John Woodward Pearl’s Of Wisdom Volume I

John Woodward

John Woodward

Photography in an earlier era involved coating your own glass plates with the emulsion that you had mixed yourself. You then place these plates carefully into a huge view camera and climbed under the curtain as you look through very slow lenses of questionable quality and made images that took several minutes. Your exposure is going to take several minutes and if it’s a portrait you have just clamped to your subject into a metal torture device to keep them still during that time. You then very carefully took your finished plate [only one exposure at a time] and processed it using chemicals that could kill you.

© John Woodward Photography

Even not to the late 70s, Ektachrome e4 development kits contained a white powder called sodium ferrocyanide. Modern photography doesn’t remember these roots. They collect the free photons on solid-state drives called CF cards and don’t even wonder at the technology behind them. They print on their Canon printers that are using quantum theory to create images. These printers print out with pico liter sized droplets of ink that then explode at a specific height above the paper as they create their image. Auto focus, 20 powered zoom lenses, 40 frames a second all shrugged off by the users. There is no AWE, and there should be. There’s no respect for their predecessors and there doesn’t even seem to be a need to study anyone’s work anymore.

The modern photographer just goes out and takes pictures and then expects the world to beat a path to his or her door. The modern photographer doesn’t need composition they use intuition. They don’t need the understanding that would create repeatable and consistent quality. Point and shoot was never more info than it is now. The top fashion work, as seen in the magazines, would not come close to meriting In the Professional Photographers Standards. The lighting is wrong, the posturing is ridiculous and when an image is blown out by bad exposure, it becomes high quality graphic arts. It’s come to the point of being ridiculous because it is forming the thoughts of the new photographers as they come on the scene.

These new students of photography think that America’s Top Model, is the epitome of good photography when in fact it is the antithesis. There is no homage to the past, and certainly no reverence for the processes that proceed this digital age. It is a sad thing when the industry as a whole, has forgotten the precepts of professionalism. I make a simple statement in every program that you “can’t know what you don’t know.” It has never been truer than now.

Click Here For Johns Class Schedule!

Click Here For John's Class Schedule!

Every day I hear that people don’t need meters at a time where they need meters more than ever. Every day I hear that they are getting their exposure from histograms, which cannot possibly tell them exposure. Every day I watch as they judge their images based on what comes up on the back of their camera, one that image won’t even react unless there is a full half of a stop change. Every day I watch “professionals” make no special effort in creating images. No one seems to feel the need to do more!

These are the same professionals that complain that their former clients are doing their job now. Well, your former clients watched how you work and said to themselves “I can do that!” So they went out to the camera store and bought the same camera you are using. Because you were not doing anything special in the lighting, or with special lenses or composition, they are creating images identical to yours and either selling them for less or giving them away for free.

One last time I will ask; what are you doing to drive business to your door at a time when your competition is willing to bid nothing on a job, just to gain the experience or the resume line?” You need to become truly professional if you’re going to survive and be a member of this industry. You need to seek out the mentor is just as those who preceded you did. You need to embrace technology and not let technology embrace you. It’s time for you to internalize what it takes to be a professional photographer. This is a business and requires a business plan. It requires the right training and the right equipment. It demands more from you. Be the leader not the follower.


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One Response to “John Woodward Pearl’s Of Wisdom Volume I”

  1. Jason Says:

    A lot of what John has mentioned above regarding the new breed and new style of photographers is an opinion shared, admired, despised, but ultimately acknowledged as being present in the photo industry today. Many opinions are offered as the to the positive and the negative aspects of the situation, but the fact is technology has changed the face of the photographic industry.

    For some, digital photography is all they will / have ever known. Never before have they seen a print develop in a tray in a dark room or learned how to dodge and burn with an enlarged, all they know is RAW vs JPEG and enlargement tool’s in photo editing software.

    For others, the transition has been either seamless or difficult. If you shot slide film or positives you had a very limited margin for error regarding your exposure, usually only about 1 stop over or under. If you photographed with a negative film your room for exposure error was greater to the tune of about 3 stops over or under of which any C-41 lab could correct. However, when digital became the standard for photography the lab technicians were no longer needed to correct color or exposure and suddenly many photographers had to become skeptical regarding their work cause, “it wasn’t as good as it would have been with film.”

    Those who shot chrome always had an exposure within 1 stop, and the digital files they produced were the perfect balance to be processed digital. As digital has grown the post production through software, color correction and monitor calibration has grown. The general population has learned to adapt just as those who shot slide film did with digital and it’s (believe it or not) limited range for error when compared to film. However it is important to look back and learn what made photographers simply photographers. Today we might ask a friend to take a picture with the latest digital SLR and expect the camera to make up for the lack of photographic knowledge, but you surely wouldn’t give a fancy film camera to someone who didn’t know how to use it and expect perfection.

    Know the importance of composition and exposure are vital to photography, in many ways it is what keeps photographers from simply becoming graphic artists today. Shoot and expose the image correctly, pose the subjects and gather your elements needed to make the shot what it is. If you take a picture and immediately start going over what your going to on your computer your no longer a photographer but a graphic artist.

    Long live the photographers like John Woodward.

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