March 9, 2018

I started a post a couple weeks ago as I started a two-week binge of photographing high school basketball games. I had been editing photos from February tournaments from the past decades and realizing the many shortcomings in the typical newspaper photographer (a slur) approach to basketball. The idea I took going into the first game is that I would create an algorithm for covering the games, a system that would maximize the odds for creating memorable work.

The initial algorithm didn’t survive the first game, and I will eventually finish that post with more detail. But building on the idea that there would be an algorithm for how to photograph a basketball game (what lenses you use depending on the score, time remaining, etc.) – I’m learning a ton from looking trough my work, photos that are both below and above average –

And thinking back to early in my career when it was easier to stand out visually – and people would say they could tell which photos in a mediocre small daily newspaper were mine.

This, then: Why not create a visual style guide? It’s something that is already wired into my approach, after years of professional experience. But how could you define, in writing and systems and equations, a way to photograph that produced the most interesting work?

For example, couldn’t you say that in photographing a

wait, not that,

couldn’t you work out a style

just like writers use the AP Style Guide to have standardized grammar and naming conventions, a photographer could take common situations and create an approach that was repeated and adhered to (while at the same time improved upon after each use).

Common situation: head shot or close portrait of single speaker, interview subject, etc.: Fill frame with face, lighting where possible, crop from top of head instead of chin.

“But everything would look the same.”

But if it was interesting, and excellent.

More on this coming, as it all processes.

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