Write to Adam

 
Adam Marelli at Shunloin Temple in Kyoto, Japan.  © Steve Richards.

Adam Marelli at Shunkoin Temple in Kyoto, Japan. © Steve Richards.

Who is Adam Marelli?

BIOGRAPHY

Artist & photographer, Adam Marelli is based in New York City.  His projects explore the ancient crafts of building, maestros in their workshops, and designs handed down through generations.  Whether he is photographing a master carpenter, dodging fish at a local market, or at the drafting table, he is in constant search of the threads which bind our cultures together.

When he noticed a shortage of design instruction geared towards photographers, he opened the doors of his studio, where he teaches the lost lessons of Classical Design.  The success of his methods saw him named as the Leica Akademie’s Resident Photographer in New York City.  His advice is regularly featured in the “Ask the Contractor” column in the New York Times, he was a lecturer at New York University, and continues to pursue projects at home and abroad.  His writings on photography appear in the New York Times, Forbes, GQ, the Gothamist, Leica Blog, Origin Magazine and Phaidon Press.  Invisible Exports gallery represents his work in New York City.

Take advantage of Adam’s unique perspective on photography and travel on the workshop of your choice.  See why he believes that Success is not Accidental.

If you have ANY questions about photography, workshops, or need a good recommendation on a bottle of wine email him at adam@adammarelliphoto.com.

PORTFOLIO SITE:  www.adammarelli.com

Adam Marelli interviewed by Leica.

Adam Marelli interviewed by Leica.

To read more about his approach to art & photography please have a look at these interviews:

 

 Posted by at 9:17 pm

  122 Responses to “Write to Adam”

  1. Hi Adam
    I saw your post this morning on Facebook. I was looking through your website. Do you mostly focus on Travel photographers or cameras? Or you’re looking for particular photos? I have a ton of wildlife photos from Africa…in the hundreds. I was wondering if you would be interested. Hope to hear back from you. Nick Klepesch

  2. Hi,

    First of all, thank you so much for your website, I’m really fond of your work , specially the review of photographs. Maybe you know where I can find a simple tutorial that explains the basics of painting. I would like to find information about the lines you draw on the photographs.

    Then, I would like to submit you my work, I’m mainly a street photographer, would you mind to have a look ? Waybe you will find some good advices to give to me, I’m practising intensively since 1 year, I followed classes about photography history, so I used what the best photographers did, but I have no background of design or painting techniques, I’m sure I have to acquire some.

    Thank you so much for your help :

    http://www.facebook.com/izaac.photography

    More specifically, to restraint, a triathlon report :
    http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.263507063671063.87925.196455163709587&type=1

    Or this exhibition :
    http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.258671280821308.87153.196455163709587&type=1

  3. Adam,

    Finding your website today has been a special treat. I especially like your analysis on photos.

    In 2010 I accidentally “drowned” my Canon A570 digital camera in the bottom of a canoe in Florida. I needed another digital camera for a trip to NYC. That led me to camera store with used cameras, to acquiring over 70 old film cameras, and to creating my own website.

    Cameras, both digital and film, seem to have a life of their own. If you have a few minutes, visit my http://whatisafilmcamera.com/ and leave a comment.

    Richard Kraneis
    Chicago, IL USA

  4. Hi Adam, how’s it going.

    Great website with some very insightful stories.
    If you find the time I would like some of your feedback on my own work: http://www.klaasbonsema.com

    Cheers,
    Klaas

  5. Hi Adam,
    I would like to get ur valuable comments on my album

    Please check and leave ur valuable feedback

  6. Hi Adam,

    I thought I would send you a letter of thanks for the great work you put into this blog! I am self-teaching myself the art and technique of photography, and, so far, this blog has been my best textbook. Thanks again for taking the time to create intelligent and insightful posts… I can’t express enough the value I have received from your work here.

    p.s. your composition analysis posts are my favorite :)

    • Hi Collin,

      Thank you for the kind letter. I trust the site is giving you some new approaches to photography. There is a complex visual history which is at our disposal, though many photographers dont know how to use the lessons of earlier artists.

      What I hope is that people, regardless of their level of education, start to understand the visual language. When this happens the world of opportunities becomes enormous. The misconception that education limits the creative abilities is nothing more than an art school scam.

