One of my favorite things to do when I go on vacation is street photography, meaning not photos of streets, but photos of the action on the street. It really means action most anywhere; in stores, at famous monuments, etc. The only defining factor is that it is spontaneous and, for the most part, not posed.
In the early summer of 2015 my wife Linda, daughter Caitlin, and I went to London and Paris. These are a selection of the photos I took on the streets of these two amazing cities. Each photo I think captures an essence of the moment in a way that staged photos can’t. After each photo I have given some ideas of what I was looking for and what you can also look for when you do street photography.
Selfie Kiss at Versailles – © Marty Coleman 2017
The main thing about street photography is you have to be ready. No fumbling, no settings, no focusing even. You have to get that shot as if it’s a breaking news story, right now right there. In this case I had already noticed her bright red (and long) fingernails so I was attuned to her.
I also knew there was a rare empty space not filled with people behind her and watched for a moment to see if something interesting might compose itself. And when she raised her arm I knew what was coming and raised my camera.
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Stripes – © Marty Coleman 2017
Street photography is about visual stimulation. Your eye drives the process and you have to respond quickly. The decision-making has to be immediate or the moment has passed. In this case I already had my finger on the shutter button as I happened to see this woman with the bold striped dress coming towards me. I didn’t think about it I just pushed the button.
The other thing about street photography is the fun of not really knowing what you captured. The stripes were interesting, yes. But getting the other striped shirt and the person walking right between them was fun to discover later and it’s what makes the photograph as a whole visually stimulating to me.
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LOOK FOR CONTRASTS
Standing Nudes, Sitting People – © Marty Coleman 2017
Juxtaposition is a key element in the commentary in much street photography. The interaction between people, objects, environment, and light add to the visual conversation.
In this case the verticality and solidity of the sculptures played off the very slack and loose poses of the sitters. I loved the humorous juxtaposition of their poses and of the nudity vs clothing so I pushed the button. If you notice, the camera is not up at my eye level. I had it around my neck hanging to my stomach and took the photo from there. I could have chosen to raise it up, it wouldn’t have bothered me to be seen taking the photo, but having the sitters be midway between the sculptures was key to the composition and feeling of the image so I kept the camera at waist level.
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THERE ARE ANGLES AMONG US
Bride and Locks – © Marty Coleman 2017
Doing street photography means you are always looking for great angles. Sometimes that means you have to imagine what something would look like from a different angle from the one you are at. Keeping the camera at your face and thinking that is the only image available limits your choices considerably.
In this case there was no doubt I was going to take a photo of this bride on the bridge full of locks. The question was what angle would best tell the story? There was way to much clutter in the image when I was standing up so I squatted down very low and put the camera even lower, almost to the ground, to get the shot. This is one of the reasons an articulating screen at the back of the camera is essential to street photography, so you can see very low or very high.
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WHERE TO POINT
Two Sisters and a Ceiling – © Marty Coleman 2017
Not only is what height your camera is at something to consider, but where it is pointing as well. To limit yourself to only pointing forward or slightly up or down means once again you are limiting yourself and the possible images you can get.
Here I, along with thousands of others, were looking up at the ceilings in Versailles. But what I saw wasn’t just the ceilings but everyone else taking photos of those same ceilings. I angled my camera from my waist directly up to catch that phenomenon. In this photo I was walking quickly and just barely caught these two women out of the corner of my eye. I turned, snapped and moved on. I didn’t know what the image looked like until well after we were done with the tour and on the way back to Paris on the train.
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BE READY FOR THE UNEXPECTED
Bride and Groom at Notre Dame – © Marty Coleman 2017
In street photography something unexpected is always just around the corner. The best shots aren’t always going to be in main areas of tourism or activity. They more likely will happen as you are walking to or from those areas. Having your camera on and ready (and with the lens cap off!) is critical. I can’t tell you how many photos I have missed in my life because of one of these reasons.
Having your camera set to multiple photos at one time is also key. In this case, I saw the bride and groom walking down the street and kept my finger on the button until just the right time and then held it down. I got about 3-4 shots and was able to choose the best one from the bunch as a result.
