The syllabus for “How To Take Photos That Don’t Suck”

Camp Cavell CDSS Camp, Michigan
Camp Cavell CDSS Camp, Michigan

I’m at a week long CDSS dance camp in Michigan, where I am offering a course in, “How To Take Photos That Don’t Suck.” Over the week I’ve been writing and adding to the syllabus. Here’s the intro:

“A camera can allow you to enter more deeply into the moment. Taking pictures, your senses are more awake and attuned to your surroundings. But most of us are frustrated with the results. Why isn’t the emotional charge when I took the picture coming through? Why doesn’t the camera know what I feel? Why do so many of my pictures suck?

“It’s a cruel fact. Your camera doesn’t care about you. It doesn’t care about what’s in front of it, like you do. You have to learn how to see the way a camera does. You need to learn how to take the emotional, connective energy that makes you want to document the moment, and transform that into the craft of seeing.

“My bias is that of a long time professional photographer, the majority of that time in the film and darkroom environment. My artistic orientation is that of a documentary photographer with a strong formalist sensibility. I embrace and celebrate the democratization of the medium and its unprecedented accessibility and, although I am not a digital native, I speak it relatively well as a second language. We are living through a profound change in photography’s place in the culture, and it is a fascinating time to be alive to witness it and to understand how profound the change is.

“Understand my biases for what they are, and that there are no right approaches or answers to any of this. This is merely one way to approach the medium.”

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