This week I want to share one of my favorite teaching articles from friend and photographer Douglas Beasley. Over the past 8 years of knowing Douglas, I have organized 3 workshops for him at several prominent art centers in the Midwest, one on Madeline Island, the other in Bayfield, WI on the shores of sparkling, Lake Superior.
I have also been fortunate to take 3 travel workshops with Douglas in gorgeous and inspiring places around the world - Hawaii, Guatemala and China.
Doug has an incredible gift for helping his students see more deeply, and find more meaning within their image making process.
It is my pleasure to introduce you to Douglas today with the article below, and the video via Brett Kosmider of Boreal Sky who filmed this wonderful feature video at Doug's St. Paul, MN studio and at the Trade River Retreat center near Trade River, WI.
LOOKING WITHIN/PHOTOGRAPHING WITHOUT
By Douglas Beasley
Photography is the art of looking out; out through the lens, out from your own perspective, out into the world. But to make (as opposed to ‘take’) better photographs I believe that if you go inward first you can make this process much more effective and rewarding. This inwardly derived vision will allow you to better communicate your point of view as well as better understand and express your own inner ‘voice’.
To be in touch with your inner self is to quiet the inner chatter and strip away layers to get at what is really important. Meditation, yoga, breath awareness, long walks in nature, solitude; there are many ways of getting there. This same process can be applied to making a strong photograph. You strip away the outer layer of visual clutter (in-camera framing and choice of perspective) until you focus in on what is really important to the meaning of the picture. Most people point the camera at their intended subject, place that somewhere near the center of the viewfinder, and then snap away. But if you can stop and breathe, turn inward for a moment, then more concretely identify what your subject really is and your deeper relationship to this subject; be it people, place, thing, or even mood or emotion. You can then remove what is extraneous while keeping what is essential. The more you leave out the stronger what remains becomes. Feel your connection to your chosen subject. Feel your relationship to the place or space your subject occupies and hold that as important as the subject itself. Then tap into your intuition to arrange these forms within the space of your frame. This will make your composition even stronger. It is an act both of simplification and of clarification. The more you do this the more powerful your photographs become.
This ‘less is more’ approach applies to photo equipment as well. Many believe that more equipment, cameras and lenses give more chance of success. Really it just helps us feel more like a photographer because we have all the ‘stuff’ we believe photographers should have. I believe the more we bring with us the less our chances are of making good photographs. Ansel Adams said “the more lenses you have the greater the chance of using the wrong one.” With more choices our energy goes into choosing what equipment to use in a situation rather than connecting and engaging with our subject. The less equipment you bring, and the more you become really familiar with what equipment you do have, the easier it will be to react to and engage with your subject or situation. This allows you to move past the generic snapshot and towards a more personal and unique view of your chosen subject.
HELLO FRIEND! I’m JENNA ERICKSON
Founder & Lead Travel Ambassador for OPEN AIR PLACES.
I hope you enjoyed this feature article today, and that learning more about Doug, and his unique perspective for teaching the art of photography resonated with you. If a photography workshop or retreat is on your list for this year, won’t you join us in Guatemala in September?
SPIRIT OF THE MAYA PHOTOGRAPHY RETREAT
September 13-22, 2019
Retreat details are posted right here.