I often like to use props to make photographs. One of my favorite props to use is images. Photographing other images, in many cases, photographing other photographs, adds layers of complexity and offers many poetic opportunities. Images ask you to look and to look in certain ways. Two images ask you to look and look again and to look in multiple ways. I find this extremely stimulating. Making images with other images in them can be a fantastic creative wellspring.

Here’s a selection of images with postcards in them that I made during my 2011 Iceland workshop.

Find out about my 2012 Iceland digital photography workshop here.

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For a time, I swore off making photographs that were like postcards. I was looking for something else then. I was looking for my own unique approach to making images. My thinking was that if I took a vow of abstinence from what I knew I wasn’t looking for, I’d eventually find what I was looking for. Eventually, I did.

After some time, I reconsidered this aversion to making postcard-like images. I started making them, again. Making postcards is excellent practice. You have to be fairly competent to make good postcards. Postcards survey a subject, tell a story, offer human interest, present strong color, and are composed of relatively strong graphic structures. Sometimes, postcards make strong emotional appeals. When you think about it, that’s a pretty tall order.

Postcards try to do it all – and do it all competently. It’s interesting to note that to transcend postcards, all you need to do is emphasize one of these qualities over the others and do that one thing excellently. Making postcards is great practice. To make good postcards you have to understand them clearly. To transcend them, you have to know the difference between them and what you’re really looking for.

Below is a selection of iPhone postcards from my 2011 Iceland workshop.

Find out about my 2012 Iceland digital photography workshop here.

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One of the first things I do when I arrive at a new location is look at postcards made in the area. Postcards give me a quick survey of the highlights of the region and the classic visual approaches that many other photographers have used to make images there. Postcards help me decide where to go and what to look for. Postcards also present me with a great challenge – transcend this.  Postcards help me up my game.

Here’s a selection of postcards I collected during my 2011 Iceland workshop.

3 out of 6 of them are by Ragnar Th Sigurdsson.

Find out about my 2012 Iceland digital photography workshop here.

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