“With a staggering eighteen Grammy-Award nominations, Take 6 is the most nominated Gospel, Jazz, Pop or R&B artists in Grammy history.

In the music industry, Take 6 is so universally recognized as simply being the best, that they have virtually owned Downbeat magazines readers poll having won Favorite Jazz Vocal Group 9 consecutive years.

Take 6 has received some of its highest praise from the music industry’s icons. Mega producer and longtime collaborator Quincy Jones, has described Take 6 as The baddest vocal cats on the planet. In their stellar career, they have been honored to perform with numerous music legends including Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis, David Foster, Al Jarreau, Stevie Wonder, Denyce Graves, The Yellowjackets and Wynton Marsalis among a host of others. The Take 6 style has also reached todays pop culture. Their musical style and tight harmonies have influenced pop groups from Boyz II Men and Backstreet Boys to *NSYNC.”

Listen to more inspiring performances here.

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The Creative Space, Part Two

In part one of this post I imagined an inspirational photographic location – a creative space – and then looked at how different artistic disciplines might interpret that space. I ended with the question, ‘how can we enlarge the creative spaces we inhabit to energise our work?’ Let’s look at an example from last year’s workshop, using poetry.

Following an introduction looking at Japanese books illustrating haiku poems and touching on the work of Duane Michels, you are given two poems with the request to visualise them photographically. This introduces text and therefore activates both the left and the right brain.
The process of finding a hook on which to hang a photograph forces us to study the meaning in a way quite different from reading a poem in a book. It stretches our imagination, helps us think in terms of metaphors and pushes us to explore new directions. It is a simple technique but it works. The first reaction is surprise. It seems baffling but we teach tools which help conjure up images out of words . So the initial reaction is quickly followed by intrigue at the challenge and usually delight at the refreshing end result.

But is the idea of enlarging your creative space right for you? There’s an easy way to tell but you will need to set aside a few hours.

Look back over your work of say, the last two years.
Pick twenty favourite images from each of those years.
Lay them out in Bridge, run a slideshow or preferably look at postcard size prints. Review that body of work. What do you see?

Using free association, what are your strongest impressions? Here is a starter checklist;
Rational: choice of lens/camera, depth of focus, vantage point, colour palette, image composition, post processing style …etc.
Emotional: human interest, decisive moments, emotional qualities, use of analogy or metaphor … etc.

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Scribble spontaneously the words which come to mind. Do it quickly and don’t hold back. We’re looking for a plentiful supply of first impressions. Then repeat for the second year. Using the mind’s natural ability to detect patterns, look for recurring themes in words and images, similarities and differences. What is the overall picture? What are the repeat patterns? Are they positive or negative? Then consider this equation:

Do you have a strong signature style which you execute consistently across different creative spaces?
Or is it that you are traveling the world basically taking similar pictures?

The question is: in short, are you in a groove or a rut?

Most of us fall somewhere between the two. And where we fall on that line tells us what we need to do next. Whatever the outcome, this is a useful exercise and I hope you benefit from it. If you like the idea of seeing how different artistic disciplines can influence your photography it is easy to try out the poetry example above with a friend.

If you’d like a more comprehensive approach to enlarging your creative space, then please check out the ‘Visual Conversations’ workshop I co-teach with Eileen McCarney Muldoon at Maine Media College in July and at the Leica Studio, Mayfair, London in August.

Visual Conversations

July 10th – 16th, Maine Media College, Rockport, USA

Aug 23rd – 25th, Leica Studio, London, UK

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If you have trouble in deciding on your best work in the first place, then check out John Paul Caponigro’s site which has a host of terrific references including a PDF called ‘Finding Your Best Work’.

Find it here.

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Enjoy this collection of quotes by photographer Sean Kernan.

