One of my favorite quotes about photography comes from Henri Cartier-Bresson: “Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.” I often use this quote with lab users when trying to make the point that photography, like any other skill, improves only with lots of practice. It’s not about having an expensive camera. It all comes down to experience. But it doesn’t stop there. When you see that great photo on the cover of a magazine, or in the newspaper, etc, rest assured that there are many, many more photos that weren’t worth keeping. I heard our own Nick Salvatore put it this way, “1 out of 20 photos will be useable. 1 out of 20 of the useable photos will be good. And 1 out of 20 good photos will be great.” So you’ve got to take a LOT of photos to get those great shots. Take the picture from different angles, with different lighting, with different lenses. Shoot from above, shoot from below. Zoom in. Zoom out.
Photographer Tommy Leonardi was in the Media Lab today photographing Carol Muller’s Gospel Music seminar. (Carol was featured in the cover story of the Fall Winter 2012 issue of the Penn Arts & Sciences Magazine.) He ended up shooting 180 photographs to get that one perfect shot needed for a publication. We were talking about it some, and he told me sometimes it takes 2 shots, and sometimes it takes 400. He showed me the final photo, which hasn’t been published yet so I don’t have it here to show you, but trust me it’s fantastic.
Taryn Alston (in red), a freshman in Dr. Muller’s class, is thinking about majoring in photography. Tommy also took some of his time to look at her photographs and give her and her classmates some pointers and make suggestions.