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I’ll be giving a talk/seminar at the Westchester Photographic Society tonight titled “Beauty Within – A Journey of the Landscape“, where I talk about my basic approach and philosophy  to photography, and present some of my evolving work using a slideshow presentation.

As much as I try and prepare for these lectures, I seem to do best when I just talk from the heart and let the images and the places I’ve photographed inspire me. I do spend a lot of time preparing the actual slideshow (using Apple’s Keynote software), and make many notes about what I want to say. But so often as in photography, the feel of the setting and the audience will dictate my own tempo and direction, and I try and adapt to the people that are present. I guess I can’t get rid of the improvisational nature of my personality, which is why I studied jazz for so many years.

This isn’t always a good strategy for everyone, but it underscores how important it is for any photographer to have a really good grasp of their work, their preferred subjects,  and most importantly why they photograph. There is an exercise I recommend to every photographer and you would be amazed at how much you can learn about your creative motivations, and even find some new direction in the process. There’s a great post over on the Pro Nature Photographer website (which I recommend highly) by Brenda Tharp which talks about this exercise  – examining our motivations and discovering the gift that is photography and the benefits we all derive from it, including those who purchase prints for their homes or offices.

Becoming as proficient as possible in explaining your work allows you to speak with more authenticity, authority, and ultimately will improve your photography immensely. I know it has for me, an important reason why I love to talk to other photographers, whether personally or in lectures and seminars. I will be giving a free landscape photography seminar soon in my hometown of Beacon, and I’ll post the details here and on my Facebook page in the near future. I’m always available for speaking engagements, so please contact me of you’d like me to speak at an event, whether photography related or otherwise.

RR Jr

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This Post Has 2 Comments
  1. My father landscape photographer Philip Hyde used to say that knowing why you photograph is part of the engine that keeps you going for the long term and helps you get through challenges. It also brings more depth, meaning and a cohesive vision to your images. Photographers and workshop leaders have been asking the question for many years, but it seems to have had a resurgence recently. Early this year I mentioned it in several blog posts, most notably one called, “Man Ray On Art And Originality.” There may or may not be a correlation, but I noticed that several of the industry magazines had articles about it recently and the idea has been discussed on several blogs in addition to that good post by Brenda Tharp, who has apparently also been asking that staple question for years. An important question, no doubt.

    1. Thanks for the info David – perhaps this resurgence is a result of the technology and it’s ability to level the playing field as far as technique is concerned. If we can all make technically correct photographs that are tack sharp and “correctly” exposed , then we are left with those aspects which can never be automated; composition, emotion and feeling, and images which leave something for the imagination and interpretation. All of these qualities become important when we ask ourselves why we photograph, and are certainly critical if we are to grow as photographers and students of the art.

      Always great to have your unique perspective and feedback – much appreciated!

      RR

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