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ANTICIPATE THE ANTICIPATION
Place to Kiss – © Marty Coleman 2017
When we walk around a city we see the fluidity of time and motion. As a result we often don’t see examples of anticipation. But the still photograph from the street can often capture just that right moment.
Here these two people were drinking and talking and flirting, all the while seeming to hem and haw about the funny sign right next to them. I got the feeling they wanted to kiss but weren’t sure how to go about it, especially when there was a sign directing them to do so!
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MOTION IS YOUR FRIEND
Four Portraits at the Musée d’Orsay – © Marty Coleman 2017
When you do street photography you are going to get motion. And motion means blur. This is not a bad thing. Blur is a tool of expression. It expresses movement, action, direction, energy. Don’t reject an image because of it but instead evaluate how the blur may help the image.
There is usually no more static place in the world than a museum. But people walk around them all the time and that means movement. Here I was able to capture a bit of both the action and the static at the same time. I had a number of other shots from right around this same moment, but this was by far the best because the blur of the woman in the stripes on the far left balanced out the strong and isolated image of the nude by Renoir on the right.
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ISOLATE TO COMMUNICATE
The Singer and the Thames – © Marty Coleman 2017
Isolation is another important element in street photography. Isolation means visual power and weight and it can be used to tell a story.
On the banks of the Thames in London I was watching the hundreds of people go by before I went in to see the Tate Modern Museum. This singer with his small speaker and music machine was entertaining the crowd. But all I saw was him alone next to this giant river. I set myself up to capture an image that showed how I saw him in the midst of the crowd.
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STREET IS STYLE
The Fascinator – © Marty Coleman 2017
Style is everywhere on the street. Ignore it and you miss a million fantastic shots. Find it and you will have a never-ending well of ideas and opportunities.
While we were in London we took the train into a certain station to transfer. When we got off we started seeing an unexpected amount of men and women dressed to the nines. I mean they were really going all out. If it had been on a weekend night it would maybe make sense. But this was at 9am on a weekday morning. What was going on? I didn’t know, but I knew I was going to have my camera ready to go. This woman was walking by with panache and purpose and I immediately angled myself to make sure I got a photo as she passed.
Later we discovered it was the Queen’s Day at the races and everyone was going to the station to travel out to the track.
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The Woman at the Seine – © Marty Coleman 2017
In staged photos we most often will see a lot of people smiling. But staged smiling usually only says one thing. What is great in street photography is to find true expressions that aren’t staged. That are a result of a person’s true feelings coming out.
Here that feeling is sublime joy and happiness. It can be felt in much more than just the Mona Lisa smile she has. It’s in everything her face and body is doing. Always be ready for that moment where you are capturing true feelings because those are what will let people know as much about a place as any monument or building.
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THE COURAGE OF THE PERSONAL
Mannequin and Walker – © Marty Coleman 2017
Street photography can get very personal. People can see you take photos, some think it is a violation, others couldn’t care less and you don’t know who will react how. If you believe in capturing the life of the street you have to be bold and courageous to do so. Sometimes that means you have the opportunity to ask permission but other times you do not.
I was walking near our Airbnb apartment in Paris early one morning, on my way to the cafe where I had been drawing each morning when I saw this scene. I was focused on the mannequin in the window with the sunrise reflecting off the building when this woman walked by. She had been looking down at her phone but looked up right as a took the shot. She was past me in a second and that was that. I don’t know what her emotions were about seeing me as I was taking pictures and I am not assuming I know. But I had to have the courage to take the photo without knowing that.
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SHOW WHAT IS SEEN
Seeing Versailles – © Marty Coleman 2017
Bold graphic elements are everywhere in street photography. Windows, doors, people can all be seen not as what they are but as formal devices to frame or direct an image compositionally. This is especially true if you are going to shoot in Black and White or are thinking in terms of BW when you later work on the image.
I didn’t see an image of Versailles here. I saw an image of how Versailles is to be seen. Finding a set of elements composed so they show a third person’s view is something for which you should always be on the look out. It tells a story much more effectively than just a photo of a place.
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LINES OF MYSTERY
Escalation – © Marty Coleman 2017
Lines direct one’s vision. Finding those lines and using them to create mystery or wonder is one of the joys of street photography.
