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10 Timeless Lessons I Learned From Master Photographer George Tapan

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Master George Tapan in Action-17

Saying I learned a lot from George Tapan would be an understatement. He unselfishly shared his secrets on why his photographs are timeless and priceless. He taught on the field by setting up the scene, capturing the photo and showing you how to produce a timeless photograph. He spent a lot of time in the critique session. He personally worked with each person to take their photography to the next level. It does not matter if you are a beginner, a hobbyist or a professional because he will make sure that you become a better photographer after his workshop.

In the same spirit, I’m sharing with you the 10 lessons I learned from the Master George Tapan to hopefully inspire you to take your photography to the next level:

· Choose the high ground point of view. Always see if you can take the high ground point of view by getting a ladder, taking it on top of the jeep or putting your subject on a lower plane.

Master George Tapan in Action-5 Master George Tapan in Action-28

· Colors are critical to a timeless photograph. Solid colors are very important and there were a number of times that Master Tapan would ask the subject to reverse their clothes. Most of the time branding logos and text creates a distraction in the image.

Master George Tapan in Action-34
Master George Tapan in Action-13

· Know the culture of the place before taking the photo. I’ve learned this before that there is no substitute with researching the culture of the place or subject. You can do this by researching before you travel or ask from the locals.

Master George Tapan in Action-4

· Make your photos unique. I know from past workshops that you need to make your photos unique, but Master Tapan showed me how to actually do it. You can do it by getting a unique point of view that nobody else saw, put a subject on the right place at the right time, or taking your photos at the right time of day.

Master George Tapan in Action-32

· Details are very important. Master George would stress that you should carefully create your scene and plan every aspect before actually clicking the shutter. Most of the times, we don’t care about the elements of the photograph as long as the subject is within the rule of thirds.

Master George Tapan in Action-25


· Separating the Foreground from the Background. I know this conceptually, but this is the first time that I really understood how to do it. For example, when taking a photo of a person, you need to make sure that the head has a clutter free background.

Master George Tapan in Action-29

· Ask properly from your subjects. We learned that it is easy to ask your subject to pose or act for you. The key is just to ask properly and with a confidence of a photographer.

Master George Tapan in Action-10

· Live the Passion. I admired Master George Tapan because throughout the entire Batanes trip he was so excited to take photos like he was just starting. He is an amateur at heart who just really loves photography after 38 years. I’m only taking photography for 3 years and sometimes I feel the fatigue of taking shots.

Master George Tapan in Action-12

· Excitement is the enemy of a good photograph. Most photographers are trigger-happy. The excitement of seeing a beautiful scene distracts a photographer from composing the perfect shot. Pause for a while and carefully examine the landscape and the subject before clicking that shutter button.

Master George Tapan in Action-21

· Patience is the secret. The secret is taking the shot during the right time (early morning or late afternoon). If needed, you should go back a number of times in the scene to get the perfect lighting. Also, you should wait for the right subjects to include in your composition. If needed, orchestrate the scene to get that perfect photograph.

Master George Tapan in Action-22

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Very nice list. The key is SET-UP! When Steve McCurry took the iconic National Geographic Afghan Girl picture, he asked the girl to come to the nearby tent with him. He arranged the clothes, the posing and the look. He took about five shots or so and let her off. And the rest is history.

What they really dont teach you in the books and seminar is the way to approach subjects to make them pose for you. With GT covering this in his seminar is way beyond first class. I hope to see more jumping girls in a bikini from you in the future...(he he he)

gt's work moves me in amazing ways. would you know if he has other seminars? or an apprenticeship? thanks

thanks for the tip anton! :)

very nice of you to share what you've learned from the master.

i am very much guilty of #9, and now trying to control my being trigger happy.

I'm adding to my two cents to this... if you want to improve further - have your photos critiqued professionally. Comments like, nice view! or nice shot! keep it up! is not going to help you improve! There are sites that can criticize professionally on how you could have improved your shot. TrekEarth or TrekLens is an example.

I'm adding my two cents to this... if you want to improve further - have your photos critiqued professionally. Comments like, nice view! or nice shot! keep it up! is not going to help you improve! There are sites that can criticize professionally on how you could have improved your shot. TrekEarth or TrekLens is an example.

great tips! thanks for sharing these!

HI There!
Thanks so much for sharing! Was planning to join this trip but something very important came up.

Thanks for sharing this! That's what I admire about you. You always share what you know. :)

Thanks for these tips! I will try to keep this in mind and stop myself from being "trigger-happy" which I am sometimes guilty of. :)

Hi! Is there a site I could view to join George Tapan's workshop? =D

Kapitbahay ko po itong si Manong George Tapan na tubong Agdangan, Quezon. Noon pa man hindi po siya nagbago ng istilo, payak na payak ang kanyang galaw, kapag umuuwi siya tuwing bakasyon grande sa aming bayan, simpleng tao subalit nasa anino niya ang tindi ng lente ng kanyang kamera, eagle eyes ika nga. Sana magkaroon din siya ng workshop sa Quezon Province, SM Lucena sana kung pwede.

Hi Anton. I need to contact George Tapan for a work he did for our book. Kindly forward to him my office email address. This is rather urgent. I hope I can email him personally this week. Help...

Thanks so much for sharing this. I am not a photographer but I do feel like I need to improve my skills on photography for my blog. I just learned a lot from this. Thumbs up!

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