“What kind of typewriter did Hemingway use?” Jim Estrin, photographer at the New York Times for the last 20 years, asked his news photography class by way of an introduction this morning.
“That’s because it doesn’t matter,” said Estrin.
Although his three-day photography workshop opened with the technical basics of photography, Estrin said that the less you’re thinking about the camera, the better.
“I’d rather see a mediocre photograph that makes me feel something than a perfect photograph that makes me feel nothing,” he said.
All the technical decisions, all the composition, is ultimately leading up to the moment – the human moment.
Handy tips & links for mastering the basics (click for photos that demonstrate the tip):
- Rule of Thirds: a method of composition. Divide the frame mentally into thirds horizontally and vertically. Place points of interest in the four intersections created by those thirds.
- Layering the foreground and background
- Do not be afraid of shooting too much
- Move around, change lenses, tight, wide, medium wide
- Composition is ultimately the best way of seeing the subject. Don’t forget that rules are made to be broken.
- Just ask. If you don’t ask them to do it, then you’ll never know if they would have done it or not.
- Arrive early, look around at lighting, props, space
- Put people at ease. Make them trust you.
- Click here for a series of recent portraits by Estrin.
And, here’s the Equipment Room-produced video on how to use the Canon Rebels, the school SLR cameras.
Students spent the afternoon shooting and reviewing a portrait assignment.
photograph by Heather Chin