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Developing Vision! How to..........
Old 03-20-2003, 08:25 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Hi all,

I am making this post as an adjunct to what I posted in one of Chung's posts (some new images...dated 3/20) about how one develops "vision" and establishes a style that tells others, "Yup, that's Andy McFarland's work", etc. I am new to glamour shooting and don't have what I would call a "vision." I am often left staring blankly around my studio or around the outdoor area I'm shooting and asking myself what the hell I'm trying to convey in my photos and I honestly can't give myself an answer. I don't want to resign myself to emulating others. I want to develop my own style, my own signature, as it were.

I say all that to say this: Many of you have works that are very easily recognizable as works produced by you. What mental processes do you go through prior to a shoot? How do you come up with a "vision" for what you want? I look at my photos of the few models I've photographed and say, "What the $#%& is that all about?" I want people to be able to look at my work and say, "Yup, that's Mike Larsen's work", rather than echoing my own sentiments of wondering what I've done.

Am I beyond hope? [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img] I look forward to your thoughts on this. Thanks.

Good day!

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Re: Developing Vision! How to..........
Old 03-20-2003, 09:05 PM   #2 (permalink)
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No one who asks the question is beyond hope!

Here are a three things that I've done to help improve my vision and my style.

First, go to the library or Barnes and Noble or the internet and look at other photographer's work. Really LOOK at it. Where's the light? What else is in the photograph? Look at the detail that's NOT the focus of the photographer.

Second, while you've got some of those book in your hands -- read some of the comments of the photographer. Read about photography -- the history, what interesting photographers did to establish their vision.

Third -- hang around with other photographers. Photograph what THEY photograph -- not what you'd like. Get out of your comfort zone. Have people who's work you respect critique your work. Heck, put an image up on a server somewhere, copy the link into an e-mail message, and send it around to folks you've met on this board. You can also just post stuff for critique -- but if you want targeted feedback use e-mail or the private message feature of the site.

One of the things I've learned from doing all of the above is to think in themes. A theme will tell you where to shoot, who to shoot and what props to bring. And when you're actually shooting -- think in stories. What's the model doing here? How did her clothes end up on the floor like that.... etc.

Most of all KEEP SHOOTING!


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For me.....the journey was about......
Old 03-21-2003, 10:05 AM   #3 (permalink)
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......learning to see compositionally, vs. learning poses. Once you learn that process, which is more about line and form, light and shadow, than about posing, then you will begin to create your images in a consistant way. The consistancy, is what allows the style to develop. Until you can become consistant in your approach, the style will not become recognizable.

The vision in making images, is primarily a concepting approach, where you "think" an image, then determine how to make it happen, follow that up with a preliminary test of the concept, and then final shoot it.

Most really great images have a lot of planning and preparation, that set them apart from other images. However, you must have a concept to begin with, so you have a "road map" of where you are going, and how to get there.

To learn to see compositionally, you would benefit from seminars with the mentors who specialize in that approach. One of those people is Jay Stock. He has a remarkable ability to help others learn to see compositionally. Seek out the photographers who have proven they can teach others, and who can share unique ways of doing things.

Realize though, that there are different learning "methods", and that each of us usually learns best in only 1-2 of those methods, and then to a lesser degree with other methods. Again, I became very enlightened, when I was tested for learning method and found that I only excelled with one particular method, and that other methods were vastly inferior, for me personally. It is worth the effort to take that test, to know what works best for you, so you can familiarize yourself with the mentors that use the methods that are best for you, and then spend your training time, with those specific people.
Probably premature for me to address this, but...
Old 03-21-2003, 10:23 AM   #4 (permalink)
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For me now, it's one question: What do I want my images to say, or suggest, or imply, or shout, etc.

Getting to the answer to that is a matter ofelimination, in part. I know that I do want my photos to say "elegance, refinement, sophistication, beauty-without-crudenes, etc.

This clarity reduces a vast amount of possible styles, poses, composition, etc.

Secondly, using music as an anology.

To develop a musical style, it is first UNAVOIDABLE to develop some facility just playing the instrument. It is just NOT possible to develop a style or vision, without the basic technical facility to play notes correctly.

Secondarily, after simple technical facility, it's nessecary to begin to master playing in the style of a specific musical genre (genres plural comes later), such that any listener can say: "That's rock" or "That's jazz" or "Thats' country".

Thirdly, after technical facility and recognizable genre production, comes in-depth study of how the masters of that chosen genre express a unique style withing that genre. At this point there's a possible bifurcation. One may choose to attempt masterful duplication of another's style, or decide to strike out and delibereately avoid any influences. Or both if one is ambitious.

Lastly, the "final phase", is, after having developed great technical mastery, fluency in multiple genres, a depth of knowledge of who's already done what already, skill in duplicating recognizable styles in multiple genres, and all the rest...

Then one can set the bio-computer on "suspend" and allow more subconscious mechanisms to create freely. If the rote skills and knowledge base are solid enough, one transcends genres and style, and one becomes the one others study.

Finally, I have to point out, that at least in music, and I suspect in photography, one's technical facility IS dependent to degree in the learning phases, to the quality of the (instrument/camera) one is using.

The tonal/technical range of your instrument in large measure determines both what is possible to learn, and the speed of your learning.

Just random morning thoughts.

Old 03-21-2003, 02:12 PM   #5 (permalink)
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don't beat yourself up to much about it. learn your equipment so you are comfortable with it and is one less thing you have to worry about.

the excercise of planning and exectuing in of itself will help you find your voice.

some are born with it, some have to develop it and others will never have it.

photography is in your head and not in the equipment closet.

shoot for fun! it will come around. you will be fine.

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It doesn\'t happen overnight ..........
Old 03-21-2003, 07:39 PM   #6 (permalink)
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It doesn't usually happen overnight. Glamour, fashion and portraiture are specialties, just as are food, table top and nature. Nothing can really be done until the equipment is mastered, mastered to such an extent that using it becomes second nature. It's pretty tough thinking creatively while concentrating on exposure, focus, etc.

Then comes the 'software' part. Study the work of those you like and the way they pose and use light and shadow. Study the old master painters, study anatomy to learn how muscles, ligaments and other body parts work. Emulating the work of others is an excellent learning tool. With time, you'll begin to go beyond those you previously copied.

But mainly, shoot, shoot, then shoot some more.

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