Finding Creativity – A Different Kind of Photo Presentation

A few months ago I wrote the following blog post:

Photography Saved Me

…in which I described my journey with PTSD and how photography helped heal me.  I was originally motivate to write this article after speaking with a fellow photographer, someone who was struggling at the time, to let them know that they weren’t alone and that we all have things we are dealing with.

I was amazed by the response to the article.  No, that’s not enough… I was overwhelmed by the response.  I received a large number of emails and private messages from fellow photographers who thanked me for sharing my journey, because it made them feel a little bit better about their own.  Many of these people originally found me through my photography or through the Fujifilm community, but told me that they also follow my work because it helps keep them focused as people and as artists.

…what do you say to that?

I’m definitely not the only person that has healed themselves through photography, and I am motivated to find new ways to explore / discuss this topic.  I also want to share how my photography changed as I healed, something I didn’t expect but am very grateful for.  So, recently, I created a new 90 minute presentation called:

Finding Creativity – What PTSD taught me about photography

You can read more about the presentation through the link above but, in short, it is a talk about the lessons I learned as I healed from my PTSD and how those same lessons also shaped my photography.  It is a presentation about my journey, filled with photographs and anecdotes, that I think will be of value to others.

If this conversation is something that would be of benefit to a group or organization you know please tell them about it.  My goals, as always, are simply to help people, to inspire people, and to see more people finding joy through the lens.  

This new presentation is just the beginning, too.  Watch for details on a new book on this very subject coming out soon!

Best wishes,

Ian

The Wall – Revisited

Last year I posted a series of images called “The Wall”, taken while I was in Toronto for meetings and a workshop.  The series, which can be viewed HERE, features night time silhouettes photographed against a brightly lit wall.  This is a location that offers a variety of shooting opportunities:  faster shutter speeds allow you to catch some lights turned off as they recycle, creating interesting and often uncontrollable compositions.  Slower shutter speeds, however, produce a pure white wall that is perfect for placing the focus on the silhouetted subject.

As a reminder, here are a few images from last year’s shoot:

I love returning to fruitful shooting locations, so when I was back in Toronto this past summer I made a point of working on the series while out with my students.  This time I decided to focus more on the silhouettes themselves, so I set my shutter speed to produce a consistently white background and spent my time looking for interesting subjects (and combinations of interesting subjects).

Here are a few images from these sessions…

You often see the same people pass by when shooting along the wall, as it is next to a very popular and busy square in Toronto.  I spoke with the gentleman below for a few minutes when he asked me for money to buy a drink, then made a quick portrait of him.  Because we were standing very close to the building the wall acted like a giant soft box and gave us beautiful soft light:

And, people being people, after we parted ways I looked back to see him posing for me one more time with a smile on his face:

My students and I talk often about how fabulous people are, all over the world, when we give them a chance.  Sure, we may meet the rare bad apple, but it is amazing how often we are rewarded with a wonderful conversation and a photo or two when we reach out to a stranger.  That was most definitely the case with this gentleman.

And yes, he did get his drink:

🙂

Photographs that feature silhouettes like these are quite easy to make.  You simply expose for the bright background, lock your focus where your subject is (or is going to be), and time your shot to get a clean silhouette (this is the most important part).  You don’t need a full wall to make photos like this either, you simple need a brightly lit background large enough to fully surround the subject.  Here are two more photographs, taken while a subject walked in front of a sign in another part of the city:

There is an aesthetic and a visual strength in photographs like these that I like, but it is even better when you can add a storytelling element to the photo as well.  This last image is a good example of this, and is one of my favourites images from the series:

I like the composition and the silhouettes in this photo, but there is also a narrative derived from the main subject asking for assistance as the crowds blindly approach and then walk past him. 

…photography really does offer us an endless world of possibilities, doesn’t it?

Until next time!

Ian

The Streets of Toronto

I am finally home, after a whirlwind 3 months that saw me travel from Vancouver to Amsterdam to Paris to Vancouver to Toronto and finally back to Vancouver.  My time was spent teaching workshops, shooting engagement sessions, capturing weddings and attending to the assorted tasks that keep the business running smoothly.  It was an amazing and successful summer, one that I am so grateful for, but I am ecstatic to finally be home with my girls for a while.  And, finally, I can get back to writing more consistently on this blog and sharing the work that has been sitting on my hard drive for months now.

Toronto is a wonderful city for photography, with beautiful architecture and amazing people.  I was fortunate to teach two workshops while I was there: my weekend street photography course, followed immediately by a new, five day storytelling travel workshop with my friend and fellow Official Fuji X Photographer, Spencer Wynn.  

I don’t shoot a lot when I teach street photography, as I believe that if there is a photo to be made it should be one of my students taking it.  Still though, I occasionally make an image to illustrate a point or when I find a quiet moment while my students are on assignment.  In this post, I’d like to ease back into the blog with a series of new street images from this world class city, the first of four articles featuring new work from Toronto.

I left my Fujifilm X100F at home for this trip (crazy, I know) and shot everything with my X-T2.  I did stay with my preferred 23mm field of view though, using the Fujinon 23mm f/2 for all of my street work.  I also had the 16-55mm f/2.8 zoom lens with me, which saw a lot of use during the travel photography workshop (more on that to come in a future post).

I hope you enjoy these little vignettes from the streets of Toronto.  I look forward to sharing more with you soon and hope you all had a wonderful summer!

Cheers,

Ian