Introduction: Vision Explored
Everybody how's it going? I'm chase jarvis I'm coming at you not live but pre recorded from telluride, colorado unfortunately I'm unable to join you all in seattle I'm here working and uh couldn't dodge my responsibilities uh but that doesn't change anything for me. I'm very excited and pleased to introduce to you guys are next guest for the creative live weekend workshops it's a man who really needs little to no introduction you probably know him for his amazing books that took the photography nearby industry by storm this last year one within the frame and to vision mongers what I love about what david's doing and what is teaching you guys this weekend is it's not about aperture and shutter speeds and all the technical stuff that dominates the photography rhetoric these days it's about something that's arguably a lot more important and that's vision and you're gonna be an amazing hands I wish I could be there tio walk through step by step with you guys I'll be checking in as I can bu...
t you're gonna be in great hands with david and uh without further ado it gives me great pleasure to introduce a good personal friend and someone who is gonna take you guys on a great journey this weekend david dishman david I find buddy push take it away and have a great time thanks a lot I don't think I've ever done a virtual high five before was pretty cool um well, welcome here and and to you guys also thank you. We've got people from kind of all over all over the map and all over the globe. I am I'm extremely excited about this weekend also nervous, but they say nerves are just a form of excitement, so I guess that's good, I'm very nervous and excited, and so let me do a brief kind of overview of where we're going with this weekend today we're going to talk and this is going to be a little more cerebral than some of you are comfortable with, but we'll just talk about vision we're going to talk about what is it? How do you recognise it? Do we have it? What are the challenges in recognising your vision or to the challenges in honing or refining your vision? Because photography is about vision it's about, you know, it's a visual communication of something that you know otherwise you might as well just pick up your camera and shoot whatever and and how would you know if it was a good photograph, if not for the fact that it came munich ated something, and so we're going to talk about vision and maybe sub in some different words and and that sort of thing here's my premise my premises this there are three photographs three images that go into a final photograph the first is the image that you envision you see something you react to something you even you plan something but it's this image that you see then there's the image that you capture with your camera and then there's the image that you refine some of us who do that in post production in the digital dark room the better you are at the second too with the capturing and the refining the closer you can come to that first initial thing that you that you saw or you reacted to but s o that's the first thing the second thing is the better you are at even understanding your vision at recognizing it the more intentionally you can choose your tools right just like if you were to write a song you don't just write random words down and then pick up a guitar and play random chords and just throw it out there you write a song is something that you right out of your own intention you you've fallen in love you've fallen out of love you know and so you write a song about a pickup truck and and you know in all of this stuff and you get your guitar and you put the pieces together so that not only do you express yourself which is the first thing that matters but so the person that's listening to the song has some idea of what you're talking about if you write a song about heartbreak and you do it in such ambiguous terms that everyone thinks it's about, I don't know stock trading or something, you know it's like, well, clearly I did not do a good job of communicating because I didn't want them to learn about, you know, stock trading. I wanted them to learn about heartbreak, and I want them to feel heartbroken when they hear this song so it's very much the same thing, and what I'm arguing for is a more intentional, mindful approach to photography it's, not rocket science, it's not even really profound navel gazing it's um, it's figuring out it's, it's, discovering and then expressing your own vision and right from the get go, we should probably redefine this whole vision thing because people get, you know, there's all these questions, and we'll answer some of them and I encourage you. Please send in your questions via twitter and that sort of thing, because this is the stuff that I find people are very frustrated with, and if there's a reason that my books have resonated with people it's because people, they understand an aperture, they understand the shutter speed when it comes to actually understanding visions little it's a little harder and that's a good thing it's meant to be hard because all of us are individuals you can't just read a book that says here's what your vision is and here's what it should look like and because no I don't know that you are the only one that knows your vision and you're the only one that knows how to creatively express your vision so we're going to talk about that but if you feel uncomfortable with the word vision because ultimately that's just a it's a metaphor right I mean some of us actually pre visualized in our head or visualized others don't others kind of have to kind of stumble on it I actually worked better with words than I do with you pictures in my mind so for me the word vision it's still only a metaphor maybe you're thinking I don't really have a vision because you're mistaking that for some you know you actually have like some visual in your mind before you take the picture if you feel more comfortable than substitute the word intent or intention what do you intend to do with this photograph are you wanting to get are you wanting to say something specific are you wanting to make the person at the other end of this photograph feel something specific? Your first job is making yourselves happy you've got to create images that you love and so in one sense you know when you give your images for critique and people kind of well, I don't like this and I don't like that you need