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“Years ago I stumbled on what felt like a secret door into creativity in photography. The secret is that photographers don’t need to hope that creativity will turn up. It’s there in us. Creativity is not something we do, it’s something we are…all the time.” says Kernan.

Sean Kernan has spent more than 30 years investigating ways that photographers find and use creativity. And all that insight now fills a workshop-in-a-book, Looking into the Light: Creativity and Photography, now available as an iBook.

Kernan’s book offers ways to get to that creativity for photographers at every level, bright beginner to jaded professional. It looks past cameras and technique to focus on our awareness. “We work on our awareness of all the things that happen before the click, which I’m convinced is where the wonder of our best seeing comes from.”

The book gives a series of concrete assignments that stimulate the visual imagination and change our pictures. The sign that they’re working is when we get a hit of the excitement we felt the first time we took a photograph that was way beyond anything we thought we could do.

The exercises are gathered from many areas—music, theater, writing—and they all involve simple things we already know how to do. We can use them to make better photos, or just to see more deeply into what is around us. The goal is to make pictures that talk to the world, not just to other photographers. As Jay Maisel put it, “You want to take more interesting pictures? Be a more interesting person!”

Looking into the Light illustrates the exercises with work from a distinguished group that includes John Paul Caponigro, Greg Heisler, Cig Harvey, Jay Gould, Dennis Darling, Adam Arkin, poet Gregory Orr, Ed Young, Paul Cezanne, Edgar Degas, Sol LeWitt, William Kentridge, and Sir Joshua Reynolds. There’s an iconoclastic essay on portraits by Duane Michals and links to interviews with Duane and Robert Frank.

To support reader’s efforts, the author has created a companion website at www.lookingintothelight.com, where readers can find further articles, watch instructive videos, and upload and share their own work on the assignments.”

Read 20 Questions with Sean Kernan here.

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Here’s a collection of my favorite quotes by photographer Bernice Abbott.

“Imagine a world without photography, one could only imagine.” – Berenice Abbott

“Photography helps people to see.” – Berenice Abbott

“What the human eye observes causally and incuriously, the eye of the camera notes with relentless fidelity.” – Berenice Abbott

“Some people are still unaware that reality contains unparalleled beauties. The fantastic and unexpected, the ever-changing and renewing is nowhere so exemplified as in real life itself.” – Berenice Abbott

“The challenge for me has first been to see things as they are, whether a portrait, a city street, or a bouncing ball. In a word, I have tried to be objective. What I mean by objectivity is not the objectivity of a machine, but of a sensible human being with the mystery of personal selection at the heart of it. The second challenge has been to impose order onto the things seen and to supply the visual context and the intellectual framework – that to me is the art of photography.” – Berenice Abbott

“…people say they need to express their emotions I’m sick of that. Photography doesn`t teach you to express your emotions it teachs you to see.” – Berenice Abbott

“They should just go out and photograph and stop talking about it. That’s the only way they are going to find themselves. They can’t do it in their heads – they have to go out and do it in the camera and get it on film.” – Berenice Abbott

“Let us first say what photography is not. A photograph is not a painting, a poem, a symphony, a dance. It is not just a pretty picture, not an exercise in contortionist techniques and sheer print quality. It is or should be a significant document, a penetrating statement, which can be described in a very simple term – selectivity. To define selection, one may say that it should be focussed on the kind of subject matter which hits you hard with its impact and excites your imagination to the extent that you are forced to take it. Pictures are wasted unless the motive power which impelled you to action is strong and stirring.” – Berenice Abbott

“Just living in a place is not enough. You can live in a community and not understand it. Just looking at it wont do. I almost believe we don’t see anything until we understand it. Look into the history of the area – why it started, how it developed. The more research you can do the place, the more you may realize that you don’t know it as well as you thought you did. Let the subject speak for itself. Be true to the subject. Pretty pictures are only an escape from the subject. Don’t photograph a good-looking branch just because it looks nice; the branch should mean something about the community. Photography is statement; it has to tell us things about a place.” – Berenice Abbott

“Actually, documentary pictures include every subject in the world – good, bad, indifferent. I have yet to see a fine photograph which is not a good document.” – Berenice Abbott

“If a medium is representational by nature of the realistic image formed by a lens, I see no reason why we should stand on our heads to distort that function. On the contrary, we should take hold of that very quality, make use of it, and explore it to the fullest.” – Berenice Abbott

“I didn’t decide to be a photographer; I just happened to fall into it.” – Berenice Abbott

“I took to photography like a duck to water. I never wanted to do anything else. Excitement about the subject is the voltage which pushes me over the mountain of drudgery necessary to produce the final photograph.” – Berenice Abbott

