Day 3 of the Costa Manos Workshop started with a review and critique of images shot the previous day. Costa continues to inspire each of us in the workshop with invaluable insight into what makes a good photograph. Hit the jump to see some of Costa’s comments.
Make The Ordinary Extraordinary
Don’t make photographs that simply describe what something looks like. Photo journalism is functional in that its purpose is to show a desription of something that happened. Everything in the world in one way or another, is mostly ordinary. Great photographs transform that and elevate the subjects to the extraordinary.
Costa liked this shot and felt it had a nice energy but thought I could have shown a bit more of the man’s face and maybe a bit more of the scene to give it some more context. We discussed opportunity and how this scene unfolded in front of me with only 2 or 3 seconds to respond. I basically had the opportunity for 1 shot from where I was standing and this was what I got. He agreed that it’s not horrible but really urged me to anticipate this kind of action from the world around me and be prepared to create better images.
Great Photographs Have An Infinite Life
The better a photograph is, the longer the life it has. If you look at it long enough it enters into your memory bank and literally becomes a part of you. A photograph gains this infinite life because of the moment seen today that gives it life 50 years from now. Timing, chance and being able to present your vision to the world are all you need to accomplish this.
Costa liked this image and felt it was well crafted and sort of funny with the man’s bald head poking up from the round orange plant. He wasn’t sure it was a great image but complimented my ability to see the scene in an unusual way. This one might make it into my slide show – we’ll have to see!
Be Your Own Best Critic
Costa really wants you to not need his crtique once you leave his workshop. You’ll be able to look at your own pics and know what you did wrong. In this case the pic was poorly seen I was far too close to the subject. The whole thing feels forced and a little awkward.
Costa’s critique? “No.”
You Have To Make Smart Choices
Costa kind of liked this image but felt I missed an opportunity to make a better picture. He felt that the scene really called for a vertical with the people’s legs at the top of the frame and the arrow filling the bottom. In this case I was unable to frame the shot that way because i didn’t want to show the cars on the street in the background. He suggested I wait until the cars weren’t in the shot!
Funny thing about this shot is that it’s entirely staged. Gloomy afternoon and not a lot of opportunities for good photos. Very few people on the street and most were huddled in doorways or under umbrellas. Was feeling pretty uninspired so I decided to take my own advice and start having fun. I found the arrow and played with different shots around it then literally stopped traffic while I herded up some German tourists and convinced them to stand in the middle of the road!
I came clean on my deception and Costa was surprisingly okay with it. But only if you make a good photograph as a result. In this case – I missed the mark.
Costa’s work is entirely candid with nothing set up ever. He really believes that the candid moments are what fuel his work and changing that would undermine his own vision as an artist. It’s one of the things that make the world interesting to him. I tend to agree but couldn’t resist fooling around a little on that day!
Costa Manos Workshop Theme So Far
A clear theme is emerging from Costa’s critique and discussion each day – Look beyond the subject. Make a photograph that’s more than a description of the thing in front of your camera. The photo should be the subject itself. Create something new.
Photographers To Check Out
Costa recommended we check out the work of a few photographers and former students. Here’s the list:
That’s it for Day 3. The weather was sunny and clear and I was eager to get back out for an afternoon of shooting. More pics and critique tomorrow!
How are you enjoying the coverage of the workshop so far? Post your comments below and let’s keep the conversation going!