to listen to that, but at the end of the day too bad you know, because I make my image is first for me and I get a kick out of people that give me feedback so well, I don't really like this I know I'm not creating micro images so you like them I'm creating them so that I can express myself now I hope you like them but you can't please everyone and so if every time someone says all you really should put this in black and white, you change it to black away and that someone else says, well, you really should be shooting you know, in hd are you really should be shooting you're gonna have a million people telling you a million different things to shoot you can do all of those and never get any closer to your vision. The first question is what is my vision? You know, to heck with the million people on flicker that are going to look at my photograph, what do I want to say and narrowing that and that's hard and this is going to frustrate both the artists and the geeks because the artists are going to have to realize that expression is as important as vision you can have all the vision of the world if you can't express it it's just kept inside and most of us get into photography just want to get it out we can't not express ourselves so the artist they want to get it out but how do you do that? Will you do it through your craft and you have to be good at your craft so later on in the weekend we're going to talk about the tools of our craft and how we use them because predominantly we think about this is a technical endeavor it's not a technical endeavor I mean technique is there but is primarily an aesthetic endeavored it's all about the look what the image looks like is very important you know something like this I shot this in in venice last year this year sorry a couple months ago and I could have shot this in the middle of the day I could have shot it with one of five different lenses that I traveled to italy with I could have shot it at any one of you know however many shutter speed and aperture combinations I could've shot it with filters without there's a number of different choices that went into this particular frame this is the one that expressed my vision now it's not revolutionary it's not going to take the art world by storm it was just me and venice going men that's beautiful and man is it ever serene and yeah, the time it was also, I was pursuing a personal project about loneliness, and I really wanted to capture images that had a haunting kind of a feel to them. And so I chose to shoot after the sun had gone down when the light was more blue, longer shutter speeds meant bluer, but again, I could have chosen and the number of combinations I could've framed it differently, eh? Could've stood higher, I could got lower, I could have done all kinds of things. I could have shot a big panel, there's so many things that come into play that are not technical. I mean, you could have shot this technically perfect in thirty different ways. I could only have shot this aesthetically in the way that matched my vision in one way for this frame, and I think the more comfortable we become with the idea that the technology serves our vision, that you could do it in the right way, you can get a perfect, whatever a perfect exposure is twenty different ways. The question is, what way do I want to do it? Which lens do I want to choose? You don't choose your lens based on, you know, how much crap you could get into the frame I allowed to say, crap, I don't know you, don't, you don't pickett, based on how much stuff you can get into the frame, you picket based on how it behaves and what the photograph looks like. I mean, it sounds like a small thing wasjust, you know, it's, only the look of the image. Well, the look of the image is everything, and the look of the image is ultimately it's one frame, one two dimensional frame, it's, the only thing you've got to express your vision, anything outside that frame, it's not there for the viewer, it's, not there, and so if, if you're one single image doesn't capture your vision or your intention now, you could do it in three or four different frames, but each of those frames have to capture a certain something. So all of these things are really important. That's why we're talking about all of this stuff, the geek is going to be frustrated by this so that's the artist being frustrated because you're gonna have to get good at your craft, the geek is going to get frustrated, cause you're already really good at apertures, and you could probably tell me what you know, full f stops are, and you know, all of the math and hyper focal distances, you understand that stuff, you're going to be frustrated, as if you're kind of lean more heavily to the geek side because you have to do some navel gazing and go what dough I actually want to say with this right if this is not that's squeezed the shutter button down and get thirty shots and pick one that doesn't suck right if that's your goal if your goal is just to create images that don't suck you can go on statistics and hope that one out of every frame hundred frames is ok if what you want to do is actually create something that says something there's a reason you went who I want to take a picture of that I mean maybe there is maybe you're just running around shooting everything in hoping it turns but if there is a reason that you point your camera something and take a photograph then there's there's a vision there you have a vision so that's kind of the beginning that's that's our starting point why do we need to do this? Well I think I think I've kind of covered it in the sack will kind of get into some conversation and we'll go to our an international studio audience there are too common frustrations that I that I get from a lot of people on myself included when I'm shooting and experiencing the frustration of not getting what I want the first frustration is my pictures don't look like I want them to and the second frustration is my photographs don't say what I want them to and the reason this is important is because the look of the image is how what your photograph say right so you have to figure out what I want photographs to say then you have to figure out so if that's what I want to say what is the best way for me to communicate that I mean how do I want them to look that way to say that thing right? So if you go and you you're shooting something like this you could just play with a bunch of