“Photography was the medium preeminently qualified to unite art with science. Photography was born in the years which ushered in the scientific age, an offspring of both science and art.” – Berenice Abbott

“You scientists are the worst photographers in the world and you need the best photographers in the world and I’m the one to do it.” – Berenice Abbott

“I wanted to combine science and photography in a sensible, unemotional way. Some people’s ideas of scientific photography is just arty design, something pretty. That was not the idea. The idea was to interpret science sensibly, with good proportion, good balance and good lighting, so we could understand it.” – Berenice Abbott

“I agree that all good photographs are documents, but I also know that all documents are certainly not good photographs. Furthermore, a good photographer does not merely document, he probes the subject, he “uncovers” it…” – Berenice Abbott

“A photograph is or should be significant document, a penetrating statement, which can be described in a very simple term – selectivity. To define selection, one may say that it should be focused on the kind of subject matter which hits you hard with its impact and excites your imagination to the extent that you are forced to take it. Pictures are wasted unless the motive power which impelled you to action is strong and stirring. The motives or points of view are bound to differ with each photographer, and herein lies the important difference which separates one approach from another. Selection of proper picture content comes from a fine union of trained eye and imaginative mind.” – Berenice Abbott

“…the art is in selecting what is worthwhile to take the trouble about…” – Berenice Abbott

“To chart a course, one must have a direction. In reality, the eye is no better than the philosophy behind it. The photographer creates, evolves a better, more selective, more acute eye by looking ever more sharply at what is going on in the world. Like every other means of expression, photography, if it is to be utterly honest and direct, should be related to the life of the times–the pulse of today. The photograph may be presented as finely and artistically as you will, but to merit serious consideration, must be directly connected with the world we live in.” – Berenice Abbott

“Abstraction in photography is ridiculous, and is only an imitation of painting. We stopped imitating painters a hundred years ago, so to imitate them in this day and age is laughable.” – Berenice Abbott

“Photography can never grow up if it imitates some other medium. It has to walk alone; it has to be itself.” – Berenice Abbott

“There are many teachers who could ruin you. Before you know it you could be a pale copy of this teacher or that teacher. You have to evolve on your own.” – Berenice Abbott

“The camera is no more an instrument of preservation, the image is.” – Berenice Abbott

“I haven’t seen too many images that have impressed me!” – Berenice Abbott

“Self-conscious artiness is fatal, but it certainly would not hurt to study composition in general. Having a basic understanding of composition would help construct a better organized image.” – Berenice Abbott

“The photograph may be presented as finely and artistically as you will; but to merit serious consideration, must be directly connected with the world we live in.” – Berenice Abbott

“I believe there is no more creative medium than photography to recreate the living world of our time…Photography gladly accepts the challenge because it is at home in its element: namely, realism—real life—the now.” – Berenice Abbott

“Like every other means of expression, photography, if it is to be utterly honest and direct, should be related to the life of the times – the pulse of today….The photograph…to merit serious consideration, must be directly connected with the world we live in.” – Berenice Abbott

“The photographer is the contemporary being par excellence; through his eyes the now becomes the past.” – Berenice Abbott

“Photography can only represent the present. Once photographed, the subject becomes part of the past.” – Berenice Abbott

“Does not the very word ‘creative’ mean to build, to initiate, to give out, to act – rather than to be acted upon, to be subjective? Living photography is positive in its approach, it sings a song of life – not death.” – Berenice Abbott

“Today we are confronted with reality on the vastest scale mankind has known and this puts a greater responsibility on the photographer.” – Berenice Abbott

“I am so fascinated with this century it will help keep me alive. I’ll be there until the last minute, fighting.” – Berenice Abbott

“Suppose we took a thousand negatives and made a gigantic montage: a myriad-faceted picture containing the elegances, the squalor, the curiosities, the monuments, the sad faces, the triumphant faces, the power, the irony, the strength, the decay, the past, the present, the future of a city – that would be my favorite picture.” – Berenice Abbott

Explore The Essential Collection of Quotes By Photographers here.

View The Essential Collection Of Photographers Documentaries here.

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Jay Maisel’s new book New York In The ’50s offers a unique window into an iconic city by an iconic photographer. Know primarily for his color work this book offers a rare glimpse into his early black and white photography. Photographer Sean Kernan said it brilliantly, “It’s all the wit you’d expect from Jay with none of the color.”

Here’s what Jay says about New York In The ’50s.