We were headed down into the London Tube and I was standing behind this elegantly styled woman. All I could see were all these lines converging behind her and really wanted to capture that. Once again I simply took the photo from where the camera was hanging around my neck. Being low created a giant black shape in the middle of the image. We know it is her but visually it’s a void, allowing one to imagine what is behind even more than imagining her.
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THE GEOMETRY OF HUMANITY
The Poser in Paris – © Marty Coleman 2017
People are always posing for something. Street photography allows you to capture when people are posing, not for you, but for someone else.
We took a walk along the banks of the Seine and what caught my eye first was the profound geometry everywhere. The lines were formal and abstract and I was trying to find just the right combination of elements when I saw this woman posing for a caricaturist. She leant just the right amount of warmth and humanity to the otherwise severe composition so I took a number of photos. This one, with her gaze going completely off camera, was the one that really expressed how I saw Paris at that moment.
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TO FINISH UP
So, there you have it. A little tour of London and Paris. It’s probably a lot different from what you would find among tourist photos. But maybe these photos give you a different understanding of the two cities. One that is more about the mood and feeling of a place than a recitation of its monuments and objects. That is what street photography can do for you and your appreciation for a place. It is also what it can do for others who see the photos, giving them an idea of what it’s like to be in and around a city, to feel they know a place at a more intimate level.
Give street photography a try, you won’t regret. And by all means let me know how it goes and let me see some of your photos!
Each of these photos is for sale. Price is $50.00 plus shipping. Please contact me at email@example.com if you are interested. Give me the name of the piece and we can go from there! I can receive payment and ship internationally.
Yesterday I posted a drawing and 2 photos from my foray into the Dallas Museum of Art’s ‘Bouquet’ exhibition over the Thanksgiving weekend, 2014.
There were other temporary exhibitions as well. One was a retrospective of Modernist Jewelry created by Art Smith. I honestly was more interested in the photographs of the models wearing the jewelry, most seeming to be from the 50s and 60s. The photographers were listed as ‘Unknown Photographer’ in all the photos, though one actually did have a last name written on it. It’s a relatively rare occurrence when something on a museum wall from the last 100 years is attributed to ‘Anonymous’ . The names of models in old paintings are often lost in time, but that is usually not the case with more contemporary portrait muses. But these were photos focused on the jewelry, not the photographer or model, and at least the Jewelry designer was known, right? Still, I felt bad for the photographer and models lost in time. I did however like the word play that immediately appeared in my head; I was taking photographs of photographs taken by unknown photographers of anonymous models.
I took a few pics with my regular camera then decided to take one with my cell phone so I could post it if I later wanted to. When I did that I happened to catch a reflected light in the eye of one of the model photos. That led me on a search for more reflected lights in the eyes. I spent minutes at a time trying to get the reflection to be just right. It was a fun and exacting effort. The other people in the gallery definitely were wondering why I was holding up a little old cell phone so long in one position, that was obvious!
Here are a few of my favorites from my effort.
Museum Composition – Anonymous Eyes #1
Museum Composition – Anonymous Eyes #2
Museum Composition – Anonymous Eyes #3
Museum Composition – Anonymous Eyes #4
After I took the pics I wandered around looking at the actual jewelry in the cases and, as you can see from the photos, they were incredible.
Here are more ‘Museum Compositions’ posts
Museum Compositions – June 2013
Museum as Muse – Dallas Museum of Art – July 2013
Bouquets in Dallas – Dallas Museum of Art – November 2014
Anonymous Eyes – Dallas Museum of Art – November 2014
Photographs and writing by Marty Coleman © 2015
Dallas Museum of Art
Over the Thanksgiving weekend we were down in Dallas visiting our daughter, Caitlin. We went to see the Dallas Cowboys play on Thursday, had Thanksgiving dinner after that and then spent the rest of the weekend just enjoying ourselves. On Friday Linda and Caitlin went shopping and I went to one of my favorite museums, the Dallas Museum of Art. I’ve been there 3 times now I think. It’s a large museum with an extensive permanent collection in all the major areas of art. It also has rotating exhibitions, usually at least 3-4 at a time. This time the major show was ‘Bouquets’. That means it was paintings of flowers. Not my favorite genre. It could even be my least favorite genre actually.
