Making vs. Taking Pictures

One of the fun assignments I give the participants on my workshops is to "make a picture" – as opposed to "take a picture." 

On my recent San Miguel de Allende workshop for Foto Workshops Mexico, I picked a picturesque street corner (one of my favorites in the city)  and asked the students to make a picture.

I suggested, "Imagine you are a movie director. Create an image that tells story."

What fun we had! The students had tons of creative ideas.

The opening picture for this post is the result of making a picture. Below is the "before" shot. I know the picture looks a bit dull. I enhanced the image in Adobe Camera Raw, boosting the color, saturation, sharpness and blacks.

Here's how I made the picture, in the course of about three very, very fast-paced minutes.

After the students took their shots, it was my turn to make a picture.

I posed our translator/model Adriana Toledo by the fountain in such a way so that her head was isolated in a plain part of the busy background. I always try to isolate the head so that it stands out in the frame.

I waited for some "props."

I saw a red VW coming up the street. I asked Juan Jose, the director of Foto Workshops Mexico, to run down the street and ask the driver if he could spare five minutes and help out the group. The driver said OK.

However, I had to direct the driver, through Adriana, to move back and forth – and back and forth and back and forth – until he was in the perfect position for my shot. Lots of loud yelling, as I was standing across the street shooting with my Canon 17-40mm on my Canon 5D Mark II.

Okay. The VW was in position. I looked around for another person to place in the scene. Across the street, out of the frame, I saw a man selling oranges. "Great!" I said to the group. "We have another interesting element to add to the scene."

I asked Juan Jose to run across the street and ask the man if he would kindsly move across the street and sit at the corner for two minutes. The man said OK, after we bought a few oranges. More of "do this, do that" from me . . .  with a big, "Pour favor" before each request.

The scene was set. I shot.

The participants all got a similar shot - and had a blast doing so.

The point of this homily is that it's fun and creative to make pictures - just as a movie director sets up each and every shot. 

Below are two shots by Orlando Montalvo. I like his take, too.

Below is a shot by Fernando Carez. Nice work, Fernando. (I showed Fernando how to add motion to the VW using the Motion Blur filter in Photoshop.)

And below is a shot by Juan Jose Marquez, the director of Foto Workshops Mexico, of me testing my exposure - and checking my histogram – before the shoot got going.

Don't be shy about asking someone to help you out! It never hurts to ask.

I hope you can join me for my 2012 San Miguel de Allende workshop. Shoot me an email to get on the list for the workshop – and for all my workshops.

Explore the light,
Don Riccardo, a.k.a. Rick

P.S. Below is a scenic view of the small town of San Miguel de Allende. Small in size but big in photo opportunities. I hope to see you there in 2012.