“I have been shooting New York for over 60 years now. And though I have achieved age, I can safely say I have never made my way to maturity so I have never been jaded or bored. I think all this is due to the grittiness and hectic quality of the city, you never capture it, it captures you.” After studying painting and graphic design at Cooper Union and Yale, Jay Maisel began his career in photography in 1954. While his portfolio includes the likes of Marilyn Monroe and Miles Davis, he is perhaps best known for capturing the light, color, and gesture found in every day life. This unique vision kept him busy for over 40 years shooting annual reports, magazine covers, jazz albums, advertising and more for an array of clients worldwide. Recently, Maisel has gone back to his archive of early work, and put together a collection of black-and-white images he made as a young man in the 1950s, evidence of a lifetime’s pursuit of a craft and a special talent, one of the best-kept secrets in photographic history. “New York in the ‘50s” is a beautifully-produced monograph that will be equally appreciated by Jay Maisel’s followers, and anyone who has stepped inside his muse, New York City.”

Find out more about Jay Maisel’s New York In The ’50s here.

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Enchanting Antarctica is explored in this beautiful ebook.

Individual portfolios are followed by a selection of images shot at the same locations at the same times by both artists.

Essays include personal responses to place and insights into the many influences that arise by working side-by-side.

It’s inspiring!

46 images

60 pages

It’s free for a limited time only!

Download it here!

Find out about our next Antarctica workshop here.

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England Garden Tour May 2008

Here’s a collection of my favorite quotes by Sam Abell.

“One of the things that I most believe in is the compose and wait philosophy of photography. It’s a very satisfying, almost spiritual way to photograph. Life isn’t’ knocking you around, life isn’t controlling you. You have picked your place, you’ve picked your scene, you’ve picked your light, you’ve done all the decision making and you are waiting for the moment to come to you….” – Sam Abell

“But there is more to a fine photograph than information. We are also seeking to present an image that arouses the curiosity of the viewer or that, best of all, provokes the viewer to think – to ask a question or simply to gaze in thoughtful wonder. We know that photographs inform people. We also know that photographs move people. The photograph that does both is the one we want to see and make. It is the kind of picture that makes you want to pick up your own camera again and go to work.” – Sam Abell

“As I have practiced it, photography produces pleasure by simplicity, I see something special and show it to the camera. A picture is produced. The moment is held until someone sees it. Then it is theirs. Photography, alone of the arts, seems perfected to serve the desire humans have for a moment – this very moment – to stay.” – Sam Abell

“My first priority when taking pictures is to achieve clarity. A good documentary photograph transmits the information of the situation with the utmost fidelity; achieving it means understanding the nuances of lighting and composition, and also remembering to keep the lenses clean and the cameras steady.” – Sam Abell

“And that desire – the strong desire to take pictures – is important. It borders on a need, based on a habit: the habit of seeing. Whether working or not, photographers are looking, seeing, and thinking about what they see, a habit that is both a pleasure and a problem, for we seldom capture in a single photograph the full expression of what we see and feel. It is the hope that we might express ourselves fully – and the evidence that other photographers have done so – that keep us taking pictures.” – Sam Abell

“Above all, it’s hard learning to live with vivid mental images of scenes I cared for and failed to photograph. It is the edgy existence within me of these unmade images that is the only assurance that the best photographs are yet to be made.” – Sam Abell

“You know you are seeing such a photograph if you say to yourself, “I could have taken that picture. I’ve seen such a scene before, but never like that.” It is the kind of photography that relies for its strengths not on special equipment or effects but on the intensity of the photographer’s seeing. It is the kind of photography in which the raw materials – light, space, and shape – are arranged in a meaningful and even universal way that gives grace to ordinary objects.” – Sam Abell

“In my work, the most elaborate – and essential – accessory is a standard tripod. For spiritual companions I have had the many artists who have relied on nature to help shape their imagination. And their most elaborate equipment was a deep reverence for the world through which they passed. Photographers share something with these artists. We seek only to see and to describe with our own voices, and, though we are seldom heard as soloists, we cannot photograph the world in any other way.” – Sam Abell

“It matters little how much equipment we use; it matters much that we be masters of all we do use.” – Sam Abell

“…just like some people’s instinct to photograph is triggered by vacation… assignments might be that to me and that’s why I’ve built my life around assignments. That was the way to live the photographic life.” – Sam Abell

“I think of myself as a writer who photographs. Images, for me, can be considered poems, short stories or essays. And I’ve always thought the best place for my photographs was inside books of my own creation.” – Sam Abell

“There isn’t an aspect of book creation I don’t enjoy, and there has always been a book in my life to dream about or work on.” – Sam Abell
“Life rarely presents fully finished photographs. An image evolves, often from a single strand of visual interest – a distant horizon, a moment of light, a held expression.” – Sam Abell

“The neatest part of this book I’m working on – to me – are the pictures that show the process… Because photographers… think things through and… it isn’t luck, and it isn’t random and it isn’t accidental. It isn’t.” – Sam Abell

“My best work is often almost unconscious and occurs ahead of my ability to understand it.” – Sam Abell

