Petzval_preorder_header_kit

Now Available for Pre-Order - First Come, First Served

Have an account? Login | New to Lomography? Register | Lab | Current Site:

The Masters Tell Us How to Make Photographs

The photographers who came before us left a rich legacy of instructions for bettering our craft. Here are some of their suggestions.

When you have to lug around a large view camera like Edward Weston did, you, too, might say “Anything more than 500 yards from the car just isn’t photogenic.” What I hear in this is the maxim “Don’t shoot when you are tired. It shuts down the connection between your eye and your brain.”

Weston is just one of the great photographers who continue to educate us as cameras and photographic media change. Their words are timeless and worth heeding.

What is our art about? There are many views:

  • A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you the less you know. Diane Arbus
  • Photography is not about the thing photographed. It is about how that thing looks photographed. Garry Winogrand
  • The camera makes everyone a tourist in other people’s reality, and eventually in one’s own. Susan Sontag

“The camera doesn’t make a bit of difference. All of them can record what you are seeing. But, you have to SEE.” said Ernest Haas. Couple this with Edward Steichen’s observation that “A portrait is not made in the camera but on either side of it.” It’s not so much about the camera as it is about the photographer and his subject. My best photographs happen because I am watching the world with a little mind to the instrument that I am using to capture it. “The camera’s only job is to get out of the way of making photographs,” said Kevin Rockwell.

“I always thought good photos were like good jokes,” says an unknown master. “If you have to explain it, it just isn’t that good.” Ansel Adams, considered by many to be the Michaelangelo of modern photography, added “There is nothing worse than a brilliant image of a fuzzy concept.” Be clear about what you are creating as you create it.

How can we better our craft?

  • Best wide-angle lens? Two steps backward. Look for the ‘ah-ha’. Ernest Haas
  • If I saw something in my viewfinder that looked familiar to me, I would do something to shake it up. Garry Winogrand
  • If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough. Robert Capa

Keep at it. Every photographer here has or had negatives he/she had to toss. As Henri Cartier-Bresson observed “Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.” Pile up the numbers and remember to SEE. There is no shame in stopping for a moment and setting the frame – even Garry Winogrand did it as he racked up thousands of impromptu snapshots with his Leica. Then you can revel like Imogen Cunningham did when she said “Which of my photographs is my favorite? The one I’m going to take tomorrow.”

(Title photo: Edward Weston by Tina Modotti. 1923. Additional photos: Henri Cartier-Bresson, Edward Steichen, Robert Capa, Ansel Adams, Diane Arbus. All photos courtesy Wikipedia.)

written by emperornorton

14 comments

  1. laurasulilly

    laurasulilly

    Ah, weill, only over 9,000 bad photos to go through till I finally get to my good ones :)

    about 2 years ago · report as spam
  2. superlighter

    superlighter

    I love this article!

    about 2 years ago · report as spam
  3. guanatos

    guanatos

    I'm sooo saving this one for the future!!! thanks for sharing

    about 2 years ago · report as spam
  4. hewzay

    hewzay

    great article!

    about 2 years ago · report as spam
  5. lighthouseblues

    lighthouseblues

    Yes, great article, thanks for sharing!

    about 2 years ago · report as spam
  6. ctjam82

    ctjam82

    great article!

    about 2 years ago · report as spam
  7. cpolpa

    cpolpa

    great article!

    about 2 years ago · report as spam
  8. larrymcdowell

    larrymcdowell

    Thanks you for recomended this article! It's a very interesting point of view, I would like to collaborate with a phrase of the teacher Minor White: "I am always mentally photographing everything as practice. "

    about 2 years ago · report as spam
  9. linusbm

    linusbm

    This is great!

    about 2 years ago · report as spam
  10. clare_eee

    clare_eee

    I have a long~~~~ long~~~~~~~~~~ way to go... :) I'll keep at it!

    about 2 years ago · report as spam
  11. antea

    antea

    Oh great article!!! ^_^

    about 2 years ago · report as spam
  12. paytenpurdy

    paytenpurdy

    super helpful article, thank you!!!

    about 2 years ago · report as spam
  13. ayer

    ayer

    Inspiring!

    about 2 years ago · report as spam
  14. mscagli1

    mscagli1

    So true...

    about 2 years ago · report as spam

Read this article in another language

This is the original article written in: English. It is also available in: 한국어, Deutsch, Français, Spanish & Nederlands.