What I've Learned: A Photographer's Journey is a Masters of Photography series dedicated to our students, exploring the stories behind the imagery they have created. For other student interviews check out our blog posts.Hakim Boulouiz is a professional photographer who currently lives and works in Switzerland. We first noticed Hakim when he uploaded the below photo to the photostream. Hakim is so playful with perspective and colour to create very dynamic layers of composition. The edges of his frame are often very important and he enjoys letting us discover anonymous glimpses of bodies, fingers or arms. The unknown front story and back story either side of his captured moments often invite the viewer to imagine and project a narrative into his image. He sees all the teeth combine in the festival image and the perfect juxtaposition of gun and face in the fairground, These are carefully captured moments that show us his world, his ideas and his personality. He is an artist and we clearly see how the masters have positively influenced and inspired his work.
Tell us about yourself in a few sentencesI am a professional photographer and an expert in urban aesthetics with multidisciplinary training. I am fascinated by cities and by the urban phenomenon around the world. The city attracts me, troubles me, and interests me. I am always intrigued by the transformation of the man of nature and his way of interacting with his environment that he builds with his own decisions. I am fascinated by the way the urban space and the street tells stories about the man. How the city manages to influence the behaviour of the inhabitant of the city. The interactions between man and his environment are revealed through objects and everyday situations. I believe that the street is the sum of small moments, rather than one general frame. Every ordinary moment can be transformed into an extraordinary one. The banal can become the most significant, only if there is observation, patience, perseverance, and creativity.
How long have you been into photography?Even though I often had a camera, at first I did not give much importance to that. But there came a moment when I realised that I had a treasure in my hands. I began to realise the need to see. I started slowly to always have a camera with me as a faithful friend. When I started to seriously learn photography was fifteen years ago. I was shooting everything: snow, friends, insects, ski slopes, and concerts. It is important to go through this step because the most difficult part is understanding the light. That’s the secret of good photography. Step by step I understood that I have to focus more on the street style and its way of work. Urban spaces fit better to my mind and to my background in architecture and filmmaking. For both, cities are crucial, but I prefer how the art of photography can be smart enough to highlight the urban drama. However, it takes time to understand the city because of its paradox. I mean its attraction and repulsion at the same time. But this is exactly its narrative power. Once I am in the street, I still shoot everything.
What made you want to start taking photographs?From a very tender age, I was very attracted to all artistic activities. Later, I found myself with a whole multidisciplinary program around that. I graduated first with degrees in architecture and urban design, and later in cinematography. I had always practiced photography, in the service of a model, an urban project, a film… today, I’ve chosen to express myself through photographic art.
What do you enjoy in photography?My multidisciplinarity wasn’t easy to carry nor was it easy to explain in the beginning. I would say that it’s really the photographic art that has allowed me to accept it. Today, I am completely focused on photography. It’s my career. It fascinates me constantly because for me, it is like music. There are no language barriers. You can communicate with people all over the globe with images. That’s great, isn’t it? This is the heart of the universality of music: the emotions and associations that we have with these activities such as victory, passion, romance, relaxation, adventure, curiosity…are, if not universal, it is extremely common among human cultures. Good photography is like that. Must be like that! In an interview for France Info, the photographer, Sebastiao Salgado, explains that we are in a world of image and an image that moves, but the strength of photography remains intact: "Photography is a universal language. Whatever we write in photography, we can read it in France, in China, in Japan without a filter on, without translation."
What is your favourite piece of kit?At seven I got my first heavy and mysterious Zenit. I loved complicated things with lots of mechanics but I am not sure if my pictures had any interest or any respectable minimum of sharpness. My first digital camera was a Canon Rebel Serie. Then I worked a lot with the full frame 5D. Now for the street, I’m using, digitally, only the Olympus OMD series because of its quality and size. You can move everywhere with it! However, I still shoot film. Film teaches patience because analog photography is slow. You have to wait before sharing your scanned images online. I think that’s not bad at all so as to reduce a little bit the overdose of images on social networks. I have a tip. Even I shoot a digital after I let my photographs “marinate” for some days before looking at them. Many photographers make mistakes on their choices of equipment. In the beginning, you believe that expensive gear will make you a better photographer. Then you get maybe a better body or a very good lens, and you realise later that your work is still weak. Then you finally start to understand what photography truly is. One of my main step in street photography was not a new camera but the decision to shoot only with primes lenses: 28mm, 35mm, and 50mm (depending on the subject).