I knew this in advance and was thinking of going to the outdoor Sculpture Museum across the street instead but for some reason I forget now, maybe it was cold or rainy, I opted to go to the Museum anyway. I had my camera with me and figured at least I would be able to work on my ongoing ‘Museum Compositions’ series. I also knew that the exhibition had at least one Matisse painting in it so it couldn’t be all bad.
One of the good things about the DMA is they allow photography (without flash) everywhere, even special exhibitions. Most museums allow photography but not in the temporary exhibitions. Some, like the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, don’t allow any photography at all. So, I went traipsing around the museum and took some photos.
I also did a drawing while I was there. It wasn’t in my sketchbook but rather in a gallery in the Bouquet’ exhibition where they had an actual bouquet of flowers for people to draw. They had paper and pencils and places to sit. I had a pen with me, the type I use in my sketchbook, so I used that on one of their pieces of paper to capture the scene. There was a place to put up your art work once you were finished but I didn’t want to let go of mine. I rolled it up and brought it home thinking I might color it later on. It got hidden in a bag I brought home and I didn’t find it again until last week right before my road trip to Virginia.
One of my goals for 2015 is to follow through on more of my artwork so I figured I needed to scan the drawing and put it out there before it got forgotten.
A drawing of someone drawing flowers in an exhibition of paintings of flowers at the Dallas Museum of Art.
I didn’t capture many shots I liked but here are two I think stood out.
Museum Composition – Bouquet #1
This is one of the favorite ‘Museum Compositions’ images I’ve taken. The pose this woman unconsciously struck as she looked at the painting was exquisite and I quickly got off 3-4 photos of her standing there. I later went up to her and asked her if she was a dancer since the pose looks so much like one a dancer would strike. She said she wasn’t and I told her she sure had the posture of one. She took it as a very nice compliment and I was happy about that.
Museum Composition – Bouquet #2
I like the color combinations in this one and I especially like the interaction between the two people.
Photographs and drawings © 2017 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com
The Super Hero
Earlier during my cemetery walkabout, right as the sun went down, I happened upon a lone superhero starting her overnight vigil overlooking the city. She was strong and disciplined. I asked her how she got to be a superhero. She said she always wanted to be one and found that the local university had it as a major. She graduated in 3 years with a major in SuperHero Studies and a minor in Civil Engineering. Her day job is with the Army Corp of Engineers.
The Zombie Pirate Queen
During my cemetery visit I also met the Zombie Pirate Queen. She was desperately looking for something more to eat. I pointed her in the direction of downtown, telling her the bar scene was hopping there and she should find someone to her liking. She thanked me and ran off, but not before giving me her business card, telling me to let my wife know she sold Avon on the side and could give her a free makeover.
The Night Ninja
I was taking a leisurely midnight stroll around the cemetery when I saw Jack and the Night Ninja doing a bit of competitive grave robbing. I told them they could get a lot more work done if they worked cooperatively instead, which they did. In the end they made their deadline and planned to meet later at IHOP for breakfast.
The Night Ninja skulked around me for a while after she was done grave robbing. She wanted to know why I was taking photographs and if I worked for the NSA. I told her no, but I was lying. I finally got her off my back when I gave her a coupon I had to Ulta and told her they had a 50% off sale on eyeliner.
Unfortunately for the Night Ninja she never did get to have breakfast at IHOP with Jack. She instead met her demise at the hands of the Corpse bride who, in spite of being all in white, surprised the Night Ninja while she was checking her Snapchat. The Bride had just been left at the alter and hadn’t eaten all day so Night Ninja had an unfortunate end.
Sally and Jack
I met Sally in a corner of the cemetery where she was waiting for her blind date. She had been set up by her Sorority sister, Drusilla, with her younger brother. She was quite scared of being alone in the cemetery and was happy to know there were others around. When her date, Jack, showed up out of the dark, hand first, she got so scared she peed a little.
Later in the evening I saw Sally and Jack enjoying a romantic moment sitting on a tomb. Jack had a big smile but Sally was worried about finding a bathroom.
