Your Visual Language
I really wanted to talk about that final image that goes into a photograph in the sense that there's the one you envision, the ones you capture and the ones that the one that you post process, but I've given enough buffer tomorrow further to be some room toe overflow because what I want to talk about now is we've talked a lot of o vision, and we're probably visioned out right now the idea that you take your vision now and learn to express it in particular visual tools, the visual language I've been using this metaphor of language in the sense that there's now ons and verbs and adjectives and people there that stink it english grammar probably going, oh my god, I don't understand any of this all you need to understand that there are particular elements, there are particular tools in your visual toolbox, some say certain things, some say other things, and to understand what these tools air good foreign, I alluded to it earlier. Traditionally we have talked about things from a technical p...
erspective, so we talk about the one thirty five lens being a up perfect portrait lens and twenty four millimeter lenses. They're more like landscape lenses, told schiff lenses, their architectural lenses and that's kind of based on the technique and the application, but why they've become these lenses? I'm not really sure because I shouldn't have gus hold that red bull so fast I'm like really excited but now have gas um they all of them create a very specific aesthetic and so at some point someone kind of went hey this aesthetic is perfect for portrait and we've become attached to that idea that this aesthetic is good for portrait while being by implication this one is not that by implication says there's a right way to do a portrait and a wrong way to do a portrait and I'm not convinced that there is any more than there's a right way to paint something or in the wrong way to paint something this is art there are no rules there are really truly know ethics involved in the aesthetic of our image how we created absolutely their ethics involvement but there's no should when it it comes to what lens I use for this image and so when people say what kind of lens should I use for a I don't even want answer the question the question is what do you want your photograph to look like not are you creating a portrait or not? Because there's not one way to create a portrait there's there's many ways to create a portrait as there are different people and different kinds of aesthetics and so every tool has every setting that we use every tool that we choose ah has a very specific aesthetic and that aesthetic corresponds to our message if you decide teo to use a long lens, it will do a certain thing too the elements in the frame and that will communicate a certain thing if you decide he's a wide angle lens, it will do a certain thing to the lines and you will have to get a little closer and that will change your relationship. Everything has on effect on the aesthetic of the photograph, including your shutter speed including your aperture including, you know, the so that you use on I s so we'll change your dynamic range it will change your the digital noise that you get no that's getting better and and more and more eso is kind of irrelevant but still every setting that you use stop my encouragement to you is to stop thinking it in purely an initially technical terms and think of it in aesthetic terms. What will this make my photograph look like? Because at the end of the date that's the only thing that matters it's a perfect exposure is not the point. Frankly, these cameras they're so good if you can't even get an approximate exposure um you're not using your camera right because they can practically do it for you the question is not can I get a perfect exposure? It's what do you want the image to look like as we looked at some of the images earlier with chris's images where the mountain bikers were in the shaft of light and everything else was plunged into darkness had you allowed your camera to get a perfect exposure it would have but it would have given you a very different look if what you want is a specific look then you have to ask yourself how do I expose that it's not to give myself a perfect history I'm not to give myself those things are important but their secondary to what do I want the photograph to look like? So the question is well, should I you know should I shoot with my lens wide open? I can't answer that because I don't know what you want the photograph to look like so having said that there are a lot of elements that go into a photograph and I want to have a bit of a roundtable discussion about the elements that could go into a photograph because there are a lot of things that can change the look of a photograph I don't mean just technically right so we're gonna have we're gonna bounce this around a little bit and I want you to throw it out um we're gonna have to use the microphone so pass it around fact let's do this carrie let's start with you if you want to pick up the microphone and I want you folks at home to be thinking about this I want to and we're not going to make an actual list but I want you to think about what are the elements that go into a photograph not into a good photograph what are the possible elements that go in this is not going to be encyclopedic but I want it I want engaged in the exercise what makes what goes into the photograph so just maybe what list? One or two and then pass the mic and krystle have sandwiches go around I have to say that is like a strong sense of mood and uh either color or intentional that's what I'm looking for it mood is good but mood is what is created by that thing that's in the photograph by for example the use of light okay, so let's let's not talk about how someone is going to because the mood's only created when it when someone interacts with the photograph right what is within the actual frame let's talk about that so light and what light does is a great answer sorry people chat room saying so so that's good no give me another one. What else can you put into a frame? What else affects the photograph? Well, what what's happening in the brain? Uh, placement of your subject okay choice made you know, directions happening you know? Okay, so let's call that composition okay all right uh depth of field focus okay, sure contrast okay I would say color, whether it's highly saturated or something more um, or, you know, even going into black and white, okay, color, focus or lack of focus. Uh, relationship between foreground, background relationship between foreground or background. Okay. All right, now pass it back and let's. Let's. Do it again. Let's. Keep going. Morning. And just think of it in another question. What are the decisions? You can make us a photographer that will change the photograph. What you include or exclude, uh, the use of negative space. Okay. Use of negative space. Ah, with an s r we can choose what lens we use, which give us different focal lengths. We compress things in the scene. Move closer together, he's the white lines, uh, wide lens to pull things apart. Uh, framing based on, like, framing your subject. Okay, would that include, like, whether it's, horizontal or vertical like a person, two pillars? Or, you know, um, could be, like, two trees or something like chris framing it's, another composition as but but would would vertical and horizontal change them? Change the message? A swell. Okay, um now, we've we've just this is a very brief exercise we've listed. I don't know how many things I think about how many other things through our there's perspective, there's the fact that you can stand on a ladder, you can get down on the ground, you can change your lens, you can expose for dark, you know you could make it brighter. You could make it it you can rotate around the subject, there are on incredible amount of choices that can goingto a photograph I've got here. Framing color temperature is one of those choices. That's, the quality of light, there's, the quantity of light, there's, the way you worry into frame there's, the optics that you use, there's, your shutter speed, there's, your aperture, theirs, the lens that use there's, a relationship of this's thiss, for example, I shot the relationship of subjects within the photograph was is an important part of the story. And had I on ly shot these girls, I think this image would have been much different than the fact that these girls are separated from and looming above these boys and there's a there's, maybe not a commentary being made, but there is excuse me, there is certainly something being being said about the existence of gender roles in this society this is in northern vietnam and so the decisions that we make about where we place those uh affect what you're saying with the photograph there are so many things that we can