      There will be more posts coming soon. If you have any questions feel free to leave comments or email me.

      Best-Adam

  7. [...] Adam Marelli è fotografo e scultore e vive a New Work, attualmente scrive articoli per il New York Times Style Magazine e il Leica Camera Blog. Del suo sito web ho trovato particolarmente interessanti le rubriche Perspectives e Great Compositions, dove Marelli fa un’ottima lettura fotografica di maestri come Cartier-Bresson, spiegando in modo molto chiaro il suo uso sapiente di linee, diagonali e intersezioni per creare profondità di campo e donare intensità ad un’immagine. [...]

  8. I loved the pix on facebook called ‘No Animals Harmed’ – (just realized they weren’t even real animals) but they were truly ‘portraits’ in every sense of the word. Definitely a touch of the European masters…

  9. Hi Adam,
    I know you are a busy man, but I am waiting to long for your next piece since the last one! :-)
    I decided to send you this mail, – you have really started to awaken a new feeling in me to do more/better studying of other artist.
    In my search I came on this You Tube video on the life of Alfred Stieglitz. What an interesting video.
    “Alfred Stieglitz: The Eloquent Eye (1999)”
    Regards
    Dan

    http://streamlightphotography.blogspot.com

    • Hi Dan,

      Sorry for the delay in the response, indeed the days are quite full. But I really enjoy hearing feedback from you. We can have an active dialogue with great artists, whether they are dead or alive. Their work is a leaving, breathing form which was presumably left for our use.

      I think of looking at art like sitting down with an wise, old man. Sure he may seem off beat and weird, but he has useful things to tell us. We would be doing ourselves a great service to just sit down and listen. In fact listening to them is so much easier because we never need to think of a response. We can simply enjoy the advice.

      All artists left clues inside of their work as advice to future generations. When they were growing up, they had older artists influence their best efforts and no matter how cranky or psychotic they were, their art leaves useful advice behind. Some were kind enough to write their thoughts down.

      Enjoy your study. Today I am working on an article on the connection of Jean Francois Millet’s “Peasants” and the world of photographing farmers and peasants around the world. I hope you enjoy the piece.

      More later.

      Kindly-Adam

  10. hello Adam. i’ve reading your site for about a year now. inspiring lessons and amazing ways to show the basics of design have spoken to me directly like no other book or professor i’ve had. i’ve been taken pictures for a about three years now. since the beginning i was drawn to the classics. total cliches like H.C.B., Erwitt, Salgado, Gibson (which i would love for you to do an article). and many others. of course, i have to put in my own creativity into the mix. but i feel that many many photographers today, a lot professionals, teachers at big schools. ignore these basic clues that others have mastered. the thing about braking the rules disturbs me soo much. you can’t just break them and then say “…because i wanted to be different”. so, i try to integrate each of your lessons as fast as i can. searching searching. looking feeling listening. so to make this short i would be honored if you fund it in your time to stop by my website and have a look. and if anything catches your interest, even if it is to show in a leason how wrong it is, don’t even hesitate. i believe that yes, we should be loyal to what we like and our style and all of that. but opinions can only shape you. specially if they come from somebody with your knowledge and background.
    thanks again and keep up the good work

    • Hey Jorge,

      Thank you for writing. I am headed out the studio at the moment, but I will get back to you tomorrow.

      Best-Adam

  11. Dear Adam,

    Your HCB “A Surrealist Photographer”- it’s got my attention. The series is shining a light on how HCB’s work came about – you see, I often thought HCB could not have just been so good straight from the start.

    Just like all of us, HCB needed a base and body of knowledge – a springboard for innovation and ideas, and a reference point to keep himself grounded and centered. HCB’s just happened to be better.

    I’m beginning to see how it happened, I hope.

    Thank you for taking the time to help us all understand.

    • Hey Sean,

      Very pleased that the articles have opened some new connections for you. HCB was the most involved formalist exercise that street photography has ever seen. There is much we can all learn from his work.

      Enjoy the spring board, take a big dive and join me at a workshop if you would like to go deeper. The articles simply scratch the surface.

