PHOTOGRAPHY IDEAS: MODULE ONE

For developing imaginative approaches and photography ideas close to home

This is the first of two modules that will transform your thoughts about making pictures with photography ideas closer to home.  It will give you the tools to approach a variety of subjects and situations with a sophisticated level of creativity.  It’s designed for aspiring amateur photographers who already have a command of their camera’s settings and want to shake the tree.  Taking this module is to start on the path to developing your potential, ultimately leading to a personal way of seeing that reflects elements of the best photography out there.  Amateur in spirit but in the end professional looking photos, that’s the target.

Module 1 here focuses on stretching your imaginative abilities to generate and play with ideas. It will centre on how to explore and transform the world immediately around you, opening your eyes to converting the everyday, both building up your soft thinking skills, developing your photographic craft and understanding of the medium.

We’ve called it desktop exercises which means you can explore an interior space to complete them. Each one follows online reading material and videos to make you think in a different way.  At the end of each exercise there’s a shooting task designed to stretch you creatively in relation to specific soft skill thinking. These tasks should not be taken as closed assignments. If you think of an interior space which can encompass all the tasks, completing them will provide a self contained coherent series of images.

This module doesn’t require post processing skills. You can record in JPEG if you wish. It’s about what and how you see, the vantage point you take and the frame you select. You will have the facility at the end of each task to upload a maximum of 10 images which I will feedback on. Although there is some interaction in assessing images, there are no group sessions or one to ones with this module.

The reading material is designed to get you to think differently which will hopefully feed into the tasks, each of which has been carefully thought through. At the end of the module you’ll have access to your own dedicated website page showing your images and photography ideas which you can keep private as you wish.

 

 

EXERCISE 1 of 4: EXPLORING THE EVERYDAY

 

We are surrounded by the insignificance of our everyday life and so rarely do we pause to contemplate and recognise the subtle beauty of the object(s) themselves. 

Unusual camera angles, bold colours and everyday lighting on commonplace objects and locations can reveal the magic of photography’s transformative powers to elevate the mundane objects and locations when separated from context.  

Through investigating spaces where we live or work, we can look as if we’re seeing it for the first time, through the eyes of a child for example, with that same sense of wonder and intrigue.

 

Learning outcomes:

 

Begin to notice objects not for what they do but what they look like, photographing them as if they are the most important thing in the world.

Through looking at the work of others, understand how a snapshot look can direct the viewer to an appreciation of memory and feeling.

Use unconventional and unusual camera angles.

Include single colour and bold colour set-ups.

Understand how a standard lens focal length lens creates a visually realistic photograph enhancing the everyday feel.

 

 

EXERCISE 2 of 4: CREATIVE EXPOSURE CONTROL

 

The frame of reference for photographic exposure is often about getting it right, not under or over exposing and in most situations rendering the subject or scene as our eye would see it.

This is an approach which is hugely beneficial for a lot of photography but it restricts some of the medium’s possibilities for abstraction. Not all areas within an image need to be revealed.

By referencing photographers who manipulate exposure to show another way of seeing, we can begin to understand how key light and shadows can be used to a great effect, in creating abstract worlds within the everyday.

 

Learning outcomes:

 

Identify scenes close to you where manipulating the exposure makes them more abstract.

Evaluate what that abstraction is offering, that makes it unique.

See and respond creatively to using strong ambient key lighting.

Use shadows and highlights balanced across a frame.

Understand the differences and exposure limitations of black and white and colour photography.

 

 

EXERCISE 3 of 4: LIGHT & SHADOW PLAY

 

Smartphones and wide angles lenses for digital cameras dictate that our images will be mostly sharp from front to back, creating a large depth of field (DOF).

Instead, through investigating intimate or domestic spaces, you can use the power of suggestion to leave areas in the frame out of focus, isolating just one element in the photograph.

Be surprised how a camera sees differently. By getting in close to subjects using a phone or by opening up the aperture and using a telephoto lens, the images produced, are at odds with our visual perception.

 

Learning outcomes:

 

Understand how subject camera proximity and your lens choice and aperture affects depth of field.

Realise the capabilities of your smartphone to get close to subjects and enter a macro world.

Begin to think of photographs as constructions based on layers.

Utilise and understand how highlights and light sources change depending on whether they are sharp or fuzzy.

Realise how to depict mystery in everyday objects and scenes.

 

 

EXERCISE 4 of 4: ART & EQUIVALENTS

 

The art world thrives on ideas as much as execution. Making photographs that operate beyond their literal representation and relate to other artworks or visual cultural references is an effective method of stretching your creativity.

One way into this approach is to make images that function on a metaphorical level where the photographer is looking to express emotions or feelings that the subject or scene provide the framework for, a concept called equivalents.

Other photographers use witty references or observations, to suggest ideas that dwell less on the photographic craft and more so on their own particular brand of seeing. Developing interesting photographic ideas is a key component in shifting into a more artistic territory if that is your wish. Even without that ambition, the expansive knowledge gained will elevate your photography.

 

 

Learning outcomes:

 

Understand how subjects or scenes can work on a metaphorical level.

Learn to act on your hunches, develop your ability to see associations between subjects.

Recognise in a set-up its essential form of lines, curves, texture etc. and make that the pivot point of the image.

Successfully transfer recognisable features from one subject to another so the echo of compositional elements, such as line, shape, texture or colour, between the two, are connected when ordinarily they might seem unrelated.

Outstanding photography requires both soft and hard thinking skills. The soft thinking imaginative phase relies on hunches, playfulness, exploration and ambiguity, and is mostly necessary at the initial stages of developing an idea for a project or exploring a location.

The hard practical phase is about precision, consistency, focus and idea analysis, through realising the project. To be the complete photographer you need to know when to select a hard or soft approach at any given stage.

SOFT THINKING SKILLS: CHILD, PARADOX

REFERENCE PHOTOGRAPHERS:

Peter Fraser, William Eggleston

SOFT THINKING SKILLS: PLAY, AMBIGUITY

REFERENCE PHOTOGRAPHERS:

Ralph Gibson, Harry Gruyaert 

SOFT THINKING SKILLS: DREAM, DIFFUSE

REFERENCE PHOTOGRAPHERS:

Saul Leiter, John Blakemore 

SOFT THINKING SKILLS: METAPHOR, HUNCH

REFERENCE PHOTOGRAPHERS:

Thomas Joshua Cooper, Andy Goldsworthy

HOW IT WORKS

LEARNING MATERIAL
Once you have signed up, you'll be sent a PDF pack for each exercise comprising of:

Written text on the visual approach for each exercise with historical and contemporary examples.
Links to the listed photographer's images with accompanying evaluations of their photography and what you can learn from it.
Links to videos of other photographers explaining their approach.
The task for each exercise.

INDIVIDUAL TASK FEEDBACK & CRITIQUE
For each task submission you'll receive extensive feedback in written form before moving on to the next one.

TIMELINE
You can take up 3 months to complete the module.

REGISTER YOUR INTEREST

FEE: £285