build into a photograph and what I would encourage you to do is an exercise is choose a few images we're going to a couple of them now choose a few images and talk about every element that you see in the scene the photographer chose to use this lens the photographer made this exposure and that affected this the photographer framed it this way and that affected this the more we've come familiar with every possible element we could describe in a photograph the better our language of critique become the more aware because languages is not just away we say things the way we think and the more you communicate the more you are able to say the photographer did this this this this and this and the faster you get at it the more you will be able to transfer that into your actual photography you'll look through the frame because that's all we're doing we're looking through the frame this is mia's a photographer going here's what it looks like through my camera you will eventually be able to look through your frame and be able to see these things very, very quickly not as an encyclopedic list not as a checklist but you'll be more aware of these elements and you go where really like the color on this oh but look the shadows oh what if I moved over here hey what if I got down and that changed my my angle you become more conscious of all of because there's a lot of things that could go into it I think people think we just pick up the camera squeeze the butter the button ifit's on programme mode you're practically good to go these pictures take themselves right it's like cannon or whoever the company says you know they've got these ads like chute like a pro and I just want to kill a guy in marketing because I'm like really that's all it takes is a good camera like you're not doing any good for any of us it's like you know do they say that in the in the art stores you know they flog paintbrushes to painters you know paint like picasso use thes brushes right it's like I have a typewriter type like stephen king I don't know it's ridiculous and yet somehow we keep buying into to it so I'm going to I'm going to show you a couple of images we're just gonna pick a couple and I want you to talk to me about the decisions that were made by the photographer what what makes these photographs whether they're good photographs or not is not the issue the question is what went into these photographs? Um okay, this one is going to be fairly small I guess I didn't give give a high rez version um what decisions were made what gear was used to tell me everything you can about this photograph to use a tilt shift? Well, this is not a time for questioning because because it's interesting because you like use the blur for motion you know but then like there is that person who's in focus that's not blurred it all which is throwing me off like how did you do that but really good sense of motion for sure okay, pass around let's talk about the image um uh definitely a wide angle lens I could see a people are stretched out on the edges of the frame so we captured a lot more detail. Ah, smaller aperture was used it looks like everything looks pretty sharp it's blurry because it's moving or something but so I mean, tell me how how how did I how did I make this image? Ah, well, if it was, if it was like a longer shutter speed and you're dragging, I would think that everything moving together would would be fairly sharp like whole whole car is moving about same speed so the people on the edge of the car it would would be just a sharp is that person to the left of the frame that sharp theoretically I was panning with this it was just that I was panning as they came around a corner so my pan was was quite a tight pan on a wide angle lens and it just it it just has a particular look att someone coming around a corner as you pan with them is different than someone going in a straight line is you pan with them it's just it's a different aesthetic eso and I tell you that only because you know that the point of this is not really conjecture how I got that particular fact it was a cz much a surprise to me as it is to you um but the point is to go look at the photograph and be able to say this is why it looks like that in these kind of terms had I not panned with this image it would have been a distinctly different look right that's what gives it the motion that's? What gives it the sharpness here and the motion is like I love these this and again some of this is kind of accidental you just you're playing, you're experimenting and one frame in a hundred turns out and you claim it is genius in this shot it was just purely accidental but accidental in the sense that I've worked really hard getting to this happy accident right? So wide angle lens, longer exposure probably to get that longer exposure, I had to kind of clamp the the aperture down, which gives me the advantage that I don't have to be perfect with my focus because I've got a much deeper depth of field and I usually shoot aperture priority. So when I knew I wanted to start panning, I just, like dialed my aperture down till I saw a shutter speed of I don't know is it even on here? Um an eighth of a second, so aperture priority seventeen millimeter lands have twenty two but I didn't choose have twenty two for any other reason that it was what he was going to give me the slow shutter speed it just happened that at f twenty two you can miss your focus pretty good and still nail it because that's on a seventy millimeter lands that's a that's, a pretty broad focus zone so I just, you know, as it came around now it happens that focus was this or the thie exposure was was on and you know everything, everything else worked well, let's move on to another image. Tell me about this image what without looking at the exit data tell me you know what makes all the other thing too is barren mind another element of this is the moment the moments you're putting the moment in the frame which which your choice of which moment you ah put into the frame is extremely important. So remember, this could have been another moment this girl could have been looking somewhere completely different. There could have been a difference in what she was looking at this girl. I mean, the fact that I'm that I've panned with this and some freak reason she's actually looking directly at me, I think is unbelievable and again, I can't take the credit for it. I was just panning that, you know, how many things can you take credit for in a photograph, right? I just happened to catch the moment, um and as I said, take credit for it and put it really big on my on my wall, but, um, the moment is really important, so don't ever forget that the moments in there too. So let's, go back to this one, tell me about this photograph. What contributes to the look of this photograph? The first thing that stood out to me was that you chose to, um, frame this one vertically instead of horizontally, even though you have the very it looks like a really scenic background from what we can see, but the focus is mainly on him and his motorcycle instead of bringing in all of the surrounding area okay, now what would have happened if I had gone horizontal? What would that have done in terms of changing the look of the photograph I think it would have brought the focus more on his surrounding area so away from I mean you have this this man that's riding a motorcycle and it's a really rugged look and I think it would have softened the entire picture in my opinion okay, it would have done another thing though to write if I had if I had changed the orientation toe a horizontal he would now he instead of taking up that much he would've taken up this much proportionately in the scene he would have been much smaller right? So you're right it wouldn't have just been about a man in his surroundings it probably would have been a picture of the surroundings with a man in it and that's to differ of stories entirely so the framing is not just a question of you know which do I prefer it's a question of what story do you want to tell? Because they're different stories you know rugged man this is my friend russ on his thunderbird on field thunderbird in ladakh india and he's this was a shot about russ in ladakh had I changed the orientation it would have been much more suited to telling a story about ladakh with russ in it you see the distinction okay, I don't wanna lose you, and you're staring like I'm talking gibberish. So that's ok, ok, um pass the mic and then todd's work and tell me about the thing I noticed right away was the I mean, the beautiful the blue mountains are, you know, I guess blue and white, and then the sky stands out, but he's almost as tall as the mountains, which makes a strong statement that about him, like, you're showing such strength that even if you're not consciously thinking about it, he is almost as tall as those