Anastasia Taylor Lind and Sebastian Meyer held a ‘Photographic Storytelling Masterclass’ at The Guardian Building last Friday.

Keen to improve my practice I attended, despite the particularly high price tag of £39. However the Q&A aspect of it did provide value as it was entirely open. There were a whole lot of photographers there keen to ask questions about everything, from the Kit these photographers used to questions about travelling abroad for projects such as using fixers, networking and access.

For my benefit, as much as that of my subscribers, my notes are attached here, they would otherwise become more rubbish in my room. Before reading them its important to highlight that loads of the questions asked – and some of the responses i have heard from amny sources – so i’m not going to write everything! Anyway here goes:

Sebastian Meyer:

Background: American. Self taught – interned at Magnum. NY based. Worked on a paper in Manchester – did his first project in his spare time on Manchester canals.

He uses the journalist ‘standard’:  “Who, what (subject), Where (location), When (time), Why (the hard part). Says to “Ask yourself ‘why am I doing this?’ and affirm the answer to yourself all the time”. SM also states that the devil (or God if you prefer) IS indeed in the detail. Using small elements to suggest whats going on is often as or more effective than being explicit. (see the condoms in Manchester Canals Series).

On access to street (relating to questions to all projects – Manchester Canal. Addiction in London, Libya):

  • GIVE your subjects prints if they want them, encourage people to BE subjects in your photos
  • Be direct – “Can i take your photo” “I want to take your picture”
  • Take your time with people, get to know the moment  you want, invest in people – let your subject(s) relax.
  • “Remember what I said about details”
  • Dont hide your camera – show people why you’re there.
  • Be patient
  • Mix people, architecture and objects for a rounded story
  • Don’t be po faced – keep your sense of humour (‘soapy tit wank’ graffiti picture)
  • Relating to above: Show the breadth of emotion: Humour / Sadness / Violence / horror / relationships etc
  • A benefit of using a film camera is that people can’t see the image held in a camera on a screen. Including police if you’re photographing drug users.

SM was asked about taking beautiful pictures of terrible things. He responds instantly “Would you have me take a terrible picture?”.

Anastasia Taylor Lind:

Background: BA & Later an MA – won Guardian Award for this image. Starting her career – uses funding awards to start projects. Mostly Med format Bronica and now Hassleblad. Represented by VII after entering a mentoring program with them. Says only other mentoring program like this she knows of is with Getty.

ATL says she never uses release froms ever. (Does not do commercial?). Paraphrasing ATL: “The subjects verbal release is enough and obvious because of the type of portraits i do”.

  • Use a shooting list: Her recent marriage project needed: Marriage, Maternity, Birth Children growing up all represented
  • Research extensively (the larger part of her work) – refer to SM “what am i trying to say?
  • Says she can now recognise her style when shooting instead of just when editing.
  • Like the very still effect Med Format has. Also used 5D (I?)

Recently Seen Exhibitions:

Photographers Galley: Tom Wood – Men and Women
ood collection of reportage / street / street portrait – Seperated by gender. Watch how he handles men and women differently in his images – I wonder if he realised at the time or after. I loved this – and its free

National Portrait Gallery: Taylor Wessing Prize
Great to see ex-classmate Clare Smarts picture from her Bosnian Series exhibited! 🙂 Worth the £2 entry

Roxy – Borough High street – Portrait Salon
As organised by the very informed Carole Evans – one night event, of unseen Taylor Wessing entries.

Natural History Museum – Wildlife Photographer of the Year
Things like this are subject to some snobbery by some sections of the photographic community. But as ever the quality of images is amazing – expensive though!