Processes and Permission Slips

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In collaboration with Phillips Collection’s month-long community project, Community in Focus: Responding to the Year 2020, we asked photographers Birch Thomas and Angela Pan to share a dozen pieces of advice about creating meaningful photos.  The workshop took place on November 22nd and you can watch it in its entirety here.

In this workshop, you’ll hear stories behind their photos from the front lines of documenting both everyday life and historic moments of 2020. Learn specific methods for using your camera as a tool to observe the changing world around you, create moments of presence, process emotion, and give yourself permission to try new things behind the lens.

Visualize & Prepare

Before you even pick up your camera envision the type of photographs you want to take. Be aware of your mindset. Hype yourself up for a great photo session. Photo by Birch

Remain Present

Eliminate distractions to heighten all of your senses. Start to observe your environment and notice the changes in your surroundings as you walk around. Photo by Angela 

Follow Your Intuition

Let your instincts lead the way. Photo by Birch

Choose Your Background

Find a location that speaks to you and frame the scene. Sometimes you choose your background first and wait for a subject to enter the frame. Photo by Angela

Anticipate the Decisive Moment

Position yourself to capture the split second that tells a story. Observe life through the viewfinder and let the moment unfold in front of you. Photo by Birch

Framing

Wide vs Details. Establish the scene with wide shots or develop intimacy with close-ups. Photos by Angela 

Ask Yourself, What Caught My Eye?

Find a way to let the viewer feel what you felt at that moment. This is what caught my eye… 

 

This is the photo I created to combine the two things that caught my eye. Photos by Birch

The Emotional Connection

Capture the energy you observe in others. How does the photo make you feel? Photo by Angela

Human Moments

Co-create mutual connections to capture memorable portraits. The type of energy you give is the energy you receive. Photo by Birch

Resistance

We all feel it. Push through. You will thank yourself later. Photo by Angela

Familiar Subject, Fresh Perspective.

Move your body to find new perspectives. Get low or try a different angle with your camera. Photo by Birch

When All Else Fails, Follow The Light.

Photo by Angela

Thanks again to Birch and Angela for putting together the workshop and creating these tips. We hope you use these tips and give yourself permission to try something new.

If you have any questions about this workshop or photography in general, feel free to contact Angela at [email protected] or Birch at [email protected] Birch has also created a wonderful guide on 20 Places to Go to Take Pictures in Washington, DC on Instagram.

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