Thursday, June 22, 2017

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Tips from photographers that work well for painters too

Four well known photographers offered their advice at a day of seminars I attended at Welney Wildlife Trust recently. Some of what they had to say works for painters too. Simple, but good

The four professional photographers who showed their work and offered some advice to an enthusiastic group of open-air types (including me of course) at the Welney Wildlife bird Reserve recently were:
  • Danny Green - great photos of animals and birds
  • Phil Malpas - wildlife, landscape, seascape
  • Charlie Hamilton James - underwater wildlife photography and various film projects for BBC TV
  • David Ward - small scale almost abstract landscape photography.
All had useful things to say -and the photographs were simply awesome - but I particularly liked David Ward's photographs. His presentation called "Inner Landscapes" was great to help you think about "making an image" out of "what is there." I like abstract paintings that are based on something "real", so photography that abstracts i.e. "takes something from" a wider scene and twists the viewer's perceptions of it in some way, is good food for thought.

In summary this is what I got from these guys. Simple principles and primarily directed towards photographers, but good for us painters (I won't say "artists" because several of these photographers were much more than tecnicians; they are artists too) nonetheless:
  1. Photographer's "block" is good - it's a healthy sign we want to break out of our usual way of seeing.
  2. Simplify - if something in your view doesn't add to the overall picture - leave it out.
  3. If the sky doesn't add something to the photograph, lower the camera and omit it.
  4. Pose questions, don't provide answers. (see 5,6,7,8, below)
  5. Get in close to the subject and pick out the abstract - "abstract from the general"
  6. Make room for some things to be unexplained so the viewer has to contribute something from their own perception and understanding of what they are viewing.
  7. Omit some visual clues to - adds a bit of confusion! Make the viewer work!
  8. Don't do the obvious view of a subject. Get quirky. Be original.
  9. Square format is easier to compose with than with landscape format (I found this particularly interesting since I often paint in square or nearly square format.)
On the same day as these talks, I got out to do a bit of sketching too. Here are the links to the blog  and the video on the "Getting out there" tab