on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

Joe Cornish and Charlie Waite

An Open Discussion - Part One

Tim Parkin

Tim Parkin

Amateur Photographer who plays with big cameras and film when in between digital photographs.

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During the recent "Year of the Print" exhibition organised by Charlie Waite there were a couple of discussion talks with Steve Watkins, Editor of Outdoor Photography, as compere. The topic was open and questions came from audience members and social media. Here is the first of these talks - the second will be published in the next issue.

Audience: What is the secret of a great photograph?

Joe: Well I’m not sure if there is a secret. There is a great quote by Robert Doisneua who said “If I knew how to take a good photograph I’d do it every time” and I think that is probably true for every one of us here. I think one of the great things about photography is that it is an alchemy and so you cannot formulate the success of a picture. Another interesting photographer that many of you know of is Edward Weston and he at one point was on a purple streak and he said “I think I know how to make a masterpiece every day”, but he’s the only person I have ever heard express such a sentiment. I just genuinely think that it is a kind of impossible fusion of the day, the place, the moment, and your own flow, which is really important. Are you in the zone? Whether you are a sportsman or an artist, I think we are all familiar with the idea that there are moments that for whatever reason you become connected and you become like a transmission and somehow what you see as a photographer translates in to something that you cannot define or put your finger on. If we could, we would probably have written that book and would be living on the royalties.

Steve: I think the beauty of photography is that nobody has cracked it, so don’t burden yourself with the thought that you have to crack it in your lifetime. It’s a lifelong pursuit and you can relax and not think that there is an end goal. That is something that can free you up to enjoy photography a lot more, rather than thinking at the end of a trip or a workshop, “I will be a photographer”. First and foremost, you are a photographer before you go. If you have taken any pictures at all, you are a photographer. At the end of a workshop, you might have learned some more about how to improve your work or about shooting or thinking in a different way, but you’re not going to be a changed photographer at the end of a week-long workshop. They are just part of an entire process that goes through your entire life. Charlie, have you got any secrets on how to take great photographs?

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