The Lady in Black
When I arrived at the cemetery she was the first person I came across. But she said nothing, she just looked watched me as I passed. Wherever I went, she was nearby, ever silent, ever watching. After the night was over I finally got up the nerve to talk to her. I asked her what she was doing in the cemetery. She stared at me intently, never blinking and said, “I am your eternal witness that these events were real.”
© 2014 Marty Coleman – All Rights Reserved
How did The Napkin Dad end up being such a sexy hunk modeling a ‘Don’t Hate the 918’ t-shirt?
This is a photo of me taken by Steve Cluck, a Tulsa artist and entrepreneur. One element of his business is producing and selling the famous ‘Don’t Hat the 918’ t-shirts (for those of you out of the state or the country, 918 is Tulsa’s telephone area code). He is doing a photography project that consists of 918 people from the Tulsa area wearing his ‘Don’t Hate the 918’ shirt.
A few months ago a friend of mine, Beth Hawkins of Beth Hawkins Video and Photography, posted a request on Facebook looking for some people to be in a promotional video she was shooting downtown. It was on a day I had to be in Tulsa to coach so it would be easy to just go a few hours early and take part, which I did.
One of the other people acting in the video was Steve Cluck, who I had never met. We had to wait while shots were set up and got to talking about his t-shirt business and my Napkin Dad endeavors. He told me about his project to photograph 918 people from Tulsa in his ‘Don’t Hate the 918’ t-shirt. When I explained who I was he recognized my moniker and invited me to participate.
That was enough for me and a few months later Linda and I went over to his studio and took the shots.
Have you ever heard the old saying “90% of success is just showing up.”? Well, it’s true. I answered Beth’s call because I like her and want to support her in her work. I also thought it would be fun. She also promised free pizza so there’s that too. Showing up is not just about showing up for things you are obligated to show up for, that should be a given. It’s also about being proactive and grabbing hold of things to show up for. Using your own initiative to go do something, to help, to participate, to explore your world. The results are usually unexpected and positive, as in meeting and networking with people who are good for your business, your social life, and your friendships.
First off, my apologies if you tried to get to my site yesterday. It was hacked and down for most of the day. With the help of a great PHP coder, Jim Gillispie, I was able to get it back up and running just in time for a momentous week ahead. Thanks Jim!
I am headed to the SXSW (South by Southwest) Interactive Conference in Austin, TX tomorrow. I am leading a workshop called, ‘The Compelling Image in the Age of Social Media‘ on Friday. I wanted one more napkin for my presentation so I drew this one.
If you are headed to SXSW and would like to attend my ‘workshop‘, get your name on the waiting list as soon as you can and hopefully a spot will open up. The best and quickest way to contact me there will be via twitter. My handle is @thenapkindad.
Seeing With a Camera
One of the best quotes about photography is this if/then proposition: “If you want to take a beautiful photograph, then stand in front of something beautiful and press the button.” This proposition is true but there is a variable within it. That variable is what you consider to be beautiful. For me, a series of questions follow from that variable: Is my mind open to seeing beauty that isn’t readily apparent? Can I see beauty in details, in unexpected and hidden places, within something larger that may not be beautiful? Can I escape judgment long enough to explore an alternative appreciation for something?
I believe my camera can often be a gateway to that freedom, both for me as the photographer in the moment of discovery and later for the viewer of the image in the moment of revelation.
Drawing by Marty Coleman
Quote by Dorothea Lange, 1895-1965, American photographer
The Truman Library
Before I met the two Goddesses I talked about in part 1, I visited the home of 2 of my heroes. I met them at the Truman library in Independence, Missouri, just east of Kansas City. Truman is obviously one of the men I am talking about.
Harry S. Truman Library and Museum
The other of my heroes is Thomas Hart Benton, the artist. You may have read about him in my ongoing ‘Artists I Love’ series I have been doing the past few winters. He has one of his large murals in the lobby of the Truman Library.
