Project 52/Perspectives: Fresh

The Who We Become photography collective is rebooting with a new 52-week project. We still plan to explore artistry with discussions every month or so (see my original post on our artistry project here; my own blog has been neglected in the past several weeks as I contributed to the group blog, but I plan to post a recap here soon). But for now, we have decided to get back to simple, fun shooting exercises for our weekly posts, with a different theme each week open to liberal interpretation.

Below is my take on fresh. My husband, daughters and I recently vacationed in St. Martin, and the daily walk to our local bakery for pastries and baguette was one of the highlights of the trip. Please head over to whowebecome.com to see a range of perspectives on the theme.

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Project 52/Artistry: Comfort

I am thrilled to be embarking on Year 3 of a collaborative project with a group of incredibly talented photographers. Our first year, A Play on Light, was dedicated to the study of light and year two, Framed, focused on composition. This year, as we move beyond the technical, we will be continuing our self-education and growth as a collective by focusing on the idea of art and artistry. As photographic artists, how do we continue to develop our craft and make work that motivates us and inspires us to keep going? What, to us, makes better art? Follow our journey at Who We Become.

While we will be linked by common topics and posting as a group, this journey is partially an individual one, subject to different interpretations and personal goals. However, we remain joined by a common desire to find direction and meaning in our work, and to shoot with intention. We will be trying out new things and giving ourselves permission to fail – and to fail publicly. Even if we don’t find any concrete answers, we believe the exploration itself will be worthwhile.

Our Artistry project will run for 52 weeks, and will be divided up into several sub-topics. For our initial post, we each reflected on our body of work and have selected images that represent our photographic comfort zone, those that we feel most comfortable shooting right now. These images may be favorites or may be on the cutting room floor, but are images that each photographer feels she can capture easily. When we are in our “zone,” all the elements come together in a seamless and intuitive way and the shot happens almost in spite of ourselves.

In preparing this week’s post I reviewed the photos I’ve taken since Framed wrapped up in September. While admittedly I haven’t been picking up my camera nearly as often as I should, when I looked at the pictures from the last 4 months that I considered worthy of sharing, nearly all were close-ups of my girls. I have plenty of work from the past two years that has subjects besides my kids. But when I’m just shooting once in a while, these close-ups seem to be my fall back comfort zone.  Next week, I’ll share some photos from a shoot that got me a bit outside my comfort zone, as well as my goals for the coming year.

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Project 52/Framed: Creative complexity – layering

And it’s week 4 of our month of creative complexity at Who We Become. This week’s topic, layering, has intimidated me all month long. Layering as we define it here involves having a well-defined foreground, middle ground, and background in the photo. The concepts we explored in the first three weeks — depth of field, filling the frame, and subject separation, all come in to play in various degrees. Having my husband’s extended family together for a reunion at his mom’s riverside home gave me an opportunity to snap lots of busy scenes and hope that one would come together in the right way. Here are the two best results:

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Project 52/Framed: Creative complexity – depth of field

This month on Who We Become we are exploring some creative composition topics. Depth of field is a fundamental technical concept in photography. It refers to the amount of the field of view that is in sharp focus, and results from three factors: the lens aperture, the length of the lens, and the distance from camera to subject. In a photo with a very shallow depth of field, only a few inches—or even less—may be in focus. The blurred background that results is often considered ideal for portrait or macro photography, ensuring that the viewer’s eye is not distracted from the subject. For landscape photography, more depth of field is generally desired, so that all elements of the photo will be in focus. In this week’s post, we go beyond the basic understanding of depth of field that is typically gained in an introductory photography course and use depth of field as a creative compositional element. A shallower depth of field can bring a sense of dimension to what would otherwise be a “flat” photo, strengthening the separation of foreground and background. Alternatively, shallow depth of field can be used to bring focus to an unexpected element of the composition.  Conversely, the photographer may choose a wider depth of field combined with carefully placed background elements to create a sense of movement through the photo. Wide depth of field is also frequently used in environmental portraiture, where background elements are important to the context of the portrait.

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Project 52/Framed: Classic portraiture – group

These two little nuts were the only group I had handy for this week’s group portraiture assignment. All of my attempts at formal posing this weekend turned out hideously so I’m going with a bit more of a lifestyle shot (though it did involve getting them to “pose” side by side on the slip-n-slide).

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This post is part of a weekly collaborative blog project at whowebecome.com.

Project 52/Framed: Classic portraiture – full body

As we continue to explore classic portraiture, this week we are delving into composition for full body portraits. Like the half-body and three-quarter portraits we explored last week, full body composition offers clues and context about the subject being portrayed. In many instances, the photographer will stand a considerable distance from the subject, getting a wide shot that reveals rich and detailed information about the subject’s life and personality.

This shot was taken during an evening walk by the East River.

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Check out the full collection at Who We Become.