      Best-Adam

      • Hi Adam,

        Like Sean above I’m beginning to see how HCB put things together. I’ve ordered the Barnstone DVDs and after watching the first one I’m learning to see things in terms of shape, including people…seeing the “big” picture. Thanks for the work you do, hopefully we’ll meet in a workshop someday.

        all the best

        Keith

        • Hey Keith,

          Happy to hear that you and Sean are off on a new path. Myron Barnstone’s DVD’s will lay some essential foundations for your photography. Just think of the bottle as a human being and the entire DVD series will have profound effects on your images.

          Looking forward to seeing you in a workshop sometime soon. Where are you located? I am starting to collect locations from people who are interested in attending.

          Best-Adam

  12. Reading your well-written, informative and intuitive text has taught me more about looking, seeing and making photos than all the years I have been hanging around at other photographic sites.

    Your love for HCB is touching and I sympathize. Having seen his shots printed by a dedicated guy IRL in the HCB museum in Paris I started to realize what kind of a genius he was. You encouraged me to try to frame the picture in advance and just wait for the subject to appear…like a predator does and some insects as well.

    Your articles or Caravaggio and John Singer Sargent were excellent.
    I linked your pages on the Canon POTN site which unfortunately is dominated by the ‘unpackers’ who take their pictures to show how sharp their ‘lense’ is.

    I started my hobby in the 70s and never really developed into a master. Some people are born with it, others can read instructions and follow them…the engineer types such as I.

    When I was young, I admired W. Eugene Smith and tried to reproduce his work in my bathroom.
    You can imagine how successful I was. But 35 years later, I still haven’t given up!
    What I lack in talent, I gain in persistance.

    Could you consider looking with more depth into W. Eugene Smith’s work as well once you run out of subjects?

    I still have a hard time holding my tears back looking at some of his powerful shots, the Minamata series, for example. I feel that Sebastiao Salgado owes a lot to him.

    I wish you all the best, health and stuff, and I will attack your articles about the Manifesto.
    (they deserve multiple readings, each one being a rare treat)

    martti_s aka Garbidz, the Reunion Island, Tropic of Capricorn

    • Hi Martti,

      Thank you for the thoughtful response. Its always nice to receive such a thorough response.

      I am happy that the article on HCB and the Master Artists are opening up new options for your images. Seeing is a skill we learn. The common mistake that I find with photographers is that they think people either “have it or they dont.” Its a myth. Even the venerable HCB said that it “needs to be cultivated.”

      Not sure I can say much for the canon site. Again I will defer to HCB who said “The amateur is tyrannized by details.” Lens sharpness certainly falls into that category.

      Eugene Smith was another outstanding example, who does not get enough credit these days. His work is outstanding in may respects. Too bad he was such a difficult character. There is no need to give up on the quest towards great work. ANYONE can learn to take excellent pictures. Remember HCB and Smith both started out as ordinary little boys who grew up to learn a craft.

      Enjoy the Manifesto, I look forward to reading your comments.

      Wishing you too the very best.

      Kindly-Adam

      ps do you live on Reunion Island? If so that is awesome.

  13. Hi Adam,

    I work in NYC. Just want to know where you get your B&W film processed and scanned. Currently, I send my film to a lab in California and have the negatives scanned via a Noritsu QSS-32 commercial type scanner I heard the drum scans from the Imacon are incredible.

    Thanks,

    Frank G

    • Hey Frank,

      I take my film to Color House on Lafayette Street in Soho/Nolita area. Imacon scans are done at Photo Village. The quality is outstanding.

      While I love film, the M9 has made life much more about shooting and less about cleaning dust spots. : )

      Best-Adam

  14. Hi dear Adam .I am a student from Toronto,and i was wondering about the special offer that it just has ended on march27th. Is there any more special price($250 -full lessons,10) offer for the cds cost,and if I buy one at a time can i get the CDs as well or it is just either one optional,and as it is mentioned on Barnston’s website: free shipment.Thank you for ur support.

  15. Hi dear Adam .I am a student from Toronto,and i was wondering about the special offer that it just has ended on may 27th. Is there any more special price($250 -full lessons,10) offer for the cds cost,and if I buy one at a time can i get the CDs as well or it is just either one optional,and as it is mentioned on Barnston’s website: free shipment.Thank you for ur support.

