We have a lot of fun in my workshops. Often, we use our iPhones to stimulate creativity. We try all sorts of creative experiments. This trip, one of the experiments I tried was creating cartoons of participants as superheroes or supervillains. It all started when our guide Ragnar Th. Sigurdsson put a luggage label on his chest with a fragile icon. I made a not sign on it with a Sharpee pen and he became Captain Unbreakable. Then I made an ironic cartoon of him with my iPhone. (Apps used are Toon Paint, Pic Grunger, and Label Box.) Everyone was laughing. Everyone wanted to play. We laughed our way through Iceland.

Because we were playing this game, we thought frequently about what text could/would accompany our images – titles, captions, essays and more. Frequently, a little levity can lead to useful creative insights.

Here are some of the images from these ongoing hijinks.

Find out about my 2012 Iceland digital photography workshop here.

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Frequently, old ideas and feelings surface in the midst of our creative process. Tracking our own fixations and chains of association can be both revealing and rewarding.

The paintings of Morris Graves made a big impression on me at an early age. Ever since, I been interested in photographs of dead animals, particularly birds. I even made some of my own.

I stumbled into this territory, once again, by chance, while photographing on the side of the road in Iceland. I quickly made this sketch with my iPhone. I knew what was happening while I was doing it, because I’d already done a lot of observation of my creative process and soul searching. I recommend you do the same for yourself. You’ll be richly rewarded with highly personal insights.

Find out about my 2012 Iceland digital photography workshop here.

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We do lightning fast reviews of participant’s images in my digital photography workshops. We discuss what works and why and what doesn’t and why not. It’s wonderful to see how different the images are, made by individuals in the same situations using the same tools. A lot of learning happens by simply sharing images and spontaneous responses to them.

Here’s a sampling from participants in my 2011 Iceland workshop.

Find out about my 2012 Iceland digital photography workshop here.

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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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Iceland. Seljalandsfoss. A waterfall you can walk behind. Sunset.

I’m getting lost in Iceland with a great group of Focus On Nature workshop participants this week.

Stay tuned for updates.

Find out about my 2012 Iceland workshop with Seth Resnick here.


Blurb’s Photography Book Now contest celebrates the best self-published photography books of the year – and the people behind them.

Up to 200 books per category (Travel, Documentary, Student, Fine Art) have been selected for People’s Choice voting.

Winners receive $1,500.

Vote for your favorites by August 30.

“Founded in Paris by Harold L. Humes, Peter Matthiessen, and George Plimpton in 1953, The Paris Review began with a simple editorial mission: “Dear reader,” William Styron wrote in a letter in the inaugural issue, “The Paris Review hopes to emphasize creative work—fiction and poetry—not to the exclusion of criticism, but with the aim in mind of merely removing criticism from the dominating place it holds in most literary magazines and putting it pretty much where it belongs, i.e., somewhere near the back of the book. I think The Paris Review should welcome these people into its pages: the good writers and good poets, the non-drumbeaters and non-axe-grinders. So long as they’re good.”

In addition to the focus on original creative work, the founding editors found another alternative to criticism—letting the authors talk about their work themselves. The Review’s Writers at Work interview series offers authors a rare opportunity to discuss their life and art at length; they have responded with some of the most revealing self-portraits in literature. Among the interviewees are William Faulkner, Vladimir Nabokov, Joan Didion, Seamus Heaney, Ian McEwan, and Lorrie Moore. In the words of one critic, it is “one of the single most persistent acts of cultural conservation in the history of the world.”

Bookmark this fantastic resource. You’ll return again and again.

Read The Paris Review interviews here.

Read my conversations with photographers here.


Milton Esterow presents Ansel Adam’s last interview.

Read it here.

Read my conversations with photographers here.

 

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