What was the most influential moment in inspiring your photography?I regularly look closely at the works of some photographers, living and dead, in order to learn and to find inspiration for my projects. I also nourish my approach with other forms of expression, like poetry and short literature. Cinema inspires me greatly, especially German expressionism, the universe of David Lynch, or Akira Kurosawa. Painting remains inescapable in photography. I love Dali, Magritte, Keith Haring…Pictorial art, in general, provides the best lessons for art on the street. Personally, I enjoy working with layers in order to build several levels of reading. This gives depth to the image. So in this approach, I’m in total admiration of the Flemish artist Brueghel, known for his landscapes, satirical paintings, and allegorical Biblical scenes. I’m also interested in the artistic production of the 60’s. Here, it’s not about any sort of nostalgia, but more about the recognition that certain works of the past knew how to offer an effective way for constructing a narrative based on a composition, a gesture, and a style when all is said and done.
What does your photography say about you as a person?I am a photographer because I would like to make people stop and think. I’m a photographer because I like to tell stories. What would life be like without stories? Stories are what expand and makes people who and what they are. I consider every city like a wonderful and mysterious ballet with humans in the middle. I like to point out and to question the human being and his space in the contemporary context. When I shoot, I always have some themes in mind. It helps you to work consistently on a specific object. As I said, I consider street photography as a series more than isolated images. So editing becomes a crucial step when I try to stay focused on the whole. The goal is not to create images that need to stand alone but to build their power as part of a greater collection. You may not appreciate the value of what you are creating until the series begins to take form ; so do not spread images very quickly... Wait to see what develops as the series accumulates. And sometimes, a simple unexpected title or caption can transform how you see the elements or story presented within the frame. However, even though I love photographs, I try to protect myself from the current society’s visual pollution and invasion of images on social media. I believe that the contemporary world needs accurate imagery that translates the aspirations of a new generation in the midst of a current society that instrumentalizes and spreads “poor” pictures. We need effective art that is able to make us reflect.
Which photographer or book has had the biggest impact on you? Why?I have a lot of respect for André Kertész's work and his visual lyricism and humanism. He remains less known than his contemporaries, however, his photography is very powerful and inspiring. Kertész once said: "Everybody can look, but they don’t necessarily see". It’s important to learn how to see and to understand the difference between a wrong and a right 'moment'. He also said that photography can be technically perfect and even beautiful, but they have no expression. Kertész is revered for the clarity of his style and his emotional connections with his subjects. Kertész felt that intuition is the best ingredient for creating poetic substance. He was able to compose many still lives with the aim of transforming the simple, usual, and banal into something poetic, delicate, and ethereal… that's hope and optimism!
Are you working on a photography project?I work on several small projects at the same time. But I have the same big project in progress that is related to my street work in colour, which started five years ago through several cities in the world, and that I want to conclude with a book and an exhibition. Sincerely, I don’t like thinking alone. I believe in teamwork with respect, creativity, and joy, I would like to work with publishers and art managers. I believe that their value will be added to the project. Today, it is very difficult to know when it will be completed. Maybe in three months or in thirty years. We'll see! We have time (big smile).
