very quickly plateau stop taking risks and get into a place it's like, well, I just don't shoot that kind of thing well, okay, but you're robbing yourself from an opportunity to expand your visual vocabulary and so I would say a risk for you if you're always shooting portrait's within eighty five ah, creative risk might be, you know, this week I'm only going to shoot with a twenty four and I know it's not a perfect portrait lens, but that's, what I'm going to shoot, if I always shoot on seamless white, I'm going to leave the studio and I'm going to shoot totally on something different, I'm going to shoot a black or I'm going to shoot outside the studio with that the light just take those risks, which are usually just venturing off the path we're so comfortable, you know, and everyone's got a favorite lens everyone's got a favorite framing I for the longest time was shooting on ly verticals and I had to force myself only shoot horizontal tze and that was may assignment for a week and then what happened? Inevitably I end up, you know, I'm shooting in on my call this is great and it's just it's almost like muscle memory forced me and I had to force myself now actually, I prefer horizontal as a storytelling medium, I just find it a better framing for a lot of because life happens horizontally, you know, it tends to happen this way because we're bound by gravity, and most of us aren't floating up and down so mohr of my images now are this way, so I don't I'm not sure if that answers your question, but I think don't again. The point is not to take the risks it's not like you know, the point of photography is risk taking, but when those risks occur, push yourself venture out, give it a try and when you haven't, like yesterday you could have walked in and done. This is just concrete dust, there's nothing here and and sat down and not taking the risk of just going out and shooting. Now, it's not a big risk, but you know it's a creative opportunity to take that fork in the road to see what happens and again. And, you know, when you start really worrying about something like a ho maybe this isn't that's the that's when you know it's a risk, this is a risk for me. I mean, I am terrified of doing this kind of thing because if you if you fail, you know I mean it's going live to internet it's not like you can stop it, it's like your words are out there, I can't bring them back. But I think you need to take creative risks and in your personal life, take risks is it's what pushes us to grow into change and as you take the risk and you realise actually that wasn't so scary think your vision also changes, I think the way you express things changes and that's the path too growing as an artist that you take that one little baby step and you go, oh, actually, I do like wide angle lenses and you go from a thirty five to a twenty for and and then suddenly going, oh, this is really and if I bring it in closer kind of scary for portrait work, you know you're not meant to go in close with a wide and then suddenly you realize you know my love certain stories told with a sixteen millimeter lens pushed in really close that may have taken you a couple steps to get teo a couple smaller risks, but it's worth it because you find a new way of telling a particular kind of story doesn't mean you have to stop doing classical porches with one thirty five you just found a new kind of element to add to your to your vocabulary officially, david, you risk with a client? Yes, absolutely um but again, it's not like when you decide to risk you are only risking I risk with a client once I've got the shot in the bag, and so I will go on assignment, and I will take creative risks. I will take a risk that I know the client will take shots that I know the client will not use, and I do it for two reasons. One if I'm creatively stimulated on an assignment and I'm shooting, backlit, stuffed into the sun with lens flare, the clamp may not use it, but when I then turn around and shoot the client, the image the client does want, I'm actually a lot more creatively involved in the process if I just go and I feel like I'm a camera monkey and I'm just like, click, click, do what the client asked, I'm just not enjoying, but my feeling is that client still hire me to take some of those creative risks, but again, not to the exclusion of actually getting the shot in the bag. So you get the safe shot you get, you know that you concentrate on the a roll stuff, but then you go out, ok, we've got, you know, we got forty five minutes before we wrap it up, let's, let's, try a couple fun things, and sometimes the client goes all that's great and other times you you know, client goes, what were you thinking? I was thinking it might be fun that's you know, but again, I have close relationships with my clients and I don't shoot for stodgy clients. I think it's important that you choose clients, you know, they don't just choose you. You choose to work with clients so off if you're working with a client that you just feel like there's no chemistry there and they don't buy into your vision, I question why you're even working with them. It's just not a creative collaboration. You want to be a part of it's, idealistic and yeah, you may have to I mean, you need to put bread on your table, right? So but even then, yeah, absolutely. It was a long answer, huh? I'm not good at this. Yes, I do. I do take risks and do you risk most of the time? Where do you stay in your comfort zone most of the time? So I, uh uh when I'm shooting for clients, well, that that's just the question on chat. I'm not sure we want to see you again like my my answer toa taz I know I don't risk all of the time, I think creatively you you take the risk is taking that divergent kind of fork in the road but once you've taken that forget a certain point, it stops being a risk you get comfortable with it, you become familiar with the new lens with a new technique and then there has to in order for you to keep risking you take another fork, but there is a period of kind of repose where you get