mountains know how aesthetically, how did I get that? Well, didn't you probably had a little bunny mellon's when you had a long lens so you could compress it will look like the sort of him? Uh, yeah, that's, one of things and and there's another thing that I did, teo, increase that your perspective, you're probably down, will ya? Yeah, I was I was down. I mean, I don't think I was lying on the ground, but I was I was like, right, right down shooting along the length of the road. So you have that, you know, because if I'm standing up now, I'm you know, obviously I'm higher and I'm going to see more of the road, and this was not about the road clearly there's enough road in the shot, I didn't need more of it. I wanted him in the mountains and when I stood up and shot, you know, not down, but I level the mountain, the horizon level now was up here in the mountains were up and I didn't get the sky, so every choice you make changes, you know, the camera's here, looking straight on is different from the camera down here, looking a little bit up different from standing on a ladder, looking down, right? The perspective completely changes so that's that's one of the choices that you know that you make and you make a decision, too, when you're just standing up shooting for my level you are you should be consciously making a decision by implication not to be lying on the ground, taking this particular frame or not to be standing on a ladder. This should never just be the one you picked just because it's the default you should be taking a picture from standing level because that's the aesthetic you want if it's, what you need is to be lying on the ground, lie on the ground. Right if you need to stand on the roof of a car or being a crane or whatever, then then and you have a crane with you then then do that but don't do it because it's just the default you know I just happen to be standing up when it well, okay if that's good enough for you but if you want if what's most important is to get the photograph that toe look the way you want then just taking it from standing up with the lens that you happen to have on your camera with the settings you happened on your camera is not a good enough and if you're making a choice and you might as well make the one that best suits your vision right let's try another one that's not do that one let's try this one. Um well you've obviously, uh made it as more of a wide shot. I I think there's there's a little bit going on here kind of, uh between the whole sky and ground thing with the birds. Um and uh so obviously with the lens flare I think gives it a little bit more of the drama to it and kind of what we talked about earlier with that endless summer kind of guy that just kind of makes it um so what decisions did I make to get that once where ah well you put the sun halfway into your uh into your sensor to give it a little bit of that flare on assuming that you probably stop the lens down a little bit for that um or a lot of twenty two well um I don't do anything by half measures just crank her down um and it looks like there's a, uh probably a decently fast shutter speed since the water's frozen um there's a little bit of blur in it but I'm assuming that's just for your exposure and you were more concerned with the apple tree to get the flare correct? No yeah, I mean, I I wanted to crank the aperture down to get that kind of flair but then remember, you have three settings that change your exposure the so is in there too. So then you play with the esso accordingly if you also want, you know, a little bit of blur here that the you know, these air not frozen you could see right streak on these. So the next thing I did was, you know, try to get this excuse me this pigeon so that there was a little bit of motion there uh in his wings anything else that was asking I was asking you, but no, you got something e was just I was just going to ask about your framing of it because, I mean, when I look at it, um, the the pink building in the back and the stuff kind of in the bottom right of the frame, I don't really see as essential to the story that you're telling, so I'm wondering why you wouldn't have framed it a little bit more to the and an idea and I have others these air not necessarily my best shots, to be quite honest there there among them I was really tourney because I like this this is very havana this is an in old havana and and I really quite like this, but I agree with you, it's not necessary, it's one of those things that I'm sort of tauron with us as the guy that shot it that I like the blue in the pink it's it is very kind of havana especially, you know, with all the like the pink cadillacs is that there's a lot of past all kind of colors going on there that I liked, but I do have other frames that are a little bit more. I spun around and I shot more, but then the relationship between the fountain and and the church changed and there was only a certain position this is where our constraints coming, it was only a few positions that I could stand and get the church with that son kind of peeking out that edge cut son and so I was a little bit constrained and how I did that and if I came down you know that it changed now the bowl of this big fountain was in the way of the sun and it just it changed the relationship so it's that kind of bob and weave compromised that you make and you find the best thing and so you're absolutely right I would have loved and I came back to this fountain so this was the first time I saw water in the fountain was the first day I was there and I thought I'm going to do a couple scouting shots and it took a few pictures I came back every day for a week in the fountain never went back on and it was just I could never I could not have gone other than you know, carting some water they're putting it in there and having someone in the thing splashing water out I could not have got it you know teo to do what I wanted to so it was one of those things where you make the best with what you've got but um uh okay let's let's look at this one no let's look at this one do you want to go on this one again? Pass it on aleka just rattle, rattle them off what we're kind of lens stay use ah it looks I think it's all a longer lens but well this is the kind of thing that I'm working on you and that's why we're so um now now think how how close this this looks to you right right it should be wider so pretty good indication this is a pretty wide yeah because like I'm nearly bumping into this guy's hands right long lens wouldn't give you that and still you know give you quite this kind of inclusion in the scene okay so that's the first thing it was a long lens our story a white now you've got me doing it so why die? No idea what kind of lends me use the lens for this it was a pinhole camera um it was a wide angle lens okay, what aesthetic did that create? Um well it created it it makes you feel like you're right there on top of it which he were and so it it's something that pulls me into it and it also has the lines from the um guitars also are kind of bringing you into the image and just leading you in there tio tio keep the focus on the men playing rather than kind of what's around them in their surrounding area. Okay, what other decisions did I make horizontal instead of vertical to keep the focus and the impact on them because it's a horizontal story right and it's about these two guys and I could have shot this way but then like this one would have been great if I was just shooting this guy would have been great vertical frame because now it's about the relationship really between you know this gets this gays here that's it but if I'm telling this story it pretty much had to be horizontal right okay, what else? Um also choosing do black and white instead of color so I guess in this case you would say the color must have been distracting from some part of the story so it was better in a stronger impact I have it in black and white let's let's look at both of them and uh and you tell me remember when you take the color out of something, you're not saying that you don't like the color you're not saying the color is not good but in this case which which do you like better and why I think I might like the color better but that's usually because or not usually it's because I usually prefer the bright lake you have like, what three hundred fifty different shades of nail polish so you know, the last person, right? Yes, I've been outed but so I mean, but that would be how my aesthetic would differ from yours? Well, yes, I mean I'm not saying I prefer one over the other what I'm saying is one of these suits the story that I'm trying to tell more than the other I love color too in fact, a lot of my stuff, you know, it's pretty I mean this version is not just a rob version, this is process, this is is, you know, there's, lots of colors, lots