Bonus Video: Embrace Your Mistakes


The Documentary Portrait


Lesson Info

Bonus Video: Embrace Your Mistakes

So today, I just wanted to talk a little bit about the concept of failure failure is something in photography that doesn't get it spoken about a lot, but I think it's a very critical part of the process of being a photographer, but before I talk about failure, I just want to talk about another concept, which is if you are a photographer, regardless of how you view yourself or if you see yourself as an artist, most of the people in the world associate you with being an artist and there's one aspect of being an artist that I think a lot of photographers haven't figured out that they can really take advantage of, and that is this concept of being eccentric. So have you ever been to a party or been hanging out with friends and someone comes to the party or you see somebody and they're dressed very eccentric or their hair stranger, they're just kind of, you know, outside the bounds of what you would consider like a typical behavior, and someone will say, look at that person and say, well, i...

t's, totally fine, because that person is an artist. I think that that's actually a really valid part of being a photographer and being in the creative world, and we have to learn to take advantage of that, and I think taking advantage of that is basically allows you to take risks and take chances. And about ten years ago in photography, I started to see this concept of of perfection was suddenly kind of creeping into the idea of being a photographer, and people were sort of after perfection with their pictures, and I honestly don't think that perfection exists and the work that I've seen that is sort of trying to attain that tends to look a little bit sterile and a little bit boring, if you will. So I think if you look through art, art history, like the photo history, most of the great artists and photographers in the world, they all failed miserably over and over and over before they were ever actually able to become the people that we know them as so as a photographer, you have to take chances and you have to fail, and not only I think, should you do that, I think you should actually enjoy the process s of failing it's, so much fun to be out in the field and to do something that's completely outside your comfort zone. So a lot of times I teach a couple times a year, and one of the things that I see is a lot of portfolios, and when I'm looking at people's portfolios aa lot of times they will show me work that I'll say is right in their wheelhouse it's work that they know they can do, and they've done it over and over and over again and on the fringes of that portfolio, there may be an image or two that they can't entirely explain, and the image typically doesn't work it's a total failure, however, those images to me or that the most important images in the portfolio, they're the most fun to talk about, and they tend to the images that tell me where this person is going to be five or ten years down the road and again, it came because it didn't work on a personal note, it took me ten years of working full time as a photographer. I'm not exaggerating, I wish I was exaggerating because ten years is a long time to take to figure something out, but I worked for ten years as a photographer before I actually figured out who I was with the camera and the kind of work that I was supposed to be doing, and I thought I had figured it out over and over and over, and it was a combination of things like techniques, and it was a combination of materials that I was using and who I was working for, but I failed miserably for about ten years, it wasn't like I didn't have successes along the way, but ten years into it, I really figured it out. I also make a lot of publications I make a lot of books that make a lot of magazines and the same thing applies here I've done one hundred and seventy different publications in about the last five years many of them are books and magazines that I would never show the public because they are not right they're not great they failed for a variety of different reasons, but the failures taught me as much as the successful successful books did and I cannot stress that enough. One of the things that I learned was I made this little book in two thousand seven, which is a little I think there's eleven photographs twenty two pages it's five by eight soft cover this little book was basically everything I would is somewhat told not to do as a photographer, but I did it and it actually turned out to be one of the most successful things I did so in many ways if you look at it in traditional photographic terms and it could be considered a failure but it turned out to be one of my biggest success is so don't be afraid to take risks get outside your comfort zone you don't necessarily have to show everyone your failures or shared them on social media, but the process is going out and trying to find something new and taking chances and finding out who you really are is a photographer

Class Description

What’s behind a powerful documentary portrait? Professional photographer Dan Milnor will break it down for you in just 90 minutes.

Dan will explore the motivations behind great documentary work, as well as share his techniques and philosophies regarding how to work quickly, collaborate with strangers and recognize optimal light. Plus, Dan will teach you how you go beyond your current comfort level and build a deeper relationship with your subjects as you photograph them.


Chris Miedema

For a small package, this class packed a lot of useful information, strategies and thoughtful philosophies. Initially I was reluctant to pay even the sale price for what amounts to a 1.5 hour class, but I thought it was worth every penny. Dan has an easy going style, capable of delivering his message in a straight forward and often humorous way. He has lots of examples to help guide the audience. I had to constantly stop the tape to write down key points. I actually think I will watch this again some time in the future to make sure I have consolidated all his teachings.

a Creativelive Student

The presentation was excellent, and motivating!!!