Luxembourg Gardens, Paris
HOW TO BE A BETTER PHOTOGRAPHER
I wiped out some old links and am putting up some new links as of September 2013.
MY THEORY...Looking at the work of first rate photographers and artists is the best way to learn how to shoot great photos and more quickly find your own style. Thats been my approach for over 30 years of teaching photography at the college level as well as for my own self-education in painting and photography since I was in my teens. These links are mainly for the benefit of my former photography students, friends and client. However, anyone else is welcome.
I met over 2500 students during my years of part time teaching. I liked to mix teaching and running my own photography practice because it always kept me grounded in basics, yet allowed me to become very experimental at the same time. Working with excellent students is always challenging. I worked hard to find good artistic role models to show them. In class I would deconstruct professional work so students could see what was important and effective in order to find their own voices. I did the same thing with their own work when I critiqued them for assignments. Having good information and examples to study was important for them to continue their life-long love affair making images.
To continue that practice, these links will point out important photographers and artists as well as websites with information that will help with the technical aspects of making good photos. The reason photography appeals to a lot of people is that it is a combination of both art and science. Therefore this will be a combination of photo sites, fine art sources, and tutorial sites, including some photographers and artists whose work I admire plus just about anything that comes to my mind that I think is worth recommending. Use them at your own risk. I have a personal library of photo books by individual photographers I admire. You should be doing the same.
Looking at great links on the web is stimulating , but that doesn't even come close to owning a high quality book of large well printed images. If you can't own them, try to find them at a local library. In my part of the country, Newport Beach, CA, has it's own library system and the main branch in Newport Center has a fairly good collection of photo and art books. The same for the Laguna Beach, CA branch of the Orange County Library. Good hunting!
gina lolabrigida, image © helmut newton 2013, all rights reserved
For natural light portraits, look at the work of Helmut Newton. Though Helmets Photography has a lot of erotic overtones , he was big in the American and European fashion magazines back in the late 70s through 2000. He is one of my favorite natural light black and white portrait shooters. He's a terrific photographer to learn from for natural light shooting, composition, expression, depth of field and whatever you want to think about when you're shooting a picture. Study his work carefully and you will improve greatly. Here is a link to a book I own... that I think is one of his earlier ones and one of the best. Helmut Newton: Portraits
image © annie leibovitz, 2013, all rights reserved
Back in the mid 1980's i went to a Friends of Photography summer long weekend workshop on the portrait that was held in Carmel, CA. It featured, Annie, who was the hot up and coming photographer, Arnold Newman, probably the best known portrait photographer of that era with a NYC studio, and Jay Dusard, a very good cowboy and the "old west" photogerapher. There were a couple of other photographers, who unfortunately I don't seem to remember.
Annie and Arnold were the two I came to see and Jay was a special bonus. We were able to show work to each photographer, see a presentation of their own work in a small auditorium, then have meals with them along with the opportunity of conversations... Too bad Friends of Photography had some bad management later and went under. They always had some terrific photographers to present at their seminars. Annie, Arnold, and Jay were all very unpretentions and answered just about any question you tossed their way.
While Annie was known for her color work, mainly with studio strobes on location, she occasionally went back to her roots usually with a 35mm Nikon for some natural light black and white. Above os a sample of her black and white work in the garmet district on the streets of manhattan...using some great available natural light.
I also took a photo of her at that meeting. I have never put it up before... it's done with Kodak black and white infrared film which was what I was shooting then.... along with Kodak Tri-X for more conventional studio and natural light work with people on location.