I’ve just finished teaching two workshops on two coasts in two weeks. And too many times I heard myself say “look at the light”! After talking for seven or eight days you can get very tired of hearing your own voice. So now is the time for me to be quiet and think about all that happened during these workshops in order to improve the next. I use many concepts and quotes from my teachers to break up the ‘me-ness’ of the class. But I think I need to add more. I found this quote this morning, thanks to John Paul Caponigro’s blog and it answers a question a number of students posed:
“Today’s photographers think differently. Many can’t see real light anymore. They think only in terms of strobe – sure, it all looks beautiful but it’s not really seeing. If you have the eyes to see it, the nuances of light are already there on the subject’s face. If your thinking is confined to strobe light sources, your palette becomes very mean – which is the reason I photograph only in available light.” – Alfred Eisenstaedt
I don’t like painting all my fellow photographer’s with such a broad brush, but the point is well taken. I don’t use flash for two reasons: first, horses don’t like it and second, I don’t use it well enough to make it seem like there is no flash. In other words, I prefer natural light.
I like the challenge of discovering a way to use all the light available. Very often, this means finding solutions to difficult lighting situations. It’s hard to put a horse in a soft box type of environment and then ask them to be dynamic. It can be done, but why not learn to see the beauty in light we are given? Seeing deeply, and truly learning how our cameras see light will create confidence and boldness.
“When I have a camera in my hand, I know no fear.” – Alfred Eisenstaedt
Shoot into the sun? Why not? It can be magical! No light? Get a light horse and shoot the movement. There is more light there than we think! Bright sun in the middle of the day? Find some open shade or shoot a sunny portrait. Better yet, look for some bounce light and make a beautiful, softly glowing image. The point is, there are always photographic opportunities.
Keeping an open mind and an open heart will help to bring these to your awareness. So, one last quote from Alfred Eisenstaedt, the great master: “Once the amateur’s naive approach and humble willingness to learn fades away, the creative spirit of good photography dies with it. Every professional should remain always in his heart an amateur.”
My students keep me humble and stoke the fires of inspiration and creativity. Thank you for a marvelous two weeks! And a special thank you to Patewood Farm in New Jersey and Barbier Farms in California. The people and the horses in both locations made work fun and filled the days with laughter and good spirit!