‘Independence and the Opening of the American West’
The Buck Stops Here
One of the most famous sayings in Presidential history is from Truman. ‘The Buck Stops Here’ was his motto and has been restated by virtually every president since. He actually had the saying on his desk, and you can see it right as you enter the museum. Much of the museum is dedicated to the many decisions only Truman, as President, had the power to make.
Bomb and Peace
Truman’s most controversial decision of his Presidency was one of his first. He chose to drop the Atomic Bomb on Japan. It led to their surrender but the decision was never unanimous within his inner circle nor among the military. It still is debated today.
One of the things I most admired in the Truman Museum was they did not shy away from bringing this controversy out in the open. they had a whole section dedicated to the arguments pro and con about the decision and allowed visitors to voice their opinion as well.
Here is a book visitors could write in giving their opinion and here is mine, in a drawing.
My opinion has always been that it wasn’t the dropping of the bomb that was the problem, it was dropping it on a population. I think that if they had dropped it 5 miles off the coast of Tokyo, the Japanese, who already were trying to figure out how to sue for peace and still save face, would have seen what was coming and surrendered pretty much along the same time table they did after the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
A History of War
Off in the corner of the downstairs are of the museum there are two examples of war. The first, in the background, is a 5,000 year old helmet from a Greek warrior. In the foreground is a small reproduction of the sculpture commemorating the raising of the American flag on the island of Iwo Jima towards the end of WWII. It’s a cruel testament to how incessant war is for us humans.
Plenty and Plenty of Nothing
But often out of the worst of events great efforts can arise. While we in the US were starting to come out of the trauma of war, Europe was not. Truman’s Marshall Plan was our initiative to help Europe make it’s way back.
While Secretary of State Marshall’s name and face was front and center in the plan to help all of Europe back on it’s feet, it really was Truman’s initiative. He knew however that due to his own political baggage a plan with his name on it would not have the universal support it needed to succeed. Marshall, the leader of the overall US War effort was one of the most popular men in the country and he was able to lead the project to fruition.
A number of Benton’s paintings were on display at the museum in a temporary exhibition titled ‘Truman and Benton: Legends of the Missouri Border’ that documented the interrelationship between the two over the course of their lives.
The Negro Soldier
During the middle of WWII Benton painted this painting. It was pretty controversial at the time. It depicted an American soldier, but it was a ‘Negro’ soldier, not something white America was used to seeing or celebrating. His choice to depict an African-American was his way of forcing people to see the black person as equal in war. Not long after the war was over Truman, in spite of a typical Missouri upbringing of his era that was rooted in the racism of slavery and segregation, signed an executive order desegregating the US Armed forces. It was met with much resistance in the south, breaking apart the Democratic party at the time, but very likely helped Truman win the 1948 election due to increased support in the north and west.
One of the reasons I like Truman is that, while by today’s standards he wouldn’t be considered enlightened on race, he certainly grew and moved beyond his own upbringing to move the country forward into racial equality as best he could at the time.
Communism and Korea
When North Korea invaded South Korea in 1950, the cold war got hot. The policy of containment of communism had been fleshed out by the US and allies and it included not allowing the USSR or China to push into any areas they weren’t already occupying. The amount of fear that pervaded the US at that time regarding communism is hard for most of us to understand now but it was real. Some fears were valid but much was due to ranting demagogues like Sen. McCarthy and high pitched propaganda as seen below.
While the President and the Painter did not enjoy a friendship early on in their careers, they did become friends during the painting of the mural. Benton did a painting of Truman later in his life.
The Old President
The museum was well worth the trip to Independence. If you are anywhere near Kansas City I highly recommend it.
Self-Portrait at the Truman Library
In addition to my Napkin Dad persona I am also the owner of MAKE Studio, photography with an emphasis on personal portraits. In that capacity I spoke last week at the Social Media Tulsa conference on ‘The Compelling Image in the Age of Social Media’.
Frontispiece of Presentation
One of the points I made is having ‘just’ a cell phone does NOT mean you can’t take a good head shot. I took these photos of Jami Henson, who attended my session at the conference, right outside the main ballroom. It took a total of about 10 minutes to get 20-30 shots using the two cameras.
Now you might be able to discern the difference between the two images at the large size, but the truth is most social media uses, especially head shots are going to be much smaller. They are used as icons, profile pics and in other reduced size situations.