comfortable with that and then you tell the stories and enjoy it. I mean, I'm not creatively at my best when I'm always risking, in fact, if you go back to kind of my performing days and why something like this makes me nervous because it's live and it's not scripted when I performed, I had a sixty minute show, I would go on my intro was the same every time my sixty minutes was the same every time, even the ad hoc stuff that that the audiences when they heckled me, which wasn't often, but there were these moments after one hundred shows, it was the same heckling, you know, and so everything was very so I got so comfortable in it that the show kind of got out of the way and I could really just concentrate on entertaining and it's the same thing for me with photography once I get comfortable with the lens or a technique, then the technique and kind of move out of the way and I don't have to take so many risks, but it's sort of a certain point. You get so comfortable with that technique that you're now free to keep using that technique, which was once scary and add something new at a new risks. So now you're comfortable with using a slower shutter speed in that new lens, and you're getting good with it. Well, now, it's, time to keep using that and bring in something else ad, you know, at a new lighting scenario, add, add something else, take take another risk, but don't you know, don't lose the stuff you've just learned, keep adding these things because it adds kind of layers of nuance, tow, tow, what you're capable of. I'm not really helping you finish this question, and my not so much no, and I'm not a good, like, tidy it up in a boat talking so let's move on, because I do want to talk about some of the challenges of of this sort of thing. Um, we were talking about discovering your intention. Um, what I want to do is I want to look at just a couple of the images that we shot this yesterday, and kind of just talk about your intention a little bit, and so here's a here's, a good example, here's this photograph of natalie todd sir, I'm gonna ask you about your intention and your vision for this image and I don't want you to get um and I want you include both your capture and you post processing I don't want to get caught up in you know, some big thing just what what were you trying to do? I mean to put it in really crass terms what we're thinking right? Pippi seriously, what what was going through your head that made you capture this? Um she had she had in a moment when we were just talking to her done this sort of flip with her hair that was really natural and and it just was this movement that she had done a couple times and so I wanted to capture that natural movement that she already was doing the actual capture is a little bit before what I would have liked to get um so her hair is up a little bit higher than I wanted it to be, but but I really like her look and I wanted a strong look on her because even though she's addressed like q, you know chic stylish she's in this grungy environment so I wanted her look to be strong and so that's why I want it now just out of curiosity there's a lot of there's a lot of elements in this in what goes into making an image like this so um you chose a particular focal length you chose a particular framing tell us about some of those decisions. Okay. Um so well initially I was doing it vertical rather than horizontal um but her arms were getting because her hair went out kind of so wide the second time and that's when you were talking about why don't you switch it? And I think that is one of those habits with I do portrait so often and I want to get I don't want to crop them top to bottom so I'm just naturally go that way and I wanted the long columns versus horizontally but with this specific picture with her hair going out obviously I like that her hair kind of keeps I mean almost keeps going like it could keep going. Um so that was why I did it that way and I actually like I mean, I know that you know your eye goes to the lightest spot in the picture, but, um I really like that there's light spots behind her almost like like flashing lights in a like a model on a runway or something and that's kind of how I was looking at them because I feel like she's so close to me in the front that that's where you go first and then you sort of see all the other stuff but that's just my vision well and it's your vision that matters because your photograph so um tell us about the focal length that used for this okay I'll tell you what um what what were you thinking in terms of your choices honestly it was it was dictated by the environment so because I needed to be on the same level as her I was standing on like a rock on a log and that was the only place where I could actually I wanted I was more worried about distance so I wanted her to be kind of there in my frame so I was I was limited by the rock I was standing on so I could be even with her but but in a sense you weren't you had a twenty for teo seventy lens on right so you could have chosen any focal length from twenty four to seventy so what about sixty see you standing on iraq on a log on a bump on a you know, whatever why sixty that was where I wanted her I mean that's closest I wanted her okay but you could have gone a little tighter you could have gone a little wider so I guess what I'm suggesting is why did you not make it a much wider photograph? You could've gone twenty four I was too distracting okay who would want you to start so I wanted her but I didn't want just her because I could do that in studio, so I wanted some of the environment I wanted some of the light, but I didn't want if I pulled way back then I would've had all the environment and she would have been lost in it. Okay, so so you did you had a consciousness of what you were trying to accomplish. This is a photograph about her it's, about it's, about playfulness, right? But it's not just about her it's about her playful in this environment, and so you made choices to include some of the environment too much because then