Podcast #179 What is style in photography

Michael Gregory, no relation, wrote an excellent article for Aperture in 1961 about the nature of photographic style and idea for how to define and use style in photography. I was recently rereading the article and used it as the foundation for this week’s podcast. One the most common topics I hear about that is related to creating great photography is that you need to have a style, but the definition of style is both ambiguous and misapplied. This week, using the insights from this 55-year-old article, we talk about what style is and how to understand how it appears in our photography and what it matters. 

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Podcast #178 Lessons from minimalism and staying organized for photographic editing

In this week’s podcast, we are talking about how to go about applying some of the basic concepts from minimalism and getting organized to make it easier to work and edit our photographs. At times it is very easy to get overwhelmed with the work required to make a good photograph. However, by learning to focus on a few key things that have been tried and tested to work in keeping organized, you might find that you can make better photographs more efficiently and faster. 

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Podcast #177 Issues with the formulaic creative processes

I was flipping through Netflix looking at movies and got to thinking about how many movies follow the same basic formula. For example, in most romantic comedies, the couple gets together, and something happens that drives them apart. After some conflict, they are somehow pushed together and end up happily ever after. 

In our photography, we can quickly end up following the same formula over and over again. In some cases, this might be ok, but I other cases this could cause us to fall short of our expectations and needs as a creative person. In my own work, I think that it is easy to fall into a formulaic rut. You learn what works and you just do it over and over again. The challenge this creates is that it the more you do the same thing, the more it becomes harder to change. The habit builds a deeper rut.

Sometimes our creativity is at the edges of our experiences. So finding ways to push our boundaries by doing something outside the norm is critical. Now, this doesn’t mean giving up good habits like morning pages, walks in the woods or daily images, but what I encourage you to do is to not write the exact same thing every day. The habit is not the formula. You might find that by sitting in the woods and listening to the birds, trees and wind might be better for you then just walking.

So as you approach your photography this week, I encourage you to look at what is the formula you are following that you picked up from others or isn’t working and apply a twist to the formula. What if your romantic comedy went dark or some other direction. What would it look like if your story was really your story and not the formula that we have all accepted? 

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Podcast #176 Listener Questions

This is one of my favorite podcast topics. In this week's podcast, we are talking about questions you all have sent in over the past few months. I really do appreciate you sending in comments and feedback about the show, and getting a chance to record an episode...

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Podcast #175 What’s it worth?

Welcome to the 175th episode of the Perceptive Photographer. This week’s episode looks at how to determine what a photograph is worth. Is a picture worth more because it has sold more copies and made a lot of money? Is a photograph worth more because it has a lot of likes or impressions on social media? Or is a photograph worth more because it shares something or says something that pulls at our heart and emotions? It is worth more because it changes the way we see the world around us?

Photos that reflect something about who we are and connect to something inside of us have fantastic power. That power to share a communicate says a lot about who we are as people and what we do to connect with others. So, as you think about what photographs you have made or will make, is the real value of those might lie in your ability to make a difference, even if just on one person, or is it about something else? 

In the end, I think you may find that your photographs that connect with others in a meaningful way no matter how few or small that number may be might be the most worthy of all photographs. 

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Podcast #174 Diverging and converging ideas in our work

In the 174th episode of the Perceptive Photographer, we take a look at how various methods of expanding and narrowing down the photographic process can help us make better images behind the camera. The creative process has a huge influx of ideas from both external and internal sources. If we can find ways to maximize those inputs, it can often times give us a jumpstart on our creative practice. However, at some point, we need to being to cull through those ideas and images so that we can build a cohesion to our storytelling and imagery. 

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Podcast #173 Getting it right in camera is about more than settings

Welcome to episode 173 of the podcast!. Thanks so much for being a listener, I really do appreciate you taking time out of your day to listen to the podcast. This week’s topic is all about how important the concept of getting it right in camera is to make a successful image. Typically, when we talk about getting it right in the camera, it is all about the settings. I find that in my own process, getting it right in camera is more about the mindset to pay attention to all of the qualities that make good photograph before the shutter clicks. 

