In June 2015, Olaf will be co-teaching ‘Visual Conversations’, a creative photography workshop with Eileen McCarney Muldoon at Maine Media College in Rockport. They will also be running a LightDance workshop in Brooklyn in Sep 2015.
Olaf Willoughby is a photographer, writer and researcher. He is co-founder of The Leica Meet, a Facebook page and website growing at warp speed to over 7,800 members. After conducting many interviews for the Leica Blog, Olaf was recently interviewed there too. Read his interview here.
Here, Olaf shares his thoughts on interviewing and being interviewed.
What Makes Photography Tock?
This was the question uppermost in my mind when I started interviewing photographers for The Leica Blog some time ago.
We’ve all worked on ideas which tick like a Swiss watch. They have a magic flow resonating with ourselves and others. But some don’t, they linger on that haunting to-do list and never quite get done. Why?
Photographers are often considered not to be the best judges of their own work, so asking a direct question was unlikely to be productive. I was wondering how to tackle this dilemma in my interviews when, luckily, I stumbled on this quote from Duane Michaels,
‘Photographers look too much. They have to start thinking and feeling and make that the source of their work. Don’t just look for curiosity’. (For more words of great wisdom check Sean Kernan’s interview with Duane Michaels here.)
I understood. It identified for me what I love about Michael Ackermann in ‘End Time City’and the shortcomings I see in my own work. Time and again I pressed the ‘thinking & feeling’button in my interviews and it always resulted in a deeper more engaging response.
So when the Leica Blog turned the tables and interviewed me on my ‘Leica in London’Street Photography project (link below) I felt well prepared. Yet initially I fell into the same trap. Rationality ruled. It was only when I let go of the left brain that I could articulate the bigger picture.
Seeing that I had sat on both sides of the interviewing table JP kindly suggested that I might like to share any learnings on his blog.
Working through the process from the questions, to pulling together the images and text and finally telling the story, here are three pointers emerging from my interviews which have helped me to show the work of others in the best light. I hope they work for you too.
Question the questions
Let’s start at the beginning. The fact that I (or anybody else) am asking the questions doesn’t mean they are the right or the best questions for you. If you have thought through your project then you’ll know the one or two critical points you want to get across. Sense check the questions to see if they put the spotlight on these areas. If not, suggest changes or take advantage of the more generic questions to make your point. No apologies if this sounds ‘duh’, obvious. Apart from the big and experienced industry names, most photographers are honoured and excited to be interviewed. Often too excited to pinpoint how they think and feel about their project and whether the questions really search out the soul of their work.
What happens when a street photographer moves from the streets of New York City to a small town in southern of France? Joel Meyerowitz’s Once More Around The Sun answers this question in the form of a visual diary. It’s a fascinating look into the life, the heart, the mind and the approach how a master street photographer.
Written one year after the fact Meyerowitz now posts one image a day and his thoughts.
“Of the more than 15,000 images I made that year I will select an image every day, or perhaps two, maybe even three, who knows? Whatever keeps the blog interesting and might provoke some discussion. I may feel inclined to write something about what I saw, or describe some aspect of engagement with the moment, or share what came up for me after I made an image. At this point it is an open ended opportunity which will be shaped by time and the work. Much like Photography itself.”
Visit Joel Meyerowitz’s Once More Around The Sun here.
Find out more about Joel Meyerowitz here.
Read 18 Quotes by Joel Meyerowitz here.
View 8 Videos by Joel Meyerowitz here.
Last night during an inspiring evening at Photoshop World’s Fine Art of Digital panel I announced my new website johnpaulcaponigro-antarctica.com. It’s got information on my project including …
an upcoming workshop
a traveling exhibit
4 different galleries.
There’s much more to come!
Important facts on the region
An Antarctica alumni group exhibit
Stay tuned to my blog and my free enews Insights for new announcements.
Get a full list of Photoshop World cobloggers here …