Week #41: Inspired by a Famous Photographer

To be shot and submitted between Sunday, Oct 11 and Sunday, Oct 18 (noon, Eastern)

“If you strive to take great photos, study the work of masters.”

― Darlene Hildebrandt

As Bernard of Chartres once said, “We are like dwarves perched on the shoulders of giants.” In other words, there were masters that came before us, that created the medium of photography, that forged new techniques and developed new styles. We have the benefit of their years of experimentation, and now we can stand on their shoulders and see even further than they could have imagined. Much like the critiques we encourage you to offer one another each week, by studying the works of masters – understanding what works in their photos and what does not – you can sharpen your own eye, investigate new techniques, and become a better photographer yourself. This week’s challenge is to choose a famous photographer and emulate her or his style. Try to understand what makes a particular artist’s work so recognizable. By honing in on a few traits unique to that photographer, perhaps you can instill in your own work some of its style. We encourage you to share a link to a particular photograph that inspired you in your text description, as well as the particulars of the style you were trying to emulate. Remember those immortal words of Picasso: “Good artists copy, great artists steal.”

Tips and Tuts for this week:

  • For our purposes, a good rule of thumb (but by no means ironclad) for who is a “famous” photographer is whether they have a Wikipedia page. You can refer to this comprehensive list of photographers in Wikipedia.
  • This blog post features some concrete lessons we can learn from the masters of photography like Cartier-Bresson and Stieglitz
  • This post is a great refresher of history’s most iconic photographers, if you’re looking for some inspiration.
  • Study a couple of photos from your photographic mentor and take note of the following:
    • What is their photographic ‘genre’? (Portraits, journalism, street photography, landscapes..etc.)
    • What do you think is their source of light? How/where is the light placed?
    • How is the light used to convey a message?
    • What you think the photographer tried to convey in her/his photos? (Despair, truth, textures, personality)

Looking for more inspiration? Check out the Everything is a Remix series. Also, here are 10 more famous photographers and what you can learn from them.

Extra Credit: We Assign You a Photographer

Looking for an even greater challenge? Instead of choosing a photographer, we’ll be happy to assign one to you. This kind of random assignment is a great way to push even further out of your comfort zones, learn about a photographer you may not have heard of before, and really strive to emulate someone else’s style! To request a photographer be assigned to you, simply fill out this quick form and one of our committee members will send you your assignment!

Remember, it is not necessary to work in this Extra Credit piece. It’s extra credit!

Have a challenge idea for 2016?