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Masters of Photography

Lesson 23 of 34


Joel Meyerowitz

Masters of Photography

Joel Meyerowitz

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Lesson Info

23. Landscape

Lesson Info


(slow mellow music) How do you find yourself in the landscape? It's one of the greatest puzzles of photography. People make pictures that look like postcards, all the time, but is it your picture? Have you made this photograph? Or is this a photograph that you just pealed off, and stuck into your iPhone or your camera? I think that the landscape is an offering of your own identity, and your feeling for the spirit of a place. So how do you find that? If we take a walk down this road, and this road was just picked at random, and I'm looking down the road, and I see there's something glittering down there. I have no idea what it is. It could be a store, it could be somebody's house, it could be a barn, I have no idea. But I stopped here because these trees, these trees are so powerful. Look at this tree here. So I stop because of that tree. But I'm called to go forward, so I'm gonna go for a walk, and we'll see what we see along the way. I've just walked about 30 yards from where I star...

ted, and already this place has become more mysterious, and interesting. I feel it calling to me. And that's part of the excitement of being in the landscape. You don't know what's around the next bend in the road. But if you go for a walk, with an open heart, and an open mind, you're likely to have some surprises, and some adventures, along the way. So come on, let's go and see what we get. (upbeat mysterious music) Come on. I think it's important to be open to suggestion. You know, it's the outside world, speaking to the inner voice that each of us has. The hunger that each of us has to find something that's unique to us. Our way of looking at the world. So this is a perfect example. I don't know what's down there, but I'm gonna find out sooner or later. And we'll all see what the discovery is. And that's how it is when you make your photographs. We've come to a little crossroad. This is where tractors probably cross the road. And I look out this way, and I see wheat grass growing here, and a rolling hill. And I look this way, and I see an olive grove in sunlight. And I look this way and I see a building down there. And I'm kind of guessing from here, I don't know if it's a house, or a private chapel, I don't know. But look, I've got a couple of different opportunities. I can make a picture of this road, with that beautiful building, tucked in like a surprise. Or I can make a picture of that road, and the beautiful building, and this olive grove. But I think it's important, to me right now, to stand here and see if I can make a picture, that handles both these spaces. That's interesting. Gives me two things to look at. I still get whatever that building is, but I get this too. So the picture has a kind of a new, a new potential meaning in it. But I'm gonna go a little bit forward, and just make this picture too. And as soon as I say that, I contradict myself, because I can't pass this by. This is such a surprise. Look at the quality of the light here. It's nothing spectacular, or super beautiful, but these grasses, and then the hill going down, and the shadow falling there, with more grasses beyond that. And that copes of dark trees. And then these trees over here, and the olive grove, taking a dive down the hill. It's all these combinations, but they're very personal. They're not super beauty, the way you see it in the postcard. But there's something that only you and I can see right now. So we can make a picture, and this might remind us of the great simple beauty of Tuscany on a hot summer afternoon. Come into the dap of light with me. Because there's a place right here, where the ground, and the building, have an equilibrium. The quality of the light on the ground, and the quality of the light on the building, are making a pairing, that's really beautiful photographically. When you see it on the page, the way it's all going to be, of speckled, is going to be part of the content of the photograph. It's not just the thing in the distance, it's the way the light, and the road, and the space, makes this thing come together like. It's almost like a puzzle in some way. So I'm gonna make a photograph here, and then we'll go a little bit closer. It's very easy to make the photograph, where the road goes right down, and in the center is the building. But it's also interesting to step off to the side, and have a big sweep of road, and push the building to the far right side of the frame. So that you have now the muscularity of the road, phhww, a swoosh with dap of light, and then bang, it ends in that beautiful dap of light of a building. So you have a piece of architecture, formal architecture, in opposition to, or in harmony with, the dapple, and the trees, and the mess that nature is. So this is a picture about order and chaos, nature and manmade. Couldn't have imagined that this was here, when we started there. Part of the surprise of working in nature, is that it's always revealing something new for us to see. A church, a chape in the woods. Who comes here? Why is this here? It's not a city, it's not a town, it's a little private chapel in the wood. And the light is incredible on it. And the architecture is just pristine. Look at the way it sits in the ground. This is a beautiful discovery. Look how much there is here. There's the facade of the building, which is beautiful with the light on it. But there's also this side of the building. That's a whole study all by itself. Look at the quality of the shadow of the trees, and the way the color, that creamy color bends the corner, and suddenly we have a drawing of the trees on it. What I'm really saying, is that when you're out in nature, the discovery factor, carries you along. It's like being in a little boat on the stream. It carries you along. And we find ourself in a surprising place. What do we do next? We're gonna just wander around this thing, and make as many interesting photographs, out of what we've discovered, as we can. (upbeat mellow music) We're behind a church. After a walk on a country road, through the woods, we find this church. But look where we are. This incredible building, with the sweeping shadow of the tree, and the hard sunlight washing across the face, and these beautiful colors of white washed walls. And so somehow, we're still in the woods, but we have this beautiful building, which gives us on the one side, a kind of abstraction of daylight and shadow and color. And on the other side, it looks out into the wild of the woods. To me this is what, this is landscape. This is really landscape, where you have nature and culture, side by side. These I think are powerful motifs to have in the landscape, when they turn up. I feel like this little walk has been an incredible lesson, in how nature combines with our own instinct, our human instinct, and draws me into following the lead that nature is offering. And I find myself here right now. And this is as sweet a moment as I've had all day.

Class Description

Internationally renowned and award winning photographer Joel Meyerowitz is known for his iconic images that encompass decades of capturing all genres of photographs. Masters of Photography is bringing Joel’s class to CreativeLive to share the learnings from his vast career.

You’ll learn:

  • How to find a subject to photograph
  • How to improve your compositional skills
  • How to determine correct lighting
  • How to print your images and also create a photo book

Walk with Joel through picturesque Tuscany, bustling Siena and the vibrant streets of New York as he shows you how he creates his photographs. He will shares ideas, experiences, and his secrets on how to make great images. Joel will also suggest ideas for projects to try yourself. You can use any device from camera phone to DSLR, but in the end it’s all about you and your photography.

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I have an all access pass and thought oh no, I have to pay for this one? I bit the bullet and I am so glad I did. Joel has a great deal of wisdom and experience because of his age. BUT, despite his age, he exudes a fountain of enthusiasm, playfulness, curiousity and constant wonder surrounding his subjects. He opened within me the possibilities of exploring different photographic subjects and allowing myself to experience the fun in pursuit of those subjects. I love the way he shows how someone can take the same ho hum scene, but then look around for a different point of view. He is indeed a Master and I thank Joel for the class.


This is a absulutely fantastic class. Joel Meyerowitz takes you on an journey of little but important advices. In each short video you got some jewels to improve your approach, your view and your art. I own a lot of classes here on CL, but this one is one of my favourits! Gentle and human. Thank you Joel Meyerowitz, you helped me a lot on my journey to develop my photography.

Cosmin Dolha

What do you do after you learn all the mechanics, the technical stuff, exposure triangle, lights, where do you start? Because I am starting, now! You will find encouragement and guidance, and real applicable wisdom. If you are new to photography as I am, this course will point you in the right direction. What a treasure! Thank you CreativeLive for this and thank you Joel Meyerowitz for taking such a gentle approach to such a complicated subject, that is photography.