Hi and welcome to the April edition of my Instructional BLOG – Workshop at the Ranch. Just for a change of pace I thought I would list my Top 10 Photographer Quotes each with a relevant image and “Backstory.”
Image 1 … “Always carry a camera. It’s hard to take a picture without one” – Jay Maisel www.jaymaisel.com
This quote from legendary photographer Jay Maisel is perfect to begin my list of Top 10 Favorite Quotes. Let’s face it, if you don’t have this one nailed down you come home empty.
While visiting family in Savannah, Georgia I went for an early morning drive along the water front. I noticed the combination of sunrise light and mist in the air was ramping up to be spectacular. Jay’s words came to my mind and I grabbed my camera on the passenger seat and made some pictures.
We have all witnessed something that we wish we had photographed …point being: “Always carry a camera” … Thanks Jay.
Image 2 … “I think the most important thing any artist can do is to constantly push themselves and improve their craft.” – Ami Vitale www.amivitale.com @amivitale
Ami Vitale is one of today’s most brilliant photojournalists particularly with environmental and wildlife issues around the world. Throughout my own career I have constantly pushed myself to improve and create artistic looking sports imagery.
I began using REMOTE cameras and Strobe Lighting in sports arenas in the late 1980’s. The goal was to garnish more work with Sports Illustrated and commercial clients, but I gained much more … I established an entirely new reputation as an innovator and artist in the SPORTS photography industry.
– Gregory Heisler www.gregoryheisler.com
Greg Heisler is a master and perfectionist of his craft, Portraiture. To develop a “style” can take years of intense study and effort, but when accomplished it can tip the industry in your favor.
People say that my Strobe and Flash work with action subjects is my signature style. If this is true, then my Lightpainting is certainly my fingerprint to the MAX.
I encourage all photographers to continually be aware of strong trends in their work. These “trends” may be the beginnings of a style, which becomes a “signature style” when the photographer “works at it.”
Image 4 …“Bad weather makes great pictures” – Rich Clarkson www.clarkson-creative.com @summitworkshops
I have known and worked with Rich Clarkson since 1983. No one has taught me more about the photography industry and its community more than Rich.
There was an unseen sunrise east of the Tetons, but thick overcast skies obscured the mountains … I was disappointing. So, I pulled over to the side of the road and rolled down my window to stare into the cold gray cloudy sky and wondered where the Grand Teton had gone.
Then, almost as if God himself was gently exhaling towards the range, the cloud cover began to open up to reveal a winter glen with a golden glow and an Eagle in flight.
I only made a few images before the window closed, but knew that it was a reminder that “bad weather does make good pictures” and that regardless of how inclement the conditions are there is always a possibility of a nice picture.
Image 5 …“The most important piece of lighting equipment is a Tripod” – Joe McNally www.joemcnally.com @joemcnally
Few photographers earn the reputation of excellence that Joe McNally has … and even fewer are recognized around the world by their first name.
I had asked Joe to come teach at a workshop at Churchill Downs the week before the Kentucky Derby. In his evening presentation to the class he made this statement …“The most important piece of lighting equipment is a Tripod” … and it helped open a new era of lighting for me.
The tripod allows the photographer to use slow shutter speeds and thus include some ambient light. All one needs to do is add a little light of their own from an off-camera location to create mood and drama.
Image 6 …“Find a way to make pictures that no one else can” – William Albert Allard www.williamalbertallard.com
I once heard someone say what Ansel Adams is the Landscape, Bill Allard is to the Photo Story (Documentary.) Bill has made pictures that no one else has for his entire career … and it is perhaps the most valuable skill a photographer can possess.
A young Tiger Woods tees off at #15 during the 2004 Masters. I used a Nikon Coolpix 8700 camera which had a “silent shutter” (like todays mirrorless camera) to capture the action at the top of Tiger’s swing … Totally against the rules for photographers covering Golf with standard 35mm DSLR cameras, accept that my camera made no shutter sound.