“A mad, keen photographer needs to get out into the world and work and make mistakes.” – Sam Abell

“In almost every photograph I have ever made, there is something I would do to complete it. I take that to be the spirit hole or the deliberate mistake that’s in a Navajo rug to not be godlike, but to be human.” – Sam Abell

“Photographs that transcend but do not deny their literal situation appeal to me.” – Sam Abell

“The best lesson I was given is that all of life teaches, especially if we have that expectation.” – Sam Abell

“How the visual world appears is important to me. I’m always aware of the light. I’m always aware of what I would call the ‘deep composition.’ Photography in the field is a process of creation, of thought and technique. But ultimately, it’s an act of imaginatively seeing from within yourself.” – Sam Abell

“Essentially what photography is is life lit up.” – Sam Abell

Find out more about Sam Abell’s Photographic Life here.

Find more photographer’s quotes here.

View photographer’s favorite quotes here.

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“Issue 8 proudly showcases portfolios from Ami Vitale (storyteller and National Geographic photographer), Charles Adams (fine art landscape photographer), Jon McCormack (documentary humanitarian photographer), and Tom McLaughlan (abstract photographer).

This issue includes articles by our columnists John Paul Caponigro, Bruce Percy, Guy Tal, Chris Orwig, Martin Bailey, Piet Van den Eynde, Adam Blasberg, and David duChemin.”

In my column Creative Composition I discuss the uses of and relationships between Simplicity & Complexity.

I’m delighted to see that included is the work of Charles Adams, who has been my assistant for the last five years.

Preview PHOTOGRAPH 8 here.

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Reading_PhotoBusiness

Looking for great books on the business of photography? Browse this collection of my favorites.

From presentation to copyright and pricing, you’ll find a treasure trove of professional practices and insider tips.

Enjoy!

Find more great books here.

Reading_PhotoAppreciation2

Looking for great books on the photographic theory? 

Browse this collection of my favorites.

These soulful discussions of photography will remind you of why you do it and how to go further and deeper with your practice.

Enjoy!

Find more great books here.

Get an inside view of the mind of a photographer who has influenced a generation of photographers.

Learn more about Jay Maisel here.

View more Videos On Photographers here.

Read Photographer’s Quotes By Photographers here.

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Here’s a collection of quotes by photographer Jay Maisel.

“Always carry a camera, it’s tough to shoot a picture without one.” – Jay Maisel

“Never say you’re going back – SHOOT IT NOW!” – Jay Maisel

“If you are out there shooting, things will happen for you. If you’re not out there, you’ll only hear about it.” – Jay Maisel

“Try to go out empty and let your images fill you up.” – Jay Maisel

“Allow yourself to lose your way.” – Jay Maisel

“It’s always around. You just don’t see it.” – Jay Maisel

“If you can capture the element of surprise, you’re way ahead of the game.” – Jay Maisel

“You have to have a lot of ‘overage’ so that your failures aren’t the only thing you come home with. You’ve got to have a lot of things that were magnificent failures, but you want some magnificent successes.” – Jay Maisel

“There are rules about perception, but not about photography.” – Jay Maisel

“When finding the right angle for a shot…’Move your ass.’” – Jay Maisel

“You find that you have to do many things, more than just lift up the camera and shoot, and so you get involved in it in a very physical way. You may find that the picture you want to do can only be made from a certain place, and you’re not there, so you have to physically go there. And that participation may spur you on to work harder on the thing, . . . because in the physical change of position you start seeing a whole different relationship.” – Jay Maisel

“A photographer’s art is more in his perceptions than his execution. In a painter, I think the perception is only the first step, and then you have a kind of hard road of execution.” – Jay Maisel

“Be aware of every square millimeter of your frame.” – Jay Maisel

“You are responsible for every part of your image, even the parts you’re not interested in.” – Jay Maisel

“If you’re not shooting in the right direction, it doesn’t matter how well you’re shooting.”

“If the light is great in front of you, you should turn around and see what it is doing behind you.” – Jay Maisel

“As people, we love pattern. But interrupted pattern is more interesting.” – Jay Maisel

“Every picture should have a place you can go, a home, a climax.” – Jay Maisel

“Never put lettering in your photos unless you want it read.” – Jay Maisel

“I don’t see light as something that falls, but as a positive force.” – Jay Maisel

“I’m a New Yorker. I don’t believe in air unless I can see it.” – Jay Maisel

“Each picture you take has power as long as it brings experience to the person who’s looking at it.” – Jay Maisel

“If you want to make more interesting pictures, become a more interesting person.” – Jay Maisel

Find out more about Jay Maisel here.

Read more quotes by photographers here.

View documentaries on photographers here.


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