Here’s a collection of my favorite quotes on photography.
“Photography is the power of observation, not the application of technology.” – Ken Rockwell
“The photographic image … is a message without a code.” – Roland Barthes
“Every photograph is a battle of form versus content. The good ones are on the border of failure.” – Garry Winogrand
“There is nothing worse than a brilliant image of a fuzzy concept.” -Ansel Adams
“When you put four edges around some facts (photographs), you change those facts.” – Garry Winogrand
“The two most engaging powers of a photograph are to make new things familiar and familiar things new.” – William Thackeray
“Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever… It remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.” - Aaron Siskind
“To photograph truthfully and effectively is to see beneath the surfaces and record the qualities of nature and humanity which live or are latent in all things.” – Ansel Adams
“While there is perhaps a province in which the photograph can tell us nothing more than what we see with our own eyes, there is another in which it proves to us how little our eyes permit us to see.” – Dorothea Lange
“Photography is a major force in explaining man to man” – Edward Steichen
“Your photography is a record of your living” – Paul Strand
“There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer.” – Ansel Adams
“There is only you and your camera. The limitations in your photography are in yourself, for what we see is what we are.”- Ernst Haas
“A great photograph is a full expression of what one feels about what is being photographed in the deepest sense, and is, thereby, a true expression of what one feels about life in its entirety.” – Ansel Adams
“If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.” – Robert Capa
“There is a vast difference between taking a picture and making a photograph.” – Robert Heinecken
“It is the photo that takes you. One must not take photos.” - Henri Cartier-Bresson
“To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.” – Elliott Erwitt
“To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson
“Photographers deal in things which are continuously vanishing…” – Henri Cartier Bresson
“Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still.” – Dorothea Lange
“It is the artist who is truthful and it is photography which lies, for in reality time does not stop …” – Auguste Rodin
“Photography is truth. The cinema is truth twenty-four times per second.” – Jean-Luc Godard
“People say photographs don’t lie, mine do.” – David LaChapelle
“Photography is just light remembering itself.” – Jerry Uelsmann
“Light makes photography. Embrace light. Admire it. Love it. But above all, know light. Know it for all you are worth, and you will know the key to photography.” – George Eastman
January 31, 2013 | Leave a Comment
In this episode of Real Exposures, David Brommer and I speak about a variety of topics including the value of photography workshops, harnessing creativity, and integrating spirituality in your work.
View my presentations Process & Game Changers in the B&H Event Space here.
The camera does not see as we see. While it can reproduce the appearance of human vision, it can do so much more. Only two percent of our field of vision is in focus at one moment time; it can focus one hundred percent of its field of vision. Our angle of vision is less than one hundred eighty degrees; its can be extended up to and even beyond three hundred and sixty degrees, in all directions. It can see microscopically and telescopically. It can see in brighter, darker or contrastier light – and even into other portions of the spectrum. It can see in a fraction of a second or over a span of hours, days, months, and even years. With the camera, we have made a marvelous extension of our sense of sight, one that continues to evolve.
I’m fascinated by photographs that reveal more than the eye human eye can perceive. Whenever photographs show me more than I saw, I feel as if a magic trick has been performed. This is one of those photographs. I saw the patterns the rain made in the water but I never saw them like this, until I made the photograph. They were too complex and fast moving to take in all at once. Because the photograph holds them still, I can spend more time considering them and my understanding of them grows over time.
While I celebrate the marvelous capabilities of the camera eye, I’m not unmindful of the challenging questions that our use of it raises. At what point do we modify our understanding of our own direct experiences to the documents we create? Which has greater authority? When does a photograph supplant memory? What do we consider to be more factual? What do we consider to be truer?
It’s often said that as you deepen your understanding of something the number of questions you have about it grows. Over time, I’ve come to love the questions even more than the answers. Sometimes revealing, usually stimulating, always useful, questions can have more than one answer and point the way to many new things.
How many ways can photography help you see and experience more?
How can the ways of seeing you learn through photography be extended to moments when you are not photographing?
Are there ways that photography limits your seeing?
Are there ways that what you have learned from photography limits your seeing?
“Street artist JR made a wish in 2011: Join me in a worldwide photo project to show the world its true face. Now, a year after his TED Prize wish, he shows how giant posters of human faces, pasted in public, are connecting communities, making change, and turning the world inside out. You can join in atinsideoutproject.net
With a camera, a dedicated wheatpasting crew and the help of whole villages and favelas, 2011 TED Prize winner JR shows the world its true face.”
November 21, 2012 | Leave a Comment
In 2010, during my third trip to one of the oldest desert’s in the world, Namibia’s Sossusvlei dune field, I enjoyed one of the most sublime hours of my life, from a helicopter. Moments of grace like this fill you with reverence for the miracle world we live in and a deep abiding gratitude to be a part of it all. I was prepared for it, but nonetheless surprised.
Before arriving, to plan where to go and how to maximize my time this magnificent dune field, I had done a considerable amount of virtual aerial research with Google Earth, zooming and panning images made from the combination of thousands of satellite images at various magnifications, to familiarize myself with where it started and stopped, how it changed in character, and the relative location of landmarks such as the dunes Big Mama and Big Daddy and the famous clay playa Deadvlei.
None of that could have prepared me for the changing angle of light, we were on the second flight of the day, an hour after sunrise, and the atmospheric conditions, all week long, the air was filled with dust from far off sandstorms that scattered the rays of the sun, permeating the sky with a white gold light. On site, I had to assess the impact of current conditions.
