Save & earn with MPB; trade-in and buy pre-loved

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 : 439 Unique : 316


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!


Recent blogs by dudler

Focus scales

If you’ve been taking pictures since before autofocus arrived, you’ll be very familiar with focus scales – they are one of the primary controls on an old-school camera, and just one more of the things that you really needed to get right. With autof...

Posted: 27 Dec 2022 7:01AM

Porcelain processing

People commented on the look in my last post and it seems like a good idea to share the secrets for Christmas. I learned the technique several years ago: a model’s boyfriend told me about it, and a website that described it in detail: I tried it, l...

Posted: 23 Dec 2022 10:47AM

You develop your own films don’t you?

If you have your own darkroom, or if you use film cameras regularly, there are always a few people who mention the attic. As in ‘Grandpa’s cameras are in the attic. I don’t even know if they have film in them!’ This leads me to ask if I can have a l...

Posted: 16 Aug 2022 11:17AM

Choose your pond

There’s an old saying about being a big fish and a little pond. Do you want to be the most important person in a small organisation, or are you content being a relatively small cog in a big machine? It’s the same in photography. With relatively mo...

Posted: 3 Jun 2022 2:25PM

Graduated filters

This is for Hannah, and anyone else who has come across the casual way that a lot of togs talk about one or two types of filter that landscaper photographers use a lot: graduated filters and neutral density filters. A graduated filter is one that i...

Posted: 25 Apr 2022 12:18PM


dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 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 Avatar
Robert51 14 12 147 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.

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.