Instructed to stop taking safe photos?
I have been taking a b&w film class, and was taking,mostly still life photos.
I was instructed today to stop taking "safe" photos
What does that mean? I missed the opportunity to ask the instructor.
I was hoping someone here could define that statement for me and give some suggestions.
Ask the instructor! I haven't seen your work.
Still life only? Then, natural lighting, landscape, documentary street, night time, etc.
As ROL said, it is difficult to know what the instructor meant by "safe" without seeing your work. If someone told me that, I would assume that they were encouraging me to stretch my boundaries and photograph things that were less comfortable. For example, I am quite comfortable photographing things like derelict buildings and vehicles. Adding a live model to those scenes would make them less "safe" to me; they would cause me to stretch my boundaries. But you really should ask your instructor what he/she specifically meant.
I know exactly what he means. I constantly have to tell myself to venture out and try new things, take risks, etc. in my daily life as well as photography. (here I go applying real life to photography and not the other way around...) My wife and I recently wondered why our lives felt like they were going nowhere. We stood back, evaluated and figured out that we were too comfortable with our current situation. If we wanted things to change, we had to change. There's a much longer story that I could tell, but I won't go into it.
Anyway, you are probably very comfortable shooting still lifes. You know what you are doing and you can do it well. Sometimes venturing out into the world and trying something new can give you a new perspective on what you do best. For you, this could mean trying some really-out-there still life subjects or maybe 'still life in motion' as in shooting a still life of something that is actually in motion or 'life...still' and go out and include people and daily life activities in your compositions. I've found that in my own photography and graphic design, my work lacks that creative edge when I end up using a 'formula' for the way I do things.
Wow, I just talked myself through this, too, and gave myself some good ideas. Maybe I need to write more.
I would interpret this as "stop following rules and stop doing things you know it works."
All those rules, like rules of the third, not put horizon in the middle, etc, etc, etc, if you follow them every time, you get good photographs each time. But none of them will be great photographs. None of them will be uniquely yours. Many of them will be like many others that has been done - well, many times!
If you've always done certain things - like certain subjects, certain view points, certain -whatever-, consider changing. Do something else. Do something that might or might not work. Discover something new. I think your images have become too deja-vu.
Either that or your instructor wants you to stick your head out of your sunroof while driving at 100mph and take photographs.
Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?
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No offense, but they might be trying to subtly tell you that while still life photography is perfectly valid, there's a chance your photographs come off as boring.
Stop worrying about grain, resolution, sharpness, and everything else that doesn't have a damn thing to do with substance.
However, it's generally a good idea to draw the line at photos that might put you on an FBI watch list. Admittedly, these days that could be almost anything, but still.
Originally Posted by tkamiya
I agree. He might think you're in a rut. You've found a formula that works and you've gone as far as you can with it.
Originally Posted by cramej
He's probably thinking, "Okay, these pictures are nice but what else does he have?"
I was taking a class about 20 years ago. One day, I walked by an old, abandoned factory building with broken windows. Got a picture of that.
A while later, I was walking down the street and saw a broken beer bottle. Shot that.
Another block over, there was a car with the headlight smashed out. Shot another one.
By the time I got home, I shot up my two rolls. I went in to the lab, developed, proofed and printed them.
The prof. liked them and, after that, I got on a roll.
The next week, after that, I brought my assignment to class and the prof. said, "What's with all the broken sh*t?" He made me go out and do it all over again.
The lesson I learned and, what I think the prof. is telling you is, "Don't be a 'one trick pony.'"
adj. saf·er, saf·est
1. Secure from danger, harm, or evil.
2. Free from danger or injury; unhurt: safe and sound.
3. Free from risk; sure: a safe bet.
4. Affording protection: a safe place.
5. Baseball Having reached a base without being put out, as a batter or base runner.
1. A metal container usually having a lock, used for storing valuables.
2. A repository for protecting stored items, especially a cooled compartment for perishable foods: a cheese safe.
3. Slang A condom.
your instructor is probably referring to definition #3
photograph and ( art in general )
is about taking risks.
i am guessing your still lives are pretty nice
but you could probably do something out of the ordinary,
juxtaposition, or point of view or anything else ...
or as other people have suggested .. it is all about "comfort zone "
maybe your instructor wants you to photograph a situation where you have to interact
with the subjects .... architecture, portraits ...
good luck !
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There are two answers to this question - Firstly, make images that are edgy and push your awareness of your subject and treatment, meaning learn to see more deeply
To me, and here I speak personally, I find the best and strongest images come from an engagement with the subject, that subject can be anything that you can deeply engage with - In the case of people the engagement must be mutual, otherwise your portraits become dead
The other answer is the attitude of Rob't Cappa, the Magnum founder and who famously claimed "If your photos are not good enough you are not close enough" - He was a pioneer who was killed by a land mine in Indochina - Seek his work, it was part of the foundation of Magnum's reputation
Last edited by John Austin; 03-06-2012 at 11:23 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Reason: added engement paragraph