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Please begin with an informative title:

Photographing shadows cast by venetian blinds is one of my many photographic obsessions. For many photographers direct sunlight and the resultant strong shadows are the enemy and are consequently to be avoided. To others of us though, they represent an interesting problem that requires that we at least attempt to work towards a solution.

Crossposted on my blog:Photographing Shadows | Minimalist Photography 101

leaves and shadows

Intro

You must enter an Intro for your Diary Entry between 300 and 1150 characters long (that's approximately 50-175 words without any html or formatting markup).

The best photographs are solutions to problems. These solutions can only come about when the photographer steps away from conventional wisdom, when he or she starts to find their own solutions rather than repeating the work of others.

leaves and shadows

This requires the photographer to see the world, to really see it. Artists understand this concept, photographers struggle with it. This is because to draw well the artist has to see well, to see things as if for the first time, otherwise the result is a mess at best or a  Disneyfication at worst. There is simply no faking it.

leaves and shadows

Henri Cartier-Bresson was a photographer who was probably most famous for his writings on how the decisive moment concept applies to photography. He did a lot of other stuff as well including being a defining figure in the related fields of photojournalism, street and candid photography. So, the man was no slouch yet he always regarded drawing as being superior to photography. He referred to photography as 'Instant drawing' and this wasn't meant as a compliment. In his later years he returned exclusively to painting, only shooting the occasional private portrait.

plant

A photographer and (probably) reluctant educator called Garry Winograd understood this. While his peers were teaching f-stops and darkroom techniques Winograd was teaching what were billed as photography courses but were really course about seeing. From what I can gather some students really took to this approach while others hated it. I cannot recall having read anything where he is quoted as discussing technical matters but his thoughts on composition and the philosophy of photography are ubiquitous and it must be said, often contradictory.

leaves and shadows

Paul Strand,  who was instrumental in dragging photography out of the nineteenth century pictorial era and into the twentieth century and modernity was  another who regarded photography as a problem solving device. Again, his background was initially painting and drawing.

plant

Drawing is problem solving, there is no way to get around it. If you don't problem solve you don't draw. It really is that simple. Point a camera at an interesting object in something less than awful light and the end result may not be great but it probably won't be horrible.

leaves and shadows

Useful links:

Paul Strand
THEORY: "Class Time with Garry Winogrand" (1974 - 1976)
Black & White World: A workshop with Garry Winograd
Henri Cartier-Bresson - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The two Winograd pieces are best read together.

leaves and shadows

Extended (Optional)

Originally posted to stevej on Fri Apr 01, 2011 at 08:43 AM PDT.

Also republished by The Medium and the Message and Photography.

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