What are your favourite photographs that you have taken?As a photographer, I fantasise about the making of a photograph; that you could spend a long time looking at her, to contemplate and to try to decode. The opposite of a society of speed, immediacy, and shock. One of my favourite photos is “Choral” (see above image). Why this name for it? In western music, a choir designates a vocal ensemble, whose members, called choristers, sing collectively under the direction of a conductor, such as a choir of a college. However, what is a choral photography? This word came to me from the concept of the choral film, where there is no main character, but rather three or four and they relatively have equal importance which cross or not. American Graffiti (1973, Lucas), 21 grammes (2003, Iñárritu), and so on. By analogy, choral photography becomes a work that is distinguished by the transformation of most protagonists into main subjects, in other words, it's the anti-portrait (in the isolated, posited, and limiting sense of the term). The eye moves from one place to another, from one story to another within the same framework. This type of photography becomes, in the best, a metaphor of a society and a multiple daily caught between nostalgia, the reality of the present, and the future suspense. Choral pictures, chaotic pictures, mosaic pictures, and puzzle pictures, call them what you want, aren’t more than ever a metaphor of dislocation and fragmentation in the contemporary city. [activecampaign form=15]
What is your favourite photograph from another photographer?I like the simplicity and strength of a photograph of the American photographer Philip-Lorca DiCorcia, from his project in the "Boystown" of Los Angeles, a district of West Hollywood, in the 1980s and 1990s. In one frame, the photograph sums up all the delicate situation of illusion and prostitution in the US (see below for image from Boystown project). The caption for the photo is Major Tom, 20, Kansas City, Kansas, $20 (caption includes the subject's name, age, hometown, and fare). DiCorcia was able to convince these men to pose for him and to give him a little of their time. The men he found in Los Angeles came from all over the country, attracted by the Hollywood dream. The work of DiCorcia is generally distinguished by a particular light, hot and plastic at a time. Philip-Lorca DiCorcia takes advantage of the reversibility of the situation, "the light is there to illuminate, to add a dramatic element". Things often happen in the street; theatre of confusion, speed, noise, jostling ... But with him, he manages to make sure that nothing happens. DiCorcia said: "I'm not interested in events. In my photographs, people are not themselves, they are representative of a state of the human race".
How did the course benefit you?First, I like the fact that master is in situations and places that brings out the best of him and that transmits the deepest of his thought and know-how that makes him a true master, every lesson is a short film done very well. I have been in the film industry for a long time, so I can tell you when the work is good. Today, mediocre films about artists exist a lot online. You know why? Because everyone pretends to be a film director as soon as he gets a video camera or a smartphone. The way the course is fashioned, cut, and staged, has really been able to communicate the master's experience. All communicated elements are accessible and easy to understand. I love the fact that you can follow it at your own pace and everywhere. The notes and transcripts given, following each course, remain of great use to complete the notes and to be able to revise them another time.
In the course you have taken with us, what was your favourite lesson and why?One of my favourite lessons is Lesson 5 of Joel Meyerowitz's course; THE MAGICIAN’S TRICK Joel explains that the picture has a kind of twinning quality, a kind of nothing major is happening. But the fact that some small incidents appeared together, the situation becomes like a magician's trick, "Poof! Now you see it!" As he said. Photography happens that fast, right in front of your eyes. Every photographer becomes a magician. A magician with a camera. A magician of light, form, and ideas. Do you know how the magician shows you his trick? He does this, and then you see it. Well, that's photography. It shows itself to you, and only if you're quick enough to see it, can you make magic out of it. So work on your trick, don’t wait to follow your instinct, Joel advises.
What is the best piece of photographic advice you have come across?Joel Meyerowitz explains very well that photography isn't only about the object. Photography is about the combination of elements, the associations, the relationships. LESSON 16 JOEL MEYEROWITZ. I really love this idea. In other words, what matters is not the object X or Y but the relation and interaction between the two objects. It is not about the red door and the green door but it’s about the space between the two doors. It is the relationship between the two doors that creates space, that creates the street, and motivates art. In addition, the differences are not clear boundaries, but more or less open spaces between the two objects. It's always amazing to work on the concept of in-between in his photographic research! For more photos by Hakim, check out our photostream here, where he contributes frequently. Check out Hakim's Instagram page here. A Photographer's Journey credits. Photo 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 by Hakim Boulouiz Photo 7 by Philip Lorca-DiCorcia [activecampaign form=15]
What I've Learned: A Photographer's Journey is a Masters of Photography series dedicated to our students, exploring the stories behind the imagery they have created. For other student interviews check our blog posts.Paul Marvuglio is a photographer that is currently retired and works on his craft in New Jersey, USA. The photo below was posted to our photostream by Paul and it immediately caught our attention. We loved the sense of atmosphere of the setting and the plethora of different textures and tones in his black and white work. His photos often have a real richness in detail and a level of intensity to them. In Paul's images we are also reminded of the work of Eugene Atget of Paris streets. Interested, we got in touch with Paul to do a Photographer's Journey exploration to find out more about his work and his inspirations.
