The sixth and final lesson in +Morgana Creely
's Single Frame
mentorship, part of the wonderful +G+ Mentorship Program for Photographers
series, and after exploring the images and techniques of cinematographers in many genres, she threw us a curve ball and asked us each to make a photograph that represents who we are as storytellers.
I owe my concept to my best girl, +Liz Loveday
, who, when I was puzzling over how to tell that story, laughed, grabbed my wrists and rendered me temporarily, sputteringly mute. Those of you who've met me will understand: I literally cannot tell a story without my hands.
This works as a metaphor for photography: Technical skills and clever ideas are great, but until you throw something of yourself into it, grab it and play with it and give it your own distinct touch, it won't be truly yours.
I suspect this is the heart of what people call a "style," and what so many of us struggle to find.
It's dawned on me, through this mentorship, that story is nothing new to me. I've been telling them all my life, in one medium or another: a crayon poem s scrawled on the liner of my mother's 78 RPM boxed set of "The Firebird Suite" ("a little bird came up to me i was so so hungery he sat down i stood up pup pup pup pup pup pup pup" ) to a theatre degree, learning to make stories come alive on stage... a first career in journalism, another as a science writer and more recently, Webmaker. And always, always, sitting with friends, as humans have since we lived in caves, trading our own stories, hands dancing and laughter ringing.
Things this mentorship, Morgana's well thought-out assignments and the dazzlingly good work of my fellow students taught me:
~ To think of photographs as single frames of a larger, longer story, and consider the who/what/when/where/how (just as I did when I was writing for newspapers - fancy that!).
~ To consider framing, not only as a technical element of composition, but as a tool for focusing the viewer's eye on the story. I played with cinematic/letterboxed framing early on and decided to work with that for the entire mentorship, just for the fun of it. It made for some interesting compositional challenges, but I'm happy with the small body of work it produced, and expect to play with that more in the future.
~ Some new-to-me approaches to light, the real paintbrush of our art, and how the absence of light - shadow - can say so much about mood.
~ A new way to brainstorm - that who/what/etc process gave all our images more context and a clearer story, I think. Keeping that!
Among other things, I really appreciated the videos Morgana made and shared with us to launch each week's lesson. It's a great approach, and the examples she showed - of her work, and others' - really helped stimulate my imagination.
This is my third Mentorship, and each has given me new skills to add to my photographic toolbox - but even more important than the techniques that build craft, new ways of thinking
about what I'm doing, or trying to do, that push me closer and closer to art.
(If you've read this far and think "hey that sounds like fun," add the +G+ Mentorship Program for Photographers
to your circles and watch for announcements about new mentorships. They really are like post-graduate mini-courses in photography, and they will make you a better photographer.)