The Here's How Book of Photography, Volume II. Eastman Kodak Company, 1977 Standard Book Number 0-87985-200-3 Library of Congress Catalog Number 73-184546 Numbers in brackets after each phrase refer to footnotes citing author and page number.
Each photographer has a preference and a way of handling a camera. During the past several years in which photography has been both a hobby and a profession to me, I’ve become increasingly picture-oriented and less concerned with gadgets, equipment, and the general mechanics of photography. Its more a question of what to leave home, rather than what to bring. Restrict yourself to what you’re sure you will use. My tools for people pictures are fairly simple - I don’t want to be burdened when I start to shoot.
However, an adjustable or automatic camera with a variety of shutter speeds and lens openings will allow you to take pictures under almost any conditions. I occasionally indulge myself by carrying a fast lens in the 105-135 mm range that’s handy for making good people pictures under almost any lighting conditions.
Creativity is inherent in each of us. We’re free! Creative photography starts with you and your unique vision. Where do you find the absolute statement of this art? I don’t like that question, so I try to be a bit coy. When you have the answer on film, you should have a first-rate picture. A war, a love affair, a great career - each had its small beginnings. Once you have mastered the basics, you can really let your ideas fly. But this is only a beginning. The rest is up to you. You could take piano lessons for 50 years and never learn to play.
The great portrait painters of the past - Rembrandt and his colleagues - painted their subjects under light that came from windows and skylights. In Rembrandt lighting, the camera looks into the shadowed side of the face instead of the brightly lighted side as it would in a basic three-quarters view of the face. Someone recently commented that he had seen a series of my pictures and thought that I must have the most elaborate lighting equipment in the world. My reply was that I nearly always work with just one light. Some subjects and lighting situations are naturally dark and need to be perked up with extra light. One of the most exciting and colorful applications of high-speed black-light photography is photographing go-go dancers in fluorescent costumes at discothèques. As you can see, the possibilities are great, and there’s lots of room for experimentation. Use you ingenuity to extend your photographic horizons. Whatever your technique, remember that it is only a mechanical function to be subordinated to your final visual statement.
I organize my trip around the sights I really want to see, and the ones that I think would be the most photogenic. Old mills seem to be magnets for photographers, and they can be even more fascinating when photographed on infrared film. From the evidence of the growing vine and rust, you can see that this old mill wheel hasn't turned for a long time. Before the first click of the shutter, research your subject. Take the time to study the facts carefully. Tramp the perimeter of your setting and try different framing possibilities by aiming your camera through or between nearby trees, rocks, shrubs, vine, and flowers. Initially, it might help you not to rely on memory alone.
Sometimes a rather commonplace picture needs only an additional dash or splash of color to turn into a prizewinner. The colour infrared version puts much more life into the scene. For example, suppose you photographed a red barn in front of some green trees and came up with a slide showing pastel-green barn, red trees, and a deep blue-green sky.
Notice how much better color film shows the plant life. Every substance is composed of millions and millions of atoms. Notice the different shades of red in the trees. How did I get the red? By covering the side flash with red cellophane.
There’s something a bit disturbing about the first slide.
Let’s take an example. Suppose your city or town owns a vacant lot that is splattered with broken glass and other debris. Pick up your favorite specimen and look at it. Holding a specimen in your hand is often the start of a good picture. I knew I could make the required shot. It is not difficult to capture them on film, and you can make mineral pictures all year long, regardless of the elements raging outside your door. The thrill of magnifying your best specimens on a projection screen or in enlargements is a unique experience.
My approach to photographing women is, perhaps, a little unusual. I look for average-looking young ladies and enhance their good features through careful studio and darkroom controls. Although you’re not interested in individual names or reputations, know who’s likely to outshine all others in a stunning performance - who’s the most graceful, most powerful, most demonstrative, and so on.
So how do you approach a model, even a member of your family? The friendly way! From the time you arrive on the scene, you must constantly communicate with your subject. If you’re stumped by the words, try charades.
A spot with people watching and many distractions is likely to inhibit your subject. If you have not already done so, now’s the time to clear the junk out of that spare room, corner of the basement, or what-have-you, and set up your own little studio at home. Before actually taking any pictures, it’s a good idea to review with your model a few picture samples of the type of photos you plan to take. Then move back and photograph them when they’ve become absorbed in their own activities. First they clean up, then they find a comfortable place to lie down (almost always the same) and then they yawn, stretch, and zonk out. One of them, Sally, would do this stretching routine every day. Sally has an absolutely stunning face. With her front stretching finished, she’d do her middle stretch, humping her back like a Halloween cat. You get the same performance in reverse when they wake up. But sometimes the results may surprise you! Whatever you find, concentrate on translating your impression to film. Each phase will give you grand pictures, plus a great deal of insight into how life should be lived.
Most girls have a latent ability to pose reasonably well, but they will need direction from you, particularly if you have not worked together before. Let’s say you’ve found a woman who makes splendid pottery pieces. If you see this person in the market, your best bet is to talk to her in sign language or whatever tongue you share, and explain just exactly what you have in mind. Do you want a silhouette or a fully lighted image? Use the old ³stomach in, chest out² army routine and have your model draw in her stomach just before you’re ready to take a picture. Do you want to centre attention on those watchful eyes or on the clenched fist?