Tell us about yourselfI spent my working life in the pigment industry working with colour which “explains” my preference for black and white photography. I now am living in New Jersey and have finally retired. This is my second stint in New Jersey was born here but have spent 20 years out of the state. I live just beyond the urban sprawl in the garden part of the Garden State, 45 minutes from the Hudson and an hour and a half from Manhattan. I was a snapshot photographer for many years. When I retired my photography became more serious endeavour and provides a bridge from my working days to my at leisure days.
How long have you been into photography?I started in 1965 taking snapshots, but didn’t get into more involved photography until 1971, I had a wet darkroom until 1987 and then went back to snapshots until 1998 when I converted to digital. I did not get seriously interests in landscape photography until 2004. Since then I have created 6 self-published books. This was more a scrapbooking effort than a literary effort. I substituted piles of pages for piles of prints. My photography is now trending toward urban photography hence the course. The big adjustment was not shooting on a tripod. It felt uneasy for a while.
What made you want to start taking photographs?I was stationed in Greece and would take pictures to send home. Then in 1971, I started to take pictures to send to the grandparents back east. [caption id="attachment_11815" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA[/caption]
What do you enjoy in photography?Between photographing and printing I enjoy printing. Photographing is an immediate process 1/125 or 1/250th of a second and you’re done. You capture what you pointed the camera at. Printing is a more involved process requiring involvement for a longer period of time. While you are bound by your ”negative” on what you can create, the final print is bound by your skill and creativity. Making a silk purse from something other than silk. The wet darkroom was changing in the immediacy of your actions. Reproducibility was difficult for other than for straight prints. The digital darkroom offers a more considered approach to image creation. You have the ability to “sketch” until you find the image you prefer and then print. You can then print it again with or without additional corrections from the place you stopped, not from the beginning. What I like about printing is having more control over the result. At the end of the day you can look at what you created with a sense of accomplishment, rather than “how did that happen?” [activecampaign form=15]
What is your favourite piece of kit?The camera I have used mostly is a Canon 5D with a variety of lenses (mostly a 17-40), as I moved to more urban type shooting and traveling by Air I have taken to using a Olympus Pen F with a 24-80 mostly due to the weight reduction. My style is to carry my camera in hand all day using my pockets as a camera bag. The Pen F has a little more distortion at wider angles than the full frame Canon. I started photographing with a Petri 7S range finder with a match the needle exposure system. A digital version would be my choice today. From a software choice I use Photoshop CC mostly because I know how to use it. I have tried Lightroom but I go back to PS because I know how to do it in PS. The DXO Silver Effects Pro plug-in; is the software I would hate to lose it offers a great deal of control in converting to black and white. Ease of use and familiarity is what drives my preferences I like the Canon because my fingers know where the buttons are, muscle memory. This also applies to Photoshop. I am a creature of habit.
What was the most influential moment in inspiring your photography?I don’t really have an epiphany moment. What encouraged me to purse photography further is when I had a photo accepted in a juried art show. I then approached exhibiting as an exercise to determine if my photography had and merit.
What does your photography say about you as a person?Photography can say little about you as a person; it can reveal a level of skill and artistic ability. Who you are; photography can only infer; through the photographs you chose to take and share with others. Even that can be misleading. What you take is in some way dictated buy your situation - combat photographers are duty bound to picture death. If working for House and Gardens, plants and flowers are the photographs of choice. What is taken is also dictated by what is selling or what an editor thinks meets his needs. What photography says about me is I have an eye for what and when to take a picture and my selection of subject has some artistic merit. Additionally that I have mastered the technical skills needed to create a useful image. My photography tends to be, as one teacher put it; classical. My photography is not edgy but more traditional. I tend to print darker than most. This prompted another photographer to comment that my photographs were morbid. You could use my photographic style to describe me as a cautious, follow the rules sort of person, a bit of a perfectionist and not particularly perky with a dry sense of humour?
Which photographer or book has had the biggest impact on you? Why?Two photographer’s books are involved in creating my approach to photography. Ansel Adams series on photography and Vincent Versace’s “Welcome to OZ”. Both developed the concept that photographs are “composed”. That photographic development and printing are not a static rote process but can be manipulated to create a photograph that expresses your view. The concept of fine art photography verses documentary photography.