    • Hey Aras,
      Not sure what deal you are referring to, but I can assure you the cost of the DVDs is absolutely worth it. For any student they will be the best $350 you could spend. That is coming from someone who spent $100K on university. You can buy the classes one at a time, for $35, but I would recommend buying the set. You will watch them over and over again.
      Any questions, doubts or concerns let me know.
      Best-Adam

  16. Hi Adam,

    So glad I came across your site. Amazing content! do you have an RSS feed I can subscribe to?

    Cheers,
    Dan.

    • Hi Daniel,

      Happy to hear you discovered the site. There is an RSS feed on the right hand panels. Scroll about half way down till you see the box “FIND ME”. The last Icon is the RSS.

      Enjoy.

      Adam

  17. Hey, Adam,

    I just wanted to say that your writing and photos are amazing. For me, as an amateur – photographer, your “instructions” and advices mean a lot to me. I already subscribed a few moments ago to your posts on Facebook, so I can follow you there also.
    Hope to see and learn more from you, dude!

    Greetings from Croatia!

    • Hey Darko,

      Great to know that the writings are helping your photography.

      There will be more on the way, and if I make it to Croatia I will let you know. Looks like an incredible country.

      Best-Adam

  18. Hi Adam,

    I like your website very much. One of the few that treat photography as an artform and not so much about gear. Whenever you’re planning to do a Berlin workshop, please let me know.
    Frank

    • Hey Frank,

      I am going to put up an update with Berlin as a Spring option for 2013. Probably some time around March-May. As the other Berliner’s chime in, we will get it finalized.

      I will be looking forward to this.

      Best-Adam

  19. … Like your philosophy- just came upon your website while looking for a link between Bresson & Freud, (for a book I ‘m trying to write.) which I knew had to be there…
    Wish I could do the workshop this weekend, but can’t.
    When’s the next one in New York? Please tell me costs.
    Hope to hear soon,
    Lee

  20. Hi Adam.
    Enjoyed your lecture today at B&H.. Great tips…
    Thanks.
    Jeff

    • Hey Jeff,

      Thank you for the kind words. I am very happy that you enjoyed the talk. Sorry we were cut short, there was a whole additional section to explore.

      Next time.

      Keep in touch.

      Best-Adam

  21. Any plans to bring a workshop to London?

  22. Done.

    Let’s get Adam back to London.

    #applesandpears

    • London. I have spread the word far and wide via twitter and flickr. Fingers crossed.

    • London. I have spread the word far and wide via twitter and flickr. Fingers crossed.

      • Hey Matt,

        Thank you for spreading the word. I will be updating the workshop page with new dates in the next two weeks.

        Keep an eye out for the dates. Looking forward to having you there!

        Best-Adam

      • Thank you Matt!

        We will be over there sooner than later. It will give me an opportunity to pick up a Harris Tweed suit too!

        Best-Adam

  23. Hi

    I came across your site while looking up Henri Cartier-Bresson and geometry. While a lot of the educational stuff on here is still way beyond my comprehension, it’s great to find a site where someone tries to explain photography as discipline rather than a fad. I’m already looking more closely before I take a picture for things like diagonals and dark/light contrasts, etc.

    I may well check out the DVDs you recommend as well, but bearing in mind that outside of the realm of photography I have no artistic skill at all (i.e. I can’t draw or paint for the life of me) I wonder if even the most basic lessons will go whooshing over my head.

    Do you think that learning more about the fundamentals of art will make that significant a difference to a person’s photography?

    Thanks for a very interesting site and hope you’ll have the time to reply.

    Best regards

    Mark

    • Hey Mark,

      First let me welcome you to the site, I hope it proves to be a useful and accessible website for you. The unique thing about learning the visual language is that once you “see it”, once someone points out what you can look for…nothing ever looks the same. You dont need to memorize it. It is simply absorbed into the way you see.

      Myron Barnstone’s Drawing DVD’s are the best resource for anyone looking for greater study of design, photography, or art. He has students as young as 13 in his class. You will gain a tremendous understanding from the series and considering its about 18 hours long, you will have plenty of material to review. Then afterwards, if you decide to read books like “Elements of Dynamic Symmetry,” the text will make more sense to you.

