Storytelling with Stills and Motion Overview
as I'll explain through most of this course. I mean, everything for me is about the process of elimination. How do I curate? I always talk about curation, whether I'm curating my camera bag and what I bring with me taking things out usually. Or I like to add things in, but I don't want to carry them process of editing your images. What do you want to keep what you're takes? One of the ones that you're gonna get put out there to get published? Um, the process of curating in camera when you're looking through, What do you want in frame? What do you want out of frame? All of it is about telling powerful and compelling stories for me. It's it's is I keep saying it goes beyond just making an image and saying, Okay, I want this to be my calendar shot, and I often hear something that people ask. I say At least once a month I get an email saying I love the shot. I want to know exactly where you're standing on what day At what time? How high was your tripod? What lens did you use? What filter d...
id you use and when they asked me that question no matter what my answer is, no matter how precise it may be, they're already lost in my mind because it isn't about just that. Now. I'm always honored that you may want emulated image and emulation is absolutely pivotal to understanding the process of photography. But you have to take the tools and apply them and you know they're those tools. You'll notice that's this shot. This is a shot it took years ago in Denali National Park. I was actually I was doing assignment for some sunset at the time on on this beautiful, beautiful place and you see the same sort of techniques are being applied. You know, the image that I actually just showed you from this creative life class. It's the exact same set up, focusing in the back mountain, using wildflowers in the foreground. These are the kinds of things that I'm looking for. These are the kind of things I'm applying. These are the kinds of things that you should be applying as you move through this because it's about story. How do you tell a story? What do you do that goes beyond to a deeper level to convey that story. And so organ pipe Cactus National Monument was there for the National Park Conservation Association and PC A and lots of really great big beautiful cactus I photo and I talked about it in this last class with the stars and everything behind them. But it's the one that's dying in the moon and the Reds and all the different colors that sort of come together that tell that story of age finding ways to connect people with that landscape. You know, the goat standing up on the on the lake, which actually somebody just I think it was about a week ago sent me a picture and there was a goat. It was from the other services years old, already probably about got it, even though I'm afraid to even say, But it was many, many years ago already, and some guy was there in the last month or so, and he's on the other side of this rock. And there was another goat standing in the same spot because I think this guy's just there posing all the time. But you know, it's opportunity, and it's also being ready for the opportunity and you know, this isn't something that I had a chance. I mean, he was moving around, walked out that I didn't have a chance to sit there and think, Oh, came to set up my tripod. What lens should I use? You know what? What would blah, blah blah do in this situation? Instead, build the tools that help you react very quickly to the situation. Until that story, this class will also talk a lot about different kinds of stories and elements. And I talk about people love this kind of work. This is in Zion National Park. This is actually just a road trip with a friend who went out there, took some pictures. So it's fun to go out into the star photography. You know, it's it's tricky because this stuff is becoming immensely popular. What is popular on social media is not necessarily what's going to sell its not so what's gonna make a career a same time. People are discovered on social media every day, so figuring out that balance of how to position yourself properly is very, very key to all of these things. This is in Alaska as well. It's actually part of that same sort of longer road trip, if you will, in Kenai Fjords National Park. And one of the things that I think is really interesting as we start to think about storytelling is how the landscape is constantly changing. And this is something that in my planning phase and my preparation phase Ah, and I'm looking at pictures of Exit Glacier in Keene I fjords and thinking about Okay, What? What is it gonna look like? What we're I'll be able to go, We'll be able to do it. Looked very different, very, very different than when I got there. And the ability to adapt was critical. Change your position move, hike ended up pouring rain on me for pretty much the next 12 hours or something like that had very short window of time. But being able to tell that story and this is what this frame does, it tells that story and story is ultimately the thread that is going to take your images from decent or good two. Great. Does it tell a story that is the true thing that separates a photographer, uh, from others. Anyone can open the book that comes with the camera learn about aperture and shutter speed. Anyone? You can sit there and practice it. Now it's more easier than ever. When I learned I had a book and I wrote down the 36 exposures on film what each setting was 1 4/100 of a 2nd 41 1/100 of a second at four, and I would just practice practice practice got expensive. Good incentive to get better. Now you look at the back of your screen, go to to it goto F 20 to see what the results are focused somewhere. But that's not going to necessarily get you here. It's not going to get you the shot you need when you need it when you need to make sure that you get the great shot. Um, when you want to, when you're out someplace special. When you planned for months to go someplace for a week or two and you want to walk away with a great image, that's the way to go about it. Think about story, not just the technical components of it. Situations air constantly changing. This is one of my favorite shots is Mount Augustine. It's at the beginning of the illusion islands in Alaska, and it's an island volcano. I was hanging out of a little tiny airplane, huddled in with the door off 60 below zero. It's not frozen in my face. Battery went out the door. I think center lens cap or something went out the door of this little plane. It's just kind of chugging along up there. How about thinking about it? Stops nothing about shutter speed. Something about story. That stuff has to be second nature. So how do you go about telling a story? I think the best place to start telling your story. The best place to learn how to craft these elements bring them together. Is toe work close to home? Um, work in your own yard. Um, you know, every single day I and I'll show you an example of it. I take pictures with my phone. I zoom in, You know, I'm playing around him from the kitchen of my porch. If I'm at the office, I'm constantly taking pictures. I'm always putting my craft to use. One of the things I found is that I actually, despite all of these projects, all these assignments I have a warm up period I still have a warm up period where I'm like at first day. I feel rusty. I'm not thinking about the right things. I'm hit. I'm missing the technical notes. Uh, you know, maybe I'm not too pleased. My compositions. I've got a