My point is not whether the DSLR photo is better, of course it is. But it is so much better in social media digital circumstances that you shouldn’t get the best out of what you have available? Can you put up something other than a grainy, ugly, badly lit photo of yourself at a party? Yes, you can. And you can do it with a cell phone if you need to.
If you are interested in experiencing the entire hands-on presentation/workshop for your company or group, please feel free to contact me.
So, ready to find out the answer? The top photograph was taken with my iPhone, the bottom with my Panasonic G1 camera. I did the same minimal manipulation on both. The iPhone image I converted to sepia and slightly adjusted the brightness and contrast using the Photoshop Express App in the phone. It took about 2 minutes to take, process and post. The G1 image I did the exact same thing, but did it on my Mac Pro desktop after downloading from my camera.
© 2013 All rights reserved – Marty Coleman | MAKE Studio www.martycoleman.com
I compel you to look at Photography part 2. You can hear more about it at the Social Media Tulsa Conference where I will be speaking and leading a hands-on session on creating Compelling Images for Social Media.
Screw The Fashion Police
You are in the crowd at the edge of the red carpet at the Oscars and a famous star with a snake tattoo, a bizarre dress that is sure to put her on the worst dress list and some god-awful makeup walks by as the crowd around you whispers terrible things about her. But you? All you see are earrings that rock your world. Everyone else hates them but you love them. You take a quick pic of all of her because that is what you are supposed to do, but then you focus in and take a photo of what you really love, her earrings.
That individual photo might seem to be about a Star’s earrings but do that again and again and again, wherever you go, and people will realize it’s also about you. They will see who you are. You will have your own identity, your own point of view, your own visualization of who you are and what you love in the world. And everyone else will know who you are as well.
And there you have the secret of how to find a compelling image, by having the courage to follow what compels you. It’s as simple as that.
Drawing and commentary by Marty Coleman, who design her tattoo for her.
Quote also by Marty Coleman, who designed her earrings too. However, she is to blame for the makeup, which I tried to talk her out of.
I am speaking this week at the Social Media Tulsa Conference. A link to the conference website is below and you are invited to attend. My topic is ‘The Compelling Image in the Age of Social Media’. This week I am drawing some images that will introduce various areas I want to cover.
What Compels You?
This one applies whether you are posting your photo to social media sites or not. It’s about focusing less on documenting the dry look of what happens and focusing more on capturing the compelling feeling of what happens.
Look for the Feeling
This can happen in one of 2 ways. You can choose to focus on something that, in it’s very look, visualizes a feeling. The drawing above is an example of that. The bloody foot and sock after an ultra marathon tell more about the feeling of the event than does a simple photo of the participant raising a medal with a smiling face. Obviously, there is nothing wrong with photographing that smiling face, but if you REALLY want to express the feeling, you might consider looking at what conveys that feeling. Is it the sweat on the brow, the person pouring water over their head, maybe the bloody sock? Investigate how the feeling is visualized in the moment and capture it.
Create the Feeling
The other way it can happen is by the technique you use to take the photograph. I once took a series of photos at one of my daughters’ birthday party. We had a pinata set up and I took a number of photos of the kids at the party swinging at it. In most of the photos my flash worked as you would expect, it froze the action. But in a few I purposely set the exposure of the camera much longer, so the flash went off but there was a trail of action that was in the photo as well. Those were the images that gave the feeling of the girls having fun, swinging at a pinata. The feeling was in the action, not just in the frozen moment. Learn what techniques you have available to you to help get across the feeling.
Social Media Tulsa Conference
The conference is Thurs/Fri, March 21st & 22nd at the Mayo Hotel in beautiful downtown Tulsa. You can still register to attend, here is the link to the Social Media Tulsa website with the agenda, schedule, speakers, etc.
My presentation is Thursday, 3/21 at 3:30 in the Penthouse of the Mayo Hotel. It is going to be a combination of speaking and hands on workshop. If weather permits we will be going out onto the roof of the Mayo to take photos so bring your camera phone if not a bigger camera!
Drawing by Marty Coleman
Quote by David Alan Harvey