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Masters of Photography

Lesson 20 of 34

Workshop Heather

Joel Meyerowitz

Masters of Photography

Joel Meyerowitz

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Lesson Info

20. Workshop Heather

Lesson Info

Workshop Heather

(jazzy music) Hi, Rachel. Hi, hi. So, (clears throat) before I look at the work, why don't you tell me a little bit about, tell us a little bit about what you're doing, why photography moves you? It always has, since I was a teenager. And I love being outdoors, especially on the coast. And I spent a long time there, just watching. But having a camera with me actually slows me down even more, and just some of my best moments ever have just been out alone on a stormy shore with a camera. And I can be there for six hours and not even think, no, I'll think twenty minutes, I've been there twenty minutes, I've forgotten that I'm hungry, everything. And the camera just connects me with that, with the sea. I understand completely, having spent a lot of time on the seaside myself. And the phenomena of nature, sea and sky, is thrilling. So I've just looked through these pictures, and you know at first, when I saw this picture, I sort of took it for granted, which was a mistake. Because...

then I look at the rest of your pictures and I see an interesting kind of theme in the work that, although they are all under the heading of nature, in fact, you seem to be more interested in phenomena, rather than nature. It is phenomena of nature, But, you know, it would be easy to say, "Well, I've seen a million sea pictures" and everything. It would be easy to dismiss it as another moment when the sea is doing that, but in some way, I think she's made it a kind of monumental thing. It's frozen. Its energy, its descriptive power shows the energy. And it's frozen, almost the way this cliff face is frozen in time. You know these cliffs were once hot and melted like taffy. And then the earth cooled, and that's how it cooled. And then over time, the minerals in the earth leeched through and paint the surface that way. And the ocean is in movement all the time. But I think in instilling it like that, the monumentality of it, and the detail in it, this is where your fascination is, is how the bigness of nature can be somehow condensed. And tell me about this. Well, the technique is, well, I know you know, intentional camera movement where you move the camera during one second, I think that was about one second exposure, and the reason I used that technique for this picture is that this is, although you wouldn't know, this is the Outer Hebrides. And it's a landscape that I love. And it's an incredibly transient, ephemeral landscape that is constantly changing, the weather changes, everything's in motion the whole time. And it, it felt that I needed a technique like that to try and express that, rather than freezing, as I did with the wave, freezing the distant mountain and the sea. I wanted to give a sort of painterly sweep to it that expressed that ephemerality. So look at what she's done. She's taken something that is ephemeral and is moving all the time, and she's chosen to make it solid. And here she's taken something that's solid and stable, even though over the millennium it changes, and she's made it ephemeral. She's contradicted, she's contradicted both realities using photography. That in itself makes the pictures more interesting to consider. We may not know that she moved the camera, we may think this was a wave. This could be a wave, you know? On a particular day, with a particular atmosphere, the wave is loping along. And now, she's made this pair like that. And I think as a pair, I mean, they bear some resemblance to each other. And they offer a kind of a, what could I say? A dialogue. There's a dialogue between things. Now if you can generate a dialogue through your pictures, a comparison between things, that's a step forward. That's a an expression of your inner feelings, your passions. One of the most difficult things we all have experienced, and will continue to experience, is getting our inner feelings out on the paper. It really is difficult. And nature is really difficult too. Because nature's a cliche. We've made it. Calendars (laughs) and people who make them have made nature a cliche. Too gaudy, too familiar. But she has deconstructed it, a little bit, by making the liquid solid and by making the solid into air, in some way. So I think that you really have pushed some boundaries, some nature boundaries, in a way. The risk that I see, for you, I'm being honest. No, do. Is that... They can be too beautiful. I know because I've been accused of it myself, and there are people who just, you know, they refuse to go any deeper, they see beauty on the surface and they think it's there, it exists. But it doesn't, it has to be made by somebody. I was looking at this image, here. So, this is a waterfall. And we've all seen pictures of waterfalls, and time exposures of waterfalls, whether they're little ones in a stream, or they're big ones in Niagara. I don't have any idea what the scale of this is, but there's the quality, the striation quality of it, is very enchanting, in some way. It makes me want to look at it. It's as if the phenomena of nature has paused for a second. And it invites us in to look. Do you want to talk about it a little bit? Yes, well I think that is one of the four I've brought along that I'm not sure about. Because three of them were taken during the same trip to Iceland. And the big problem for landscape photographers, or, well, I think of myself more a seascape photographer, I guess, but is Iceland has been so photographed by everybody, really really well. It's really hard to get that out of, I found it really hard to get that out of my head when I went there. And I love Iceland, I've been four times now. I just love it. But I'm still finding that messing with my head. All the pictures everyone else has taken. Everyone else, of course. Yeah. I'm going to tell you, when you get home and you have a chance to get on the Internet, look up Jonathan Smith, can't forget that name. (chuckles) He was an assistant of mine for 10 years, a good friend, and he's been going to Iceland and he's made a body of work that doesn't look like anybody else's. Ah, okay, I will. And I think you'd appreciate it-- Yeah. Because of the subtlety of it. But he really has, and it took him a while. And then one picture, one picture, opened him up in such a way that he plunged in to that picture, and made a number like that, and he has been... become very... well-received in America. He shows now regularly, and people are buying the pictures, and... (deep breath) He found something out of the reach of everybody else in Iceland. So take a look. Now I will look, yes. He may shake you, or your boat a little bit. Yeah, that would be good. Speaking of shake your boat... (chuckles) This is the kind of photograph that I say, it's not your photograph. No, it's not at all. This is a generic picture. As lovely as it is, as a boating picture and everything, who the hell cares? It's just another picture of a boat, you know. And you didn't make it, it's generic. And I think that's one of the issues that we all confront, is when we make pictures that become, that go beyond us into the nether region of everybody's. It's like flower pictures, really. It's rare to find flower pictures that are extraordinary. Because they're flowers, they're extraordinary themselves. Every single one of them. But who cares? Unless you've got, unless you're a bee, and you can get inside and have a bee with a camera, and you're photographing from inside, where the honey is, (chuckles) or you're going to make. So, I think we should... stick with the few, well, they're not so few, but with the majority of this group that really have become sublime in some way. They've dealt with the phenomena of experiencevv and have raised it to some kind of poetic place. And that's hard to do in photography. And nature, as beautiful as it is, everywhere, it's very difficult to possess. To make it original and yours. And so I think you've done some really, really beautiful phenomena here that are visually engaging and stick in the mud. Thank you very much. Bravo, bravo, well done. Thank you. Well done.

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.