Are you working on a photography project?I have several photographic projects under way.
- I am compiling a portfolio of a series of food at farmer’s market pictures.
- Scanning Family pictures to create a book of my extended family to allow others in the family to see them. Now just a box on pictures in my closet.
- A longer rang project is to photograph “Passages” in Paris. Those narrow shopping areas more alleys than streets. I am now at the research stage as to where. The project will start in 2020.
What are your favourite photographs that you have taken?
- Princeton Battle Field Farm. This is a farm in Princeton taken from a post that marks the battle of Princeton. It is a 6 image panorama. (photo 2)
- Victor Emmanuel Monument Rome. This image started as a colour slide in 1960 was scanned in the early 2000’s and converted to black and white. It had defects –Halos, these were finally repaired his year (photo 4).
- Tearoom. This a Teashop in Paris at the Place des Vosges, 2014 (photo 7).
- Passage Du Chantier Paris. There is a person in the picture, 2017 (photo 3)
- Street Performer Italy. This is a composite of a street performer in Venice Italy. His expression changed as people walked by. A frown if you did not donate a smile if you did. Street photography after post processing (photo 6).
What is your favourite photograph from a different photographer?Yousuf Karsh’s portrait of Winston Churchill. I don’t know if it’s the image or the back story. Churchill’s expression was the result of Karsh plucking the cigar from Churchill’s mouth.
How did the course benefit you?The ability to be in the moment and approach urban photography, not as outsider looking in - candid photography, but as an insider photographing the surrounding goings-on.
In the course you have taken with us, what was your favourite lesson?Joel Meyerowitz Lesson 29: Tuscany- Inside Light. First it was a conversation between two people. Not a single individual talking at you. They were talking together and at you describing their creative process... The conversation on how two people can take their different skill sets and cooperate in producing something. In this case a book. Two views one task. A Photographer's Journey credits. Photos 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,9 by Paul Marvuglio Photo 8 by Yousuf Karsh [activecampaign form=15]
What I've Learned: A Photographer's Journey is a Masters of Photography series dedicated to our students, exploring the stories behind the imagery they have created
What made you want to start taking photographs?
I got into photography 5 years ago. I am a father of two girls and I started taking pictures of my first daughter, she was the reason I took an interest in photography. Trying to make better portraits of my children was the beginning!
What do you enjoy in photography?
As well as taking photos of my children, I really enjoy waking with my camera and taking photos, mainly street photography and the documenting of everyday life, this is what I love to do.
What is your favourite piece of equipment?
I prefer using my Fujifilm Xpro2 with 23mm f2 lens. It is the gear that makes me feel comfortable in the streets and 23mm (35mm) is the focal length that helps me frame better. This combination of gear makes it easier for me to approach people.
What was the most influential moment in inspiring your photography?
The most influential moment that inspired me was when my teacher, Nikos Vourgidis, showed me Henri Cartier-Bresson's photos. That completely changed my mind about photography, from that day onward, street photography became my real passion.
What does your photography say about you as a person?
I don't think that my photos show much about me as a person, I am simply on a quest of some nice moments in the streets, or of my life. This is the only thing I need from photography right now, to make nice pictures out of the simple things of life.
Which photographer or book has had the biggest impact on you? Why?
I am inspired by many photographers, mainly black and white photographers. Firstly I was inspired by Trent Parke and then by Stavros Stamatiou. I love the way they make great shots from simple things like rainy days, night lights and reflections. I am also very fond of Nikos Economopoulos and Joseph Koudelka for their unique compositions. Lastly of course, Joel Meyerowitz, who has influenced me with his wonderful street shots.
Are you working on a photography project? OR do you have one in mind or one that you'd like to start?
A year ago I discovered that I was working on a project without noticing, which was the progression of my daughters' childhoods, so I called it "Growing Up". I would like to have a street photography project, but nothing yet.
What are your favourite photographs that you have taken?
I don't really have a favourite photo, maybe it's one where all my family is sleeping on one bed.
What is your favourite photograph from a different photographer?
I can think a lot of photos I really like. Right now I remember only a photo of Stavros Stamatiou with birds flying at night and all their eyes blinking from his flash (see below).
