In 1993 I went to one of the best photography workshops I had ever gone to. It was with Eugene Richards, a Photographer, Magnum Photojournalist, Filmmaker and Artist. As with the other photography and vision classes, I brought my photographs of Michael, to get an assessment and more insight about how to further express my vision.
Since the workshop was an entire week, there was a real chance to learn. I was surprised that we had some reading to do. I Sing the Body Electric, from Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass was one of the poems; Among The Missing, by Elmira Bussey, was another. I remember being very, very moved. I don’t know why. The idea of coupling poetic vision with the act of photographing was ingenious. It really broke the mold of merely looking at camera settings and other mechanical considerations. The camera was incidental; the poetry is what mattered.
We had exercises to do. At the beginning, we paired up and chatted with our partner. Then each of us introduced the partner to the group. Another exercise was to choose a partner and capture the nature of that person in a photograph. We had to capture our emotional response to the town where the workshop was being held; take an entire 36-expose roll of film of our partner, who was to pose in one position only (yes, we had film cameras then).
We learned how to use the nature of the camera to help us express our vision in: 1) the framing of the subject, the placement of the subject in the camera’s viewfinder; 2) depth of field, to define the relationship between the subject and background; 3) use of light to convey a mood. Awareness of all these factors, and most importantly, of the subject is what makes a good photographer.
One of my proudest moments as a photographer was showing my work to Gene Richards, whose own body of work I admired so much. He was very complimentary. He told me that if I don’t finish my book about Michael, it would be a loss for everyone, but it would be a tremendous loss for me.
Gene Richards thought this photograph of Michael was excellent, and that not many people would have thought to capture this particular moment.
I have finished my book – at least twice. I do feel a loss at not getting my work ‘out there’ in the print world. I haven’t given up.
I do feel so fortunate to be able to reach many people on a human level through this blog. Thank all of you for reading.
That is a fantastic photograph! It’s something about the combination of the way he’s sitting, the pictures on the wall, and the unusual point of view. It suggests at once that Michael’s view of the world might be quite unusual too.
I do hope you find some way of getting your book published. I think I would like to read it.
Thank you very much. I am very proud of that picture.