a photo study: developing your personal style – feelings

…what we’re doing here is getting you to think…over the course of a long period of time you may see some of it very quickly, some of it in a matter of weeks, depending on how hard you work, it may be a couple of years before you start really feeling like you defining yourself as a photographer…the catalyst, which I think is really important…what we are looking for right now…is to get you to start thinking differently…

The first part of this Developing Your Personal Style series invited us as photographers to learn how to see and think–visualization. The second encouraged us to utilize the meditative process of concentration and returning to the object as a means to extend our creative endeavors by encouraging us as photographers to “exhaust all possibilities”  and “to train the brain to think.”  

This week Ted Forbes has offered three separate photo assignments that blend two things together…emulating an identified feeling state of experience and engaging with a subject in such a way as you create a portraiture that represents an identified feeling. 

Exercise 1:

  • Start with a basic feeling…identify an event or something that happened in your life that is associated with a feeling — happy, angry, sad, worried, etc. 
  • Visualize and mediate upon this feeling state. 
  • Get your mind to think differently….how do I bring that certain feeling into an image?  How do I just shoot something that represents that state of experience?  What do I need to do to get that feeling to be represented in a photograph?
  • Replicate this feeling through a still life, landscape, or abstract image.
  • Don’t expect to be good…it takes time to emulating feelings.

The initial photographs we create during this time “…may not be great, but the whole point is [we’ve] got [our heads] thinking and [we’re] getting [our] mind around composition and possibilities and that’s what’s really important…”

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Exercise 2:

  • Go to the library or book store and find a photo book of a photographer whose work touches upon the multiple emotions within the human experience; e.g., Cartier-Bresson, Walker Evans.
  • Ask yourself what is it about this photographer that inspires you to start seeing the varied possibilities of photographing and evoking feelings.  
  • Remember you don’t have to try and be like him…just see the possibilities.


Exercise 3: 

  • Create a portraiture of someone that demonstrates an identified feeling state.
    • Engage with your subject, share what feeling state you wish to convey, develop a sense of trust, be like a movie director encouraging an actor to communicate a specific feeling. 
    • Keep in mind
      •     there is discomfort for the viewer when she can not see someone’s eyes.
      •     people communicate emotions all of the time through their facial expressions and body postures. 
      •     interacting with people will help increase your comfort level
      •     experiment with how to evoke feelings of people so that in time your work demonstrates your individual touch and people will “want you and no one else.”

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I hope you will enjoy these challenging exercises that encourages us to stretch our imaginations while creating images that represents your personal style.  As always, I’m looking forward to seeing some of your work and reading your thoughts.  Let’s tag with #aphotostudy.

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