26 Weeks Camera Challenge #12: You're only as good... by Simeon Smith

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You're only as good as your last haircut. - Fran Lebowitz

I've learnt so much from following Eric Kim's blog. If you don't already, go read his stuff now. 

One thing that I noticed when I first followed his work, is that he's taken some great photos, but he doesn't continuously publish new work. He editing and selection process most be really strict. 

When he does find a photo he loves though, it goes everywhere. He regularly re-uploads the same photos. And a strange psychological phenomenon happens.

Firstly, you only see great photos, and you think that all their work must be of that quality, when in reality maybe their "hit rate" of great photos is lower than yours. But also, in recognising work you've enjoyed before, you are reminded of the warmth you felt the first time you saw the image, and enjoy it more the second and third time around. 

Another great artist that publishes few images is Lee Jeffries. 

When I went to see David Hurn speak, he said that when he was starting out, publishers were only interested in a photographer's contact sheets (the full roll of film all printed out side by side on one sheet). These days it's more acceptable to spray and pray, taking dozens or sometimes hundreds of photos and then selecting only the best, but either way many artists self edit their work even after releasing it. 

Think George Lucas going over the original Star Wars trilogy again and again with different edits. 

This week your task is one of curation and self-editing. Go through your instagram feed, your portfolio, your albums, wherever you keep your photos, and delete anything you wouldn't publish again today. 

Questions

-What have you learnt since taking the photos you deleted?

-What mistake do you still make? 

-What treasure did you unearth?

26 Weeks Camera Challenge #11: Pick A Colour. by Simeon Smith

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This challenge is for me. I’ve been shooting every day for the last few years but there’s still so much to learn. There’s always more to learn.

Ever seen a Wes Anderson movie? Go look him up if not. Meticulous use of colour, carefully curated palettes. 

I’m no good at using colour, but in comparison to Wes, no one is good at colour. 

This week, pick a colour. Shoot things that colour. Be meticulous, be perfectionist, make the colour your own. 

Questions:

  1. Colour curation can look cheesy as hell. How can we avoid this? 
  2. What kind of colour work can be done in the camera, what needs to be prepared beforehand, and what should be left for post-production?
  3. What colours communicate which emotions? 

26 Weeks Camera Challenge #10: Shoot a Stranger by Simeon Smith

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By now, hopefully, you’re gaining a little more confidence in your photography. I hope it’s becoming more natural. I hope the camera feels comfortable in your hands.

The only way to continually gain more confidence though is to keep pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. 

Something I’ve been doing for years now, and I still don’t feel totally comfortable doing, though is shooting strangers. 

There’s a great tradition from Cartier-Bresson to Gilden (google him!) of taking pictures of strangers. Some people call it “Street Photography”, others “voyeurism". What is certain, though: the results are compelling and the process exhilarating. 

Your task this week is to take a photo of a stranger. You can ask them before you take a photo of them if you’d like, or try to catch a candid snapshot. 

Questions: 

  1. What are the ethical issues around shooting photos of strangers?
  2. How does taking photos of strangers make you feel?
  3. Do you like having your own photo taken? Do you think that influences the first two questions?

 

26 WEEKS is a camera challenge I’m putting together to help someone through their Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award. You can follow along here on the the blog, but it’s best to start at the beginning. Here’s what we’ve already covered: 

Week 1: Do You. 

Week 2: Find Your Masters.

Week 3: Study Your Masters.

Week 4: Kill Your Masters. 

Week 5: The One Thing.

Week 6: Depth of Field. 

Week 7: Blur.

Week 8: We Were Made In The Dark.

Week 9: Forget Everything

26 Weeks Camera Challenge #9: Forget Everything by Simeon Smith

I shot this image on a Holga, a camera with no controls at all.

I shot this image on a Holga, a camera with no controls at all.

Over the last 3 weeks we’ve been learning the basics of camera control and technique. But the greatest photos aren’t about correct exposure, razor sharp focus and wafer-thin depth of field. The greatest photos use techniques like the ones we’ve discussed to portray emotion, to communicate. 

So this week, forget camera control. Pop your camera in auto, if it has such a setting, forget technique and take the most emotive photo you can. Shoot people close to you, shoot strangers. Shoot self-portraits. Shoot like a child. Shoot like you’re documenting the last day of humanity. Shoot the highs, the lows and the in-betweens. 

Questions: 

  1. Why do we learn camera technique if it’s not what photography is about?
  2. What’s the hardest emotion to catch with a camera? 
  3. Is there anything off-limits in photography?

 

26 WEEKS is a camera challenge I’m putting together to help someone through their Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award. You can follow along here on the the blog, but it’s best to start at the beginning. Here’s what we’ve already covered: 

Week 1: Do You. 

Week 2: Find Your Masters.

Week 3: Study Your Masters.

Week 4: Kill Your Masters. 

Week 5: The One Thing.

Week 6: Depth of Field. 

Week 7: Blur.

Week 8: We Were Made In The Dark.

 

Still not sure if the Lomography Belair Camera is... by Simeon Smith

...the most brilliant and unique camera I've ever shot, or just isn't great at focussing across the whole film plane, exposing anything properly, or using a post-1960 shutter speed. It's probably one of the most "Lomo" cameras I've ever shot. It infuriates and delights me in equal measure.

Anyhow, genius or rubbish, you decide. 

The jury's out for me.