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A photo essay is a series of photographs that tell a story about a person, place, event, or trend. In this course, photojournalist Paul Taggart takes us on assignment as he photographs Kevin Carman, an artist in Ventura, California.
Paul, whose work has appeared in publications such the New York Times and National Geographic, shares insights into how he prepares for an assignment, how he engages his subject, and how he takes advantage of unpredictable and unforeseen situations. The course concludes with a look at how the final essay might be sequenced and distributed.
(MUSIC). I've shot a lot of photo essays, and a lot of photo stories all over the world for different magazine clients and newspapers. And also as collaborations with the people that I'm shooting. And I know there's certain elements that I've gotta get. I don't exactly how many pictures I'm going to have in my final essay, but I do know that I want a good number of maybe 10 to 30 so I can use it for different purposes. And I can also have a fun time playing with those when editing with the sequence.
So that said, I know that I'm going to want to get some landscape pictures to establish a place. I'm going to want to get different styles of portraiture, maybe some environmental portraiture. And some more formal portraits with some lighting and different vantage points. probably some detail shots of like, living spaces or if he has artwork, we've got one that shoots artwork in some interesting ways. And so we try to get all of the different genres and styles of photography. that way, I can, you know, in two days, cause I've only got forty eight hours of this guy. I can like, look at all of it in my computer and come up with some cool images in a neat sequences and we're going to have a photo essay at the end. (MUSIC) (NOISE) >> Hi, >> Hi.
>> You Kevin? >> Yeah. >> Hi. Paul Tigres/g. >> Hi Paul. >> It's nice to meet you. What are you doing? >> Carving out an angel. Nice. how long you been up. >> Oh, I don't know, since this, early this morning. >> Yeah. >> You know, dawn. >> This is very cool. So, this place is, quite something.
>> Indeed. (LAUGH) >> You told me a little bit about it, but. It's hard to describe it, you know and capture it, you know, really, what it is. >> It's, it's a bit of a candy store for me. And there's like. >> Oh yeah. >> A million little things floating around here. Is this mainly what you're going to be working on today or are you kind of dabbling in other things at the time? >> A couple other things. Yeah, yeah. I'm putting tentacles on a jellyfish over here, and. And, >> That's the one you're gong to install? >> Yeah, yeah, and, and then working on, on the grinder back here on. >> What's a grinder? >> This, this is the grinder, I have it set up in a, a vice.
>> huh. >> So I can hold the stones and carving these things down into. >> Okay. Into those over there. Those'll be pieces in a lamp. >> Nice. Several projects. >> Yeah. (SOUND) >> Cool. so just, because I don't know anything about what's going on here. Just explain to me like what's your space. Like where do you work? Or do you work all over the place or what? >> Well this is, this is my, my space, right here. >> Okay. >> There's another guy that works part-time right there. >> Uh-huh.
>> Andy Lewis has a full-time spot there. >> Okay. >> Other people do, like, daily carving over here. >> Right. >> And there's another guy that carves right here. (LAUGH) >> Alright, so really just this little block right here. (CROSSTALK) >> Yeah. This, yeah, these two kind of bays right there are >> Alright cool. >> Outdoor space and then I got a interior space kind of. >> Like working space. >> Yeah, behind the bread truck. >> Okay. And then you said you live on the property too right? >> Yeah. And that's also where I kind of. >> How far is that? Is that walking distance? >> Yeah. >> Okay.
You know, let me just real quick while we're already here. >> just do your thing. Let me get a couple of shots. >> Sure, sure. >> And then, let's let's do, let's go look at where you live. >> Okay. >> Because I'm interested in that, and then kind of give me, like, the lay of the land real quick? >> Yeah. >> and then we'll sit down, power/g, and kind of figure out what we want to do with the day. >> Okay. >> Sound cool? >> Yeah >> Cool >> What I like to do, and it's not really a conscious thing, it's just how it happens. When I first start a story with a person, I want to get all my gear out and get it into their face, right out of the bat, so that he knows exactly what I'm doing there.