How did the course benefit you?
Joel Meyerowitz gave me the opportunity to see a legendary photographer at work. It taught me how he moves in the streets and I loved the part of his workshop and his feedback to participants. It was great to have an online course like this, especially for someone who lives on an island.
What is the best piece of photographic advice you have come across?
There is no specific advice that I consider my favourite, but the part where Joel was speaking with his students at a workshop was the part of the course I loved most.
Photo 1,2,3,4,6 by Alexandros Tsiolis
Photo 5 by Stavros Stamatiou
What I've Learned: A Photographer's Journey is a Masters of Photography series dedicated to our students, exploring the stories behind the imagery they have createdMark Darbin is a photographer based in Portsmouth, on the south-east coast of England. We first noticed Mark when he uploaded the photo below to the photostream. We loved the originality and the humour of the shot, which are themes that run through Mark's work. When we reposted the photo on our Instagram, it was tremendously well received, so we decided to get in touch to find out more.
How long have you been into photography?I’ve had several film cameras over the years but really got into photography about 7 years ago when I got my first DSLR. I think that I needed a digital camera, with the more immediate feedback and the freedom to take as many pictures as I wanted, to enable me figure out how to use a camera properly.
"What I really enjoy is the challenge of trying to make a photograph out of a scene where there appears to be nothing, or to turn something mundane into something unusual."
What made you want to start taking photographs / what do you enjoy in photography?I started off with the usual family photos and then moved onto landscapes, abstracts and macro photos. From there I developed an interest in more urban based photography, which came out of a visit to the Tate Modern where I started photographing people interacting with the exhibits. [activecampaign form=15] I’m an introvert by nature and am fairly reserved. Having a camera in my hand gives me time to think. What I really enjoy is the challenge of trying to make a photograph out of a scene where there appears to be nothing, or to turn something mundane into something unusual. It’s that moment when you make a picture out of what appears to be a perfectly normal object, or situation, and it turns into something interesting. [caption id="attachment_10481" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA[/caption] As an example, I’ve chosen the picture of two people on a beach juxtaposed in a litter bin. It’s a fairly standard picture in some ways, but the real reason I took it was that they were the only people on the beach, on a fairly chilly dull day, and they’d chosen to sit exactly perpendicular with the bin and at just the right distance to line up with the slot in the top.
What is your favourite piece of kit (camera, lens or other)?I usually use an OM-D EM10 with either a 17mm or 45mm prime, but at the end of the day these are really just tools. The one thing I have which is irreplaceable is an old and very battered OM-1 which was my father-in-law’s. He bought the camera for a trip around South America in the 70’s, and was still using up to when he passed away last year.
What does your photography say about you as a person?Hmm, I had to ask my wife about this one … most of the time I tend to stand in the background and observe. I find the ordinary often absurd and very funny. As an example, I chose the picture of the two photographers taken from above (see below). A very rare brown bird had been spotted and they were trying to get a shot of it. This picture was taken from the sea wall and what drew me to take it was the weight of the lenses, the way the couple leant into each other and the lines. And this was all for a small brown bird that was about the size of a tea cup. However, I’d stress that I’m really not making any judgement on the amount of kit they had etc., especially as, from looks they gave me, they really couldn’t understand why I would want to photograph them. So the joke went both ways.
Which photographer or book has had the biggest impact on you? Why?Wow, difficult question … there are so many, I really like Daido Moriyama, Saul Leiter, Mark Power, Joel Meyerowitz, Ansel Adams etc. Sadly I think this comes out in my photos which sometimes seem to be all over the place and often have no consistent style. The book that has the biggest impact changes over time. However, the one that more often than not seems to be on top of the (very small) pile that I own, is Vivian Maier’s. Getting past the long lost genius myth, I think that what I really like is that she can make some very candid, personal pictures, but you never feel that she was being voyeuristic or intrusive. I think that you need to bear this in mind when photographing on the street. Whilst what you do may be legal, I’m very aware of the moral implications of sticking a camera in someone’s face. Vivian Maier never lost the humanity in the process … and she was also the only person who could ever take a good selfie.