obviously, you know, you're including so much that she becomes smaller in the frame or you have to get closer to her and she becomes comical or all of these things, and again you're you chose a very mean you chose the widest aperture you could you chose two point eight I'm guessing I don't wanna put words in your mouth but it's the same it's the same um, compromises you're trying to make you want this to be about her and her environment, but not so much of her environment. And had you gone too f ate those columns would have suddenly been visually very competing, right? Because one hundredth of a second at two point eight you could have chosen and I s o four hundred you could've chosen multiple uh, exposures and got a perfect exposure, you could have had a fade and a lower shutter speed thirtieth of a second or whatever, you could have ramped up your your I a so, what, eight hundred twelve hundred? But you didn't. And so the issue is not the perfect exposure, the issues, what do you want the photograph to look like, right? And you've got no, I'm guessing you didn't just make this, you know, this is just accidental. You chose not to use f eight for the for the aesthetic, right and it's because you knew what you wanted the photograph to say and look like, and so I'm not trying to make this sound more complicated than it than it is, but every decision that we make from which way we orient the frame because this's ah, horizontal shot the hair's going out like this if you frame it this way, um, you're telling a different story if you took cream it this way, you're actually telling the viewer, look at the photograph from left to right, look at it along the horizontal plane and it exaggerates the hair and you just couldn't have told this story quite in the same way had you going into this way, it was the visual message would have been different and you probably actually would have exaggerated the columns a little more and the photograph just simply would have told a different things so that's not to say it wouldn't also have been a good photograph it very well might have been it wouldn't have been the same photograph and so every decision that we make effects our intention of it david do you think some of those decisions could be subconscious absolutely right question very much and I think I think that we shoot intuitively many of us because we've spent a lot of time getting used to this stuff and becoming mohr intuitions kind of one of those funny things where it sounds like it just comes naturally it doesn't come naturally anymore than again going back to the illustration of the piano if you're playing piano or guitar your muscle memory is such that now it feels intuitive but it's only because you've got really good practice of unintentional practice and doing something and so now when you're thinking backgrounds too busy boom after point eight f one point to whatever you're not going the background is very busy I wonder what I could do to change that perhaps a you know shallower depth of field how would I accomplish that? Well, in the book I read you know there's no mental processes involved because you're so used to it it's just two point eight you know what you want you may even walk into this situation just go portraiture columns want the columns there don't want to point out you just it becomes intuitive, but at the beginning I don't think it is I think for any of us were going, huh? Um uh hideaway expose this and we're you know and that's why so many people will immediately just default to programme mode because the camera makes the decisions for you which in the beginning maybe okay, maybe you're learning to do composition or whatever, but I think I learned to do it all manually and as a result, very quickly I learned to make those decisions and not allow the camera to make them. So now it's much more intuitive for me, so I think shoot manual if you khun from right from the beginning shoot manually. Eventually you may go to a v motor or shutter priority, but learning to shoot manually that's, what gets you so practice that this becomes very intuitive and then you're just making the decisions. But again, yes, some of it becomes intuitive for some of us much quicker, but I think the more practice you get it looking at an image and saying, why does this photograph work? Why does it look the way it does your training, your intuition to be sharper just because a lot of intuitive people would I I don't I just shoot intuitively well maybe but you will shoot intuitively much better if you engage in some of these exercises and become more intentional and mindful about your photographs because some people just are truly they are very good intuitively but there's a reason they're good intuitive lead in the back of their mind they know this stuff most of us actually have to figure it out first and then put it back in the intuition box let's go let's go one more photograph and talk about intention in the in the photograph I won't take that one and uh this is chris is um so chris why don't you why don't you tell us about about this photograph and why you shot it the way did uh well like like the earlier shut when I got here what really attracted me was the light knows the most interesting part and uh this is near the end of the day and the bikers were coming down a slope and then just going around a corner and trying to stop at the top for us to do like a pose, but I noticed the light wasn't getting nearly high enough to actually get the upper body or the face or anything like that so I don't really focus on that I focused on the dirt and all the smoke coming up and I just um you had and shell I guess you have to do manual exposure otherwise you're not going to get it because there's it's probably going to be over exposed in that giant beam of light and then everything else is gonna have some light in it so I just set the shutter speed pretty high and the aperture pretty big so that I could focusing on something I think there are probably focused on the bike wasn't really paying attention to what