of contrast the reason I like that one is because in this one the color pulls me into the shirt and the guitar and these are beautiful colors but they're the main players and that's not what I want I want you to look, I want you to look at this guy and these long necks and I want you to look here and the gesture in this image I think it's so strong that when you add color, the color begins to compete and now you've got two players on the stage and they're both kind of going well look over here if the minute you take one of those players off the stage, the audience has no choice but to look at the guy on the centre of stage and in this case the guy on the centre of stage that I wanted to do the role was the gesture it doesn't mean the color is if this is not about preference, I like color but it's about how is my story best told and if this was about color I would have kept the color but there's nothing in the color that actually adds to this story except you know I mean some mood, but I think this guy laughing and this guy smiling that adds enough of the mood that I don't need the color so you make choices as soon as you pull the color away, you kind of lose something, but is the gain that you accomplished greater than what you've lost in this case for my storytelling that's what I chose to do but it's important if colors not part of it consider taking it out because that's one of the decisions we make, you have a question on the internet just a comment I wanted to bring the internet into this conversation as well when giving feedback on the images that we're looking at. So uh teresa in chicago says that she thinks there's oddly more emotion in the black and white version than the color I don't think that's odd, so I think that's actually I think she's she's right and that's because the gesture you're allowing yourself to see the emotion is coming from their faces sometimes color carries emotion and if their faces were kind of bland and weren't doing anything that I would probably leave the color in to make it a little more cheerful, but in this case their faces are all the emotion that you need they're communicating so much that the absence of this color allows your your gaze to fix on their faces and and the resulting emotion so I don't think it's strange at all that the black and white is actually more when you look at the history of photojournalism now a lot of that was simply because you know, things occurred you know, I mean the world wasn't black wasn't color until went nineteen eighty everything was black and white before then anyway, but um a lot of the best photo journalism even today they don't shoot in color because it allows you to concentrate on these key players which are gesture and emotion and beyond cluttered by some of this detail that color brings because it's not really relevant write often so and snap turtle laurie in the midwest saying that the color version puts the focus on the guitars like you're saying where is the black and white really is telling your story about the musicians themselves thank you lord for participate thank you for playing um let's try another one uh let's look at um uh well, actually, you know what? I want to discuss this I want to discuss this photograph right here and then I wanted to show you something something briefly um before I sort of talked about this image let's do one more chris you want to grab the microphone you have the microphone tell tell me about this photograph and what choices were made about this shot uh you've chosen a low perspective so you're more even with that look with the main subject and that's the woman on the right hand side and ah you framed it kind of diagonally got the feet making a little diagonal line and then I see just ah the diagonal line going from upper left to the lower right kind of separating a little bit it looks like a ah medium type lens like ah fifty or eighty five and it's ah not really your depth of field isn't really ah long or thin so it's probably like five states or something and ah he chose to keep the cholera in because the color is really interesting in this there's good contrast between the green and the yellow and um they put little vignette on there to that raja more into the center of the image how would this image have changed where I standing up if you're standing up you'd look ah the person viewing the image of fillmore you know ah they'd feel more powerful in relation to the subject we feel like we're looking down on her um where is even if you got even lower the opposite of that she'd look a little bigger a little maybe a little bit more powerful so we feel kind of even with her now like we're sitting across from what does this what does it do for how we perceive these figures on the side? They look very powerful because they're low and because we're low in their higher and so does that does that based on, you know, whether I was standing up or down, how does that change her relationship to these people? Ah, by you being lower your bringing her more up to their level, it kind of like if you were to get if you were, if I were to take to the extreme, like if you were lying down on your stomach and shooting it, you'd be kind of tilting the camera more up to her. So by you getting her it's hard, I think with this perspective, if you got lower, it would make her fear make her look more powerful and if you've got higher would make her look weaker. Okay, now, there's a couple perspectives going on here because, yes, I totally agree in and and I'll in defeat would move up a cz well, yeah, had I laying down, it would have changed everything and I stood up, it would have changed everything. What I was going for this woman, what, you can't see it she's she's praying this was my initial frame, and this is at a place in in delhi called nizamuddin dot aga n and it's a place of worship their petitioning I believe in this case actually a couple saints there's a couple little kind of shrines and and she's praying she's sup lick a ting that you know that allah will will intervene for her and there's knots that they tie in these buyers is promises there's padlocks that they tie as symbols of an oath that they make t god you know on the basis of something that they've I asked him for and so she's praying and this either we liked in fact the earlier shots I started with this guy and he's praying but frankly he could be a takeout window ordering chinese food we really don't know I mean I know because I'm there but other than the fact that he's wearing ah skullcap and we assume that based on the arabic writing that or you know I don't know if that is arabic it could actually be what they call it uh order do but anyway he's he's there and he's doing something so you make some assumptions I wanted something that required less information on the part of viewer to be able to interpret so I waited and this woman came along and she is in this very typical posture of supplication and and praying and and I like that but it wasn't it wasn't the whole story and the more I just shot the more the story kind of folded and so I started to shoot horizontally because I liked these steps I like the green door green doors air very indicative of mosques almost every mosque I've ever seen has a green door and so as I was shooting this thes men came and very likely we're actually just looking at her because I was shooting her and in india there's this culture of gawking where they just look and they say I mean you could be sitting in a restaurant looking through images and the whole waitstaff will stop what they're doing and they will walk over and they will look at your photographs like it's the most like, you know, like you're actually there just to show them your pictures like hey, how you doing and and so that maybe what was going on but as I was sitting and these figures came in I actually was a little intimidated because I was looking through the viewfinder I saw what you see and I wasn't really sure, but I wanted that sense of looming and hand I've been standing up um I mean, I was already shooting her so it wasn't like consciousness vision I'm going to get down, but the reason I didn't stand up and shoot from a different perspectives I wanted that feeling of them looming over me and over her and so I continue to shoot and eventually she you know, she looked over in my direction and and that ended up I really like this kind of there's almost like a triangle where I'm looking at hit them and they're looking at her and she's looking at me but a different perspective would change the power balance and the feeling of the photograph had I got up yes, I would have been looming a little more over her, which I didn't want and also I would have sort of reduced the feeling I think of them looming over me. I wanted me and by implication the viewer to feel like there was this looming but not