He knows exactly how this day is going to be and he, very quickly he gets annoyed or distracted, about the whole thing and he just starts to ignore me at a certain point. Cause he deals with the fact that there's going to be a camera in his face all day. And I got a, got a say, like with him though it's been pretty easy, I don't think he minds me being here at all. (SOUND) So just to talk about the space a little bit is right off the bat there's a whole lot of (LAUGH) obstacles shooting here. The lighting is super contrasty. One of the first things I did was I kind of got a little bit low and started shooting up at him and I was just letting that the, the sun just totally blow out and I got the streaks of that coming in.
And this happens a lot when I shoot is you know the shots I want to get in my head and I'll totally work the scene. But like in the first five minutes I can already tell you tonight, when I go back to the laptop and I edit, that's the picture that I'm going to use from here. You know, for sure, put it on the hard drive, it'll be done. I didn't bring a flash but I got a notepad And, you know? It's a, a quick little bounce card. Just to get a little bit of a light, to catch in his eyes. So, you know? Again, it's, like, just look around your space, and what you're shooting. And there's tools there that are going to help your photography. So use what you got around you.
(SOUND). One thing I like to do is, you know, in that moment, just real quick. You get that shot, and you've got his, the little part of his hand in focus on his tool. But then also rack out and get the focus of his face. And just get both options. So, don't make the decision right there, oh, I'm only going to use this shot. But get both of those and when you get home tonight and you're editing you know. Oh, you know what, actually, I wanted his face in focus at 2A and not the statue or vice-versa. But give yourself some selections. >> Are you basing the face on a real person? >> Yeah, it's my daughter. >> Nice.
How old is she? >>She's 13. >>Very cool. Has she seen this yet, or? >>No she's very shy. >>She knows about it? >>Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. She's not real, you know? She's a bit, bit, self conscious, you know? >>Uh-huh. So she's nervous? >>Yeah. >> Does she live around here? >>No, no, she lives in Florida. >>Uh-huh. >>So, you know I, I live here probably like 2 3rds of the year, you know? Back there, you know, the other third. And that's going to be the next thing, you know. That I'll, once I finish this eye. >> huh. >> I'll go to this ear right here. >> I think to be good at this job, or to be good as a photographer, you have to be generally just fascinated by things and people.
>> And I'm generally just fascinated by people and I want to ask all these questions and I get kind of nosy. And you know in this conversation I'm always trying to make that shotless of what else can I cram. There's only two days with this guy. It's like we gotta get as much action there as possible. For some reason she kind of looks like a dancer in that picture. >> She is. >> Is she? >> She just danced with a Moscow ballet. >> For real? >> Yeah. >> Wow at 13? >> That's very cool. >> So I've got a few more minutes to carve right here. >> Yeah, finish up whatever you're doing and we'll just do a little a tour.
>> Yeah, I'll try and fix this eye. >> you know one of the things I like to tell people, is you know, move around, use your feet, don't use your zoom. Walk into those shots, walk out of those shots. I just put the, you know, I've got the long lens on here. And the reason why I use the long lens is not because I'm really far away. It's because I want to flatten out that image. And when I flatten out that image I want to sort of, what I call dirty up the edges of it. And so I just kind of walked around the space and found cool objects that when I knew I'm shooting in like 2 8 they're going to out of focus but will make a nice shape on the left or right side of the frame.
>> and so I did that a little bit. (SOUND) >>This is great. This, this piece is going to have a lot of history. It was already like the, the feature piece in a, in a movie. >>Mm-hm. >> This was? >> Yeah. >> Nice, is it finished? >> Well, they're in the editing process now. >> I want to see that. >> They shot it in December, so, it's also really cool because, you see the piece, >> Before? >> Yeah, yeah. >> Nice.
>> I'm going to go take everything off. >> So you're just going to have this piece. >> It progresses slightly. >> like, documented. >> Yeah, yeah. (LAUGH) >> Cool. >> You know, give it some serious provenance. >> huh. (CROSSTALK) >> Well, let's take a walk. I want to take a break from this for a minute.
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