filter in the shot, even on the creativelive shoot When we were out in North Cascades putting this class together, I looked at some of my my images when I got back and I hadn't even noticed that I had some vignette ing happening in my lens. Mistakes happen to everyone. They're normal and they're natural part of the process. It's a lot easier when you make most of them closer to home before you plan that big trip away. And I think there's an immense amount of pressure for people to say I'm gonna go to Africa for two weeks because that's what's gonna make me a famous photographer. And that's what's gonna be great on social media when honestly, the best images I've seen or the things that people do in their backyards with things that they do close to home. For me, the close to home is Channel Islands National Park. Um, I live in Los Angeles. It's great to just be able to go drive well. Driving in L A can vary from minutes to four hours, depending. Uh, but drive up to the port and jump on a boat and you're there. You've got an incredible chain of islands. You know, this is inspiration Point. It looks like an aerial. It is not, You know, I feed her on the ground. Um, it's a gorgeous stretch. I've been photographing there for probably 17 years. The same place, the same islands, the same viewpoints. Every time I go, it's different. I re think about how I wanted to photograph the sunset changes the smog exchange over 17 years. The stuff that used to drift out of L. A is not nearly what it waas a long time ago. The skies are clear. There's more stars than ever before off the coast, it's beautiful. Um, but this is one of my favorite places to go and and it's trying to figure out what are the different pieces of telling a story of a place. And so one of the things I would start with is making sure that you're shooting wide. Um, you wanna have, ah, range of shots, and one of them is about what kind of shots but body of work. Do you ultimately want to able to gather from the images that you have and so starting wide with a shot and setting your establishing scene right? The establishing shot and the rules of stills Emotion more or less are the same when it comes to composition. You want to be really wide. You want to give people a strong sense of place. You want to be able to give that strong sense of place in layers you want. Necessarily. It's outdoor photography. We are part of the outdoors, so bringing people into the scene, having them in the foreground on the beach in the distance, having the island in there giving a strong sense of where we are. This was all part of an assignment for sunset, and I needed to come back with images that reflected their brand in their style. That reflected my brand in my style, their style of stories telling which you know, Is it just setting up tents? It's more than that. You know what is your process? You go camping. Do you just go out and take one big landscape foto at the pretty view. You stop an inspiration point because it's beautiful. No, you want people to feel like if I go look in my trip, be like and food is a part of that, right? Well, like to eat. Don't just pose your images posed or fine captured those moments. Be spontaneous, but tell a story. And this really tells the story of what your experience will be like. Shape lying people moving through the frame, taking in the view, you know, getting a sense of like what it will be there. But not just the wide angles, but also the details, bringing in the little tiny moments all that little stuff that might happen. And then, of course, luck and things that might change and give you some other opportunities. There's people, there's landscapes, there's food, There's hiking, there's wildlife. This is a camera trap. Ah, you don't really need to do that much for camera traps on these guys. You can pretty much set it and then have a trigger and just fire when they get closer before they walked by. There is Ah, the Channel Islands. Fox is one of the best recovery stories of any species. Um, this is actually now part a little bit of a nature Conservancy assignment. This particular photo, the next one was for sunset. Every time I've gone to Santa Cruz Island, they've been there again. Opportunity. You know, you have to be prepared for it and thinking about what you want your composition to be in a wide People are always tempted to just do these tight portrait shots show the sense of environment. Think about that. How does that tell the story? Do you get a sense of what this place is like? You get a sense of what it's like to be here toe, have these moments and go out along the cliff in the evening. Walking carefully, of course, stand the trail. But it goes more than just telling the story in these different shots in different times a day. But then I start to think, Okay, in my career, how can I go even a layer deeper or in this case, deeper physically under the water and going to the back side of Anacapa Ion, where even entire colony of California sea lions swimming around, swirling and This image has been wondrous for May, but it wasn't about creating a new image that would go all these different places. He was just exciting. It was exciting to jump in the water and sink to the bottom and have them just swirl around, live in the moment. Captured the moment, and the images themselves will eventually come as long as you're honest to that process and honest yourself about that process, um, adding different pieces to your skills are really going to be critical for this, um, underwater. I'm not saying everyone needs go out, get underwater camera, you know, could be maybe get a point and shoot. Maybe use any one of the many little small cameras out there with housings at work. I mean, there are many very There's many variations as many options. It depends on what deaths no pun intended. You want to go to tell your story? Um, when I say establishing shots and wide shots, I'm thinking about them in every context, whether it's the campground, the scenic views, the food, the wildlife for the underwater ecosystems, or now, with drones, which is also going to be covered in this class, you can get an even wider, more larger establishing shot not in a national park, but in other places and depending on the story that you're going to go to. So ultimately, this trip paid off after 17 years of traveling to the Channel Islands, whether timing all of the preparation, all elements. I mean, I know exactly what two week window I can go, and I'm gonna get it green rest of the year. Bernard Chris. It's very, very browning, honestly, could be got quite beautiful. It's golden is not a lot of trees out there that I don't like to go with a super hot, because there's not a lot of cover. Um, but when it's green, you can time it. You can build that in, and if you're lucky enough, it ends up as the cover of a magazine. And ultimately all of those things came together to tell this story. So, um, you know, it's not. You look at something like this and we open magazines and we've thumb through them very quickly. We don't think about the fact that there 17 years of scouting that made that thing come together. We don't think about that stuff But that's what it is. And that's why working close to home is so incredibly important because it allows you to have that repetitive nature. You go to Africa once for two weeks to take pictures. You're not going to be able to go and have that kind of access. You're not able to have a closer to home mentality to plan. So that's the difference between working close to home.