tow loom over her, and that was kind of the thing that I was kind of going for and hoping that I would accomplish whether they were truly looming and a threat isn't really the point. The fact is I felt like that and I wanted the photograph to feel like that so your p o v all of this to say your p o v your point of view is extremely important your choice of lens is extremely important your your decision I mean I could have I could have shot ah long shutter speed and wait for someone to move and got kind of a blur everything that you decide to do for the image or not decide to dio is your responsibility and it has an aesthetic effect on the image everything you do or again, not decide. If you decide to do nothing, you're still making a choice not to affect those certain elements or for them toe happen haphazardly, but they're within the frame or excluded from the frame because you allowed them to be there or didn't allow them. I mean, if you intentionally exclude them there, they're not there. But it's your responsibility, everything has an aesthetic effect. That's what I'm getting at if we abandon the idea that this is primarily a technical tool and we embraced the idea that's, primarily an aesthetic tool than everything that we decide to do will be about the look of the photograph. That's what the point of this whole vision thing is about? Because you got to know what you want it to look like before you make the decisions, because the camera won't do it for or even if it does, it'll make the wrong choices or, like, you know, one hundred monkeys on hundred typewriters, eventually it'll make the right choice but it's still not the choice. You wanted to make it as an artist. That's the point? What do I want it to look like? Otherwise? You may as well blindfold yourself and take it. Paintbrush and just paint random paint strokes with colors that you're not familiar with and just you know and then take it off and go ah behold a masterpiece well maybe but it's a masterpiece of random chance not through any any intention of your own I'm not saying whether that is or isn't art very well be I I don't know all right so a couple more what ah what decisions were made for this photograph um you choose teo you chose who isolate the subject like there's really nothing else going on in this image besides just the person um but then you did that you did leave aspects of like the environment as faras like you can tell it's a really dirty place because of the dirt on his clothes and everything and and he has like some cloth behind him that's really dirty and his feet are really dirty I'm this faras technical aspects um it looks like you're wide open because it looks like there's not actually looks like there kind of is quite a quite a background there looks like you can look farther back but the way that you did let let the focus like full off there I think that you had it maybe around like I don't know two point maybe I'm so I'm not sure about distance though yeah cool she could or what before she started this class she didn't even know what enough stop was so okay uh and I also like how the tone of it is like like this coppery glow and in the look on his face is just it's like it's it's it makes you wonder like who is this guy about you know he's like looking at you like what do you do and you know, taking that picture but it just I don't know this is a relationship there is a connection between you two like you're both curious about each other is what I get a sense of but that's just what I take from it well and good I mean I mean that's really the point right? I mean, ultimately my intention fails if you don't as a viewer take some of these things from it you may read more into it or less into it but I'm really pleased to hear you say that there were two images and this is the same guy um as he's actually working and then he took a chai break their process that I didn't do much to this one um they're process a little bit different so the color balance is off the other thing I did for this I actually have a small little led light that I bring with me that's kind of created for video and I put some warming gels in it cranked it up and put it down by his his his blacksmith thing kind of started to melt it actually because it was giving some glow but I wanted a little more was really dark in there and so I gave a little bit of kind of warmth to it that he didn't have in this this is actually just the glow from his black smithy furnace thing um but here's another one what what decisions were made in this frame to give the look of this specifically I'm looking for you know, for just a couple things and the fact that I decided to chop his arm off well you you gave the objects like motion with uh the boyar there and so you get a sense of like action like you're you're in the moment of action like you could imagine like other moments happening in between that moment that you froze right there um and then he was like, you can't see his eyes but just from like the intensity and it's like I really like that you can see how how concentrated he is in his posture how is like kneel down like that is that you can you can get a sense of like he's he's comfortable with what he's doing it enough to get like really intensely into it, you know, like that's probably what he does for a living I assume you know so he's really comfortable with that whole environment and everything he's he's working pretty intently there like I don't know, but it gives a sense of like I want to know what what else is in that environment because you don't like give any other clues, it's just so isolated, but I am curious, you know, I want to see you like, what else is in that room? Cool? Yeah, cool. Well, I appreciate that the the the point I wanted to make by showing you this is that if what you want to show is a specific thing and I loved, you know, the fact that he was hammering away, but just taking a bunch of random photographs isn't going to capture, and I didn't. I really didn't perfectly captured on that that's why the portrait actually is my final selecting this because I was on a workshop, I wasn't there to spend a lot of time getting this shot, but I wanted to battle enough to at least try on one of the things I wanted was the sense of, you know, because it's all noise, it's, clang, clang and its motion and its fast and and you, you don't get the noise in the photograph, you don't get to smell you don't. So how do you bring in some of this stuff? Will the only sense we havin a photograph really is is the site, so how do you imply some of that motion and these don't happen accidentally you ask yourself, why don't want to do with this? Do I need emotion don't want to freeze it don't want to blur it. You are all of these things come into play, and in this case, the question was, do I want to freeze the hand or don't? I took a couple of quick ones where the hand got frozen and was like, it just looks like he's doing this right? So if you want to catch the sense of that a little bit of most, I know how much motion because if you go too slow, you know you still got to hold the camera still. But then you've got the hand going from here to here and it's, just a blur program. So you have to find that that kind of that balance where he's scott blur, but you still recognise it as a hammer and a hand holding onto that hammer. So all of these things, but again, they're guided by not accident, not bio. Look what a happy coincidence you may. Once in a while, I get that. But you'll you'll become closer to what you actually wanna communicate if you can dial it in and go. This for me is about this guy working and what shows that work is his hammer and his, you know, the hot iron, so I wanted hot. I didn't want to wait three minutes until it started to cool down. I wanted him as soon as he took it out of the fire, still red hot, and I wanted that motion. So you're choosing which moment you pick your choosing, your shutter speed and by implication, you're choosing your aperture and your moment and in this case, you know, I was so into it that, you know, it shifted a little. I'm still kicking myself that I you know, this for me fails because I've cut off his hand and it's a small detail but for me, it's it's it's takes the image from being potentially really good to being yeah, kind of. Okay, good. This is a sketch shot for me. One day I will go back and I will revisit this guy. I will probably take prints to him and if I can find him and he's way in the back of old delhi, if I can find him and I will give him prince and I will ask if I could do this again and I will this time watch for the elbow and try a few more times and you know and I had to shoot so I was right in the middle of st rickshaws were going by and it was just absolutely chaotic so you make the best of it but all of these decisions are there not accidental you