What are your favourite photographs that you have taken?I’ve mentioned two above. One of the other ones I’ve chosen is the dog and graffiti cat (see top of article). I’d been walking past it for about a year thinking there must be something that can be done with it. On the day I took this I saw the dog coming in the other direction and had enough time to crouch down on the opposite wall. Fortunately, the dog lurched in at me as it went past. Another picture I’ve chosen was taken at the design museum (see above). I noticed the couple at the top left and took the shot across the atrium to get some height, just before they all moved. Hopefully the narrative is fairly self-explanatory.
What is your favourite photograph by any other photographer?There are so many. To narrow this down I’ve chosen from photographs that I’ve actually seen, rather than in a book or online. I really like Saul Leiter’s work and was lucky to see an exhibition at the Photographer’s Gallery. The one I’ve chosen is Through Boards (see below). I really like the negative space and the use of his signature red colour, both in the street scene itself and in the foreground, which almost makes it look like you're looking through a Rothko painting. The scene itself looks very mundane until you see the man looking inwards from the car at the women and the group on the left. Whilst it’s useful to try and copy what other people have done, I’d eventually like to be able to make photos that only I could make: Saul Leiter’s colour pictures are instantly recognisable, no-one else could take them.
How did the course benefit you?I was originally drawn to the course because of the street photography sections and on the basis of Joel’s work in urban environments, and it was really useful to see how he approaches this. As a result I’ve stopped using the back screen on my camera and have started using the view finder again, which makes me much more visible, but also seems to allow you to get closer to people … and “sorry, but I really liked your smile” does work when someone asks why you’ve just taken their photograph.
"Joel’s questions around [...] what drives you to take a photograph are really useful, especially when combined with the idea of being able to construct a narrative around why you’ve made and selected a particular picture"I must admit that I wasn’t really interested in the student review sections, but these have proved to be really thought provoking, particularly lesson 18 and 19. One big problem I find is trying to assess your own photographs, particularly trying to separate yourself from the situation in which they were taken. Joel’s questions around finding the identity of the human being who made the photograph, what drives you to take a photograph etc. are really useful, especially when combined with the idea in Lesson 3 – Looking at Pictures, of being able to construct a narrative around why you’ve made and selected a particular picture.
What is the best piece of photographic advice you have come across?“… photography looks like pictures, but is really ideas”. Photo 1,2,3,4,5,7 by Mark Darbin Photo 6 by Saul Leiter [activecampaign form=15]
What I've Learned: A Photographer's Journey is a Masters of Photography series dedicated to our students, exploring the stories behind the imagery they have createdJeff Hulton is a photographer that has lived outside Boston for over 30 years, originally coming from Connecticut. He graduated from college in New York City and spent his sophomore year studying in Austria. We noticed the quality of Jeff’s photos when he uploaded several to the photostream on the Masters of Photography website. His portrait of a young boy (see above) grabbed our attention in particular, which we reposted on our Instagram page on 8 June this year. Wanting to know more about Jeff’s life and attitude to photography, we contacted him for a chat.
What made you want to start taking photographs?Photography for me started at home with a mother and a cousin who loved to take photos. In college in Austria I discovered that art was far more than documenting your travels and came back to NY to study seriously. I had the greatest of privilege studying with Sol Libsohn, co-founder of The Photo League and later with Fred Picker at ZoneVI Workshop. After 11 startups in high tech I now spent most of my time pursuing the next image. Initially, like many people I started documenting my family, my travels and my environment. After visiting the top art museums and cathedrals of Europe, I realized that Art and photography could be so much more. When back in NY, the more I studied other photographers work and sought out my own images, the more I realized I was seeing things in the world very differently and needed to express this. I am attracted to the abstractions of place and things, the qualities of light and the juxtapositions of color and so many “normal things” we encounter every day.
What do you enjoy in photography?Photography for me is a way to discover the World. I take the greatest pleasure in walking or driving down new roads with my camera to simply experience and react to the marvelous things I see. I also for sure love Landscape but always seek out a new way of seeing traditional places.
