Gave my first one-on-one photography lesson today. Began with E. around 9:30 and it went about four hours. I lost sense of the time. Not surprising since I don’t wear a watch. It was about 1/3 Lightroom in the beginning, 1/3rd shooting. And then 1/3rd going over Lightroom techniques again with images we’d shot.
I think it went well, and that E. picked up a lot, both about Lightroom and how I use it, and maybe even more about how I’m set up to shoot, and how I shoot. We both ended up with a few good pictures to boot. I think the hardest thing to explain, is what makes a good picture, in terms of the editing process. Also how you can take a so-so shot, and turn it into an interesting picture, sometimes. He was surprised to see the raw versions of several recent shots he had seen in the blog. They were underwhelming in raw unretouched form.
This is the sort of stuff that Ansel goes through pretty thoroughly in his book The Making of 40 photographs.
You can look at the prints that Ansel starts with, usually printed flat, and then see how various parts of the prints are accentuated and cropped. But how to know what you want to do with a picture, that’s the artistic part. And that’s the part that I don’t know if it can be taught; or whether it is the result of years of working at the craft.
It’s one thing to teach technique, but coming up with why an image that’s worth working on, and what are the parts to bring out, that is tougher. It may be even tougher now, since the tendency with digital is to overshoot.
But I do think that there is something to be learned by how my camera is set up, how I shoot, how I approach people (or don’t) doing the shooting, and then going back to study and review the images.
Here you’ll see many of the same subjects covered: the basketball game, the Sicilian Man… I have to admit, looking back on the images, the choice of subjects was usually mine. Which is to say, I would see something and say, let’s go over there. Which is I suppose the way it is in the beginning. It was an easy-going lesson, in the sense that Eric could see how I made contact with people: the Sicilian guy, the basketball player, and others. Whereas, sometimes I would shoot first and ask questions later. This is the street sense that you pick up after a while.
It’s not all dangerous stick the camera in someone’s face, at least not for me. And it was an easy way to get started. I don’t think my shooting style would have been the same had we been in Times Square.