intentionally choose them in the more conscious you are of all of the range of things that you have and some if you're in a studio the things you control become even greater you control not on the moment you control the position of the person you control the backdrop you got the foreground that you control the for the background you control the lighting you control much more and so that means your list of things that you put into the frame and that you control and are able to speak through in a visual language goes from being this long to this long right which is why I don't want to shoot the studio I prefer being able to blame my my failure on a lack of you know timing or someone that didn't cooperate with me but all of these things are at our disposal and the more conscious you are of the more comfortable you are the more you consort of orchestrate these pieces and put them together and go I really like this look from this kind of shutter speed. I like this look from this and you put them together so that you have a image that's, not just one. Okay moment. It's an okay moment in awesome light with a great background with and this is what I call layers of impact. It began as an idea called layers of awesome, but I thought if I'm going to go down for creating an idea, I don't want to be called layers of awesome people think of some valley girl like I know, right like layers of awesome and this one time at band camp, and so I decided to call it layers of impact. And the idea is that the more layers of impact they have an additive effect. So you start with a great background, you put a great foreground, then you add great light, and then you'll get a great foreground with a great moment and then great composition. And the more you layer these things, the more they add to each other. Now, you may have ten great layers of impact that just create a phenomenal photograph, or you have one layer that it's so good that it trumps all the others, so you may have crappy lighting you ever mr, focus a little. You may have done all kinds of things that are technically wrong, but you have such a powerful emotion that it carries it and it's an unbelievable photograph and there's, a lot of great photo journalism, that you look at it as the compositions not perfect and there's distractions in the background, all these things that well, of course, it's photo journalism, but the moment and the emotion is so powerful that, frankly, if you had rays of light and angels dancing in the background, it wouldn't make it any better, because it's, already so incredibly powerful factor would probably detract because you'd be like, oh, look, angels right? And so the layers of the more you think, in terms of layers of impact, there also layers not just of impact, but layers of communication they allow you to same or so if you want to say something really, really simple, it by all means, just, you know, great foreground in front of great background, but if you want to start communicating aboutthe sense of a place and you want to have some emotion in some mood, then the lighting will affect that in the color temperature will affect it, and what that foreground is in front of well affected, and how in focus the background is find that foreground will affect all of these things come into play and that's what makes the fact that we can actually come up with a photograph that doesn't stink and that moves people when you create a photograph that someone looks at and go? Wow, no wonder it feels good still a lot of work to get there, right? And no wonder it's so hard for us to master this craft, we should take a lot of pride when we get an image that really works, we should be really happy for it don't rest on it, go out and shoot something even better, but we should be really happy because it takes a lot to get to the point where we have all of this and add to it the fact that you need people skills to relate to someone to the point where no language apart from a a smattering of terrible hindi allowed me to communicate with this guy and establish enough trust that that he would be, you know, somewhat vulnerable with me and I love this photograph not because of the photograph, but because in the moment it allowed me to have with this guy, but it takes work and it takes getting down and getting dusty, and it takes, you know, putting your equipment in a place where could overheat. You know and all of these things to get a good photograph that moves people is really hard. And the reason I say that is because as freeing as it is for us to feel some kind of comfort in the fact that it's okay, that is frustrating it's also okay, that it's hard because when you pull it off it's amazing when you really get a photograph where those layers come in a play and you you've got all of those elements together. It's, it's, phenomenal. You can communicate something that long after I am dead and the fact that you know I could only be in one place at one time. But I can put my photographs online and someone can see something ah, moment that occurred in another culture and be affected in some ways not maybe not going to change her life. Maybe it will, but it will make them think different. It will make them feel different will touch them in some way and that's deeply gratifying and it all starts with your vision. It starts with the thing that you experience about a culture and that's why I put so much emphasis on the idea of you got you got to experience something before you can photo graph it, you have to be a part of it. You have to you have to be subjective I know journalists have a certain element of objectivity but they're still there there's still researching they're still learning about the stories as storytellers the more you can touch it and feel it and experience it the better you will be able to tell it and that's where your vision comes from someone asked earlier you know how does your does your personal faith play into this? It has a huge rule it affects the way you see the world my faith in and the way that I express my faith plays out not only in how I see the world it plays out on how I I I interact with my subjects why a photograph the things I do and someone else of a different faith or different values they will photograph according to those and it's a part of our uniqueness and it's a part of our vision and that will then determine how we use this ridiculous tool I mean come on this is a go goofy goofy thing it's and it's heavy and it's inconvenient and it breaks this is not the most elegant tool we could be using to express ourselves but the fact is it works it's not important what's important is the experience you have in the vision you have and they somehow through this retarded translator of ours we get it into a print or onto a medium that can touch people that's why vision matters and that is the end of my sermon do we have any questions? Let us pray no do we have any questions from from the studio audience story from the internet in that audience and we'll go back to you guys so if you have questions, think of him I mean there's been so many questions about how to talk to people, how to relate to people I know we've covered a few different times and it depends on the situation, but people are just really interested in how do you ask how do you you know what? I again I think not to second guess why people are asking that there's no easy answer, yeah, and and I'm I mean, I'm not an extrovert I get my energy from from alone time, and I don't like rush out to meet new people, I tend to be kind of shy, so the idea of going like picking up my camera, going to a new culture and just walking onto the street going, hey, how are you? Can I take your picture? Um, everyone's approach is going to be different. There are some people who are just naturally extroverted, they will make friends naturally, but honestly, if you respect people and if you're curious about them and if you're kind and you're willing to laugh at yourself, not take yourself too seriously you can you can get along in any culture and then it's just a question of sucking it up and going and introducing yourself, shaking a hand, you know, greeting in whatever culture, whether you're shaking a hand or whether you just respectfully, you know, bowing towards them or whatever it is that's culturally appropriate to show them that you respect them, that you're curious that you're not a threat and then just see where it takes you and be willing to endure long, awkward silences and moments where they just jabber away like you understand what I've actually stopped in some places I will stop even trying I mean, I'll say a little bit indie or whatever, but they start jabbering to me, I'm like, all right, you're fair game buddy and I start talking to him in english and I'm just like, you have no idea what I'm saying to you. I have no idea what you're saying, but