      If you have any questions feel free to email me.

      Best-Adam

      • Thanks for the response!

        I decided to have a look at the first lecture, just to get an idea. However, when I pay through paypal it redirects me to a twelve minute clip of what is meant to be a 1 hour 48 minute lecture.

        Any idea what might be happening?

        Thanks

        Mark

        • Just to add – problem solved, got a very quick and helpful reply from the website designer. Looking forward to checking out the video!

  24. Thank you very much for your visit to Fukuju breweries today.
    I had great time with you!
    I stil remember a feel of Leica. It’s so special!

    • Minatomoto,
      It was a pleasure to spend time at Shishinkan and I look forward to finding your sake here in NYC.

      Glad I was able to share some images and cameras with you!

      Take care of Eric for us.

      Best-Adam

  25. Hi Adam

    Just a follow-up on the videos you recommended. I have the first two, and I’ve watched the first one. While I’ve picked up some interesting stuff, it’s obviously geared more towards artists than photographers per se. Not a complaint, just an observation.

    I gather that there are ten videos in all. Would you know which videos are the most useful in learning the ideas behind composition? It was thanks to your article on Bresson and geometry that I got interested in this, but the first video doesn’t seem to address it in the same way.

    Put alternatively, I want to learn about what makes a picture geometrically interesting, but I’m not interested in learning how to draw one. I’m more interested in how to see the elements of a scene through a camera and then apply that knowledge.

    Thanks again for your time and advice!

    • Hey Mark,

      Video 7 & 10 are most geared towards a photographer, but I will be perfectly honest…if you skip everything in between, they will only make partial sense. The material is the most coherent collection of thoughts on design that I have ever encountered. While it might seem like a lot of work, if you dont understand how draftsmen build up an image, its not really possible to understand the challenges of photography. This is why, at least in my opinion, why so many photographers struggle. They dont quite understand what they are up against.

      But dont take my word for it. Give it a try and see what you come up with.

      Best of Luck.

      Adam

  26. Hi Adam,

    Do you have any details yet on the workshop in Matera, Italy next May?

    regards,
    Michael

    • Hi Michael,

      Yes, I can send you the details about Matera. The workshops for 2013 are going to be small, with a maximum of 6 people.

      Best–Adam

  27. Hi Adam.
    What a great blog!
    I really like the photographs of Italy (I love it there).
    I especially like Matera…I have been many times as my mother is from Matera.
    I have also been to Ferrandina, and my dad was from Pisticci (very close to there).
    Please let me know about the workshop to Matera, I am sure it will be fantastic.
    All the best,
    Anna

    • Hi Anna,

      Thank you for the kind words, happy to hear you are enjoying the blog.

      Matera is a fantastic city, your mother must have an interesting perspective on it, since things appear to have changed considerable in the last few decades.

      What did you think of Ferrandina? My grandmother was born there.

      And funny enough, the restaurant across from our apartment in NYC is called Pisticci. They have a picture of Matera inside. Which I now know, though I imagine most people think its a photo from Pisticci. I look forward to exploring the area more.

      I will send you information about the Matera workshop, there is only one space left.

      Best-Adam

  28. Hi Adam,

    This article may interest you:

    Henri Cartier-Bresson: From a higher reality to a respect for reality

    http://wsws.org/en/articles/1999/11/c-b-n05.html

    Sean

    • Hey Sean,

      It was a great read, thanks for passing that along. Lhote knew it was all because of drawing, even if HCB never became a great draftsman…the foundations made a world of a difference.

      Best-Adam

  29. Adam,

    Thanks for the great website.

    Like so many new photographers, I am trying to break my gear addiction and focus on the aestic aspects of image making. To that end, I came to your site via Eric Kim’s street photography site and was blown away by your 5/20/2011 discussion of design and composition used by Alfred Eisenstaedt. I decided to follow your suggestion and purchased the Barnstone videos to learn how to start seeing this way.

    Will you be conducting any workshops in the US (preferably East Coast) in 2013? I would like some guidance in putting the principles you discuss in your articles into practice and there is no substitute for feedback from an accomplished photographer like yourself. I’m sure you would get a great turnout if you scheduled something in the NYC/PHL/DC area.

