Photographing in a Vacuum

31 Jul
 

Or, Why You Should Not

This week, on our travels to Maine for our next photo workshop, we made time to see two exhibitions at Boston’s MFA, where both my grandmothers frequently took me. The first was work by Herb Ritts, famous fashion photographer, director, videographer, and inspiration. The second was from another photographer whom I also have long admired, Gordon Parks, renaissance man, photographer, author, director, filmmaker, etc. in an era not necessarily friendly to blacks. In fact this exhibition, one that he did for LIFE but that was never published, was , in the MFA’s words, “focusing on the realities of life under segregation during the 1940s, but also relating to Parks’s own fascinating life story.”

© 2015 MFA, Boston.  All Rights Reserved.

It reminded me of how often Arnie and I encourage our alumni to not just accept what is on the Internet. To go see an exhibit at a museum or art gallery. There is nothing like seeing a photograph “live,” to see the detail in the print. At 72ppi on the Internet, you simply cannot discern, let alone appreciate, the nuances and deep beauty of a well-done photographic print.

“Expose yourself to art,” as the old saying goes. Not just photography, but paintings, sculpture, etc.

And while photography is a very personal thing, we need to sometimes photograph with others, to gain inspiration from them, to explore new places together, to see different points of view, as we recently did with friends we visited on our way north to a workshop. We started out at an inlet where we had photographed together berfore, but this time, we chose a different vantage point.
© 2015 Margo Taussig Pinkerton.  All Rights Reserved.  From Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures.  For usage and fees, please e-mail TBC (at) BCphotoadventures (dot) com or contact us at 310 Lafayette Drive, Hillsborough, NC  27278 or at 1-919-643-3036 before 9 p.m. Eastern Time, ET.

We get used to our own back yards, or we are too busy to really immerse ourselves in photography. Get out your DeLorme atlas and go exploring. One such scouting trip by our friends had them pass by a sunflower field. He found the owner and asked permission to return.
© 2015 Margo Taussig Pinkerton.  All Rights Reserved.  From Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures.  For usage and fees, please e-mail TBC (at) BCphotoadventures (dot) com or contact us at 310 Lafayette Drive, Hillsborough, NC  27278 or at 1-919-643-3036 before 9 p.m. Eastern Time, ET.

Take advantage of serendipitous opportunities such as I did when we were taking a break. The storm clouds contrasted beautifully with the marsh grasses below. I had to excuse myself and make this photograph.
© 2015 Margo Taussig Pinkerton.  All Rights Reserved.  From Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures.  For usage and fees, please e-mail TBC (at) BCphotoadventures (dot) com or contact us at 310 Lafayette Drive, Hillsborough, NC  27278 or at 1-919-643-3036 before 9 p.m. Eastern Time, ET.

When Arnie and I used to teach high-performance driving, we called it “seat time.” You cannot just go out occasionally and expect to improve. You need to make time for your art, for your photography. Try a different genre of subject, as we did when we meandered around an amusement along the boardwalk. Johnny Banana begged to be photographed.
© 2015 Margo Taussig Pinkerton.  All Rights Reserved.  From Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures.  For usage and fees, please e-mail TBC (at) BCphotoadventures (dot) com or contact us at 310 Lafayette Drive, Hillsborough, NC  27278 or at 1-919-643-3036 before 9 p.m. Eastern Time, ET.

Or take a subject you have often seen, and try to approach it differently. I have always loved rollercoasters. I know many do not share my enthusiasm, but they do make great subjects. I worked on simplifying the scene. Throughout the evening, we continued to share what we had done, to get one another thinking outside of our respective boxes.
© 2015 Margo Taussig Pinkerton.  All Rights Reserved.  From Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures.  For usage and fees, please e-mail TBC (at) BCphotoadventures (dot) com or contact us at 310 Lafayette Drive, Hillsborough, NC  27278 or at 1-919-643-3036 before 9 p.m. Eastern Time, ET.

If we had not visited our friends as a lovely detour on the way to our next workshop, it is highly unlikely that we would have stopped to make these photographs. Not photographing in a vacuum not only got us out, but we shared what each of us had done and gained inspiration from it all. Even afterwards, we shared some post-processing techniques and had some mini-critiques of our own. Each of us needs input. Otherwise, we can get stale, same old, same old, and we stagnate or get into photographer’s rut or photo block.

So, sometimes, go out with a friend or friends and challenge one another. Share and talk about what you are doing or what you just did. But always, have fun with it.

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6 Responses to “Photographing in a Vacuum”

  1. Sandra S. 08-02-15 at 10:47 AM #

    Great blog entry- thank you!! I have recently become more active in my local photography clubs and found the inspiration from others a great inspiration! I do have to be careful not to become too distracted by the social aspect… 🙂

     
    • TBC 08-06-15 at 3:25 PM #

      Sandra,

      That is terrific, but do not lose sight of your own vision while being inspired by others.

      Thanks for writing, and …

      Take care,

      TBC

       
  2. Rick Read 08-01-15 at 4:34 PM #

    Margo, this is an inspired post! Whether it’s the prospect of Maine or the magic of the road, it works! [And yes, you are excused for a storm over TEXAS. :)]

     
    • TBC 08-06-15 at 3:23 PM #

      Rick,

      Thanks so much. I really appreciate your comments. Alas, when I quickly pen these because of lack of time, I am guilty of trying to proofread but of not always being successful!

      Take care,

      TBC

       
  3. Frandy 08-01-15 at 8:13 AM #

    Thanks so much, Margo. This is the type of post that reminds me to get out and SHOOT!

     
    • TBC 08-01-15 at 1:27 PM #

      Fran,

      Yes, yes, yes, you must get out and SHOOT!!!

      Take care,

      TBC

       

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