Playing The Long Game: Outdoor Photography With Telezooms

Study the masters (and the women who excel)


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.
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Study the masters (and the women who excel)

27 May 2020 7:29AM   Views : 492 Unique : 360


I’ve been thinking about myths, and there may well be a blog about one or two of my unfavourite photographic ones in the next week or two: things that I hear photographers say as if they’re laws of physics, when they actually have their roots in some historical anomaly, or even the prejudice of a particular club member.

But today, I’m going to suggest that you sit down, and watch TV. But not just any old channel: HERE is a specific link to a website that will happily sell you masterclasses – and also makes a variety of programmes available that will fascinate and delight the keen photographer.


I’m not sure there’s any original material there: but a link to a BBC4 documentary on David Bailey’s work in the Seventies on YouTube, for instance, is well worth having alongside a National Geographic programme about Steve McCurry shooting the last roll of Kodachrome ever made and a recreation of shoots in which Charis Wilson and Edward Weston made beautiful images that changed the world of art nude photography, combined with footage of Wilson, at the age of 90, commenting on the whole process. (That’s the one I’m watching today!)

I’m not quite sure why the slightly bombastic name, Masters of Photography, is undented by the inclusion of Diane Arbus and Dorothea Lange.

I don’t think that there will be a lot of techie talk in any of the programmes: a certain level of competence underpins every great photographer’s work, but it’s not what they’re about. It may be a willingness to take physical risks to photograph extraordinary places or events, or deep empathy that allows someone to bond with their subjects, to bring out their humanity.


Or even a level of deception – as I saw yesterday in a YouTube video about Platon (full name, Platon Antoniou) and portraits of the powerful… He talked to Vladimir Putin about the Beatles, before shooting a portrait every bit as chilling as Arnold Newman’s image of Alfred Krupp.

But here’s my suggestion for today – have a look at one or two of these wonderful, available and instructive videos. If you learn nothing that will improve your own photography, you will certainly see some fine pictures, and broaden your cultural base.

The nature of the beast is that the pictures here are random stuff from my own work: I’m encouraging you to seek out far better images!


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AltImages Avatar
AltImages 3 4
27 May 2020 9:41AM
Before you mentioned Platon I remembered the 43 min documentary about him that I saw on Netflix. That also includes watching him photographing Gen Colin Powell and shows a wide range of portraits of all the world's famous people over the last 20 years or so. Interesting too as he manages to capture the essence of the sitter but mostly uses one light one lens and the same setup for everyone, including the same cushion and same wooden box! He's quite simplistic in how he approaches things. The documentary starts with him saying: "I'm not really a photographer, the camera is nothing more than a tool, communication, simplicity, shapes on a page ... ". I highly recommend it to everyone as a great insight, especially as it's now on YouTube too:
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
27 May 2020 10:15AM
The YouTube video is much shorter: I'll go looking on Netflix tonight!

I only came across his name yesterday, but he's definitely interesting. He certainly produces effective images: whether all of them are as insightful as the Putin shot, I don't know...
AltImages Avatar
AltImages 3 4
27 May 2020 10:56AM
Is the YouTube a shortened version? I didn't think so. If you're searching Netflix, you're looking for the series called "Abstract: The Art of Design." It covers architects and other designers. Platon Photographer is I recall around episode 7.
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
27 May 2020 12:31PM
Just over four minutes on YouTube, here:

AltImages Avatar
AltImages 3 4
27 May 2020 12:41PM
Ah, not seen that one. My link was to the full 43 minute documentary.
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
27 May 2020 3:49PM
Thanks for mentioning that - I've watched it, and it may well form the basis for a future blog: much to think about...
AltImages Avatar
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27 May 2020 9:11PM
It certainly gives a good insight into what and why he does things . Plus, like you, he shoots film - Tri-X on a Leica and Porta 160 on his Hasselblad. But what I find most interesting is how he can produce such varied headshots mostly using just one light.

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