18 May 2017
ESSAY: Four, Principle Photography
When it comes to modern photography, we have a multitude of choices as well as a multitude of decisions to make. Film or digital? Black and white or color? Still images or motion or both? Ultimately, if our goal is to make the best self-published books possible, we have to make a few critical decisions before we begin our project.
If you look at my new self-published magazine series ESSAY, you will notice I’m a big fan of black and white analog photography. This combination isn’t better or worse than any other, just something I came to after spending years testing all the options. Deciding on your equipment and materials gives you direction and a great starting point. I know if I choose to use my Leica and Kodak TRI-X film, I’m working with a combination I’ve used since 1990. My materials become an extension of my hand and my eye, and they don’t even become something that gets in the way.
The most important piece of any great photo essay is starting with the best possible images. Creating your best possible images might take time, even a long time, but that’s okay. Stick with it, and always ask yourself what you could have done better. Also, if you are creating a book or magazine, and your goal is to tell a story, then think about the narrative of your images. Your ten best images might be a great portfolio, but they might not tell a great story.
Your ten best images might be a great portfolio,
but they might not tell a great story.
The last thing I’ll say about creating the principle photography is to keep it simple. Try committing to a project using one camera and one lens. Use the limitations of such a decision to your advantage: It’s less to carry, less to think about, and a great way to create a cohesive-looking body of work.