Saturday, July 2, 2011

Making vs. Taking Pictures

One of the fun assignments I give the participants on my workshops is to "make a picture" – as opposed to "take a picture." 

On my recent San Miguel de Allende workshop for Foto Workshops Mexico, I picked a picturesque street corner (one of my favorites in the city)  and asked the students to make a picture.

I suggested, "Imagine you are a movie director. Create an image that tells story."

What fun we had! The students had tons of creative ideas.

The opening picture for this post is the result of making a picture. Below is the "before" shot. I know the picture looks a bit dull. I enhanced the image in Adobe Camera Raw, boosting the color, saturation, sharpness and blacks.


Here's how I made the picture, in the course of about three very, very fast-paced minutes.

After the students took their shots, it was my turn to make a picture.

I posed our translator/model Adriana Toledo by the fountain in such a way so that her head was isolated in a plain part of the busy background. I always try to isolate the head so that it stands out in the frame.

I waited for some "props."

I saw a red VW coming up the street. I asked Juan Jose, the director of Foto Workshops Mexico, to run down the street and ask the driver if he could spare five minutes and help out the group. The driver said OK.

However, I had to direct the driver, through Adriana, to move back and forth – and back and forth and back and forth – until he was in the perfect position for my shot. Lots of loud yelling, as I was standing across the street shooting with my Canon 17-40mm on my Canon 5D Mark II.

Okay. The VW was in position. I looked around for another person to place in the scene. Across the street, out of the frame, I saw a man selling oranges. "Great!" I said to the group. "We have another interesting element to add to the scene."

I asked Juan Jose to run across the street and ask the man if he would kindsly move across the street and sit at the corner for two minutes. The man said OK, after we bought a few oranges. More of "do this, do that" from me . . .  with a big, "Pour favor" before each request.

The scene was set. I shot.

The participants all got a similar shot - and had a blast doing so.

The point of this homily is that it's fun and creative to make pictures - just as a movie director sets up each and every shot. 

Below are two shots by Orlando Montalvo. I like his take, too.



Below is a shot by Fernando Carez. Nice work, Fernando. (I showed Fernando how to add motion to the VW using the Motion Blur filter in Photoshop.)

And below is a shot by Juan Jose Marquez, the director of Foto Workshops Mexico, of me testing my exposure - and checking my histogram – before the shoot got going.


Don't be shy about asking someone to help you out! It never hurts to ask.

I hope you can join me for my 2012 San Miguel de Allende workshop. Shoot me an email to get on the list for the workshop – and for all my workshops.

Explore the light,
Don Riccardo, a.k.a. Rick

P.S. Below is a scenic view of the small town of San Miguel de Allende. Small in size but big in photo opportunities. I hope to see you there in 2012.

6 comments:

catsolen said...

In German, the verb is "to make" a picture instead of "to take" you ask your subject, "can I a picture make of you?" I love your take on this. There is a big difference between the two. I've always found the German verbiage very poetic and inspiring.

Kathy said...

Rick, What a great example of "making" a photograph. Thx.

Achilles Schiano said...

I think another interesting shot would be to leave the car out entirely. You have the counterpoint of the man sitting on the sidewalk peddling oranges. And the woman sits on the fountain--is there some problem, or maybe she's is just looking for someone , or......That's what's great about photography.

P said...

Rick, great blogpost about making pictures...

Please place me on the mailing lists for your workshops.

I've listened to you on TWIP and other online/podcasting resources for a couple of years now, and wanted to let you know that I'm a fan.

I like the way you make helpful tips accessible, and always have a great attitude. You're down to earth, and that adds to your credibility. Hearing the name Rick Sammon makes me smile.

I work in another field, and part time in the photo industry. Like a lot of people I have dreams of doing more.

With business the way it is in North America these days, a workshop this year could be a real stretch ...

but pls don't forget to keep making inexpensive tools available - iphone apps, ebooks, etc.

Guys like me sometimes buy them, not just for the information, but as a quiet way to say "thanks!"

jmontalvo said...

When Rick makes the difference between taking pictures and shooting the concept breaks with the preconceived idea how to capture, snapshot, only I was there, and so on. It is working every corner, texture, building into a full visual work, to address each situation on a journey of time and place. It is a work of seduction between place and characters; course there were characters who did not agree to the request to work a few minutes, but were definitely the minority. On the way to ask for this giving. San Miguel Allende is definitely for the photo corners of color, shape and texture, the combination of colonial architecture and experiential people. Rick introduced the potentiates the sensitivity in a unique adventure. Thank you, teacher and friend. See you soon in Cancun.

jmontalvo said...

When Rick makes the difference between taking pictures and shooting the concept breaks with the preconceived idea how to capture, snapshot, only I was there, and so on. It is working every corner, texture, building into a full visual work, to address each situation on a journey of time and place. It is a work of seduction between place and characters; course there were characters who did not agree to the request to work a few minutes, but were definitely the minority. On the way to ask for this giving. San Miguel Allende is definitely for the photo corners of color, shape and texture, the combination of colonial architecture and experiential people. Rick introduced the potentiates the sensitivity in a unique adventure. Thank you, teacher and friend. See you soon in Cancun.