Monday, September 22, 2008

Full Photographic Finale (for the week)

This last weekend was full of photographic culture for me. Friday night I went to a career retrospective by Sam Abell, a National Geographic contract photographer for 30 years. Saturday afternoon, I joined the Photowalking Utah group to view a presentation by Kenneth Linge, a wedding and portrait photographer. Both these photographers have a long history of exceptional work and both are about as different as Bob Newhart and Robin Williams.

Sam Abell's photography is very documentary in nature. His goal is, as an observer, to record places and events as they are. His presentation followed this style with a scripted slide show and an allotted time that he finished to the minute. It was a documentary of his career. This is not to imply a dry lecture. Far from it. He held a room of over 100 people spell bound for two hours as he showed images and regaled us with stories from his personal family life as well as tales of adventure from his professional travel. Interspersed with all this were tips for improving our photos: use strong diagonals, bad weather means good photos, put peoples' heads and shoulders above the horizon line, compose and wait, take pictures from behind people to respect their privacy.

As a portrait photographer, Kenneth Linge's photography is highly personal. With the goal to capture the individual's personality at its best, he employs copious amounts of personal interaction to surface their inner beauty. Like Sam, his presentation followed his photographic style. The opening "Hi I'm Kenneth. What do you want to talk about today?" exemplified our entire time with him. It was highly interactive with participants' questions and comments driving the direction of the discussion as we covered topics ranging from the color of his studio walls to the psychology of photographing people.

Even with the great differences in picture and presentation style, I thoroughly enjoyed the time spent listening and learning from each. If you ever get a chance to see either one, I highly recommend it.
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