"my photos suggest I am a very inquisitive person that sees things in an abstract way. I see connections of form and colour where obvious connections don't exist"
What was the most influential moment in inspiring your photography?When Sol Lipsohn in my junior year of college stood me up in front of the class with another photographer who excelled in showing the passion of his baro in NY but suffered from weak technique and said “You Mr. Hulton need to learn from this man and YOU Sir need to learn from Mr. Hulton. If the photo doesn’t move you it’s not going to move me!” [activecampaign form=15]
What does your photography say about you as a person?I guess my photos suggest that I am a very inquisitive person that sees things in an abstract way. I see connections of form and colour where obvious connections don't exist. I think of this in music like what bebop meant to straight ahead Jazz. The forms are there but man those guys took another road to get around it! Marvellous!
Which photographer or book has had the biggest impact on you? Why?Next to Sol Lipsohn and working in his class, I think my favourite photographer is Brett Weston for the way he saw landscapes, natural detail and used form, light and shadow to illuminate something completely new. He clearly got me going in a different direction. And then there is Harry Gruyaert! How he sees colour [activecampaign form=11]and form inspires me.
"Joel Meyerowitz has a great ability to help you focus on “spirit” and “life” and this is what I need to constantly refresh in my own work.The best images are never about equipment, place or technique, they are about spirit, light and your emotional response."
Are you working on a photography project? Or do you have one in mind that you'd like to start?I have three projects underway looking for expression. I have spent 4-5 sessions working in an old group of grain elevators in Buffalo. Seeing what Charles Scheeler did with similar subjects inspired me to try and abstract these forms in black and white. I am also distilling a group of images I did in Mexico with Arthur Meyerson’s Masters Class. For the first time I stepped out of my comfort zone a bit and worked a lot in colour and form. The work of Harry Gruyaert helped me see this way. The last and longest going project is to curate many, many images I have made in Yellowstone over the last 8 years. I get back there every year and each time my images drift farther from straight photography. And then there’s the upcoming 21 days in Japan come November/December!
What are your favourite photographs that you have taken?I think I have two areas that have given me images I love. One are the portraits I have made when I found a connection with my subject. I have one from 1972 and one from last Oct in Mexico. The other area is the new color photos of form and light I did in Mexico. While these images have no direct rational meaning, they seem to capture something special for me about light, color and the interaction of form.
What is your favourite photograph by any photographer?Probably the blowing curtain image that Minor White did (see below). It speaks to me of a form of energy/spirit behind the image.
How did the course benefit you?Joel Meyerowitz has a great ability to help you focus on “spirit” and “Life” and this is what I need to constantly refresh in my own work. The best images are never about equipment, place or technique, they are about spirit, light and your emotional response. The course reinforced this and provided more ideas on how to approach your search for the next image.
In the course you have taken with us, what was your favourite lesson and why?I loved “The Magicians Trick” because it shows you concrete examples of how to Up your Game and Raise your Desire.” Who doesn’t need that?
What is the best piece of photographic advice you have come across?“Steal with your eyes” - Fred Picker. One of the great lessons of the Masters of Photography video series is that you can “steal with your eyes” not just listen. How Joel moves around like a dancer driven by his desire to interact with the subject on an emotional level. That is where great stuff happens. Follow Jeff on instagram: @jhulton [activecampaign form=15] Image 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7 by Jeff Hulton. Image 5 by Minor White.
Joel Meyerowitz talks to NYC-ARTS about his endless passion for photography.
In order to maximise and deepen the learning, the courses of Masters of Photography are composed of 4 complementary and inter-locking activities. By delving into these activities you will gain the most from the website and develop your photographic sensibilities.
The 4 activities are:
- Watch: the courses come in the form of carefully crafted videos. There are between 25 and 35 lessons to watch for each masterclass.
- Read: downloadable and printable documents are provided summarizing the lessons in support of the video courses. Our blog will provide valuable information about the courses, the masters as well as photography tips.
- Do: key lessons are followed by an assignment designed to apply what you have learned.
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The website has 4 sections structured around these 4 activities:
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- Your own Student Dashboard Your login will give you access to your private student section where you can update your details and upload assignment photographs, which are public and published on the Photostream.
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- The News and Updates section Our Blog's aim is to become a great resource for everyone interested in photography. We will give information about the masters, their exhibitions and books and also about the courses, tips, behind the scenes glimpses, site updates and upcoming courses.