I was focusing on because he was moving so we're just trying to get him kind of centered in the frame thea outer focus points on the five year pretty bad confusing eighty five millimeter because I was far away um the composition but it was there was a particular mood you're you're establishing here right I mean this is not this is not a happy shot it's not it's not a portrait it's you made a number of decisions about what you wanted to say with this image right? Yeah, it was it it's I was just going for super contrast and it looks really dark and dramatic and and that emotion comes from the contrast I mean I knew it wasn't necessarily trying to make it emotional but I knew that it would look emotional so I wasn't feeling really emotional about this actually in real life isn't like emotional at all so I wasn't really I wasn't feeling out but I knew that that I knew that I would get this effect by exposing that way right and and yet, I mean, I hear what you're saying, but there was something that you were reacting to I mean, you were looking at this guy, I'll look at that that's really cool even just for me this is this is a just a really it's just about dust and grit, right it's about how dusty mountain biking is and it's hard work and the fact that he's not on his bike and he's pushing it up a berm or whatever he's he's doing there there's a particular story that you're telling and I guess what I'm getting at is what what were you thinking that made you take this particular frame? This is just one of the frames that actually work for me, but I was going for this angle because I it was the only angle where the bike was actually lit up in the the biker was lit up and it's right at the top of the hill, so it kind of looks like he's reach something I mean, there's, you can't tell what's in the distance because it's so dark and because there's so much fog, so, you know, I'm not I'm not sure what it just looks like adventurous I mean, I'm not sure what kind of story telling but well, I mean that's the story right and again, I don't I think it's important we don't try to overthink this and make it tells some epic this's just a guy in a mountain bike but there is that there is an emotion there was a feeling to it there's I love that it's it's on this strong diagonal across the image and everything else is black you've really done a good job of isolating it and this is not overly simple this is not a simple composition, but it it is a story simply told I mean you've just you've isolated to the bare minimum if this is about dirt a mountain bike and a guy on a mountain bike this is it you you've got nothing else other than turn a mountain bike and a guy while he was on the mountain bike at some point right? So you have isolated down to its bare essentials and I think identifying that going what is the story I want to tell even if it's just the implication of a story I mean obviously there's no plot there's no character development there's no true story but there's thie the implication why is he not on his bike? Is he going somewhere? Is it coming from somewhere wise is so dusty? Um, you know all of this kind of thing and the fact that he's not wearing a shirt and he's got all these kind of dirty jeans or whatever all implies something and it's I think it's really powerful e done but again I remember you understanding vision doesn't mean you've got some big thing going on in your head it could just be old look at that and then going okay now that I know what I want people to look at, how can I best tell that? And I think that's why I chose this toe illustrated thing you've done it really well because very isolate the light has has allowed you to do things you couldn't have done it frankly, if the light wasn't like this, this would be a very un interesting photograph super you know I can't see cut off his head it's just you know, a parcel backside of a guy with a somewhat boring mountain bike on a hill of dirt you know, I can't think of a less something that interests me less than the backside of a guy with a mountain bike on the hill of dirt, but with this lighting the way it's shown it's fantastic and also it doesn't have to be big and complicated, it could just be his you'll see later could just be a picture about blue or about yellow or or whatever that's okay, we don't have to overthink it folks at home take a quick break for about five ten minutes, grab some tio drink with catalan, go to the bathroom and then come back. We'll continue to talk. What we're discussing is the challenge from going from the intent that we have for a photograph to that interpretation through the camera. And we'll start to address some of these, uh, these challenges a little more deeply.

Class Description

Join David duChemin, author of the best-selling Within The Frame, as he teaches you how to use your camera and the digitial darkroom to find and express your vision as a photographer.


Maros Matousek

I have just finished this great class and ended up with a notebook full of notes. I highly recommend this class to all who would like to take not only technically perfect photographs but more importantly who want to express their vision and create something that moves others. I read many books by David and still enjoyed and got a better understanding throughout this course.

Melvin Williams

This course may seem to drone on at times but I firmly believe that repetition or other restatement helps learning. I highly recommend David's course, his ebooks and his site. He gets to the important stuff about photography. He focuses on the conceptually tough stuff like vision, finding your own, and less on the "geek" technical stuff that, while necessary, is only a tool to accomplishing your vision, what you want to say in your photograph.

Phillip Ziegler

David is always worth listening to. The course might have been shorter given there was a lot of repetition and conversation that wasn't terribly interesting or valuable. But when it was good it was amazing. I learned a lot and it was worth the time and money spent.