So, I Found A Great Selection Of Photography Resources

I could have had a more formal life as an engineer, but I realized that I did not want to die of boredom at 30 years old. What I wanted to know about that profession I already knew, so I took a camera with the instinct of the one who knows he will never stop learning. And so it has been.
— Josef Koudelka
Beautiful Photographs.jpeg

I wanted to start this post with that wise thought from one of the photographers that I admire the most, the almighty Josef Koudelka, who recognizes that he has never stopped learning. I have had many academic interests in my life, from biomechanics to meteorology, and in August I'll start a PhD on Social Sciences. But there has always been a constant in my life, and this has been photography. Photography has always accompanied me in my academic and professional adventures since 2010 and it always turns out to be very useful in any professional area in which I get involved with.

I have always been very receptive to online learning, as this facilitates the access of high quality education to a large majority of people around the world. Previously I have taken many face-to-face and online photography related courses, and they have all helped me immensely in building a critical mindset in me. From basic level courses to high level stuff, they always leave good assets on me.

I'm about to start a new adventure in my photographic career as a teacher of Photography in the oldest school of Design in my country. I plan to guide the class with three basic foundations: "storytelling", "the utilitarian purpose of photography" and "conceptualization". I'm a bookworm, so I love to always rely on books and papers for any column, article or talk, but these resources aren't always available in my country. Therefore, I also look for innovative internet resources like videos, blogs, and passionate content. While searching for some Storytelling stuff that had a direct relation with photography, I stumbled into a very valuable asset for any photographer thanks to the guys over at PikWizard, a free stock imagery place.

One of the things that I liked most about this blog post, was its high degree of synthesis, which is very important today for an average population who doesn't like to read much. Technically, it is a compendium of very intelligently curated links, and is broken down into 6 small sections that they have decided to call "chapters", and that's fine for me. Each of the chapters has an excellent list of resources that will serve many photographers, no matter what discipline they are passionate about.

These are all the chapters they have built:

  • Chapter 1: How to master the perfect focus to ensure sharp images every time
  • Chapter 2: How to balance your picture to make it easier on the eye
  • Chapter 3: Why lighting makes all the difference when it comes to the perfect picture
  • Chapter 4: To Zoom or not to zoom, that is the question
  • Chapter 5: How to use shutter speed to create cool visual effects
  • Chapter 6: How to use storytelling to make your picture even more beautiful

And it even has a bonus chapter called “How to take beautiful pictures with your smartphone", which is pretty cool indeed.

What I enjoyed the most about this post was not only its transparency by making many references to other sites that are not theirs; but that they have the care if only considering relevant and updated content. It is obvious that they putted a lot of effort into making this selection. Definitely reading all the content that they have selected for us needs a conscious reading without any distractions.

Cheat on time, and learn about how to make beautiful photographs thanks to the guys over at PikWizard.

How To Create Meaningful Photography Essays In 5 Steps

The storytelling nature of photography no secret. It has been used for a century to narrate stories in a very peculiar and effective way. Narrative photographic projects have great power, and regardless of the level of experience and maturity of the photographer, they are very appealing. Photographic essays invite us to research a topic or a theme in depth. Documentary photography is perhaps one of the closest things to "narrative" as we traditionally know it. Even though times have changed, and photography has been open to more independent photographers who don't have the same resource bonanza as the editorial or journalistic photographers of previous decades, this new democracy opens the door to the freedom of speech – a freedom that doesn't have to obey any media interests whatsoever.

All right, but what is a photo essay in the first place?

A photo essay is a narrative that uses a group of images to tell a story or emphasize a specific concept. The camera plays a utilitarian role, and is pretty far from what the final result can convey to those who read it (either completely or just partially). Being a narrative in a very holistic form, the essay should include the following elements in the most extreme cases:-       Introduction

  • Contextualization
  • Opening
  • Development
  • Conflict
  • Continuation
  • Climax
  • Resolution
  • Closing

Not all essays will have allow such a complex storyline, but we can take some of these elements to formulate an idea of what an essay should include. Therefore, a phot essay is a way to tell a story from beginning to end, with substance and a meaningful content.

Most photographic essays require preparation, organization and direction. Photographic essays began to be published in the 1930s after magazines saw that a story could best be told if the text was accompanied by photographs. It is no coincidence that, by this time, cameras had evolved such that they could capture images quickly enough to freeze motion. Also, portability came into the picture thanks to the practical nature of 35mm film. It was LIFE magazine that coined the term "Photographic Essay". One of the most classic photography essays they published is "Country Doctor" by W. Eugene Smith. This essay documented Dr. Ceriani’s working life as a traveling doctor in rural areas of the United States.

An essay can be short, mid- or long-term according to various factors that can affect the image recording process. After achieving a certain number of images, the editing process can take place and the story can begin its narrative course. Some things that can affect the recording process are the limited resources we endure while working abroad, and limited access to the subject or the circumstances-recurrence ratio.

1. Pick a Topic

Obvious indeed, but choosing a good topic can be difficult without prior research. This is perhaps the hardest part of creating a photographic essay. The wisest way to approach this is to select a topic that won't be so hard to access – not just because it might be easy. Since it will be accessible, the risk of frustration will be lower than it is when handling a difficult topic. Experience will eventually lead us into working with trickier subjects.

A photo essay doesn't need to always be dramatic and dense. They can be done just for the fun of it, or to discover new possibilities for the photographic narrative. Some topics that are generous when they are addressed are:

  • The City
  • Color
  • Joy
  • Fear
  • Sadness
  • Love
  • Everyday Work

2. Choosing subjects correctly

When working a photographic essay, is important to choose subjects correctly to keep ourselves within a certain scope. Even if you don't have a human subject to portray, making use of personification can always be a good guide to avoid losing course. For example, you can focus on silence by stating that the images attempted to capture the presence of silence. Also, solitude can be addressed without any human elements, but still maintain the purpose of capturing "the human footprint", for example.

3. Quantity of images

It is important to define the number of pictures we are willing to present on our final essay. Defining that number is important for a couple of reasons. The first one is because it will set the bar of our project's scope (critical when we start to consider our resources). The second one is our readers. The story should be told from start to finish with high impact, just like a short novel or a story. If we stuff our essay with “filler” images, it will ultimately lose its power.

4. Execution

Let the fun part begin! After defining the previous three elements, we can start shooting to create a great storytelling essay.

5. Editing

Editing must not be confused with post-processing, which is an important element of the production of the final photographs. Editing refers to the precise selection of the images that will be included in our essay. There is no perfect quantity or order. You (or your editor) will have to be very objective to select the perfect mix to tell the story the way you want it to be told.

Constant planning, execution and checking can and should be applied to all the stages discussed above. Photo essays are a great way to improve not just as photographers, but as storytellers, too. Viewing photo essays with a reader's mindset will give you a better feeling of photography’s storytelling power.

Originally Published at Light Stalking