A Few From the Lesson

The only reason I got out at all today (since I’m deep into learning Linux security) was because I did another one-on-one photo lesson – although this was more of what I’d call a let me follow Dave around and see how he works session.  Those are the best because I get to shoot, pretty much as I normally do, plus get to chat about what I think I’m doing.  This is now my fifth one-on-one lesson and they have all been very good experiences for both me and whoever plunked down the money to spend time with me shooting.

So there were a few interesting shots on my part, and I haven’t gone through them all, but this was one I thought was mysterious enough – at least an example of creative framing.

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Jump I

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Jump II

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Man Park Bench

If you want to know what is sticking out from under his jacket… more mystery.  Close up, you can see what looks like flat, woven straps from some a martial arts uniform.  (This shot I saw, but wasn’t going to take – but M. saw it and so I thought it’d be good if we both took a crack at it.)

What I enjoyed about the lesson was that M. was not looking to be magically turned into an artist.  He has enough photographic experience to know what you can and can’t get from one of these sessions.  That made the experience easy for me.  He understood that it is an instinctive activity – that you can analyze later – but that while you are on the prowl – it isn’t easily analyzed.

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Young Love

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Sax Player (Poet’s Walk Guy)

Another thing that became crystal clear during the lesson was that the art of photography could be broken up into very distinct parts:
1) The ability to see
2) The ability to capture what you see
3) And the ability to show what you see

The ability to see – this is the most mystical, magical, and unteachable part. Of course, everyone can see, so the phrase is more complex than the words that make it up. What you really want is the ability to see in such a way as that your imagination may play a role, or that you can recognize things that are worth seeing, or worth showing. Can you see beyond the cliche? This is why I’ve often said that when you photograph another person you aren’t stealing their soul – you are revealing your own.
Can you capture what you see or what your imagination sees? That can be improved with constant practice. I can assure you that the more I shot, the more I was able to walk away from a scene feeling that I had captured what I wanted to get.

And three – showing what you see. Printing, cropping, putting your image into a screen or onto a piece of paper. Again, this is just a craft. I can be taught. And it will improve with study.

But without that first bit – the ability to see in a new way, or an original way, the second two steps aren’t going to help much. And that is what was crystal clear for me during the lesson.

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Dave

My name is Dave Beckerman. I am a photographer and programmer working in New York City.

9 thoughts on “A Few From the Lesson”

  1. Dave, you’re way behind the times. Those woven flat straps are, in fact, the new metrosexual insignias indicating recent conquests. They are comparable to the codpieces worn by European men in the 16th century.

  2. This is just a compositional trick – in the sense that I left out the left and right side of the picture when I shot it – so if I had stepped back a bit you’d see that it’s just people posing.

    The girl on the left is jumping up and down for people to take her picture.

    The guy on the right is bent to take picture of his friend against the city. Perfectly ordinary stuff.

  3. ‘Seeing’ – The sax player image is a perfect example of what I (and I’m sure others) have called, capturing the ‘essence of a thing’. Most people would have gone for more image. First, it had to be seen with the imagination, as you say. But then, the player was distilled to the essence of his existence, the playing. Then the image is vignetted, focused to only what is relevant and made compositionally strong. I love this shot.

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