photography education

Capture the Feeling

I recently asked an art professor how do you teach someone to put their feelings into their work. He talked about technique, methodology, and craft. Finally, after pressing the issue, he said, "I'm more process oriented." In other words, he had no answer. 

Maybe feeling can't be taught. You either have it, or you don't. I'm not convinced that's true. Everyone has emotions. Finding them, holding them, and allowing them to flow through you and into your vision takes practice and courage. Allow them to flow like water. Be genuinely a part of the scene. Immerse yourself in the moment. Allow yourself fall in love, shed a tear, smile, feel the joy, or the pain. Just be part of life. Until you can transmit that emotion to your images, they will be just shallow records of shadows.

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Layers

I love to create layers in my photographs. Foreground, middle ground and background all working together. Bits of information, different sides of the story, one playing off the other or complimenting those that come before. 

It’s a compositional and storytelling tool going back hundreds of years. Spend time in an art museum, and you’ll see Renaissance painters using the same technique. Many photographers are famous for their multilayered images. Pick almost any Magnum photographer and study their work. Cartier-Bressan, Constantine Manos, Alex Webb, and David Allen Harvey are a few masters at the technique. 

It’s not always easy to construct successful layered images. It takes practice. It takes patience. It necessitates seeing at a very high level. You need to look at an almost Zen-like level. When you can feel the image, you have learned the technique.

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