Crash Course in Photography

Today in class we had an impromptu crash course in photography.  This page is a collection of some of the musings that were discussed.

Black and White is > than Color

There is just something about black and white photos.  They have a certain sense about them.  They just seem more artsy.

Now all photography snobbishness aside, there are some very real reasons I would encourage you to take black and white photos.

  • Color is no longer an issue.  Since color is something you may not have any control over, taking a black and white photo removes the issue.  Now your photo is no longer marred by that awful blue eye shadow or purple pin stripe suit.
  • Greater emphasis on Value.
  • Greater emphasis on Texture.
  • Can lead to a greater sense of abstraction.

Color is Fine, if You Have Control of Your Colors

If you can control the colors seen in your photo (via light, costuming, or even a filter), then color photos can be very compelling.  But if you have no control, and the actual colors are “meh,” when in doubt, go black and white.


Have a Full Range of Values

All good photos will have a full range of values, from the deepest, richest blacks to pure white, and 3-5 “grays” in between.  Always strive for a strong range of values.


The Rule of Thirds Was Made for Photography

Remember that annoying rule of thirds composition exercise?  Its time to use it.  Most cameras have a setting that will put the rule of thirds grid up in your viewfinder.  Use it to help you create informally balanced compositions that are interesting.


What Works for a Painting or Drawing Works for a Photograph

When photography was getting started it was not considered an art.  One of the ways photographers overcame this was by adopting the rules, genres, and styles of the other visual arts.  Landscape, still life, portraits… all of these are suitable subjects.  Likewise photographs can use Line, Value, Texture, Rhythm, etc. in order to make interesting and visually compelling images.



You Can Stage Your Photos

By stage I mean you can control every single aspect of your photo:  lighting, props, costumes, etc.  Doing so will allow you to compose a photo just like you would a painting or drawing.

Taking 100 Photos Almost Guarantees One Will be Awesome

I take photos like a Dadaist.  By which I mean, I take photos of whatever I find in my environment that strikes me as aesthetically pleasing.  I take a LOT of photos.  Most of them are garbage.  But every now and then, I get just the right light, just the right angle, just the right subject, and i get something that would be a really good photo.

If you are new to photography, take a 100 photos.  One might be good enough for your exhibition.  The rest can be part of your process portfolio.

You Don’t Need Photoshop, and Stop Using Snapchat Filters

You do not need Photoshop, an editing suite, or a fancy camera.  Honestly, you can do a lot just with the camera on your phone.  A good photo is about subject matter, lighting, value range, texture, and composition.  You get those nailed down, and you are good to go.

All Those Pictures of Your Sad Friend Are Only Interesting to You

One of the challenges of any artistic endeavor is to find something that is worthy of communicating.  Think about what you photograph before you get carried away.  Try to think about universal themes that might reach a wider audience than just you, or your circle of friends.