Friday, April 16, 2010
Imagine if someone asked you to watch a two-hour documentary about a spelling bee. You might think, I'd rather walk on broken glass, but thanks. And then you watch a movie like Spellbound and you want to tell everyone you know about it because it blew your mind it was so good. That's because it's not the story, rather, how the story is told.
The same can be said for photography. You might look at photographs of New York or Paris or the Oregon Coast and think that if you visited those places, well, then you could really make some great photographs. But here's something important to remember. It's not WHAT you see, it is HOW you see.
So at this point, you might say, wait a minute--are you telling me I can make arresting, compelling images even of Provo? That's exactly what I'm saying. Ordinary objects and scenes can be photographed in a way that is fantastic and interesting and gives the viewer a new way of seeing. Irvin Penn made pictures of garbage on the street and it was breathtaking.
It's not what you see, but how you see.
I've asked great singers how I can be a better singer. Not one of them has given me any helpful advice. They all say the same thing. It's all about controlling your breathing. Well big deal. What am I supposed to do with that info? So, if I tell you that to make a great picture, it's all about seeing, you probably will say, well, so what. How do I improve my seeing?
I'll tell you. You get good at seeing the same way you get good at golf or baking pies. You practice. So I've got a great exercise for you that will put you on the road to better seeing. And better seeing means better photographs. I call it the Alphabet Challenge.
Do this. Go downtown Provo and photograph objects that look like letters in the alphabet. Start with A and go through the entire alphabet until you get to Z. It will, mark my words, change the way you are looking at everyday scenes and common objects.
And changing the way you see things is the whole point. You're an artist! You see thing differently than everyone else. Now, go make something beautiful.
The letter "L"
The letter "M"
The letter "N"
The letter "0"
The letter "P"
All photographs taken by Justin Hackworth in downtown Provo. Justin has a blog here and answers questions about photography here.
See? Provo is hot.