The presentation this week was by club members who are also members of the “Dream Team” which was started by former Reflex member Tony Cooney, who gave an excellent talk to the club on his time serving in Iraq at the beginning of this season. The Dream Team is a collective of models, M.U.A’s (Make Up Artists) and photographers, some of whom are also Reflex members, who meet once a month to shoot in a variety of venues on a given theme.
This links well into next weeks reflection on how the club has affected two members photography, because one of the ways that we improve is to get ideas and feedback from other photographers. Now it is a fact of life that some people are thin skinned and others immune to the criticism of others and it is also a fact that we are more likely to listen to positive criticism, of which there are two sorts. There is that which is founded in reason, and when reasons are given then we can learn and there is that which is founded on prejudice, the one and only way.
The first of these is worth listening to the latter is, largely, just somebody telling you at length that they did not take this photograph. That which is founded on experience and an open mind may be just as subjective as that which is founded in ego but is by far the more useful of the pair. If there is some form of standardisation to the process then there is a basis for a shared understanding. Mix this with practice (and make it fun) and we get somewhere on the road to results.
The Dream Team’s wide ranging interests and themes and the interconnectedness of the various art forms involved make for something much bigger in the end. Any fool can press a shutter button, daub their body in some paint and gurn at a camera, but that whole Gestalt thing is vastly different when specialists come together to produce a result outside their individual discipline. The inter-connectedness of those disciplines and the imaginations of the people involved make for something much larger.
There is a scientific basis to this, according to research at Stanford University that looked into the difference between finding our passion and developing one. It concluded that being told to find our passion maybe well intended but ultimately it is misplaced advice.
In the short term to find our passion we must go looking for it, for sure. In so doing we create deliberate actions and with such purpose comes results. In the short term, the very act of looking opens up our minds to new opportunities. Open up our minds to new opportunities and we open up ourselves to creative possibilities. Open up ourselves to creative possibilities and we may find our passion. It is what comes next that is critical for development of that passion.
It is the relaxing bit that comes with having found our true passion in life that does the damage. The comfort food of “True Passion” turns sour – maybe it’s our true yoghurt – when it comes to the hard bits. First off, in relative ignorance, we can kid ourselves that we are quite good at this thing, and that we have got it cracked. This is the brain looking for time off and we will get stuck there if we don’t become critical of our own work – creatively critical that is.
Learning by looking at the greats is as old as art itself. Photography is no exception. You can look at your Irving Penn, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Ansel Adams, Annie Leibovitz, David Bailey, Weegee, David Hockney, Martin Parr, Richard Avendon, Robert Capa, Diane Arbus, Alfred Stieglitz, Man Ray, Edward Weston make the list as long as you like, with the internet it can be done. Look at what they have published and have some sort of framework to go by BUT, we are not going to be them. Their time and pathway are different to ours, as well as their artistic sensibilities, no matter how much we admire them. What do we learn from what they see?
The point about that is that it is a great way to learn technique. It’s a great way to set ourselves challenges and that is where finding and developing take separate paths. If we go the development route we are much more likely to stick with it and to use the challenges and frustrations as spurs rather than drift way from something we found.
Collaborative working, under the right sort of atmosphere, is a great way of developing. Knowing the direction we are going in, or want to go in, forces us into certain choices. Again these are better if they are deliberate choices. The biggest factor in this is having somewhere there is a free flow of ideas and an informal collective can be a very good framework for that, especially when ideas are coming in from different disciplines.
Get this bit right and the way that the team works becomes more flexible and responsive to the overall goal – everybody is ending up with some great shots to add to their portfolio. Because there was time and effort put in then the capacity to use these skills, set ups, lighting, composition tools and so on again, under different challenges, adds to not just the photographers, skill sets.
When taking photographs of people, which the Dream Team essentially is, it can seem that it is the photographer who is doing the final work. OK the MUA’s/hairdressers/ got the subject’s look ready, which determines a successful outcome by altering and enhancing where light, shade and attention will fall, and the models give the look, clothes, posture and attitude, but it’s the tog who is determining the final composition. Sort of. Really it is the photographer who has the greatest opportunity to foul everything up and the easiest way to do that is not to take efforts with the other people in the process.
Essentially the photographer has to give credence to the fact that successful photographs of people are not taken they are given. It is a collaborative process.
Our 2014 programme is now finally up on the website. I’ve also posted it here so you can just scroll down & take a look:
9th January 2014
Ed Collacott (visit his website)
19th January 2014
Members bring TEN (YES JUST TEN!) images in and say a few words about each. This is always a popular night because it’s great to see what other club members have been doing.
Last entry date for Round 3 of the ROC
23rd January 2014
Battle with Bristol Photographic Society
Make your club proud and come to this home battle where our pictures will be pitted against BPS’s. May the best images win.
30th January 2014
What does Maurice have in store for us as his first Chair’s Evening? Let yourself be surprised. You won’t be disappointed.
6th February 2014
Results of Round 3 of the ROC.
Come see who the judge bestows the honours on this time.
Editing Step by Step. Please bring your laptop if you have one.
Last entry date for the Creative Round of the ROC
20th February 2014
Tutorial – Trick Photography
How to get those magical shots
27th February 2014
Bring your camera’s and get stuck in to practice what you learnt last week!
SUNDAY 2nd March 2014
Sunday? YES Sunday, no I haven’t gone mad. We are having a repeat of last years Photo marathon, which was an absolute superb event that everyone who took part enjoyed. Even though Steve spilled my beer in the pub afterwards! Time, location and all relevant details will be announced nearer the date.
6th March 2014
The results of the Creative Round of the Reflex Open Competition. Just how creative we’re you? Did you resort to Photoshop or did you get creative with a photo shoot?
13th March 2014
Bring the pictures you took on the Practical night and magic them into the end result! Don’t worry if you didn’t attend the practical night, we’ve got something for you too! Bring your laptops if you have one.
Last entry date for Entries to Round 4 of the Reflex Open Competition
20th March 2014
The results of the Photo marathon. Come along. look at the pictures and vote on your favourites. Maybe this year some people will feel confident enough to vote on other peoples images instead of their own! 😉
Ian Wade (Visit his website)
3rd April 2014
Results of the 4th Round of the Reflex Open Competition
10th April 2014
Western Counties Photographic Federation Travelling Print Critique
A show of prints that were submitted to the Annual Exhibition of the WCPF.
17th April 2014
How to photograph the big day
24th April 2014
Joseph Yarrow (visit his website)
Last date of entry for the Stan Scantlebury & John Hankin Shields
1st May 2014
Reflex is your club so come along and have a say in how it’s run.
8th May 2014
Details to be confirmed
15th May 2014
John Hankin & Stan Scantlebury Shield Competition Results
22nd May 2014
Clair Huckle (visit her website)
29th May 2014
Get intimate with your camera and discover its inner workings (sorry Hanneke wrote that bit). Please bring your camera & it’s manual
5th June 2014
Thinking outside the box. Please bring your camera
12th June 2014
Social Evening & Prize Giving Ceremony
Mark the beginning of summer with a fun evening where you’ll also hear who came top in the various Categories of the Reflex Open Competition.
19th June 2014
Plan your Photo Expedition
How to plan your Landscape and Astronomy pictures. In preparation of a club weekend away to Exmoor ( trip TBC)
26th June 2014
Summer Pub Night
A walk in an area of photographic interest with a pub visit to boot. Or you can just skip straight to the pub. Pub location TBC.