things you could spend all night throwing filters on and changing lenses and hoping something doesn't suck or you could take a few minutes and b mindful you don't have to be super reflective you don't have to engage in zen meditation and and you know read some ancient script to get to a point where you can sit down and go what is this scene saying to me how do I feel right now when someone looks at this photograph what I want them to look at how doe I want them to feel is this a happy photograph? Is it a sad photograph? Is it is it a photograph that I want people to be drawn into it I think about is it something that I want them to react to one gesture on emotion like a picture of a really angry guy? Well that's not a happy photograph so how do I now if I want them to feel angry or curious or whatever that emotion is, how do I make them feel that way? Because every choice you make is aesthetic as well as technical it serves an aesthetic purpose so that's kind of some of the navel gazing stuff, but before we go on with this I want to maybe here from you and from the folks that are, you know, kind of out there on twitter land about your frustrations, my teaching style is very organic, you see, I've got like ten pages of notes here and, um, we're going to disregard a lot of them because what's important to me just like when you're photographing you have certain elements and every time you photograph in a different place the light changes and the elements change and everything's and you can't shoot from this. So the same thing with teaching is I I want to address your needs and your concerns and this is a journey we're all going on together but it's a really large group of people and so it's going to be hard, but I want as best as I can to be sensitive to the fact that everyone's got frustrations everyone's looking at the photographs at some point saying and myself have been doing this twenty five years I still look at my pictures and go my pictures don't look the way I wanted them to, but they don't say what I want them to how can I get closer to that first image, which is the one that I saw in my head or imagined or conceived off? How do I get closer to that by shooting and post producing a photograph that most closely expresses my vision so that's kind of where we're going but I'd love to hear from you on sort of you know what are your what? Do your frustration? I mean, obviously you guys you know, those of you that are online you're spending your weekend watching me? God knows why there must be a valid reason you could be doing a lot of other things. Some of you flew here and you came along a long way. Why? Why this? What are your frustrations and why? Why vision driven photography? I mean, you could have you could have taken zax workshop and, you know, I mean, and and those kind of other workshops are important, but why this one? Um so yeah, just kind of getting into the whole photography thing from from the get go, but it regardless of what the medium is, I feel like it's still, um the battle that all creators fight of, you kind of start with the blank space and trying to find a direction for that I mean even you know, for a lot of stuff that you do with the landscape you know, you kind of go out and isn't making a story from that like you just oh, that looks cool and then and then I'll apply my vision from that or is it you know, um I guess trying teo um hone in mohr on the tools not just with the aperture and shutter speed and whatnot, but you're surrounding environments and moving with different light and whatnot I feel like kind of kind of rambling on the, um the point but I guess just fighting against that whitespace of where to get going of when you walk outside and oh, that looks cool shoot that, um you know, again, what is that saying? And how often do you find your vision after you've shot the frame? Does that make sense? Yeah, and actually that's a that's a really good ah good place for us to start. I'm going to try to retain that because I've got an answer for you both out because this isn't as easy as I sometimes make it sound like, oh, you just have to go and discover your vision and take your camera and we'll be fine it's it's a process and we all know the thing is, you know, as many different visions as there are represented by as many people piping into this there's also a cz many different ways of working creatively the process is very, you know, from one person to another it's completely different and some people are extremely intuitive and they will go out and have these repeated on rico chamber so moments where it's just like sitting in there you go and other people like myself slave over and do take a hundred frames intentional frames but because my process is not just I see it my hat I take in the process is I go in, I shoot, I'll walk you through the way I sort of shoot but it's all kind of different, so we'll talk about some of that but the process is really important I think if you go into it just thinking, oh, I'll just learn a few texans there are no rules or techniques on this workshop in terms of oh if you just do this, you'll be fine it's really a question of being mindful ongoing what is my vision? How do I discover and then especially and I talk about vision in macro and micro terms there's big vision like as a person and then there's like these scene by scene for this what was my vision for this image? And the one is informed by the others we'll talk about that as well in fact, that was one of the questions on twitter uh I've ours crafts and lexington minnesota said vision define define it as broad for all of your photography or narrow for each shoot so yeah, you know I try actually not to define it and I think that's been the frustration for some people is I haven't come out and said vision is this specific thing and this is how you express it and this is how you know you have it because you don't were all different and what your vision is will be different than what my vision is but generally yes so maybe um no, I'll talk about it later but yes I talk about in several different terms and maybe that's why we need sort of some different words because we're using the word vision to encapsulate your hole kind of thing but then you also have the vision for this particular image I think it's probably ok that were ambiguous this's the arts ambiguities good the more you try to nail down an answer to a question I think you know the closer