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Improve your photography by zooming in. Then out.

I’m in the process of starting up an advanced class within “The Arcanum” (where I teach photography to a wonderful bunch of students that make me proud on a daily basis.) I’m super excited about this upcoming advanced class (a “Sphere 2” class in Arcanum-speak) because I’m going to be diving with them into one of my favorite subjects: minimalism.
This exercise might be beneficial for you to do on your own as well, so I’ll outline the thoughts for you here. The longer multi-month class will go into significantly more detail and the students will get a great deal of feedback about their work, but you can try this exercise in whatever time period you wish. Feel free to read my longer write-up of the course on my full S2 announcement page as well.

Minimalism: the art of a tightly focused subject

  • Curves Of The Past
  • Sky Pointers
  • Ride Into The Night
  • You Shall Not Contain Me
  • You Can't Take The Sky From Me
  • Executive Linter
  • Snow Crystals
  • Velvet Runway

I’ll be asking my students in this class to reduce the images they take to the bare essence of what they want to capture. Be it via zooming in, cloning in photoshop, controlling their backgrounds, looking for simple subjects, etc. I’m looking forward to their new images that capture the essence of their subject by super-filling the frame. Take the time to try this yourself as well: figure out how you can move closer to, zoom in to, crop, or otherwise really focus on just your single subject. Make your subject fill the frame edge-to-edge rather than be just a small lump in the middle of the shot. You’ll be amazed how filling the frame completely affects the quality of your images.

Afterward, zoom out to recapture context. But carefully!

  • The March Of The Challengers
  • Evening Warmth
  • Peter Giordano, Co-Founder of The Arcanum
  • Climb to the Star
  • Twin Lakes View

Once you feel you have a grasp of capturing a tightly composed image, back out just a tiny bit at a time. Carefully gather and include more elements in the scene. But gather them in a way that ensures the surrounding contextual objects and scene don’t compete with your primary subject. This exercise I’ve designed will make you think about composition and simplicity and ensure you capture the fundamental elements of your subject without surrounding your subject in chaos. Context is extremely important, but we can’t let it compete with the principal subject. Strive to find that perfect balance.

I’m itching to start this program within The Arcanum, as I’ve been planning it for at least 6 months. It’ll involve 3-6 months of work and a detailed 10-step program designed to challenge students and encourage growth through experimentation. And, oh, the discussions will be grand. [If you’re in The Arcanum today and interested in joining this Sphere 2 experience, please Contact Me.

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To see more information about what types of stories I send, please see my web page devoted to my newsletter