THE ARTIST’S PALETTE
Imagine yourself standing at some location with an artist’s palette in your hand. A recently stretched canvas is waiting on an easel, and a jar full of cleaned brushes sits on a small table next to you. Cobalt and Ultramarine Blue, Raw Sienna and Burnt Umber are positioned side by side while Chromium Oxide Green, Cadmium Red and Yellow lie together opposite them; Mars Black and Titanium White sit in the middle. They all have been squeezed from tubes and anxious to be mixed together.
Now, imagine that instead of all those wonderful pigments on your palette, there are the ‘elements of design and composition’. Terms like: Vanishing Point, Negative Space, Perspective, Tension, Color, Texture, Pattern, Light and Line, have been etched into the aged wood.
Everyone knows what happens when you mix red and blue, right? You get purple. How about when you mix blue and yellow together? Green, right again. But, what happens when you add Tension, a few Patterns, and Perspective together while taking your daughter’s portrait during an outdoor birthday party? Or Negative Space, some Texture, and a Vanishing Point when you’re composing a street scene in a small Tuscan village? Well, you’ll get the picture.
Remember you’re still an artist, but a camera on a tripod has now replaced the stretched canvas and easel. Through examples of my own work, I’ll help you develop your ‘eye’ by showing you how to incorporate these ‘elements of design and composition’ into your imagery. A new, finely tuned vision will be the result, and you will walk away armed with the ability to create powerful and memorable photographs.
CHASING THE LIGHT
With daily assignments and exercises to heighten your awareness of shooting during ‘the golden hour’ (early morning and late afternoon), you will gain a better understanding and sensitivity to light, as it enhances every aspect of these important ‘elements of design’. The differences between backlight, side and front light will be studied, and last, learning to use the ‘angle of reflection’ in directing the light source to the subject will soon be an integral part of your visual thought process.
With provided software, I’ll show you how to determine exactly where the sun will be anywhere on the planet from the moment it comes up at sunrise to the instant it sets; and where the shadows will fall days or even months before an important family outing, a personal trip, upcoming wedding, or commercial shoot.
SEEING PAST FIRST IMPRESSIONS
Photographers tend to come across a location or a subject and take the first picture that they see, then move on leaving a lot still on the table. During the week, the class will look at what I call the ‘Master Shot’. This is the first idea that pops into your thought process, and a photograph you could live with in case it started to rain on your parade.
After taking this shot and putting it safely ’in the can’, I will show you how to look for better ways to visually say the same thing or tell the same story. Getting up close and personal, looking at it from way down low then way up high, changing lenses, adding or subtracting props, and putting in or taking out people. Then, you’ll look at it from various ‘points of view’ while constantly keeping in mind the direction of the light.
What’s important about the Master Shot, and the following images is that while you’re shooting you’ll be learning the difference between one of my favorite expressions; taking a picture and making a picture.
THE “DOES IT” LIST FOR GOOD COMPOSITION
In this workshop, we’ll discuss what I consider the ten most important areas to remember when composing your photographs, and you’ll learn to love what I call my Fifteen Point Inspection Plan. This is when the commonly used phrase ’use it or lose it’ will start to make sense. My Plan will become an important addition to the camera bag and you’ll carry it with you wherever you go.
THE PSYCHOLOGY OF GESTALT
How we perceive and process visual input is a part of our everyday life, and as photographers, it’s our prime objective to present this visual information in a way that takes control of what the viewer sees when they look at our photography.
In our reality, making the mind work harder is not necessarily a good thing, but in photography it is. By leading the viewer’s eye around our composition, or having them complete an image, or have them consider the scene, they are taking an active role, and when we can accomplish that our images will definitely be stronger. Discussions and exercises based on the five concepts of Gestalt will be an important part of this workshop.
I have conducted workshops in Maine, Santa Fe, California, Florida, Texas, Canada, as well as online. Intermediate to advanced amateurs as well as working professionals have all learned how to take their photography up a level.
I promise you that “stretching your frame of mind”, breaking the rules, and making mistakes in a supportive atmosphere will be a great way to spend the week and learn!
At the end of my workshop, provided you have committed yourself to the process of making better pictures, you will walk away with a much greater command of your craft. You’ll be at a higher level of perception, and have a redesigned portfolio to show off your new skills.
Since the workshop centers around the basic ‘elements of design’, I promise you that everyone, no matter the skill level, can benefit from this class. A good knowledge of your camera and the ability to shoot on manual is all you will need.