Day 2 of the Costa Manos Street Photography Workshop began with a critique of the shots taken on day 1. I submitted 8 shots and got 1 and got one that Costa liked. Hit the jump for Costa’s critique and lessons from Day 2.
Shots From Day 1
After the instruction and portfolio review on Day 1 we were sent out to shoot on the streets. Other than a couple of shots that Costa gave us and excersise we were allowed to shoot anything we liked. Here’s what I submitted:
This was the first shot to appear in my critique and Costa immediately said, “Oh, that’s a winner.” And moved on to the next pic.
Costa didn’t like this shot. He said it was nice but didn’t contain any human element so it was summarily rejected. Costa really believes if there’s no people in the shot it’s not interesting – at least for the purposes of this workshop.
Said it was interesting and that it could work. But the people were just too small.
Costa didn’t really feel any energy with this shot. Said technically it was good and didn’t have any particular problem but didn’t see it as anything other than just a kid standing in the street. Didn’t rise above a description of what the scene looked like. Not sure I agreed at first but looking back I totally see where he was coming from!
Costa thought this shot demonstrated that I was trying to hide or stay out of site while taking the image. I explained that I was actually chasing after the car and the bride was laughing because of the spectacle I was creating. He sort of smiled and said, “Well, either way it doesn’t work”. Starting to really love his critique style!
Costa thought it was interesting how everyone in this picture existed in their own space but thought I should have been closer. He outlined the frame that he would have made but really didn’t think the shot was that intersting.
My Take On Day 2 Critique
Look, it’s actually really hard to shoot at a workshop. Especially on day 1! There’s a lot of pressure and it takes a bit to get into the groove of shooting. All things considered I’m pretty happy to get one shot that Costa considered a winner.
The thing about Costa’s critique is that he’s very clear about why he thinks somethind does or doesn’t work and I felt entirely prepared to face the next day’s shooting after presenting my shots.
7 Lessons From Costa Manos On Day 2
As Costa critiqued each student’s work his message became more and more clear. Here’s a few highlights:
1 – Avoid Out Of Focus Images
Costa has a specific preference for every element in the frame being tack sharp and in focus. He proudly describes the techniques he uses to get the maximum depth of field in his own images and believes out of focus images or background filled with bokeh look like damaged prints and should be avoided.
2 – Don’t Fight Mother Nature
Avoid bright windows in the background or flared out pure white skies. Use the light to your advantage and don’t shoot in spite of it. Move around your subject until the light is working in your favor.
3 – Watch Out For The Picture Within A Picture
Cost felt many of day 1 photographs were too far away from their subjects. Over and over he’d point out the smaller photo that could have been taken if the photographer had just gotten a bit closer. He stressed the importance of examining a scene and determining your actual subject and getting close enough to that subject to make a good picture.
4 – Moments Matter
When photographing people it’s the specific moments that will set your photograph apart. Otherwise your image is just a dead still life. A boring description of what that thing looked like. Timing counts so use it to your advantage.
5 – The Subject Of A Picture
The subject of a picture should be the picture itself. Not the subject matter. The picture has to be greater than the thing of which it represents. Make photographs which contribute something new to the world rather than simply documenting it.
6 – Bad Pictures
The best way to take a bad picture… Is to take it. Ask yourself why you’re pushing the button and get rid of the clutter before you put it in the machine. Think more, shoot less.
7 – The Best Way To Learn
The best way to learn iis to take a lot of pictures and study them for your mistakes. At some point you just have to do it. There’s no short cut to success with street photography.
It’s the end of day 2 of the Costa Manos street photography workshop and I keep gaining more respect for Costa Manos as a photographer and a teaher. He’s funny, charming and honest. He has 50 years of experience and can demonstrate his lessons in his own work. I’m Looking forward to day 3!
How do you think Costa’s lessons apply to your own street photography? Post your ideas in the comments and let’s keep the conversation going!