How simple it was to execute this image, and how it and similar shots of all the top seeded golfers AMAZED my editor at Golf Digest. “Revolutionary to Golf photography” said Golf magazine picture editor Matt Ginnella. “Where can I get 5 of those cameras!” said Sports Illustrated picture editor Porter Binks.
I was the only photographer at the 2004 Masters who found a way to “make a picture that no one else could” simply by using the new camera … but at the next tournament nearly everyone carried a silent shutter camera.
Image 7 … “I want the viewer to have an emotional response to the subject, without some obvious technique getting in the way.” – Jodi Cobb www.jodicobb.com @jodicobbphoto
Jodi Cobb set out to “Change the World” when she joined the staff of National Geographic … and her images pushed the boundaries of social change where ever she photographed around the globe.
For the most part my career has revolved around editorial SPORTS coverage from 1980-2006, and then creative Lighting and Commercial work from 2006-present, but in 2006 I received an unusual assignment offer from National Geographic.
My long exposure Lightpainting images had made some impression on the photographic community and so I was asked join an elite collection of Nat Geo photographers to make images for a book and article on Arlington National Cemetery.
While others worked during the daytime I would be making Lightpaintings throughout the night. This Lightpainting of PFC Nils G. Thompson is just one of 25 published Lightpaintings in the National Geographic’s book “Where Valor Rests” I received well over 100 emails of emotional gratitude from families of fallen heroes buried at Arlington.
The Arlington assignment is the most treasured and emotional body of work that I have ever produced during my 37 years as a professional photographer.
Image 8 … “Satisfaction comes from working next to 500 photographers and coming away with something different.” – David Burnett www.davidburnett.com
I believe David’s quote is referring to his photography of 6 Olympic Games where there are 300-600 photographers shooting the same athlete compete in a GOLD medal event like the Men’s 100m final.
I have photographed 12 Olympic Games (6 Summer Games and 6 Winter Games) and have experienced first-hand being in the midst of the mas of photo humanity countless times.
Michael Phelps at the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens only took 1 breath on route to the finish of the Freestyle Final and the first Olympic GOLD medal of his career. Yes, David Burnett is correct … it is VERY satisfying to make a unique image of athletic greatness while working under the stress and pressure moment alongside 500 of the worlds most accomplished photographers all crammed into a single designated photo area at the Olympics.
Image 9 … “Don’t shoot what it looks like. Shoot what it feels like.” – David Alan Harvey www.davidalanharvey.com @davidalanharvey
David Alan Harvey is one of the most interesting photographers out there. His talent and passion seem unparalleled. I do not claim to be anywhere close to his skill level at capturing what something “feels like” … but I keep trying each time I pick up a camera.
This backlit seascape made off the Olympic Coast in Washington a few years ago made use of a slow shutter speed of 1 second. Hopefully it conveys the feeling of the turbulent motion, nature’s power, the roaring sound of crashing waves, and spiritual beauty God’s creation that I was witnessing. It is my hope that the viewer has some sense of what I felt.
Image 10 …“If you want a picture to look interesting, only light part of it” – Dave Black www.daveblackphotography.com @daveblackphoto
As would be my custom, my own quote is somewhat instructional, and one that I have said nearly every time I teach an individual photographer, a group, or an entire workshop.
A mood and stylization is created by using a cool-blue WB of 3030K and then simply underexposing the general scene by 2.0 … then adding a small shaft of warm light from a Nikon Speedlight with a warming gel. This is my “Moody Blue” lighting formula for nearly 20 years.
By not lighting the entire scene, the thin shaft of warm light directs the viewer to the subject. The underexposed ambient provides 90% of the light while the shaft of Speedlight provides only 10% … Thus, my own quote makes my Top 10 list … “If you want a picture to look interesting, only light part of it.”
I hope you have enjoyed this WATR … Come FOLLOW me on Instagram @daveblackphoto …. “There’s always more to learn” …Adios. Dave