“I’ve always envied painters who could layer up impressions and observations and give a larger sense of a person. It’s as though a painter accumulates a series of transparent faces that add up to a person. The photographer always gets stuck with whatever he can tease out of a sixtieth of a second, and if he does well he can print the exposure that has implications and resonances.” – Sean Kernan

“The benefits of chance are enormous, but you have to watch out for them too. Chance gets me beyond whatever I had in mind when I started to work. It comes into play when I let things happen and then chase alongside them and grasp them on the fly. But the artist is responsible to what chance gives him, and just setting it down without taking it in and manifesting it again in the heuristic process is not enough.” – Sean Kernan

“What is revealed to me lies beyond any ideas I had for the pictures.” – Sean Kernan

“I’m inclining toward the idea that the working process of art is a lot more thoughtless than I once imagined – thoughtless but not stupid. Somehow the pictures that work out just the way I wanted them to are the ones I lose interest in soonest. The expectation has become the limit. And I think that the way to take something beyond your own expectations is to leave what you see unnamed and beyond concept for as long as you can. I want to work as far beyond what I know as I can get, and the gate to that beyond lies exactly between seeing and naming.” – Sean Kernan

“You want to float in that space of awareness as long as you can, keeping all possibilities alive so they can become clearer, then you pull down one that is BOTH unexpected and makes perfect sense.” – Sean Kernan

“The process is in the elimination of conceptions and cleansing the mind, then in claiming the awareness and manifesting it in a work.” – Sean Kernan

“You can see it in a great actors work – look at De Niro, or Streep, or Arkin. They can just stare into the air and you’ll sit and watch them, watch their intensity. And I realized that some of the best photographers I know have that same kind of intensity. It shows in their work. Their intense staring generates its own power, and we respond by staring with them.” – Sean Kernan

“I have a real appreciation these days for work that abrades me into awareness.” – Sean Kernan

“What happens when two things that don’t go together at all suddenly do? You wake up! You stop describing and interpreting the world to yourself, and just for a moment you listen. You can’t explain what you see based on what you already know, so you have to look further and wider. You have to expand. It’s the kind of startle response that I think lies at the very center of how art can change peoples minds. It happens when something suddenly interrupts the flow of our thoughts and we tip over into a kind of silent hyperawareness. It is that state of awareness that I have come to think of as the state of creativity, where new dimensions and insights arise. If a photographer is in that state and manages to make a picture, people who see it can participate in that deeper awareness too. This kind of event is where I think art gets its power.” – Sean Kernan

“The first question I tell students to ask in the first critique of a class is not is the work good, but is it alive?” – Sean Kernan

“I think that if there’s a kind of art that I’d like to make it would be art that is beyond comment.” – Sean Kernan

“You give the viewer or reader some pieces of the puzzle so he can assemble the thing himself, in his own experience, in his own time. It lets him invent the piece inside for himself. When that happens, you’ve passed along, not the words or pictures or even ideas, but the state that Robert Henri talks about. If getting in the state is one great reason for doing art, then passing it to others closes the circuit and lets the power surge beyond our small minds. It’s a way of approaching the divine – one of the few ways left to us.” – Sean Kernan

Read more in our conversation here.

Find out more about Sean Kernan here.

View 12 Great Photographs Collections here.

Read more in The Essential Collection Of Photographers’ Quotes.

View more in The Essential Collection Of Photographers Videos.

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Our 2016 Antarctica voyage was stunning!

After several delays our flight to Antarctica finally found a window through the low lying fog. Moody mists continued in the early mornings, lifting by mid-morning, revealing clear skies during the day, creating a marvelous daily transformation. Temperatures were unusually warm. Winds were unusually low. The still waters yielded fabulous reflections. I focussed on symmetry and minimalism punctuated by the imaginatively sculptural forms of ice.

Stay tuned to my social networks for more images.

View images from seven previous voyages here.

Preview my ebook Antarctica here.

View more Contact Sheets here.

View Seth Resnick’s images from the same voyage here.

Find out about our next Antarctica digital photography workshop here.

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Enjoy this collection of quotes by photographer Arnold Newman.

“There are many things that are very false about photography when it is accepted without question. You must recognize and interpret it as you would any other art form, and then maybe it is a little more than real.” – Arnold Newman

“A lot of photographers think that if they buy a better camera they’ll be able to take better photographs. A better camera won’t do a thing for you if you don’t have anything in your head or in your heart.”
― Arnold Newman

“We don’t take pictures with cameras – we take them with our hearts and minds.” – Arnold Newman

“The camera is a mirror with a memory, but it cannot think.” – Arnold Newman

“Visual ideas combined with technology combined with personal interpretation equals photography. Each must hold it’s own; if it doesn’t, the thing collapses.” – Arnold Newman