By learning to see color, color cast, composition, lines, framing and a host of other concepts that impact our experience of the frame, we put ourselves in a better position to make better and more engaging photographs. Getting it right in camera is more than just saving time in post, which it does, but it more of a mindset that I am going to go out and see the world. The camera records what is there not what is in our heart. Learning to set up the camera so that it learns to see what we see rather than the other way around is what getting it right is all about. 

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Podcast #172 Value of simple pleasures

This week's podcast focuses on the importance of finding and using the simple pleasures in life to influence our photography. When our creative process is going well, rarely do we describe it as a complicated process. When things in life are not going well, we then...

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Podcast #171 When good is good enough

Over the past eight months, I have been dealing with the loss of my little brother. And while I have amazing family and friends to offer their support, it has been a long creative rut I have been in. Rather than process my feelings with my creativity I tossed myself...

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Podcast #170 Observation, listening and emotion in photography

I believe that storytelling is central to humanity. From our earliest days, we have told stories. If you sit in a coffee shop and listen, all people are telling our stories–stories about family, friends, events, and work. At the core of a photograph is also a story. It is the driving element of a need to share something about how we see and understand the world. 

In this week’s podcast, I talk about how three key areas of a storytelling event are critical to the story. While not the only aspects of good storytelling, these three elements are what I think are central to helping photographers make better photographs. To really get to the heart of the process, you need to be observational, listen and find the connection to the emotions you are experiencing. 

These don’t have to be too earth-shattering notions. They can be as simple as the awe of a beautiful sunset over the beach. What drives a better experience of the photograph is your ability to use these three elements to make your photograph. By understanding your emotional reaction, observations and what you listen to (non-verbal or verbal) will go a long way into making your photographs more interesting–at least to you.

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Podcast #169 Insta language in photography

Have you ever taken a look at the names of some of your program and apps that you use to create photographs? Many of those names are all about speed-, insta-, snap- and a host of other quick action words. In Photoshop and Lightroom, we use fast presets and actions to speed up the workflow. Now while I am all for efficiency in workflow, I began to wonder if all the language around our creative tools impact how we view and see our images. 

What if Instagram was called meaningful photographs or important photographs? Would we spend more time looking at the work and engaging with the work? Would we think that our photographs are worth more to our own experiences or are they just insta swiped away? I believe that the creative act is sort of like a good wine. It takes time to develop, and once you create the wine, you should take time to enjoy the bottle. Great wine isn’t something that you drink as quickly as possible; it is something that you enjoy and notice all the subtle nuances created by the efforts the grape, barrel, and winemaker. Shouldn’t your photographs get the same appreciation?

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Podcast #168 What are perfect prints?

Do you ever think about what it might take to make the perfect print? This week’s podcast is about what are some of the non-technical considerations for creating the perfect print or deciding if that is even possible. 

When we are working on a photograph one of the most significant challenges is to let go of what we know and learn to see what is in front of us. This focus has us learning to evaluate and see a given image with a more precise set of eyes not bound by our expectations of the future or regrets of the past. In allowing the photograph to be what it is, we can take a step closer to getting a better final image made. 

The second consideration is about your printer verse your image. Just like with a camera, the type of printer doesn’t make the image. There are subtle differences between printers that photographer or master printers might notice, but the average person wants to look at amazing photos. They are not concerned with microns and d-max.

The third area that influences the nature of the perfect print is if the process is easy or hard. Just because it is easy to make a really good print doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth it. Just like a tough image to print, doesn’t make it a good print. The time spent in the darkroom doesn’t determine the value of the print.

Finally, your perfect print today will likely be a bad print in the future. As you get to be a better photographer and better printer, your photographs will improve in the future. You will see more, get to do more and be better at both your art and craft. Those advances will appear as more perfect prints, but you shouldn’t judge the past with the same eye as your future. We are all doing the best we can to make the best photographs we can.

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