Photograph Like a Thief…

Today I watched a YouTube live stream by photographer Glyn Dewis, who I had seen partly present at this year’s Photography Show as the Birmingham NEC.  Primarily it was a plug for his book “Photograph Like a Thief…” but it was also a very interesting insight into how another photographer views his own work and those of other photographers whilst looking at, in particular, lighting techniques.  This was an area of interest for me in Part four, The Language of Light where I chose studio lighting for my Assignment 4 project “Languages of Light”.

There were a number of take-aways from a research perspective,  it provided:

  • an insight into lighting techniques,
  • ideas for photography projects,
  • a challenge to go out and learn a technical set-up in-side-out,
  • signposts to other photographer’s work, and
  • a discount on his book Photograph Like a Thief…

Glyn mentioned a number of photographers who influenced or provided him with inspiration (a list of some of them is below with links) and said that to start out you need to know what you like in an image.  Once you know this naturally you will want to figure out how you can replicate the ‘look’ and/or ‘feel’ of an image as part of your development as a photographer.  Copying in photography is frowned upon and granted if you plagiarise work that is not acceptable but using elements of another image and applying it your own ideas is developmental.

The main thing is that you practice, practice, practice and try to create the kind of images that inspire you to experiment further.  He talked about how to reverse engineer the lighting and to take a guess from the clues in the image how the lighting might have been set up to achieve the look you are after and to just give it a go.

The images that Glyn produces do have a style now but he said when he started out people would ask him what was his ‘style’.  He said he looked at his portfolio back then and there were all sorts of images where he had experimented in lots of different ways with different lighting and techniques so clearly there wasn’t a style but people expected him as a photographer to have one immediately.  Style comes with finding what works for you and what interests you as a person, it is derived from your experiences and opportunities and cannot be replicated as everyone is different.  As a result even if you did try to copy someone else’s lighting to create an identical work you actually couldn’t because you are not that person.

The other thing Glyn does is use Pinterest for inspiration and suggested this was one way, and a good one, of gathering together inspiration to refer to.  It might be for a current project or a future one but anything that inspires you should be kept.  It can also give clients an idea of what you are trying to aim for in an image visually rather than trying to verbalise the idea.

I thought all the points he raised were interesting and relevant, especially as I come to the end of Expressing Your vision and thinking about where I thought I would be at the end of the course at the start of the course.  I thought by the end I would have a ‘style’ when in fact this is not the case.  I am still unsure where my photography will personally take me, the main thing is that I’m still really enjoying the journey, learning a massive amount about photography, myself and the world around me, so the search (if you can call it that) is still on.

As promised here is a list of some of the photographers Glyn referred to in his live stream:

Glenn Meling
Joe McNally
Mark Seliger
Annie Leibovitz

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One thought on “Photograph Like a Thief…

  1. Pingback: 2017 Sony World Photography Awards | BA (Hons) Photography : A Different Perspective

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