Think for a second:
Why do some pictures grab your attention more than others?
Why do some pictures score so highly on 500px? How are they different?
Why do some pictures make you verbally utter “Wow” when you see them?
A better question:
How can you achieve this level of impact yourself?
The single most important answer: Simplify Your Subject.
Join me in my Sphere 2 experience if you want to achieve this level of impact with your photography.
Note: If you want to join us in this sphere, please reach out as I’m generally only sending invites to people who ask.
Diving into Minimalization
If you’re like me, when you started out in photography you tried to capture as much as possible in the frame. But, it was far too easy to try and capture everything and completely loose track of my subject. It was far too easy to lose my primary subject within the surrounding clutter that wasn’t necessary to show the viewer. I lost the intent of my image when I included too much. I learned to avoid these mistakes in my photography today through a number of techniques, and I’d like to share them with you.
After years of experimenting, I found myself diving deeply into minimization: the art of simplifying the subject of your image down to one and only one thing. From this journey, I learned to concentrate on how to focus the subject of my images down to just the bare minimum. I learned to show people exactly what I wanted them to see and to ensure they weren’t distracted by other elements in the scene. I learned how to compose my images in the field to minimize distractions and I learned how to eliminate or minimize their impact of other elements during post processing.
This is the wisdom I want to pass on to you.
My Arcanum Sphere 2 Plan
Your initial tasks in my Sphere 2 plan will have you discovering and capturing images from any genre you wish that are very very narrow in scope and show only a single element of a single subject. Think “fill the frame” but at a level you’ve never tried before.
- How to focus on your compositional elements in the field or in studio
- How to arrange your subject and your environment to minimize distractions
- How to further eliminate distractions in post processing
- How to use negative space to focus your viewer’s attention
Regardless of whether you’re shooting macro photography, travel photography, landscapes, portraits, events and weddings or products this Sphere will help you bring significantly higher impact to your photographs.
Zooming Out Again
In the first part I will have actually pushed you intentionally too far. In the process of shooting a single element of a single subject you’ll have learned the power that intrigue can bring your your art. But you will have potential lost the context of what you captured through diving into the extreme. After we push up against that edge, we’ll begin to reel back and find the optimal balance for your body of work.
Diving deep into a subject is only good for you if you can come back up for air and shoot your primary area of expertise with an increased focus and impact, but while retaining the context of your subject. The last portion of my Sphere 2 flow has you doing just this: we’ll start by adding in supplemental objects and context but in a way that won’t distract from your original intent of the shot. We’ll balance them in camera and in post processing. The result will be images that tell a story, but do so with a significantly higher impact.
- How to compose your images with supplemental elements in ways that add to the focus of your main subject
- How to balance your primary subject against necessary context and supplemental images
- How to apply selective post processing techniques to amplify the impact of your subject and reduce the distractions of the contextual elements
All work and no fun?
The best way to learn is to be fully engaged and enthralled not just with your own work, but with the work of your peers. Anyone who has been through the first 20 levels of The Arcanum knows this. The Arcanum is generally a fairly social place, and if you want to have a lot of fun and interact a bunch, then this S2 plan will meet that desire of yours as well. I have a number of fun challenges and regular events planned that will all be tied into my S2 theme. I’m looking forward to participating in them myself!
Please contact me immediately if you want to join my S2 group within The Arcanum. Please let me know if you’re currently in another active cohort and when you expect to finish your work there.
Current status: opening soon!! I hope to launch in the first week of April.
Differences from Spheres 0 and 1
Ever wondered how Sphere 2 may be different from the earlier Spheres? What will you get from the increased tuition price? Is it more of the same old series of exercises, or a new structure? Well each master has to make their own decision about how they want to treat Sphere 2 (and above). For me, in addition to the change in learning structure described above, the 10 levels I’m planning for Sphere 2 will include:
- 2 regular critiques: saved in the Arcanum Grand Library
- 2 mini-critiques: besides the above two recorded normal critiques, you and I will hold two additional half-length critiques where I’ll give you some rapid fire feedback on your images and will pick one from the set that will be mandatory to bring to the full critique. The mini critiques will be recorded too, but won’t be shared outside the community. You’ll have the opportunity to listen to my early thoughts on your images, and refine your images further if you wish.
- More interaction: In the earlier spheres masters don’t typically comment on posts until critique time. With this sphere, I’ll be breaking that rule both in the community and in the mini critiques. One of my goals for you in this sphere is to take your beyond critique to a final works level of excellence. I’ll be asking questions about your work, direction and pushing you to think from day 1.
- Different Scoring Mechanisms: This cohort is designed to be a discussion more than a true-critique. It’s designed to push you to experiment from in the field to post-processing, and as such I generally don’t give number grades unless you ask for them. You’ll certainly get feedback about which are my favorites, and ideas for pushing your work further, but the dialog will be interactive to bring out what you want from your pieces so we can help direct you based on your goals and desires. Be prepared to answer questions about your work and motivations 🙂
What is the minimum Arcanum Level I must obtain to join your group?
If I’ve already been through a Sphere 2 before, can I join your group?
Yep! It is now possible to repeat Sphere 2 in a different program.
Do I have to understand true artistic minimalism to participate?
Nope! In fact, different people have gone very different directions inside. You’ll be pushed to think about simplification and increased focus on your subject matter, but whether you dive into complete minimalism is up to you. There have been some great discussions about what minimalism is, and how it improves our photography, but each person got to walk away with their own definition and resulting goal from that discussion.
Does this really help portrait photography artists too?
Yep! Though I’m not an expert in portrait work, the subject of this S2 experience will be about composition and processing that applies to all areas of photography. The insturctions will apply to any field of study.
Can I submit only landscapes, or work on only macro photography, only street photography, etc?
Yep, please do! Please bring your favorite subject matter and stick with it. I can help you in all of these areas generally when you need it, but no matter which genre you pick, you’ll find the simplification techniques you’ll learn will greatly help any subject matter you bring to the table.
One additional note though: I do think it’s beneficial for everyone to try different subjects outside your normal realm of photography. I’ve found that by studying other areas you learn extensively about your own area of expertise in ways you wouldn’t have thought before. For example, by studying portrait work you’ll learn a huge amount with respect to directional lighting that will apply to landscape photographers. And portrait photographers can learn a huge amount by shooting just landscapes without people, so when they want to shoot portraits in the natural world their backgrounds will be significantly enhanced. So, in my S2 you can shoot whatever you feel will most benefit you, be it in your comfort zone or by reaching out and experimenting.
Do you expect me to be a minimalist when I finish your sphere?
Absolutely not! My only goal is to help you achieve an increased focus and impact in your work by exploring this particular area of the photography Genre’s