we get to propaganda rather than actual art right there art is very good at asking questions propaganda is very good at telling you the answers I'm much more comfortable comfortable with the questions which makes this you know, people were going why am I paying for this workshop is just going to ask questions um but I think the more comfortable you are with the questions, the more you find your own answers to it so we'll talk about that as well even just understanding that there's two kinds there's a big vision and a small vision I think makes it a little less, you know, mythical and people looking for some huge, you know, revelation this is not any big revelation this is a process this is get your knees dirty, get down with your lenses and and take a bunch of photographs and I talked to myself all the time when I shoot trying to figure out what my vision is because I'm not a visual like in my head like, oh there's my vision once in a while I hit it off and I know exactly what it's going to look like and I see it I happen to react at the right time and my camera does what I wanted teo and all the pieces work out together but more often for me it's a struggle it's getting out there and kind of you know what? I carry a notebook and I write down like, if I've got time over the course of a week and I'm like these I shot these venice shots over the course of five days in venice and I've sat down with my most skin and some overpriced cappuccinos in venice and I just wrote down my mood, like I had a list of visual inventory of how I felt and what I what I wanted to express, and and that was kind of my mackerel vision, but then when it came to actual micro vision, I would sit, and I would kind of talk to myself, so don't be afraid of people thinking you're completely crazy, let's, sum, let's hear from others of you? What what are you thinking in terms of this weekend and your frustrations and kind of questions? Do you have sort of overall, I think, for me, because I work with teen girls primarily that, like, in a scene like this word. So landscape it's not changing a whole lot or amy may be changing, but you're not dealing with another person, and so I can have a vision of a young girl of a teen girl that is is very different than her vision, you know, whether it's, her insecurities or her fears, or her nervousness about being on a shoot, and so sometimes it can be a great connection and and helping them to feel better. And then I get what my vision is of them, but but I'm almost struggling with their vision of themselves and changing that to my vision, which is usually betterthan what their own is, and, um, so that's really a struggle for me sometimes is is how do I how do I get these other people? I'm dealing because they're people they've got their own visions and their own stuff going on in their head and it's almost a battle sometimes to tryto to try to get there it's that sometimes what I struggle with, I think it should be a battle I think it always should be, and I think one of the reasons we all get so frustrated about this stuff is somewhere along the line we believed at some point we're going to master this and it will stop being frustrating, right? If you go into it with the assumption that this will always be frustrating there, there is no artist out there that maybe I'm speaking presumptuously, but I really don't believe there's any artist out there that is not perpetually frustrated because their vision always outpaces whatever their medium is painters you know, I mean, they go crazy for crying out loud, you know? I mean, some of these artists trying so hard to express themselves and photo shops doing something weird here they go totally, totally just obsessed with their art and that sort of thing because it's not easy and I think it will be easier for us if we come to grips with the fact that this will never be easy because it's, always an act of collaboration, you're dealing with the collaboration between yourself and the technology, the collaboration between yourself and the moment that may never occur again. And so you have to get that, you know, so called decisive moment. And I mean it's, even if you shoot an image at one one hundredth of a second, that means there are ninety nine frames in that second you could have shot if there is such thing as a decisive moment. I think there is that's, you know, if that's a one in a hundred chances in one second of getting that thing it's it were battling odds here. That's, what makes photography so amazing is that any of us get anything decent. So I think if we begin to let go of some of that frustration right off the bat just by simply going, huh, it'll always be frustrating. It will always be a battle. And rather than us getting frustrated that this collaboration is taking so much times, kind of embracing go, this is just going to be a battle it's going to be a collaborator and let's see how it pans out, because especially when you're working with other people, it's not unlike me, working in different cultures where you don't speak the language and you're trying to do munich ate something and the first thing that happens when having a beautiful conversation with these people and you go to take a picture and the first thing they do is one of these, you know? And you know, you're thinking this is not what I intended for this photograph and you have to work through that kind of weird cultural thing, or sometimes they'll be very gregarious, outgoing people, and as soon as you bring up the camera, their culture says, you know, smile for the camera and you think, oh, you know, it's not that the smile is the be all and end all but the smile was revealing who they were, and I was having this beautiful moment then as soon as I brought the technology up, it was gone, so there will always be these challenges in these frustrations. That's what makes it so amazing? Though, when you look at an incredible photograph, you respond, especially the photographer you go, oh my gosh, I know how valuable that images because it took a lot of work to get it they they don't, you know we take one hundred pictures, one of them might turn out forget the ninety nine that didn't work out don't get frustrated that's the grease that oils the wheel that one that turned out it's worth a ninety nine right. And so I think, I mean, maybe I'm wrong. But I think if you embrace that frustration, I think that's, kind of the first step in us going, okay?