Trust me - this is photography-related. I went to a writer's conference last month. I was there to support a friend. The conference featured several very famous authors who gave readings from their published works. They also taught workshops, discussing technique and craft. There were many similarities between the writer's workshop and several photography workshops I've attended or spoken at. There was one very big difference. During the question and answer period where the attendees could ask these famous authors any question they like, … [Read more...] about What Brand of Pen Do You Write With?
I judge many photo contests. I also critique photos on a regular basis. When a photographer stands in front of me and feels the need to explain their photo, I know I'm in trouble. You see, if you have true photographic vision, you have clarity and if you have clarity, you don't need to explain or defend your images. Clarity is about what emotions or feelings the image is trying to evoke, not the facts behind the image. Photographic clarity is about passion of purpose. It's about a single-minded desire to protect a memory. It's about story … [Read more...] about Do Your Photos Have Clarity? And I’m NOT Talking Sharpness
The next time you ooh and ah over a DSLR remember that even the fanciest of cameras are more about imagination, vision and wonder then they are pixels, engineering and technology. ________________ … [Read more...] about Quick Thought – Imagination, Vision & Wonder
It was very windy here today. The pelicans took a break from their fishing and just seemed content to soar in place. I swear they were just playing around. One pelican soared in the same place for almost a full minute, then circled around and did it again and again and again. He was 200 feet up in the air. He wasn't even soaring over the beach. He was just hanging out - literally. I found myself studying this behavior and in an uncharacteristic zen mood today. I was trying to draw some conclusions from the bird's behavior. More importantly I … [Read more...] about I Watched A Pelican Soar Today
If you want to elevate yourself from snap shooter or picture taker to picture maker, here are seven questions you should consider asking yourself before you make your next image. 1. What is the subject of the photograph? 2. What story does the photograph tell? 3. Am I taking this photograph because I care about the subject or because I just want to justify owning a camera? 4. Will this photograph matter to anyone? 5. Will this photograph help (or hurt) anyone? 6. Will this photograph move you as a photographer or move the viewer or … [Read more...] about Seven Things To Ask Before You Take Your Next Photograph
One of the differences between a professional and an amateur photographer is that a professional knows when NOT to shoot. Just because you have a camera, and you ended up at place XYZ, doesn't mean you need to make a photograph. Sometimes, the light just sucks. Sometimes, you have the wrong subject. Sometimes the background just won't work. When it isn't working. STOP! Reset. Reframe. Start over. Go somewhere else. Try something else. Shoot something else. Take a break. Read a book. Have a beverage. Then, take a deep breath and live to fight … [Read more...] about You Got To Know When To Hold Em – Know When To Fold Em
It happens every time I lead an outdoor or nature photo workshop. One of the students comes to me and says something like, "But I don't know what to shoot?" Sometimes, we're overwhelmed by opportunity. Sometimes we're just in a rut and nothing draws our attention. Still other times we can't see the forrest for the trees. What's the solution? Here are three tips for finding compelling photographic subjects. 1. Look inward. Ask yourself what YOU want to shoot. What story do you want to tell? In what way do you want to use your camera to … [Read more...] about Three Tips For Finding Compelling Photographic Subjects
My post last week sharing 10 ways you could improve your photography without buying gear was so well received (i.e., it's the most popular post ever at Photofocus other than camera giveaway announcements) I decided to add to it. So here are five MORE ways you can improve without buying gear. 1. Keep a diary or a journal. If you see something that interests you, jot down a note about it. If you see a photo you really like, tear it out of the magazine and tape or staple it to the journal. If you start working through what has and has not worked … [Read more...] about Five More Ways to Improve Your Photography Without Buying Gear
This post is inspired by the ever-inspiring David duChemin. The author of the acclaimed Within The Frame has published two great e-books called "Ten Ways to Improve Your Craft. None of Them Involve Buying Gear" and "Ten MORE Ways to Improve Your Craft. None of Them Involve Buying Gear." Both are available from duChemin directly here. While I'm not going to give you the in-depth and brilliant 34 plus pages worth of inspiration spending $5 on David's e-book will, I do think I'd like to add my own two cents to his idea, because it's a darn good … [Read more...] about 10 Ways to Improve Your Photography Without Buying Gear
Image and Post by Rick Sammon I forget who said it, but one of my favorite quotes about photography is: Look for what you don't see. This image (certainly not the best picture you have ever seen of Double Arch in Arches National Park, UT) illustrates this point. I was showing this image during a slide presentation (demonstrating the Shadow/Highlight control in Photosohp) when someone in the audience called out, I see the face in the rocks. Well, I had shown this picture many times and did not see the face. I was not looking for what I didn't … [Read more...] about Short and Sweet Shooting Session #10 – Look for What You Don’t See
