LensWork Online: A Membership website with content, content, content and even more content in 2017!
Newest Content Complete Content Tablet Editions Extended Computer Editions Support www.lenswork.com

Here's a thought . . . (August 2020 Calendar View)

Short videos with snippets, fragments, morsels, and tidbits from Brooks' fertile (and sometimes swiss-cheesy) brain.

Usually just a minute or so.

Pretty much daily.

Always about photography and the art life.

July 2020

August 2020

September 2020



























HT0515 - Why I Call Myself an Artist

I'm often introduced to a new acquaintance as a photographer. Not infrequently this leads to a discussion about their need for a wedding photographer or sometimes a real estate or commercial photographer. When I explain I'm a "fine art photographer," the discussion often leads to questions about which National Parks I've photographed, or what countries I've visited.


HT0516 - We've Been Hoodwinked

What would you think of a novelist who thought that buying a better typewriter would make his writing improve? What would you think of a ballerina who thought that a bigger speaker for the sound system in her studio would make her a better dancer?


HT0517 - Connecting the Dots

If you've ever done one of those childhood puzzles where you connect the dots and create an outline of an animal or a butterfly, you can see this principle at work in multiple image presentations in photography. The individual images are like dots but it is the impression one is left with after seeing all the images that is the key idea.


HT0518 - Zone Three Point Two

I remember once showing a print to a friend and describing in incredible detail how I had to work so hard to get the exact correct tones in the shadows. In an act of true compassion, my friend said to me, "The tones are great, but are you aware it's a picture of a dead cat?"


HT0519 - Technique Acquisition Syndrome

Do we need more gear (GAS)? Do we need more techniques (TAS)? Or, do we need more and better ideas and a more consistent commitment to explore and complete a body of work?


HT0520 - Credibility

I know a photographer who consistently sends me emails announcing what his latest idea for a project is and that he is going to do photographically. The problem is, he never seems to actually do it. So much so, that now he's lost all credibility and when he announces his next project I just assume it will never see the light of day.


HT0521 - Which Game You Choose to Play

There are lots of ways to engage photography and play with it. There are The Money Game; the Award Game; the Trophy Game; the Technology Game; the Art Game. Rather than just fall into one or the other, perhaps it's worth thinking about and consciously deciding what you want to get out of your photographic life.


HT0522 - My Search for Portability

In reviewing my archive of negatives, I ran across some negatives I'd made with cameras I'd forgotten I once owned — a Contax G and a Fuji 6x9 Rangefinder. What's really interesting is how different the images are from those I was making at the time with a view camera.


HT0523 - Basho's Narrow Road

It's not about the destination. It's about how we respond to the moment. We go out in the world in order to make ourselves available for whatever happens. Valuing the unexpected.


HT0524 - The Profound

We all want to make meaningful, profound work. But what is profound to one might be trivial to another.


HT0525 - Cataracts

I've just had my second cataract surgery — which explains why there is no video with this commentary and why I recommend getting your eyes checked.


HT0526 - Cataracts and Color

Cataracts usually effect both eyes, but cataract replacement surgery is usually done on one eye at a time. This can lead to a challenge for judging color photographs when we are doing color corrections.


HT0527 - When to Use Color

First, what is your default, color or black and white? If we think of b/w as the norm, then we add color with the same logic we use in composition and framing: Does color add to the artistic strength of the image? If not, don't use it.


HT0528 - Non-photogenic Surfaces

Oliver Gagliani once said to me that there are certain surfaces that just don't work well with photography. He then used cement as an example. I heard it as a challenge. Turns out, he was right.


HT0529 - When Photographers Have Coffee

I've noticed over the years that when I get together with a bunch of photo buddies that we naturally talk about gear. Curiously, when we don't talk about gear we almost never talk about our artwork. Why is that?


HT0530 - Finishing It

I'm convinced that the very best way to learn about photography, or anything else for that matter, is to finish it. Particularly with photography, it's easy to feel a sense of accomplishment before we've actually finished it. I think this has to do with the fact that clicking the shutter makes a whole picture at once.


HT0531 - The Holy Duocity

The so-called Holy Trinity of zoom lenses 16-35mm, a 24-70m and a 70-200mm has been a staple of many a photographer's kit. These days, I'm finding a 2-lens kit an even more ideal combination. Covering 24mm to 400mm.