I'm sure you're a very nice person. Do you mind if I take your photograph and they could end up being sincere? I'm not being a jerk or a clown, but they can see what they can hear in the tone of my voice, even if they don't understand the words they understand the tone of my voice, they see the look in my eye and I think somehow communicates control human you know, our culture is not so different they were like, you know, this smiles and one culture mean anger and another maybe they do but not anywhere I've encountered so I can go on I can smile and I can laugh and I can show them the pictures on the back and you just you endure it you know, whether you're an extrovert or an introvert you meet them on your on their level and I would say go, you know, work on your people skills because ultimately there's no manual you can read you just relate yeah, I really agree with that especially I think people can read your intent of course can we kill it feelings there's body language, their smiles there's a look in your eye and you know, I've been I've been learning this for thirty eight years when someone is angry at me I can tell when when someone is dismissive and they're not interested I could tell us why back off I don't push people if I see me take your picture and they kind of you know they do one of these in there are you know, I just I respect please say okay, thanks no problem, you know, sometimes I'll push once and all kind of like please please please you know and because if there's something, I really want a photograph sometimes they resist just because it's the thing to do and they're like now, whatever. But if you kind of you begged them, you can soften him up. But if they become more resistant than use cocaine, no problem, you back off. But if you could kind of see em going on that really it's just there's a little false humility there, perhaps, or some their bodies watching. They're like now, it's. Okay, then you go to the body and go, please, can I take a picture and he's like, yeah, take inspector and it becomes ah, chemistry that happens and you play the game and there was ah, a spot in cairo or wanted to photograph this one. There were three guys sitting there on a cat and it was this perfect shot and wouldn't you know what I raised? My I get on my knees a reason cameron the catcalls showing takes off, frank. Of course the castle is the cat bounces off the the guys who were just beautiful, candid moment they look up at me. I'm neil like this the cat's nowhere to be seen, they think and they're like, you know, and the one guy wags his finger to go ten dollars and we're right in that you know the main market at connell khalili in cairo and and I kind of I did want to be like I'm not going to pay you ten dollars so I asked his buddy it's the police in this body goes okay boys is like this you know? And I took the I took the camera I immediately pulled out my pocket printer printed on an image and it gave it to him and as usual he's so happy he's showing off and he's like you know he's showing up and you know and he's just so proud of this picture and the guy that had just done this he looks over and goes and I looked at him under ten dollars on this he was very stern and slow smile crept across the space and so he doesn't want to be his night took his picture and I printed it and they invited me for tea and what started as not hostile but resistant became this really funny moment not because I was pushing but because I was just human and I you know, I used humor and we all laugh together and after a while you know I ran off and they all left I left them with, you know, really crappy but little business card prints of themselves everyone we is happy and later I passed by again and they're all you know, doing this like this you know it's you have these moments and I live for those moments even if my cf cards were all destroyed I would be disappointed but frankly the moment they experience the memory far better than the photograph ever turned out but again that's stuff you learn that after a number of people have said no to you you stop being scared of hearing no because those tell you know all the time you no no no no okay, no problem because really it's not the nose that matter it's just like the crappy photographs crappy photographs don't matter no one sees those ones the good ones that matter. So if you have to hear no ten times before you get a yes fine most cultures that's not the case I mean, most places I go it's one no for every five yeses so yeah, the odds are in your favor if you're a nice person if you're jerk yeah work on your people skills and go shoot cats and rain boots and stuff yeah, we'll cheer you up anyway who can shoot kittens and rainbows not be happy? Well, thanks for expanding on that more. You will come to appreciate that um anything else let's see, you've also I'm touching this and you just talked about the fact that you're not an extra vert which I not sure I believe but um question from twitter is in developing vision um do you think that working shooting alone is valuable versus worth with others as you're developing your vision and and when would you do one versus the other talked about a little bit it's both I think there are moments where you need to really go on hammer this out on your own, but collaboration and creativity are always I mean, I love the times when I could be collaborative because it it opens me too knew what ifs it opens me the possibilities I wouldn't have considered it when I work with with someone who's either assisting me you're producing me I give them free rein to kind of push me a little because we all get in our own ruts and when you're working with someone who kind of goes hey, what about this and you going and they don't know really what about this is okay, fine and sure enough, it turns out to be a great idea our initial reluctance steven press field in the war of our talks about resistance as this really this personal force that's out you know, inhibit our creativity in are the things that we intend to dio pushing through that resistance sometimes having a friend who can help you do that and something I'll pull you through to the other side can be very helpful so I think collaborations a good tool but I think the same time, um really great art is at some point created in solitude, you have to be alone with the voices in your head, you have to work on the process by yourself. So there's both there's a right hand in the left hand, and I wouldn't say I know necessarily when use one or the other, the opportunity comes to collaborate, collaborate see where it happens is not a substitute for doing work on your own. You just and some people do a lot more collaboration. Some people never do any I think you got to know your own creative, but you can't know until you try it, so collaborate and see what happens. I have another question from twitter um, yesterday you gave us the exercise to study other photographers whose work resonates with our own and in our personal vision. So who are the photographers that have inspired you? And who are you studying right now? Uh, well, the guy that I'm totally in love with right now is a leader, what his work is I and I was I've seen it before, but it was just kind of like, yeah, like your winner was fine or so, and then when I was in new york city, there was an exhibit at chelsea market of his italy work that I hadn't seen before and I was just captivated by it there was something about his exposure area story is his compositions and the moments that he captured with the sense of humor that I keep talking about and it hit me that it may be the first time that I've seen really truly serious photography meaning art I I consider art that resonates with me that's not created just to be goofy and and humorous photography but something with a true sense of humor to it a real understanding of comedy and comic timing and it just really resonated with me because I mean, I I I've been a comedian and I don't take a lot of funny photographs it would never actually have occurred to me to try to incorporate that I don't know if visual humor is really my thing, but it opened kind of this idea to me that timing is the thing in comedy well, timing is also among the important things in photography just never occurred to me that it might be a connection, so that was kind of it, but right now I'm studying people like um like galen role um his book the inner game of outdoor photography has just been republished and he's an incredible thinker where it comes to things like vision and intention um he and I would probably disagree on my heavy use of filters and post processing but we have different purposes he was more like a conservation journalist in the sense of you's trying to represent what reality was and I'm a little less concerned about what reality looks like him or what it feels