“Influences come from everywhere but when you are actually shooting you work primarily by instinct. But what is instinct? It is a lifetime accumulation of influence: experience, knowledge, seeing and hearing. There is little time for reflection in taking a photograph. All your experiences come to a peak and you work on two levels: conscious and unconscious.” – Arnold Newman

“There are very few Cartier-Bressons, Brassais, and W. Eugene Smiths in the world, but to me these men are photographers. They are artists because they make statements that all of us wish we could have made.” – Arnold Newman

“I didn’t set out to do something different so much as do something that interested me. I wasn’t trying to be avant-garde – that’s being fashionable. You don’t set out to revolutionize art, you make statements for yourself.” – Arnold Newman

“The photographer must be a part of the picture.” – Arnold Newman

“I don’t think any student, any photographer, any person should take pictures the way I take pictures. I build them because it’s the way I am, and that’s the way I should be. If I try to be something else and try to take pictures or talk to you humorously because I think I’ll get a few laughs, no. Somebody else, like Duane Michals might be basically funny. He is that way, he makes me laugh all the time. But he is being himself. A writer must be himself, a painter, all of us – or else suddenly we lose what we have.” – Arnold Newman

“A preoccupation with abstraction, combined with an interest in the documentation of people in their natural surroundings, was the basis upon which I built my approach to portraiture. The portrait of a personality must be as complete as we can make it. The physical image of the subject and the personality traits that image reflects are the most important aspects, but alone they are not enough…We must also show the subject’s relationship to his world either by fact or by graphic symbolism. The photographer’s visual approach must weld these ideas into an organic whole, and the photographic image produced must create an atmosphere which reflects our impressions of the whole.” – Arnold Newman

“There are no rules and regulations for perfect composition. If there were we would be able to put all the information into a computer and would come out with a masterpiece. We know that’s impossible. You have to compose by the seat of your pants.” – Arnold Newman

“I am always lining things up, measuring angles, even during this interview. I’m observing the way you sit and the way you fit into the composition of the space around you.” – Arnold Newman

“I think photography is a matter of controlling what’s in front of you and making it do your will. This, of course, implies absolute mastery over camera, medium, techniques, and the ability to work with the subject and get him willingly and happily without any self-conscious feeling to fall into those things which are natural to him. This is a very complicated thing to do in portraiture. Mine are deliberately self-conscious portraits and therefore contain no forced feeling of candidness… the subject is unaware of the fact that I am waiting – things begin to happen – the man begins to reveal himself. If the background becomes overwhelming and you lose the personality, then I have not made a good portrait and it is not a good picture. I think the world is full of intelligent people who are not really trying to be flattered; what they really want is to be understood”. The more I get to know my subject the more he gets to know me, and so often the pictures taken at the end of a sitting are much better both creatively and interpretively… A photographer is always in a state of preparing himself for a given moment… we have only an instant in which to think and act.” – Arnold Newman

“It seems to me that no one picture can ever be a final summation of a personality. There are so many facets in every human being that it is impossible to present them all in one photograph.” – Arnold Newman

“I’m convinced that any photographic attempt to show the complete man is utter nonsense, to an extent. We can only show, as best we can, what the outer man reveals; the inner man is seldom revealed to anyone, sometimes not even to the man himself. We have to interpret.” – Arnold Newman

“Photography, as we all know, is not real at all. It is an illusion of reality with which we create our own private world.”- Arnold Newman

“Fantasy is like poetry; it can point to the truth.” – Arnold Newman

“I don’t care what you do with that negative, you can retouch it, you can spit on it, you can grind it underfoot. The only thing that matters is if it is honest. If (the picture) is honest, you and everybody can tell. If it is dishonest, you and everybody can tell.” – Arnold Newman

“I often wonder whether I would have done as well in painting.” – Arnold Newman

“Photography is 1% talent and 99% moving furniture.” – Arnold Newman

Read more in The Essential Collection Of Photographers’ Quotes.

View 12 Great Photographs By Arnold Newman.

View more in The Essential Collection Of Photographers Videos.

Find out more about Arnold Newman here.

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Join me Saturday, April 18th at the Cape Cod Art Association in Hyannis, MA at  9am – 4pm.

I’ll present five Canon sponsored lectures Illuminating Creativity, Game Changers, Fine Art Digital Printing, Photoshop Color Strategies, and Lighting FX.

Find out more here.

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Enjoy these special industry discounts.
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