HT0532 - EXIF Data Wish List

Info I would love to have EXIF data record: when I use a tripod; when image stabilization was turn on or off; focus distance; angle of the sun. There's probably more, but these are the ones I most wish were available now.


HT0533 - From Whom You Choose to Learn

It's a painful reality of photography today that it's almost impossible to make any money with the products of one's photographic efforts. Books and prints simply don't sell enough to provide an income. So, it seems, that everyone is turning to teaching and offering workshops as a means to provide income from their photography. But what are their credentials to teach?


HT0534 - Ignoring the Flaws

When we look at historic photographs, we can see some pretty glaring chemical flaws. We except them as a limitation of the technology of its day. We don't downgrade an image based on these flaws, but rather evaluate it based solely on its content, and accept it as a valid artistic expression that is a product of its times.


HT0535 - Orientation

When it comes to orientation in pictures, the most crude way of looking at orientation is that horizonal things should be photographed in landscape mode, people should be photographed in portrait mode. I find it more useful to think in terms of eye movement and counterpoints in the scene. Ideally, the best photographs have some counterpoint that goes against the orientation and even includes a diagonal.


HT0536 - Goals for Production

Listening to the self-help gurus, Goal Setting is supposed to be some sort of magic elixir. I've never found it of much use, but I do find Commitment a better and more practical strategy. Goals for production can lead to volume without quality. Commitment leads to both.


HT0537 - Thin Books

I've always loved thin photography books and I think I know why. Thin books tend to be about some observation about a small slice of life, whereas thick photography books tend to be a gathering of greatest hits. This isn't always the case, but it is true far more often than not.


HT0538 - Another example of the Gift Economy

If you are a Norah Jones fan (and I definitely am), be sure to check out here "mini-concerts" offered on YouTube as a series of songs casually performed from her living room. Just her and a piano or guitar, no back band, no professional production, just honest and unedited talent, sharing her art. They are so captivating. Has me thinking about how we photographers might follow her example.


HT0539 - 1000 words

It is said that a picture is worth 1,000 words, but I'm not so sure. Sometimes a picture simply cannot express what a dozen words can with ease. Sometimes, there are no words in any quantity that can communicate what a picture can in an instant. The best strategy seems to utilize the correct medium at the correct time – and having the wisdom to know when each is the best medium to be used.


HT0540 - Where Greatest Hits Come From

Every photograph of note and fame that I can think of was not created by the photographer in order to be a greatest hits image. They came out of a project and were elevated to icon status by people other than the photographer.


HT0541 - Over-producing the Artwork

It is not only possible to over-produce work, it's an easy trap to fall into. Because we are pursuing excellence at all costs, there will always be something more we could do to improve an image. But will anyone every see it? You may feel better about all those tiny improvements, but at some point even you won't be able to see the miniscule improvements you sweat blood to achieve. Knowing when to stop is a good skill to have.


HT0542 - Composition and Bokeh Balls

A shallow depth of field can be a very useful tool for creating a sense of depth in a composition. That said, a shallow depth of field can also create elements of the composition that we can't even see with our eyes - those large bokeh balls that become important elements in the geometric composition of the image. Positioning the bokeh balls can be as important as positioning the main subjects of the photograph.


HT0543 - Being Open to Change

Don't bother going to a workshop unless you are willing to let go of what hasn't been working and embrace something new. Defensiveness is, in my opinion, a sign of artistic immaturity. There's no harm in listening and considering change or the suggestions of others. You can always ignore them and keep doing what you are doing. But why not at least listen and be open to the possibilities to improve?



HT0544 - Compare and Contrast

Photographs tend to be either a type that is "show and tell," or a type that want to promote some sort of comparison. Whenever there is a comparison involved, by default the comparison requires "two." Diptychs are ideal, facing pages in book can work, and compare and contrast can even be in the same image. It does seem to be worth a conscious decision on our part as whether we intend our image to be show and tell, or compare and contrast.


HT0545 - The Required Effort

No one cares how hard you have to work to make a photograph. Neither should you. It takes what it takes. Being an artist is not an hourly job.