Internet is good and evil.
Through the years, internet has made big mistakes. But it also made miracles.
One miracle it provided is the accessibility of some stuff – and i’m not talking about the porn one – that otherwise would be unreachable for most of us.
Recently i rented a miracle.
Martin Parr is one of my favorite photographer. I love his sense of bittersweet humour. He makes us think about ourself and our society through apparently “simple” pics.
I’d love to meet him and talk to him about photography and society. I’d love to hear tips from him.
But – sorry – he doesn’t do workshops anymore.
And even if he did it, it would be really difficult and expensive to join one.
I found that he made a two days last workshop that was filmed, edited and then provided through Vimeo – here is the LINK. And it cost just 7.99$.
Yes, less than a probably-not-so-good pizza.
You pay and you can watch the video as much as you want for 72 hours.
I can hear the word of Master Martin Parr without having to spend more than 1000$ (probably a looot more!) for a workshop.
Here the best advices he gave. Those are not literal transcription of the video.
1. About becoming a “better photographer”
“Becoming a better photographer, if you leave this concept in abstract form, is not achievable. Set a goal, for example to photograph the fish market, do it, get involved, look at your work and then go back to shoot there, more involved than before! Working this way makes you become better in that project and as a photographer in general.”
Master Martin knows it. You can’t wish for “betterness” without excercising. And excercising starts small with little steps. So put your foot in and just start! Everything else will come after, and i’m sure you will like it!
2. About fear
“Your desire of making pictures should be bigger than your fears!”
“Fear” is quite common in street photography. You know it’s not easy to put a camera in front of a stranger and shoot in this weird situation. But Martin wants you to understand that, in front of a huge potential pic your fear should disappear. It applies the same for a project you love. Think about your goals want and fear will become very tiny!
3.About directing people
“Direct people just enough!”
We put a lot of limits on ourselves.
I’d rather do it.
Don’t do this.
This is unacceptable.
I shouldn’t do it.
And so on.
But those limits are usually useless.
The same applies for street photography. We tend to “listen” to a lot of tips or better limits. Just relax and enjoy the process of shooting the street! It isn’t a crime if you ask someone to pose, and i bet that sometimes in this way you can make a great pic that otherwise won’t exist.
4. About rubbish pictures
“We know that most of the pictures we make is rubbish. We have to make a lot of rubbish to have something good! So, more rubbish, please, because taking more rubbish you can take something good!”
Did you know that even your DNA is full of “junk” DNA? And that this is far a lot more than the “useful” DNA?
Do you think that a master of photography shoot only good pictures?
You are totally out! Even when you had to shoot film, most photographers shot a lot of rolls per day! And look at the Magnum Contact Sheets book. Usually there are more than one image you know from that famous scene in that famous pic from that famous photographer.
So, don’t worry to shoot a lot. It’s not a bad thing. Of course it doesn’t mean you have to shoot everything. Just shoot what you feel it’s worth it and then edit carefully.
5. About cliché
“You are photographing a lot of cliché of street photography. The problem is that what you are shooting was already shot very well! Put something new on the table and take it to the party!”
Emulating the masters is not bad. At all. But after you find yourself in photography, go to another party. Follow your inner voice – i know that she is crazy and difficult to hear but she is there – and be original. People want to see something different from what they already know, and i’m sure you “know” something they don’t! Go for it!
6.About body language
“Understand the body language you use. For example, after you shoot, don’t look waiting that someone ask you what did you do. If you get guilty, you gotta be guilty!
Strange that body language is not a subject in the schools. It is fundamental in our society since we are animals. If you try to approach a woman, body language can make the difference.The same applies in street photography! Being scared/looking guilty/acting fast weird will put the eyes on you and you probably will get questioned. Just take a photograph. Your mind has to think that you are only taking a photograph and that’s normal and beautiful, and your face and body movements must express the same concept. And i assure you, nothing will happen 99% of the time you photograph a stranger -even in “difficult” situation- if you know how to use body language.
7. About laws
“We may be the last generation allowed to shoot the public places. Act now while we can!”
This is a very acute observation from Martin. He knows that everything is always changing and that some stupid brain-washed guy could approve a law that deny the possibilty to shoot in the street sooner or later. So think that you are lucky to have this possibility. And go out to shoot!!!
“Positioning inside your viewfinder is more important than the subject”
Martin knows that in front of an interesting scene/subject composition will make the difference and make a good shot into a brilliant one. So learn from the masters, look at other photographers work and build your own visual style!
“Learn to teach yourself”
This advice is worth thousand of words. Learning how to learn and how to teach yourself can make you whatever you want. You can know everything and do everything if you know how to. And you can know how to everything if you know how to teach yourself!
“Photography is the most democratic way of art”
Martin thinks about photography as an art that can be made by everyone capable of clicking a shutter.
Personally, i don’t agree, since i think that only rarely photography can be considered art, but of course this is an interesting point to discuss.
What do you think about it? Do you agree with Martin?
Is photography art? If yes, is it really democratic?
All pictures are from Magnum Photos website.