The inspiration for some of the teaching on our travel photography holidays
Back in the mid 1980’s the purchase of a few books via a book club lead to my early forays into examining the work of photographers from the great era of the 1930’s to 1950’s. The tradition of realism was firmly cemented through the images of 3 very different but now considered crucial photographers of their generation. Their individual approaches inspire the kinds of photography that guests on our travel photography holidays seek to weave into to their own way of looking at the world.
Walker Evans – 1903 – 1975
The straightest photographer you could imagine. By the end of his career Evans was photographing new tools suspended above a plain white backdrop with no evidence of lighting effects. Beautiful faithful reproductions of the everyday plain revisited with a fresh eye. However it’s his early career from the mid 1930’s that I found extraordinary as a teenager. As a documentary photographer he sought out the everyday; shacks, garages, shop fronts, modest interiors, road signs but far from producing mundane images, the locations and subjects revealed often straight on without any compositional ostentatiousness offer an elegance and eye for the small details that sets his work apart. His unique vision established him as one of the forerunners of the new social realism that would pave the way for photographers such as Robert Frank, Diane Arbus and William Eggleston in the 1960’s. What can we take from Evans approach to our own street photography? On our Photography Holidays we encourage you to seek out the quirky and the small details that set images apart. One of the drawbacks of the digital age is the multitude of photos available. What makes an image special? It’s perhaps more difficult to create something fresh than it ever has been. So our task during the week’s photography is for you to embrace stepping outside your comfort zone and truly to look at the environment around you.
Ansel Adams – 1902 – 1984
So much has already been written about perhaps America’s greatest classical landscape photographer. Although working in times when locations were largely untrampled by encroaching development, his immortalising the great American wilderness is the defining image of the US West coast. It’s through his images and subsequent campaigning that National parks become a formality. Adams’ compositional sure-footedness is simply astounding. Perhaps his photos offer an illustration of something akin to a strange erie but Godly world that remains unique to Adams. Partly the use of black and white enhances this impression. A classical composer of the image, Adams offers us a lesson in how to fill the complete frame with interest. The ‘rule of thirds’ is perhaps a blunt tool to apply to his photographs but it’s a starting point for how we can lead the viewers eye into the image by giving foreground interest. The type of landscape photography we attempt on our holidays is mainly confined to the photo tours, but there is the opportunity for seascapes on the coast here in Essaouira where rocks, medina walls, ramparts and sea spray clash to provide a treat for the earnest photographer.
Edward Weston – 1886 – 1958
A contemporary of Adams, Weston took a different path in his quest to cement photography as the premier 20th Century art form. Using similar techniques as Adams to control depth of field and picture quality, Weston’s compositions remain highly unique to him. Influenced by painters as diverse as Kandinski and Van Gogh, Weston sought to create sometimes highly complex structures that sit uneasily with the viewer, both of everyday objects in close-up or landscapes subverted to diminish their sense of location. His lifetime’s work centred on abstract forms; nudes, peppers and dunes which were never more graphical aligned then through Weston’s lens and darkroom skills. His photographs are continually reappraised and his reputation as enforcer of Modernist photography is always at the forefront. Taking a leaf from his images for the kind of abstract approach we strive to achieve during the week in Essaouira refers to Weston’s interest is using the edges of the frame to create compositional sense. This for me is Eeston’s greatest legacy.
Travel photography holidays rarely offer the review of images we do here in Essaouira. We look at all your photos, at least the ones you give us! and both see how you can improve and where your successes are. You get great instant feedback and for more accomplished photographers we’ll get you out of your comfort zone. So take a look at our week on offer and make a booking.