Even at an altitude about 3,000 feet, twice the height of the largest dunes, I found I couldn’t fit the vast dune field into my viewfinder. So I improvised and started making multi-shot exposures for panoramic stitches. It seemed like a bold move, if the two or three shots did not merge successfully then both would be lost, until one of my companions, Paul Tornaquindici, made an even bolder move and requested we do a 360 stationary rotation so that he could make a panoramic image of the entire dune field. To my delight, this method worked.
The images lay simmering in my unconscious for more than a year before I found my final solution, to render an effect of light as if it were originating from within the land to complement the light that showered down outside it. Often, a period of gestation is necessary to distill the essence of rich experiences to their essentials and connect them to others.
New image processing features informed the final realization of this image. The body metaphors, latent in these images, were intensified with creative perspective adjustments, using lens profile corrections, designed to remove mechanical optical distortions, now used expressively. Quite different than a change of angle of view, which reveals and obscures information, these distortions offered complementary but distinctly different visual effects, changing relative proportions and spatial relationships within the image. This solidified my previous experiments to compare and contrast the two and so learn to fully utilize them in tandem with one another intuitively.
Unexpectedly, the dynamic explorations made during the creation of this image suggested an entirely new alternate solution – one not fit for print. Animations of progressive distortions made the images appear to pulse and breathe, an effect that is perfectly in sync with my view of land as a living thing with a spirit of its own.
Making this image required pre-planning and then allowing that plan to evolve while responding to new input at each step in the creative process.
How can planning help strengthen your creative efforts?
At what stages and in how many ways can you encourage the evolution of those plans?
When is it better to abandon an old plan for a new one?
What are the positive and negative effects of having no plan at all?
“Erik Johansson creates realistic photos of impossible scenes — capturing ideas, not moments. In this witty how-to, the Photoshop wizard describes the principles he uses to make these fantastical scenarios come to life, while keeping them visually plausible. Photographer Erik Johannson creates impossible but photorealistic images that capture an idea, not a moment.”
October 23, 2012 | Leave a Comment
Sizzles & Fizzles
While color immediately grabs attention, other aspects of this image could be stronger and clearer, making its impact less durable than others.
Subtlety makes this image easily overlooked at first but its appeal grows stronger over time and in context with other images.
Our strongest images combine immediate impact and staying power.
It happens to me all the time. I’m excited by what I see on location and hopeful about the images I’m making. Afterwards the final results aren’t as exciting as I had hoped they would be. I rarely leave a location with confidence that I have truly excellent images. I can phone in competent and even good most of the time, but getting to great is another matter entirely.
It’s important to know the difference between good and great. I measure my current successes against my past success – I’m always trying to raise the bar. If the images you’re making aren’t making the cut for you, I’d take that as a sign that you’re being more discriminating and based on that I would bet that means you’ve got many more images in your portfolio that are better. That’s excellent! Plus, the world doesn’t need more mediocre images, but it does need more discerning eyes.
While this syndrome of “sizzling and then fizzling” is common. The opposite dynamic is often at work too. You’ll make images that don’t catch your attention immediately but you find yourself doing a double or triple take and your appreciation of these images grows with each viewing. These “sleepers” are very interesting; they tend to be smarter and/or more deeply felt. Because they don’t grab your attention quickly, it’s easy to pass these types of images by. That’s one of the reasons it’s important to look back through your images again, often after some time has passed, so that you can see them from a refreshed perspective.
Sometimes when you present the two together, one type of image makes the other type of image more interesting. The attention getter does just that – it gets attention. It can draw viewers in to seeing related work that might not be as eye catching but has more substance and depth. Similarly, if it’s related to the attention getter, in some way beyond proximity, the strong silent type can reveal hidden depths within its flashier counterpart and even transfer some of its own depth. Both can “rub off” on each other in a beneficial way. Their relationship can be mutualistic.
When you find the rare few images that achieve both immediate high impact and extended durability you’ve got real “keepers”. These are the images that should be celebrated most. These images set the course for many others, both current and future works. All the other images, the ones that come close but fall short, which are collected with the great images, should in some way support, amplify, and expand that greatness. Keep these fires burning and fan the flames. Carry this vital energy forward. Keep this energy flowing with new moves. Find out how long you can stay in the zone or what it takes to return to it or something similar. See how far you can run with it and where it will lead you. Work of this quality often gets beyond you; which doesn’t mean you can’t sustain it, or return to it, but instead means you probably won’t fully understand it until long after you’ve done it – if ever. Work like this expands you. It raises your bar and calls you to new heights. Answer these calls.
October 13, 2012 | Leave a Comment
“He experiments in a darkroom. She composes on a computer screen. Together, husband-and-wife artists Jerry Uelsmann and Maggie Taylor create haunting, layered dreamscapes that push the boundaries of photography’s possibilities. This documentary from lynda.com explores both the technical and emotional aspects of Jerry’s and Maggie’s work, from the composition to the criticism, with insight from other preeminent voices in photography.”
Paul Strand – Under The Darkcloth Part 1
Paul Strand – Under The Darkcloth Part 2
Paul Strand – Under The Darkcloth Part 3
Paul Strand – Under The Darkcloth Part 4
Paul Strand – Under The Darkcloth Part 5
Paul Strand – Under The Darkcloth Part 6
This video offers remarkable insights into a the life and work of a remarkable photographer.
Exposures – American Photography – Part 1
Exposures – American Photography – Part 2
Exposures – American Photography – Part 3
Exposures – American Photography – Part 4
Exposures – American Photography – Part 5
Exposures – American Photography – Part 6
Exposures – American Photography – Part 7
Exposures – American Photography – Part 8
Exposures – American Photography – Part 9
Exposures surveys American photography.
It’s a history lesson. It’s food for thought. It’s inspiring.
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