What he was talking about was only one type of shooting: call it journalism, documentary photography, spot news photography, interpretative or environmental portraiture – even snapshooting.
Cartier-Bresson was talking about photography of the evanescent, of the here and now. The kind of photography that, in many ways, defines the entire craft, the entire art.
Most photography, but especially this kind, has a tenuous reputation for truth-telling largely because of the camera’s, if not always the photographer’s, ability to record events objectively. In fact photography is unique among the visual arts, not only because a photograph cannot be created from (sometimes clouded or prejudiced) memory, but because the subject of the photograph – and not really the photographer – determines absolutely what that depiction will be.
That is to say, Richard Avedon may trip the shutter when he makes a portrait, but the subject’s face and surroundings are what actually burn the image onto the film. Of course, Avedon brings hugely important elements into the equation as well: his talent for composition, for lighting, and of course, his sense of when his subject’s expression becomes, for Avedon, “the picture.”
~Fra nk Van Riper from his article Creating The Decisive Moment
A photographer must be prepared to catch and hold on to those elements which give distinction to the subject or lend it atmosphere.~Bill Brandt
Happy weekend bloggers!
It goes without saying that if you want to photograph a festival, you should know what the festival is all about! You should know how it originated, what it commemorates, and what the significance is, in relation to the current times. Armed with this knowledge, you could decide your “workflow” – the series of pictures you should take to record the event without missing out on any important picture taking opportunity. In other words, do your homework and plan out your strategy rather than going to the festival and then taking photos haphazardly. If you are new to the location or if you have not covered such a festival earlier, it would be wise to ask the locals about the path of the procession, the type of ceremonial floats, the time for the event to start, and whatever other information that you think will help you in your picture-taking project. If you can check out the details with the organizing committee, so much the better, as the information could be more specific, and more reliable. All this takes time, so make sure you don’t think of ‘what-am-I-supposed-to- do’ at the last minute. Remember though, a festival may not necessarily have a parade and floats.
~Rohinton Mehta from his article How To Photograph Festivals
These are headless and sometimes bodiless shots that you will not find in any well-meaning photojournalism or travel publication. It will not pass the scrutiny of photo editors. And as a photographer you know it’s a no-no to chop off the head. Even casual snapshooters know that. Of the many Philippine festivals I’ve covered, I take in the big picture most of the time, that’s how you photograph precision, choreography and action of performers and participants. But I also have this tendency to zoom in on body parts and details particularly lower extremities, capturing the dynamics of the human form during still moments or split-second movement. These images from the Dinagyang Festival may not find its way into magazines but heck, they sure found their way into my photographic mind and heart. The non-traditional can also be fascinating.
To be fair, some of my “traditional” shots of festivals have been used in in-flight magazines and travel websites.
It’s the subject matter that counts. I’m interested in revealing the subject in a new way to intensify it. A photo is able to capture a moment that people can’t always see. ~Harry Callahan
This to me is the joy of informal people photography – being able to capture pure, spontaneous, unrehearsed, off-the-cuff moments of genuine expressions, such as in this series of images taken at a local water festival.
In more than 500 posts, I have mentioned one time or another that photographers are voyeurs, predators, opportunists, hunters, watchers and observers. Some of these descriptions may not be that flattering. But you have to admit that when you go on location and events, such as festivals, your photographer instinct kicks in and, whether you are aware of it or not, you follow the first code of photographers – observe. For what? For the interesting, appealing, amusing or unusual. You look out for colors, situations, actions and what people are doing.
The above photo was of a festival participant. The event celebrates nationalism and people were garbed in native local costumes that came in many variations. I eyed this guy in indigenous woven hat with scarf and long-sleeved shirt. In other words, he was in a very traditional attire reminiscent of what people wore in my country during the late 1800s and early 1900s. With this information, now you know why I just had to take a picture of the guy. Its the contrast in the image, he with a modern gadget while clad in literally age-old fashion. There are lots of delightful subjects and situations during people-filled events. You just have to watch eagle-eyed and observe.
Telling a story
To document a festival it’s important to choose a variety of subject matter. Don’t just take random pictures of revelling crowds as they rarely make great pictures. Instead, focus on individual participants who are dressed up, capture details of costumes and try to make shots that are representative of the festival – dances, floats, musicians, the crowd’s enjoyment.
Get variety in your shots by framing vertically and horizontally and changing viewpoints (look for walls, balconies, rooftops) to give different perspectives. Don’t focus solely on main events, the peripheral activities are usually very photogenic too – think ‘behind-the-scenes’ shots, such as dancers dressing up, vendors selling knick-knacks, and so on.
