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Creating photos that ask questions

From: Narrative Portraiture: On Location in New York with Rodney Smith

Video: Creating photos that ask questions

All right, are you ready for your next assignment? Well, this assignment involves creating simply six pictures. These six pictures are going to be difficult to make, and here's why. What I want you to do is to create photographs that ask questions. You know, Rodney often talks about this whole idea that a photograph that doesn't ask questions isn't very interesting, or one that answers all the questions isn't worth looking at again. In other words, I want you to create those photographs that really draw in the viewer, make them wonder, make them think.

Creating photos that ask questions

All right, are you ready for your next assignment? Well, this assignment involves creating simply six pictures. These six pictures are going to be difficult to make, and here's why. What I want you to do is to create photographs that ask questions. You know, Rodney often talks about this whole idea that a photograph that doesn't ask questions isn't very interesting, or one that answers all the questions isn't worth looking at again. In other words, I want you to create those photographs that really draw in the viewer, make them wonder, make them think.

On top of it, I want them to be black-and-white photographs. So if you have a film camera available to you, shoot black-and-white film; if you don't, shoot with your digital camera--but do so always thinking about black and white. You know many times when I shoot with my digital camera, knowing that I am going to convert it to black and white, I overexpose just a bit, so I can have that really nice level of contrast. So again, think with black and white in mind. And then in addition to all of those variables, I want you to include a prop.

You know, often in Rodney's picture he has props, whether it's someone with an old vintage golf club and a golf ball or perhaps someone holding something intriguing. I want you to find a vintage prop, perhaps pick one up at an old thrift store, or look in your garage-- you'd be surprised at what you could find. You know, perhaps you could find a rusty shovel or something that could help you ask a question with a photograph. And then ask the person you're photographing to use the prop, perhaps hold the binoculars up to their eyes.

What will happen is, whenever you seek to create photographs that ask questions, is you will always have those that will just flop. You know the ones that I mean? Where you say, hey, I want to create a photograph that asks a question and then the subject where the person says, "hmm." You know, it's just too cliche. It's too easy, too trite. But get over it, get beyond it, work around that. See what you can do to create six photographs in black and white with a vintage prop that ask questions.

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  1. 2m 13s
    1. Welcome
      1m 27s
    2. Introduction to Rodney Smith
      46s
  2. 31m 37s
    1. Creating serene photographs...spontaneously
      4m 37s
    2. Creating photographs that ask questions
      4m 43s
    3. What makes a photograph good?
      5m 28s
    4. Film, digital, and the importance of the artifact
      6m 1s
    5. Contrast, tone, and black and white versus color
      5m 0s
    6. The early years and photography today
      5m 48s
  3. 13m 16s
    1. First impressions: A portrait without the subject
      3m 52s
    2. The finishing room
      1m 4s
    3. The darkroom
      7m 13s
    4. The final print room
      1m 7s
  4. 23m 11s
    1. Selecting the gear
      3m 41s
    2. Shooting the portrait
      6m 13s
    3. Reviewing the plan for the shoot
      2m 6s
    4. The portrait in review
      6m 36s
    5. Large prints in review
      4m 35s
  5. 8m 33s
    1. Why take pictures?
      2m 11s
    2. Cultivating the discipline to print
      2m 8s
    3. Exploring Rodney Smith's "The End"
      4m 14s
  6. 5m 27s
    1. Embracing a theme: Surprise, whimsy, or cliché
      55s
    2. Creating photos that ask questions
      2m 22s
    3. Creating fashion photos with a unique style
      2m 10s
  7. 26m 40s
    1. Photography is a reflection of who we are
      1m 47s
    2. Photography is about the art of observation
      1m 57s
    3. Working with models
      2m 10s
    4. Raise more questions than you answer
      3m 5s
    5. Mentors strengthen our vision
      3m 37s
    6. There is a right place for certain things
      4m 39s
    7. What influences you?
      3m 22s
    8. The camera as a tool for gaining wisdom
      3m 6s
    9. Creating photographs deepens who we are
      2m 57s
  8. 33s
    1. Conclusion
      33s

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