March 29, 2008
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.
· 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.
· 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.
· 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.
· 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.
· 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.
· 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.
· 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.
· 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.
· 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.