A festival is also a great time to take portraits – people are in a festive, relaxed mood and are more open to being photographed. Plus you’ll have hundreds of different models to choose from! Have all your settings ready on your camera and work fast as you don’t get a lot of time to compose and shoot.
~Jean-Bernard Carillet from his article Capturing the Moment on Camera at Festivals
Festivals are my perennial favorites. My country isn’t lacking in this colorful cultural event. Almost every city and town, from the metropolis to far-flung villages, celebrate an annual fiesta or festival in honor of a patron saint, of good harvest, or of a product the place is known for. Why are festivals such great subjects? They are literally visual feasts with the explosion of colors, pomp and pageantry, street parades, choreography and movement, and of course people, lots of them. You can capture expressions, freeze motion and action, experiment with blur and the swirl of colors. And you get to shoot that “decisive moment” such as with the image below, taken at one of the premiere Philippine tourism events – the Dinagyang Festival of Iloilo City.
I have had a previous post on how to capture celebrations like this. You may want to read the article Focusing On Festivals. I also have a whole issue, Issue #6, of the Junsjazz Digital Magazine devoted to images of fiestas and festivals that I have covered. It’s the start of the week and I’m back to full color photography and I’d like to focus on people and festivals. Expect images and articles on this topic for the rest of the week. Thanks!
In an age of digital photography, a lot of us appreciate the visual impact and elegance of black and white photography when juxtaposed with color photography. Black and White photography is not simply a result of old technology of a bygone era. Black and white is a technique that we can still employ today to enhance our photography. With black and white photography, we are allowed to see the world beyond colors. With black and white photography, we can control moods. With black and white photography, we can highlight details we normally would not see in color. Ultimately, with black and white photography, it is a technique that can enhance our ability to tell our story through imagery. However, unlike color photography, many of us have trouble creating artistic or compelling black and white photos.
~The Art of Black and White Digital Photography from Intructables.com
Black and white photography can seem dull next to the burst of colours emitted by colour photography, which creates a feeling of optimism and joy. Today, however, people are rediscovering the purity, beauty and power of black and white photography, which strips the image of the interpretive colours and has the ability to portray the timelessness, deep human emotions of pain, loss or despair.
Although the subject you are photographing is an important element of the picture, there are some other important factors to consider when shooting black and white photography. Basically, black and white photography is all about light and shadow. If you want to create stunning images, you need to learn to use these elements to compose your photos effectively and correctly. Experiment with the quality and intensity of light and try to take pictures of a subject at different times of the day and notice how light and shadow can affect the mood of the photo. For example, take a picture of a subject on a cloudy day, and then photograph the same subject on a bright day.
~The Art of Black and White Photography from fotoLARKO.com
Have a great weekend everyone!
Look at the things around you, the immediate world around you. If you are alive, it will mean something to you, and if you care enough about photography, and if you know how to use it, you will want to photograph that meaningness. If you let other people’s vision get between the world and your own, you will achieve that extremely common and worthless thing, a pictorial photograph.~Paul Strand
In his book “Galen Rowell’s Vision”, the author notes that we increasingly inhabit a world of “mature” imagery. He is referring to subjects that have become so much a part of the everyday media parade as to be cliches. In a visual universe where the unfamiliar of yesterday is the humdrum of today, try making abstract photos of nature that go beyond the record shot to suggest a personal vision, convey emotion, and revel in the challenge of expressive seeing.
Routine travel to far off corners has allowed everyone access to the once rare. Digital technology all but ensures that exposure and sharpness are a given. So where does all this leave nature photography? Abstraction can embrace any number of approaches in the continuum between the extremes of traditional formal nature portraiture and personal artistic expression. Exploring the natural world on the more personal level that abstraction allows can point the way towards a bolder, more individual approach to nature photography.
~Larry Monczka from his article Abstract Photos
What is it really and is it the same as Abstract Art?
As the name implies “abstract” denotes what can be interpreted but not seen. The art form is many times debated to be complex and difficult to understand. Yet it attracts a horde of art critics and art collectors from every part of the globe, and several interpretations may accompany abstract paintings. Similarly, abstract photography draws the same popularity except it is done with a camera and not with brush and paint!
The exact definition of this art is difficult but it is sufficient to understand that there are no rules or norms for creating and in layman terms “anything goes” as long as it appeals to the eye!…
Abstract photography is really the prerogative of a true artist and one who also has a scientific bent of mind. Composing a perfect shot requires the “artist” and taking the photograph requires the “technician”! Imagination knows no bounds and the best results are when one uses creative powers to its full capacity.
