FIND YOUR LIGHT
In the theater, there is a phrase, "find your light," which refers to the actor's finding that space on the stage where he or she must stand to be properly lit. Photographers must also find their light, physically and metaphorically. The raw material of photography is light. Photographers must move towards that space and moment in time where the light illuminates what they want to describe. We must also find the light in our lives which motivates us to make photographs. We will talk about this process, and I’ll show my own work to illustrate how it has played out in my life.
I like to see all the pictures students take, at least early in the workshop. Photographers often take wonderful pictures that when editing, they don’t value. This problem happens for all sorts of reasons and we’ll talk at length about it. When shooting, we often feel a moment was special and project that feeling on to the photographs that emerges from the experience. Rarely do the photographs match the intensity we felt in the moment. On the other hand, many great pictures come from moments that don’t seem pregnant with promise. We must recognize them as well.
I ask each student to do an A edit, then I look at their outtakes to see if I think they missed anything. This process helps the student’s editing and their shooting. The more you recognize which pictures are truly yours when editing the more you’ll see them while photographing. This workshop is designed to help students to see their own pictures while editing as much as while shooting. One feeds the other.
The last day of the workshop we’ll put together a sequence of the pictures each student makes. I find students are often surprised, and encouraged, by what they see. Sequencing allows students to see the connections and rhythms in their pictures. My goal as a teacher is to help the student go visually and emotionally deeper in their photographs, no matter their subject matter.
During my workshops, every photographer must answer the following two questions posed by the great Welsh photographer, David Hurn; where do you stand and when do you press the shutter? Of the two questions, the matter of where you stand is far more complex.
There are the physical aspects, do you stand close or far away, raise the camera to your eye or shoot from the hip, stand up or sink to your knees? How do you know when to move, where to move to, and how to move so as not to disturb the scene you are photographing? This issue of movement is one of the most important and under examined questions photographers face.
In addition, there are deeper emotional, psychological and political questions about where you stand in relation to photography, and where does your photography stand in relation to the rest of your life. Where do you stand creatively and economically with your work,how do you make a living and what do you shoot for yourself? How has digital technology affected you? If you’re a working photographer, how do you feel about your clients? How are your photographs used, whose interests do they serve? The goal is to help students integrate their photography into their lives so that both are enriched.
Click here to view a curated presentation consisting of images taken by the participating students during a workshop.