Finding My Photographic Voice – Part 1

Many of you knew that I’m in Otto’s (In Flow) e-workshop, Finding Your Photographic Voice, now. I’d asked Otto if I could blog about my e-workshop experience; he said yes. I particularly like to share what I’ve learned in hope that my experience would be helpful for other people. Let me start from why I took the workshop and how the workshop works.

Making my Decision

Lynne (Six Degrees Photography) had attended Otto’s e-workshop before and liked it. I like Lynne’s photos a lot, so I decided to check it out. It didn’t take me long to sign up because, at this stage of my photographing life, finding my photographic voice is important to me. You see, I seem to like everything from macro to landscaping, but, at the same time, I don’t like everything equally. I want to know more about myself as a photographer and that’s what I am hoping to achieve at this workshop.

How does the Workshop Work

Every Monday, we will receive a lesson from Otto, and we have one week to work on our assignments. We then submit our photos, and later receive feedback from Otto. The feedback is given to us via a video. While watching the video, which has our photos displayed on screen one by one, we listen to Otto’s feedback. It’s very easy to follow.

My Experience for Lesson 1

• Our first assignment is to capture natural existing contours and second assignment pure forms. For contour, my first thought was to take a photo of a maple leaf against a bright sky. Such a simple idea; I couldn’t believe it took me at least 10 tries… the leaf was not angled right (I didn’t like the shape of the silhouette), the leaf was not dark enough (so it wouldn’t be contour anymore), wall was in the photo… But I finally got one I like.

Maple leaf

Maple leaf

Otto’s feedback was that it would be better if I didn’t place the leaf in the center. He was right, of course.

Maple Leaf (Again)

Maple Leaf (Again)

• It’s not easy to photo “contour” only. The “form”, quite often, sneaks into your “contour” photo. 😉

• I thought I knew the definition of “contour”, but I found myself asking the question “is this a photo of contour or form” over and over. I even googled the word “contour”.

• Photographing is like writing. Revision (post processing or retake photo) can go on forever. At one point, you just have to press submit button and let your instructor to worry about it. (At first, I thought we were supposed to submit original photos so I didn’t do any post processing for my lesson 1 assignment, but I did take the same photo several times.)

• Make sure your subject is dust free if you don’t want people see it. 😉

• I wasn’t too thrilled with these two assignments in the beginning. But I was surprise to find out that after doing these exercises, I am more aware of contour and form. I always know which photo I like better, but now I can tell why I like it better. That’s a big improvement!

My Experience for Lesson 2

• Lesson 2 is about colors. Since I don’t know too much about colors, this is a great lesson for me. Otto explains colors well. I learned how to make colors work for me!

• It’s hard to find a “perfect” background in house. I think I have tried every corner and every wall of my house.

• It’s hard to find “perfect” light. Again, I carried my subject from one room to the next and next.

• Auto ISO is a bad news. For some reason, when I use auto-ISO, it always ended up overexposed and that makes color look not as good. I finally turned the auto-ISO off and I liked the result much better.

• Even when I was working on my lesson 2 assignments, I kept thinking of contour and form. Surprise. Surprise…

• It’s easy to understand the words, but it’s hard to really grasp the concept (maybe it’s the deficiency in my brain). For example, it’s better not to place your subject in the center (I am not talking about exceptional cases here.) But if I take a photo of a person and his head is near center, but his body (large part of him) is to the right, does this mean my subject is in the center or not? I am not sure…

• I haven’t receive feedback on my lesson 2 assignment, so I don’t have any to show you 😉

Well, I am having a lot of fun and, already, I’ve learned a lot! I hope you enjoy reading this post. Writing about it gives me a chance to organize what I have learned.


About Helen C

A retired computer programmer who loves writing and photographing, and has managed to publish a YA novel "Jin-Ling’s Two Left".
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17 Responses to Finding My Photographic Voice – Part 1

  1. Amy says:

    Thank you so much for sharing the online classes you are taking, Helen. The structure of the class sounds interesting. Lots to learn… 🙂


  2. Cee Neuner says:

    This was really good Helen. I like your feedback. Keep them coming 🙂


  3. benrowef64 says:

    It sounds like an interesting E course and you are having fun with it, I can’t wait to hear more about it in the future.


  4. pambrittain says:

    I agree about the leaf. The second one brings the eye to the leaf, then up around and down to the cloud. Basically, the eye never leaves the picture. That’s a difficult thing to do.


  5. So glad you are learning and enjoying Otto’s class.. He’s a good teacher and supplies really good course materials.. Looking forward to following your class-work


    • Helen C says:

      Hello, Lynne, it is a great workshop. Thanks for telling me about it. Did you guys get video feedback too? We don’t see Otto in the video, only our pictures. It is easier to follow his comment; I like it a lot.
      For some reason, I have missed a couple of your posts. It seems like I shouldn’t rely on WP Reader to bring all the new posts to me. Or I was out of town? I haven’t figure it out yet. Good thing I checked today.
      Have a good evening. Helen


  6. suyashchopra says:

    Very Interesting and informative post. Thanks for sharing and will look forward for more lessons 🙂


  7. carol1945 says:

    OH, Helen, thank you ever so much for sharing your experience. Last year I took a class called “Everyone Can Draw”, and the teacher had us draw just the contour of objects without looking at them. A great way to learn the concept. A contour photograph must be very difficult. I would like to take the photography class you are describing, but I am not ready for it at this point. Keep sharing with us. Carol


    • Helen C says:

      Carol, I am glad you like this post. I totally understand you have to “feel” ready before you sign up for a workshop. I am that way too. Ever since Lynne told me about this workshop, I started preparing for it (get myself mentally ready, and also learn more about myself as a photographer… etc.) And finally, I “feel” I could take it. Ha.
      Good for you for taking that “Everyone Can Draw” class. I took one similar class many years ago. I remember I was very nervous. 😉 Helen


  8. Dalo 2013 says:

    This is so cool, and I couldn’t imagine someone better to learn from than Otto…it is demanding but such a great place to learn and grow. Cheers!


    • Helen C says:

      Otto is a wonderful teacher! I actually like taking e-workshop because it gives me a lot of time to digest and do my assignment. The only minor problem is that sometime it’s hard to ask question in writing (because I didn’t know my question well enough to write it down 😉
      Thanks. Helen


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