My Favorite Quotes: Kenny Rogers

Ok, you’re asking yourself what Kenny Rogers (a well-known CW singer from the past) might have said that has stuck with me and became a euphemism that applies to my Photography. In the song “The Gambler”, Kenny Rogers sang these lyrics:

You got to know when to hold em, know when to fold them, know when to walk away, know when to run. I’ve always loved those words, and I’ve actually found myself singing them (discretely) when out shooting. Ok, let me finally explain:

In my online class with the BPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet, I’m constantly asked when do I walk away from taking a photo? How do I know when it’s not working the way I thought it would? Do I just take the photo anyway and try to fix it later? This last question really gets me!!!!

Here’s what I have to say on this subject:

For me, it doesn’t take very long for me to fold em. For one thing I “Pre-visualize”  Over the years I’ve managed to create an imaginary 2X3 rectangle right behind my eyes. When I’m either walking the streets or setting up an actual photo. I look through this rectangle and try to visualize the composition before I ever bring the camera up to my eye. It’s an easy exercise and one all my fellow photographers should at least try.

This exercise will eliminate a lot of time and energy I go through in composing a photo. To add to this exercise is a critical step in my thought process. Determining the direction of the light. If the light isn’t right, I’ll walk away sooner. If I can’t get the light to work for me, I’ll run away.

So now, the light is right and I’ve brought the camera up (horizontally) to my eyes. I look for the balance between the Negative and Positive space and if it isn’t feeling right within a few seconds I’ll try it as a vertical. I’ll look around for props or people I can add. I’m not the type of photographer that won’t change or move something to create a better photo. I’m out “making pictures”, not taking them. Finally, I’ll also ask someone if he or she would be in my photo.

If none of this works, I won’t spend any more time on it…why? Because as I’m always telling those students that stay with it too long, “The best photo you’ve ever taken may well be your next one, and that could be right around the corner”.

Don’t feel like you have to stay with it and take something as so many photographers do…just to be taking a picture. And don’t think about fixing it later in front of a computer. That’s not going to make you a stronger photographer. However, it will make you a better computer artist…if that’s your cup of tea.

In the above photo, I was just about ready to fold em. It just wasn’t doing anything for me. Then I saw the boy and his mom walking down the pier. I asked if I could put him in my photo. Then, I knew to hold em.

Btw, if you’ve never heard this song, here it is:

Joe Teaches:

Stretching Your Frame of Mind I 

Stretching Your Frame of Mind II

The Use of Gestalt in Photography

“I just wanted to thank you for another wonderful class. I have to confess that each week when I read the new assignment, my first reaction was mild panic and a deep certainty that I would not be able to produce anything worthwhile that fit within the parameters you had set. But before I knew it, the ideas started to flow, and I quickly became obsessed (no, that isn’t too strong a word!) with exploring the possibilities. I can honestly say that the photos I produced in response to your assignments are among my favorites. Thanks for bringing out a creative side I didn’t know I had!”

Barbara Geiger
Understanding Color

“Thank you so very much for this course! It’s allowed me to take the blinders off and present my images for what I want them to be without being a slave to the “reality” of the camera. I would also add that in conjunction with your printing course, this has been the most useful course I’ve ever taken. Your notes are more than comprehensive and your comments and critiques are direct, clear, and always directed to the improvement of the art.”

After the click

” I want to thank you for this class and for your patience and availability to answer all of my questions. I have learned very much through this class. I have used LR in the past, but mostly for editing images. I now have a better grasp in the organization of my images, an even better understanding of editing images, and an understanding of the value of presets. I still have a lot to learn, but this has put me on the road to be able to improve my photography. Again, thank you! ”

Dale Yates
Lightroom Quickstart

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