I enjoy the experience of taking pictures of a pretty girl. I like to make this enjoyment obvious to my model and make it infectious. Keep her interested - small talk is usually best for bringing out a nice, relaxed look. An informal pose looks more believable and pleasing. The posing table need not be elaborate - an old kitchen table, a bureau, a couple of boards set on some sawhorses; I’ve even used a high stool. I must admit that sometimes native people won’t respond to your desires or requests. They cannot be coerced to do it; they cannot be pleaded with, and promises of fame and riches fall on deaf ears. I always find this sort of bargaining quite pleasant. They may want to jump off but you can easily confine them to the tabletop. This usually works out well, because after a few minutes, when the embarrassment wears off and business gets back to normal, you’ll become an accepted part of the scene. Capturing an exciting picture, often in difficult circumstances, is more important than fine grain or superbly sharp images. What is important to me is that final image - how well it communicates and how close to technical perfection it is. It’s amazing what you can do.
Let’s explore some ideas and practices that can help you produce excellent results. You want natural-looking pictures that don’t show the ³hand of man². This is the professional model I told you about. She’s Cybill Shepherd, a well-known New York professional model. If she looks familiar, it’s probably because you’ve seen her face on the covers of magazines such as Glamour, in many television commercials, and in the movies. A homemaker’s magazine was doing an article on excercise. My objective is to create an honest image of a girl looking lovely, showing poise and self-confidence in a pictorially interesting framework - and to see that she is obviously enjoying the entire experience. However, this procedure has disadvantages. That’s because you are used to seeing them this way. By all means be specific and tell your model just what you want her to do for each picture. Dealing with unpredictable subjects requres an unlimited store of patience.
Or how about a picture of a girl with a greenish face and yellow lips? It’s a colorful world we live in. I have built many props and other equipment to function in my small studio.
A blind is an important piece of equipment although it can vary drastically depending on many factors. Successful use of the blind requires the cooperation of a companion called a ³go-awayster². I like to have my subjects back-lighted by the sun; this gives a nice even tone in the shadow areas, plus a sparkling brilliance where the sun rimlights the subject.
Many photographers offer prints of their pictures to reluctant models.
Let your imagination go as you experiment with foregounds.
Questions such as where to go, what to do, how to get there, and what to see usually mean a few trips to the library and my travel agent, some browsing time in the local news store, and letters to tourist bureaus representing the places I plan to see. Reading newspapers, magazines, and newsletters will give you an overview of the national issues an an insight into what you can do.
Pictures provide an effective way of showing the current situation. I try to check out for picture possibilities when I am gathering information about a place: major landmarks, industy, history, religion, culture, products, agriculture, topography, weather, foods, types of transportation, animal life, and forms of popular entertainment. It’s also a good idea to be aware of what’s being done in other cities and towns. The great body of my research helps me to know roughly what I most want to see and where to find it, and assists me in allowing enough time to get there and enjoy it. You can usually count on picking up tips on the important crafts of the locale (although the natives think of them as necessary livelihoods, not mere ³crafts²). Almost every nation you’ll ever want to see operates a government bureau devoted exclusively to tourism, one of the world’s leading industries. In many places it may be the only income-producing industry except for a small curio-export flow. Your pictures can create public awareness and move people to make improvements. You’ll have to be able to suggest constructive ways to improve existing conditions. Merely pointing your finger at a bad situation may not produce results. Talk to the people you see, ask plenty of questions as they’re working or playing, and you may pop up with a fantastic subject for a picture sequence. Keep elected and appointed political officials of your local, state and federal governments (as well as the news media) informed about your project. Make sure they see your pictures!
Because our environment is a 24-hour concern, you may want to take pictures at dawn, dusk, and night in addition to during the day. I begin my involvement and romance with my location before the rising of the sun. One of my favorite moods is the feeling of tranquility that comes over me during an early-morning walk in a quiet place. It’s a delicate, ethereal mood, esily broken. I always feel a bit guilty about staying in bed, because an inner voice tells me to get as much out of my travel time as possible.
A picture story is simply a sequence of two or more photographs that together tell a story. The emergence of a moth from a cocoon, a tulip opening its petals to the morning light, a beautiful sunset - chances are you’ve seen many photographs of events such as these. Involvement is a key factor. Take pictures to document the results. The more thorough your planning is at this point, the more easily the pictures will blend later. The camera saw everything in the scene and gave it all equal time. If there is a difference, try to determine the reason. This way you’ll feel closer to what’s really going on there.
Constantly changing skies, water, faces and foilage will confuse any audience. I want the audience to learn what it must be like to live in the places they’re seeing. Under few circumstances is it wise to show a slide for longer than 15 seconds. My three action techniques are simple, amd I use them all so that one doesn’t become repetitous in a travel show.
The traditional colors of men's suits, women's stockings, automobiles and home furnishings have given way to every hue of the spectrum. In an increasingly color-oriented world, no color can be designated as the ³correct² color anymore.