It is time for the Worldwide Photo Walk. It will be on October 13th, and our local group will be walking the quaint Village of Salado. Salado should provide plenty of interesting shooting, since it hosts of variety of artists itself, everything from musicians, to painters, to glass blowers. On top of that, Salado boasts quite an old and storied history for this part of the world. The buildings themselves tell a story which goes back many generations. If you are wondering what a “photo walk” is, it is really just a good excuse to get out and take some pictures. I have never taken anything earth-shattering, but I have had fun, which tells me the photo walk is more about the people than the photos themselves. You can talk gear to folks who will not roll their eyes; you can ask questions about types of photography you have not…
One of the fun parts of the Worldwide Photo Walk is the contest. That is not why we go, but it seems wherever photographers gather there is sure to be a contest to follow. I always love browsing the photographs Scott Kelby picks as the winners. He also does something a little out of the ordinary with the contest, though: he posts an extra set of photos that do not technically win anything, but were just photos that left an impression on him.
Well, the winner of our Belton photo walk, Hylas Kessler, was featured in this extra set of photos, and it well deserves such recognition. In this extra set of photos, Scott Kelby picks photos in a witty set of categories, such as “Best Shot of a Bird Crying” or “Best Shot That’s So Obviously Seattle, but Still Really Good.” Among such outlandish pseudo-categories, the category for this photo was what I would consider core to the art of photography: “Best Simple Composition (and use of color).”
The time for this year’s photo walk has arrived! If you are local to Belton, including Temple, Killeen, or Salado, this is your closest opportunity to join the Worldwide Photo Walk. We will be a nicely mixed group of local amateur photographers, high schoolers who heard in their photography class, readers of Scott Kelby’s books, local camera club members, and some totally unknown to me who just appeared on the sign up list. The list has actually grown by several more walkers just this morning. If you want to sign up and join us tomorrow morning, go to the Belton photo walk page. Hope to see you there.
I just love the photo walk idea: getting together with other lovers of photography, going out, and having fun doing what we love doing. It is not talking about photography; it is doing photography. It is not really meant to learn, yet we usually learn something just by watching others and thinking about a different approach to a particular shot. It is not passive, but directly active. Last year, our Temple, Belton, Killeen, Salado area photo walk was in Temple. This year, we are going to switch things up a bit and try out a new downtown, Belton. Last year was a bit difficult to organize, because initially, our location was rejected because we were too close to other walks, in Austin and (I think) Waco. They finally gave in, but we had lost a lot of time that could have been used getting the word out to interested photographers.…
There is a difference. The workshop I am starting up today is not “basic photography”, in the sense of photography for just beginners. Rather, if the word “basic” must be used to describe it, it is the “basics of photography”, in the sense that we may already be highly creative, have an excellent eye for the image we want, and take beautiful photographs on a regular basis, but we still have a weakness in the technical aspects of how photography works.
Photography is intriguing in that way: it is both highly creative and highly technical. You have to have a feel for the image, and eye for what to capture, but you also have to have a solid understanding of the technical aspects of how cameras and lenses work. That technical understanding will unlock knew realms of creativity, or, at the very least, help you mess-up fewer photos.
Do you see good photo ops, but just cannot seem to make the camera capture it like you see it? Photography is half creativity and half technique, and without a firm grasp on the technical side of how our cameras capture photographs, we can only hope our cameras take the photo we want. We will learn about light, how our cameras capture it, and the limitations and creative potential unique to photography.
An excellent portrait in my book has little to do with technical perfection, trick lighting, or a formulaic set up. An excellent portrait is a glimpse at a person, tells a story, reveals something of the subject’s character, or allows you to understand the subject better. As such, a good portrait might well be in a studio, but quite likely will not, because the subject likely will be more comfortable in a familiar setting, and just maybe, a particular setting could bring out something unexpected. There is, of course, much we can all learn, there are little tips and tricks, but much of portrait photography comes down to just doing it. Trying to make the photo happen, then just letting it happen. Emulating a popular style, then doing it the good old fashioned way. Focusing on technique, then working to capture that one expression. More than anything else, I hope…
I will soon have the pleasure of leading some photography classes here in Temple, Texas, and I wanted to start off with the most useful topic possible [note: I did want to start with portraits, but due to some miscommunication between me and Temple Parks, we will do the portrait workshop in February]. How many of us would not appreciate being able to take better photos of our family and friends? The vast majority of our photos are of people, yet photographing people can prove to be one of the most difficult photographic pursuits. The focus of the workshop will not be to cram technical information…as if portrait photography were as simple as learning some formulaic technique anyway. The focus is to turn simple tips into habits through doing. We will identify the problems plaguing our pictures, learn the fix, and practice that fix enough that we all but eliminate…
Meet Dr. Ophthalmos. You would trust this guy with your eyes, right? I would. Of course, I know him personally, so that is much less of a problem for me. What I was trying to capture was familiarity, compassion, and professionalism all wrapped into one.
Here was the assignment. The clinic where he will be moving to work after residency asked him for a photo they could put in the paper. It is one of those here-is-the-new-eye-doctor-in-town paper articles, but really it is just free advertising for the clinic and for him in particular. They wanted him with his equipment, something that said ophthalmologist, and they wanted a photo that was inviting.
I would like to say I am some hot-shot photographer that made all this happen in some kind of beautifully historic way, like Yousef Karsh’s iconic photo of Winston Churchill. Alas, my doctor friend made it easy on me.