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In the Narrative Portraiture series, photographer and teacher Chris Orwig explores the use of elements such as location and natural light to create images that tell stories about their subjects and produce a strong emotional connection. In this installment, Chris visits Rodney Smith, a photographer whose work is known for its graceful serenity and its wit. Rodney's career spans more than four decades and includes editorial, fashion, and advertising work, as well as several books.
The course begins with a wide-ranging conversation between Chris and Rodney, during which they discuss Rodney's work, his approach to photography and models, his love of film and of black and white, and the importance of creating photographs that both ask questions and tell stories. Next, Chris tours Rodney Smith's studio, including the darkroom, to get more familiar with Rodney before photographing him.
Chris then takes a series of portraits of Rodney. Along the way, he reviews his gear choices and the compositional decisions he makes, and discusses the importance of committing photographs to paper, particularly in today's digital age. Finally, Chris reviews the images and shares some insights from his conversation with Rodney.
In this chapter, I want to take a few minutes to share with you some assignment ideas, and this one involves creating four pictures. Yup, just four. What I want you to do is try to create four pictures that somehow involve one of these themes, either surprise, whimsy, or cliche. What this assignment is about is really studying and growing. So before you go out and try to make your pictures, I want you to dedicate and devote some time to studying these things. Perhaps go to Rodney Smith's site and look at his work and see how he uses whimsy and humor in his pictures, or maybe even better, read some poetry.
So I really want you to take some time to just study, to think, how could I communicate in a photograph one of these ideas: surprise, whimsy, or cliche?
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