July 7, 2013 | 1 Comment
My TED and Google talks have a lot in common. Both discuss creativity as a dynamic process that we all engage in with our own unique orientations to. While there are classic operations we all perform, how we combine them and the uses we put them to. Experimentation and becoming more versatile is the key to turbo-charging your creative life. You’ll find dozens of tips and lots of inspiration in both of these talks.
I spoke about the creative process at Google headquarters a few weeks ago.
I began with the stories behind a few of the photographs I’ve made that have changed the way I think and see.
Then I talked about game changing advances in technology that have expanded the ways I see and changed the way I make photographs.
And I spoke about how using other media (like drawing and writing) can enhance perception and the photographs we make.
Distilled into one line … How an artist gets there influences where they arrive.
Sepia Town lets you view and share thousands of mapped historical images from around the globe.
You can even upload your own vintage images and share your history.
June 17, 2013 | Leave a Comment
John Sexton shares insights from his distinguished career in black and white photography.
How artists get there is just as important as where they arrive. My new ebook Process examines many aspects of my creative process – writing, drawing, painting, photography, Photoshop, iphoneography and more. Thirty-three chapters are organized into five sections – Color, Composition, Draw, iPhone, Write – showing how each discipline contributes to the completion of finished works of art.
This ebook reveals that an artist’s creations are produced by not one but many activities in many media and that the creative process is a never-ending journey of discovery that offers surprising insights along the way.
192 pages fully illustrated
$9.99 for Insights enews members.
(Email email@example.com for discount code.)
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?« go back — keep looking »
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