like so we would probably have differed but I love his work I I wish very much that he was still around and I like people like art wolfe I mean we're in art studio on his work is is still it was one of the he was one of the first photographers that influence me that I would look at his photography and natural world this use of color and composition and and it's still influences me I still you know, walking through the gallery and looking at work it gets the juices flowing and I'm not going to copy his work but it gives me ideas about what's possible and um and then my peers I mean increasingly my peers or the people that I respect and so I'm looking at people that I just I love their work bruce percy if if you have never been on brucie bruce percy's website he has podcasts that he does and he's an incredible landscape photographer he does more than just landscape but primarily landscape and he does his podcast where he writes the music he performs the music he records it he has this scottish accent in this beautiful voice that, um I mean he's just my friends just call him the voice like he's just you could listen to this and just fall asleep listening to this beautiful, lilting voice, and he puts it all together in his podcast that are truly visually and audibly stunning. And so if you haven't been to bruce percy dot com and looked at his podcast, you absolutely must he's totally inspiring me right now because of his use of light and then my friends, people like david alinea, who shoots after the sun goes down a lot. He and I are traveling to iceland next week, and so I'm learning from him and we all kind of learn from each other, you know? And then my biggest influences is the crap that I shoot and it doesn't turn out and you look out and go wide didn't turn out, how can I not? I bounce that off, you know, other sources, so creativity is like, you know, it's like a pot of paint, you know? And sometimes the pigment settles to the bottom and you got a do whatever it takes to stir it up and get it all back I have a question from two jacks studio okay, one more what percentage of your job is shooting and what is the rest? That's a really good question totally unrelated to vision so I'll give it a really quick answer these days I would say that uh actually it's all related to photography but actually creating the photographs because a lot of what I do is taken while I travel I would say probably uh third to a quarter of the year I spent actually creating photographs and the rest of that time is writing post producing putting the photographs in some kind of presentable order um working on my e books in the books of others so one hundred percent of the time I'm working on actual photography related stuff but only shooting maybe a third to a quarter of the year the rest you know is consumed by everything else. So it's there's a lot of special when you get into doing this for a living it's not being a photographer for living is not making photographs for living it's being a photographer and making photographs only one small part there's marketing and there's business and legalities and team meetings and all of all of that kind of stuff um but it's still deeply gratifying some any questions way r a few minutes away from anything up if you have no questions are there more questions on twitter? We can happily go to them otherwise we can uh, wrap up a little bit early and send everyone off to make some photographs that was kind of a fun random question earlier uh that was about music uh do you ever use music when you're out and shooting what does that help create a mood or does that get in the way of your vision? I don't um I don't I'm half deaf and so I don't really like having your phones in unless some writing and I want to block things out um and so for me teo to put earbuds analysts in the music I would never I wouldn't I do it when I'm sitting in the car going from place a to place be but um to block out the world I get stimulated by the sounds I get inspired by the shouting in the streets and the horns and you know for whatever distraction they can cause they also inspire and so I would never but again that that's my way of doing things I travel to these places to experience them not you know la la lo so but you know if you're in your own neighborhood and you're you're going through when you're trying to shoot a particular mood there's no reason why not in fact when I was in venice I had one evening where I tried it and I put in some deeply emotional heartbreak kind of music to kind of go along with this loneliness theme and it was kind of fun for a little while but I did find that I felt isolated? I felt like I could see everything, but no, I don't I don't. It doesn't work for me. Okay, um, I'm gonna give everyone an assignment, uh, that we talked yesterday about going to other photographers and looking for work in finding the common threads, and they're looking at your own work and finding the common threads and that the assignment that I want to suggest for you that goes along with what we've just been doing is go to someone else's work, preferably not your own, because you already know how you shot things and look at the photographs and deconstructed yesterday I gave you an assignment that had to do with it sort of reverse engineering, the body of someone's work. You look at a bunch of photographs, and then you say, what was that person trying to say, um, what do you would think that person was like, what were they all about? What was important to them? Um, you're making a lot of guesses in this way. I want you to also gas on a little bit, reverse engineer, but I want you to reverse engineer individual photographs, and this isn't a one time exercise it's helpful to continually do this, look at a photograph and say, what decisions did the photographer make? What optics? What light? What moment? Unpack it as as deeply as you can go and become mohr and actually say it out loud to write it down. And when I have mentoring students, I will actually ask them to pick some photographs and then write it down on a piece of philip the paper. Tell me everything you can about that image. What makes it his body position? So if we're talking about this one, the choice of lens, you've obviously use something that's, you know, not too long, but not too wide, because the lines aren't too exaggerated, but you're in close, and it gives it a sense of intimacy. You've cropped that nice and tight, so his surroundings or not the important part, the important part is him. His body posture is, you know, you could have shot him like this. You could have shot him, you know, doing some. But you shot him in this particular body posture, and that communicates a certain thing. And you know, so you go through the list. You framed it vertically instead of horizontally, which allows you to capture his hole. Write it down. Tell me what decisions the photographer make and made and what do they have to do with the look of the photograph? And then if you want to take it a step further say okay based on all of those things what is this for photographs saying to me the aesthetic now creates this photograph that says one thing to me and doesn't say others what is that saying? Is that happy photograph? No what is it is it is sad? Well, not really but it's very engaging he's got eye contact there's a sense of maybe serenity maybe curiosity is you said there's a warmth to it there's there's the dirt so he's clearly in his workshop deconstructed as much as you can to become more and more familiar with the language of of the aesthetic because the more we get away from the idea that photography is just about technique and talk more about aesthetics, the more language will help you do that if you could describe it you can shoot it to some degree if it's possible if you could describe it you can shoot if you can say I want a shallow depth of field because it'll do this and I want then you won't have to go okay so what button do I press your familiar? Enough? I hope with your camera that you can in your mind say shallow depth of field blurb and it's it's intuitive and you immediately know that's why I always shoot on aperture priority or manual because for me, the aperture is usually more important to establishing the aesthetic than the shutter, so I don't often shoot on shutter priority. I don't often shoot on anything except manual or aperture value, because it allows me as quickly as possible, to change the aperture and to get it dialed into what I want. So you develop your own way of shooting. But I would encourage. You do that based on the aesthetics on what the photograph looks like, not on what's, convenient, not on what you've always done, not on anything, not on what you know me or chase or zacarias has told you. Based on what you want, the photograph toe look like that's. The only thing that's important.