Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Work Prints

The most important aspect of printing is to be sure the print is not too dark or too light. The best way to accomplish this is to make two or more slightly different prints on the same type of paper with the same printing method. It is difficult to impossible to judge brightness any other way. One way to reduce time and the cost of paper is to begin with work prints. A work print is a print that is smaller than the intended final print and may also be not completely edited. Work prints can often stop being made once the brightness is determined or can be continued with more editing. Work prints save a lot of paper and time.

© 2009 Paul Light all rights reserved

Friday, July 03, 2009

Feature Photography/The National Portrait Gallery

The National Portrait Gallery has a great portrait show right now. It features 6 photographers who work with magazines. These are photographers who are also involved in areas outside of magazine photography

1 Alec Soth works w/ Magnum and represented by Gagosian Gallery.
2 Jocelyn Lee teaches at Princeton and received a Guggenheim.
3 Martin Schoeller assisted Annie Leibovitz and was influenced by the work of The Bechers.
4 Katy Grannan went to Yale and is represented by Fraenkel Gallery.
5 Ryan McGinley is the youngest photographer to ever have a solo exhibit at the Whitney.
6 Steve Pyke is a staff photographer for the New Yorker.

My favorite photographs in the show are Jocelyn Lee's portrait of Robert Indiana. The large as life scale of the print, the confident stare back at the camera, the sage like appearance of black clothes, shoulder length hair, a full gray beard make this a great photograph. Lee has lit the side of his face closest to the camera is brightly, the rest of his face is in shadow. His clothes are a black shapeless mass, very little texture, two buttons are visible, a couple of folds of cloth.

Steve Pyke's portrait of Rem Koolhass is a small black and white darkroom print. The subject is dead center surrounded by a reflection of a concert hall that he had designed. He and the reflection blend together. To his right is his shadow on a wall.

This show ends September 27.

© 2009 Paul Light all rights reserved

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

From Snapshot to Art

Many people who are new to photography quickly get lost in a maze of technical strategies in an effort to become better at photography. The concept of audience and the concept of being unique are intimidating and as a result are avoided. Not everyone wants to take photographs that look like those of Cindy Sherman or Jeff Wall. And no one wants to sacrifice his or her personal identity in the name of art.

Art at it’s best is about putting together one’s personal identity with a clear line of communication. This involves the confidence to feel that one’s identity is worthy of the respect of others. Art is about being technically competent, because this makes the visual concept clearer to more people. This brings in the concept of audience. Few people, maybe no people need an audience of thousands, but most people would enjoy having their audience go a little beyond family and few close friends.

Technical competence helps expand an audience. This can be seen in the work of Ansel Adams and Loretta Lux. Both of these photographs have made photographs that demonstrate an unusually high level of technical competence. Adams photographed breath taking western United States landscapes and Lux makes portraits of children that are placed in idyllic settings with careful editing in Photoshop. Many people new to photography want to make better travel photographs and better photographs of their children.

The objective should be figuring out which are your best travel photographs and which are your best photographs of your children. This becomes risky because for everyone, some of their favorite photographs will look plain to others. This will hurt. Rather than retreat into this hurt, take the ones people like and learn to integrate those qualities into future photographs rather than trying to find art subjects. There are no art subjects. There is only style and style is about showing who you are. Figure out your style and get this into more of your photographs. Audiences, both friends and strangers want to see your world and what makes it unique. No one wants to see how well you can clone the world of some well known art photographer.

© 2009 Paul Light all rights reserved