Image and Post by See Eye to Eye When it comes to photographing people, I almost always try to see-eye-to eye shooting at the subject's eye level. At that level, the viewer of the photograph connects with the subject and the image looks less like a snapshot and more like a photograph. Compare these two pictures of Cuban musicians. One, taken while I was standing straight up, looks like a snapshot. The other, taken while I was kneeling, is a much-improved shot. Of course, I do break that rule, as illustrated by the picture of the woman … [Read more...] about Rick Quick Tip: See Eye to Eye
This post starts out with a story about the Kentucky Derby. Please be patient and I promise you'll see how it's relevant to photography. This year, the Kentucky Derby winner was "Mine That Bird." The horse was a 50-1 long shot. Nobody gave him a chance. Nobody but jockey Calvin Borel. Borel decided to the best job he could with the horse he had to ride. He didn't make excuses. He didn't give up. He didn't decide that his situation was impossible. He just won. In a post-Derby interview I heard the jockey Borel say something that hit me like a … [Read more...] about Taking the Best Photograph you Possibly Can
This is not an in-depth review of Within the Frame. I'll leave that to our regular book reviewer, Conrad. I wanted to chime in with a mini-review on some of the important messages I took away from reading the book. Photojournalist Steve Simon has a saying. "Go an inch wide and a mile deep." That perfectly described the approach that David duChemin took in this book. I read it in two days. I was completely consumed by this book. I only discovered David's incredible blog a few months ago. The Pixelated Image blog is full of great writing, so I … [Read more...] about Within the Frame
Often times, a photograph goes beyond technique Post and Photos by Rick Sammon. Follow Rick on Twitter. I don't think, I feel. That what Keith Richards said about playing guitar on stage in Shine The Light, the Martin Scorsese film about The Rolling Stones performance at the Beacon Theatre in New York City. The film is a must-see, in my book! I like that philosophy, and have thought about photography the same way for years. I believe that a photographer must know exactly what all the buttons, knobs, dials and settings do on a camera so that … [Read more...] about Feel the Photograph
Why does one photographer walk by an opportunity that someone else turns into a magazine cover? How can you learn to see creatively? Your camera manual won't answer these questions. But with the right tools and process, you can improve your photographic vision. The tools that help photographers to creatively see include patience, positive attitude and an open mind. While most people possess these traits to some degree, they usually lack the process that pulls it all together. On your next photo shoot, use these steps to improve your … [Read more...] about Elimination, Evolution, Reinvention, Revolution, Synthesis, Starting Over, New Directions – Seven Ways To Improve Your Photographic Vision
It doesn't matter how good your camera is if you haven't got a good photographic eye. You have to know what to point the camera at in the first place. Here are five quick tips for developing and improving your photographic eye. a. Get serious about photography. If you want to develop your eye you need to look at thousands (yes thousands) of published pictures. You need to eat, sleep and drink photography - not just on vacation, but every week. The old saying "practice makes perfect" is true. Look at lots of pictures, and throw yourself into … [Read more...] about Five Steps to Improving Your Photographic Eye
Here's How To Improve Your Photography - Look at lots of pictures! Writers get better at writing by reading. And photographers get better by studying photographs. I never knew this until a woman who critiques photographs for a living gave me a mission. This was many years ago, but her advice still rings true for all of us. She said I needed to study 10,000 photographs before I came back to her. I've taken that advice. I haven't ever seen her again and thus, can't show her my new work, but I am confident it's better. I spent money to buy … [Read more...] about Improve Your Images
Last week, Wall Arch in Arches National Park, Utah collapsed. This is one of those places photographers loved to visit. I personally made images there four times. I distinctly remember one of my associates remarking to me that photographing such places was a waste of time. He said been there done that everyone has that picture. Oh really? Well not anymore. Nobody will ever again take that picture. The opportunity is gone for good. These arches took millions of years to form, but they take only seconds to fall. And when landmarks like these … [Read more...] about Photographing Icons – They Matter
In my experience, there are basically two kinds of photographers. The first group is interested in the science of photography. They care mostly about the gear, the technical stuff and are less interested in art. They like photographs that are technically superior - regardless of subject. If a photo is pinpoint sharp, well exposed and printed, this group gives it a thumps up. Then there is the artist. This person may intentionally under or over-expose an image. They may allow a slightly out-of-focus image into their portfolio. They prefer … [Read more...] about What Kind of Photographer Are You?
If you're a photographer, chances are, you're a communicator. Most of the professional photographers I know are really storytellers. They have something they want to say, and they use the medium of photography to do it. While it would be easy to focus this post on the communicator, I want to focus it on the audience. That's something rarely (if ever) talked about in the photo community. Too many photographers make images they like, and then go looking for an audience. Serious communicators find an audience first, then go craft a story that … [Read more...] about Are You a Snapshooter or a Communicator?