~Seth Willis Jr. from his article Abstract Photography
There is no abstract art. You must always start with something. Afterward you can remove all traces of reality.~Pablo Picasso
It’s probably just my art orientation. In my youth, when I start to paint using acrylic or watercolor, the first step would always be to visualize. With pencil I draw lines, shapes and form, then apply little by little layers of paint to come up with a color rendition. This trained me to see the bare structure, to look beyond the literal which helped a lot in my photography. I always see how things are in their most elemental form and how they are structured.
When I see a railroad track, I see lines. In trees I see silhouettes. In flowers I see shapes and a gamut of colors. In city scenes I see graphic forms, corners, hard edges, right angles. In nature I see reflections, soft and dreamy light, shadows and highlights. A subject will present to me something more than the actual. Such as the picture above, I see it as an exploding star. Some may say I’m just being imaginative. But I consider it a key element in photography. When you imagine and visualize how your subject will come out when photographed in a certain way (angle, lighting, perspective, framing, etc.), and take time and care to realize how it will be perceived, then there stems the root of your creativity. Imagination, artistry and creativity – they all work together.
Step 1 – What is abstract photography?
Handily, there isn’t really a defined meaning or explanation of what abstract photography entails, and in the same regard to abstract art, the content of the work is essentially unimportant and often entirely ambiguous. What does take precedence is the form, colour, line and texture within the composition, to create a piece that is visually stimulating. With regard to abstract photography, you don’t need any sort of special equipment, just a camera, any camera you like, and your imagination.
Step 2 – It’s all in the approach
So how does one go about taking abstract photographs? The first thing to remember is to keep your eyes open for interesting and engaging subject matter. Whenever I shoot abstract shots, I’m always attracted to the subject matter instinctively; something about it will catch my eye and draw me in. React emotionally to the subject, consider why you were attracted to it and how it makes you feel and this will inform how you photograph it. Spend time with the subject, think outside the box and approach it in a means that you would not really approach it, from different angles and regardless of its usual purpose.
~Simon Bray from his article Creatively Approaching Abstract Photography
To see in color is a delight for the eye but to see in black and white is a delight for the soul.~Andri Cauldwell
Note: You all know that any image posted in the main page is reduced in size to fit the theme lay-out. Just click on image to see the “bigger” and “clearer” picture.
What are some tips you could give to people that really like your work?
Learn the basic photography techniques, learn how to edit and then learn to create your own unique vision. Everyone has his own vision, his own thoughts and feelings on the world we live in – try to discover what that is. That is more important than the technical skills. But most importantly: love what you do, be passionate about it and learn to create what YOU love, even if it means that no one else but you will appreciate what you’ve created.
~Joel Tjintjelaar on The Art of Black and White Photography from PhotographyOffice.com
I am always tempted to shoot in black and white in-cam. But based on my readings and advise of experts, it is better to shoot in color and convert to black and white later during post-processing. That way you don’t lose information that is fully captured in color – tones, shadows, highlights, dynamic range – which can all be useful and adjusted during conversion to black and white. So first and foremost, capture it good in color. I read somewhere that a good color photograph is a good black and white photograph.
The considerations are basically the same. What you look out for when photographing in color applies in black and white – lighting, lines, shapes, form, textures, patterns – and it would do well to be aware of these. Your composition will be guided by these elements. The above photo of a butterfly on thin vines was originally in color. And it was quite, well, colorful and vibrant. But I thought it would look good in black and white because of those dark and white patches, and the defined form of the creature against a light background. I have said before that not all color photos will work well in black and white. It’s your judgement call and you have the option to experiment. Which is also the wisdom in capturing in color; you can always revert back to the original color capture if the converted image to monochrome does not look interesting or appealing.
Happy weekend everyone! Saturdays and Sundays for me are reserved for this classic medium, allowing me the opportunity to further explore, discover and pursue the art of black and white photography. You can view these B&W images through the Monochrome Weekend category or the Monographs tab in the top menu of this page. Take care always blogger peers!
Have a great weekend everyone!
A photographer must be prepared to catch and hold on to those elements which give distinction to the subject or lend it atmosphere. They are often momentary, chance-sent things…Sometimes they are a matter of luck…Sometimes they are a matter of patience…Leaving out of question the deliberately posed or arranged photograph, it is usually some incidental detail that heightens the effect of a picture…But the photographer must be able to recognize instantly such effects.~Bill Brandt