Save An Extra 15% On All Regatta Clearance Jackets & Coats use code: JACKET15

Keep it tight ? or maybe keep it loose?


Time for an update: I still use film, though. Not vast quantities, but I have a darkroom, and I'm not afraid to use it.

I enjoy every image I take: I hope you'll enjoy looking at them.
...Read More

Keep it tight – or maybe keep it loose?

2 Mar 2021 8:56AM   Views : 266 Unique : 185


I’ve been reading that Andrew Loomis book again… And what he wrote half a century ago is rather contrary to some of the ideas around in photographic circles. ‘Keep it tight’ somehow smacks of Full Metal Jacket and Platoon: images of young men trained to do everything in a very precise and prescribed manner. Tight formation, like the Red Arrows.

Yet there’s Loomis, suggesting that it may even be necessary to do a drawing repeatedly to get the necessary ‘looseness’ of style in the result. What’s going on here? And how does it affect your picture-taking?
The way that a commercial artist like Andrew Loomis approaches a task is illuminating for photographers: his interest is specifically NOT to produce a boringly-accurate representation of the physical, but to make something that conveys an impression of the subject, and is an individual representation of it.

Does that ring any bells for you? It does for me. I can’t draw, because the only way to do it, in my mind, is to draw the tree one leaf at a time. A broad brush moving fast and creating something that is at the same time definitely NOT a tree, but is also, somehow, the impression of a tree… There’s a magic there, and it’s a magic that I would like to share.

I’ve written before about Lensbaby kit, and the way that using my Lensbaby kit requires me to abandon the search for precise focus by inching a helicoid ring back and forth. Instead, it’s a search that engages my instincts, and never more so than when I use the first of the range that I bought, the appropriately-named Muse.

A degree of disruption in the process can loosen inhibition and tightness. A joke can take the tension out of a difficult moment, and a weird prop can take a novice model’s mind from the difficulty of posing as he or she explores the delights of working out what a strange artefact is FOR. Rolls Royce have been known to use this as an interview technique – what is THIS object?

The best candidates don’t just guess, but engage their creative side to imagine what it might be, based on the evidence they can see and touch. Engaging the logical and creative brains at the same time is a powerful tool – even apparently-uncreative jobs benefit, and while hard logic may govern what you do, the drive to do it in the face of difficulty can come from powerful emotion.

And it definitely isn’t part of the process with a remote shoot, where the camera is necessarily on a tripod – a major reason I’ll be glad when I can return to taking images entirely in the real world! Until then – hang loose, people!



dudler Plus
17 1.6k 1832 England
2 Mar 2021 8:57AM
Freya at the top: Velvet 85 at full aperture: Mimi at the bottom, proving that you don't HAVE to focus on the nearer eye, though not to do so is perhaps disconcerting for the Viewer. Lensbaby Edge 50.
Robert51 12 7 121 United Kingdom
2 Mar 2021 3:42PM
There is a lot to be said for both sides but I don't think it's hard choice between the two. Both sides stand up on their own merit when used for the required effect.
I know some people have what they call a tidy mind and everything has to be just right and tight. Others prefer a loose approach even to life itslef and this style is made for them.
I think we have been very lucky to have some really wonderful examples of the loose approach with MileJanjic wonderful images on the site.
If proof is needed just how good this can be take a look at his work. The end result is does it work for you, others can make their own minds up.

Sign In

You must be a member to leave a comment.

ePHOTOzine, the web's friendliest photography community.

Join For Free

Upload photos, chat with photographers, win prizes and much more.