    Thanks again for sharing your insights and thoughts with us through your website. I look for to updates in 2013.

    David

    • Hi David,

      Thank you for writing to me. Its great to hear that you are making headway with the gear addiction. I assure you, if that habit is never broken, the results are nothing but a closet of outdated boxes. You are on the right path to focus on your images.

      How are you finding Myron’s DVD’s. If you photograph street scenes, simply think of his bottles as people and the DVDs will come together for you.

      I will be conducting the Leica Akademie weekend workshops in NYC during 2013. At the moment, there are no plans for me at the DC Leica shop or any workshops on my own. Send an email to my assistant at theworkshop@adammarelliphoto.com and we can start a list. If the list fills we can run the workshop. I’ve been wanting to come to Phili recently.

      Best–Adam

  30. Hello Adam!

    I just saw your video on classical art for photographers through B and H. I thought it was fantastic and honestly watched it three times! Yes really! I have been looking for this type of insight into photography for a long long time. So happy it was centered around how to make images and understand “the visual language” and not my lens is sharper than yours nonsense. I am a business major and have never taken any art classes or studied it beyond liking certain painters.

    My only formal training in photography ( besides reading countless books on it) is through John Free workshops he offers here in Los Angeles. You kinda remind me of him in certain ways( like how he says what do I know about cameras! All I know is how how to use them to make great photographs! Only thing he ever told me about cameras is to use an slr. He blames the rangefinder for a lot of Bresson’s work being out of focus) and I would love to attend one of your workshops if you ever came to Los Angeles!

    Anyways I just wanted to say thank you for the video and it was a revelation to me! All I have ever heard heard other photographers, besides John, say was to use the rule of thirds and nothing more. John told me to look at the actual work of Cartier Bresson, Robert Frank and W. Eugene Smith. Look at each photograph for like 10 to 15 minutes to learn how to take better shots. This did help me very much but you dissecting Bresson’s work verbally was fantastic!

    Thank you Adam and I hope one day you would consider coming to Los Angels to offer a workshop!

    Oh one last thing! In your video you talked about Garry Winogrand. John told me he was just used the machine gun approach to photography. Threw the camera around clicking away without ever really thinking about what he was doing. I guess he took about 10 rolls of film a day! Yes he did get some nice shots, but his ratio of successful images was very very low.

    Thanks again and hope you come to Los Angeles one day!

    • Hi Gary,

      I wanted to thank you for writing to me. Its always interesting to learn how the design instruction reaches photographers.

      Photography must be one of the most widely practiced and poorly taught arts in the world. There are piles of useful lessons that come from art, which no one is discussing. Whenever I hear someone say “I could not draw, thats why I went to photography” I laugh. Drawing is the DNA of all art. And even if you come from business, the lessons are accessible. Happy to hear that you are well on your way to improving your images.

      In terms of Winogrand, I agree with John. His stuff looks thoughtless and unconsidered. Simply attending art school, as he did, does not actually mean that he learned anything. There are a bunch of photographers like him out there. It does the greater photographic community a huge disservice. Its almost as bad as the guys who say that they roll out of bed and make good pictures. This is another joke. It all takes work.

      HCB, Capa, and Smith will do you well. Frank was more of a numbers guy. Many, many sloppy mistakes. His American’s series is famous, but it kills me. If he paid closer attention to the frame lines, that body of work could have been so much better. But that is for him to deal with. For us, we make an effort to push ourselves further.

      Not sure if there are any plans for a west coast workshop at the moment. But if something comes up I will let you know.
      The destination workshops always feel more exciting to me.

      Be well.

      Best-Adam

      • Thank you for writing me back Adam! Yes let me know if you ever do come out to California. You know I have heard over and over photographers say that great light is the key to a great photograph. You find the light and you will find the image. Whenever I ask them, but then why does HCB say that good light is only the perfume to a great image? They would would reply that was just his style to photography.

        Now in my brief period of formal photography workshops ( have read books for like 10 years but no actual formal lessons till 2012) I have been taught that there is really no style. That if you go and try to invent or manufacture your own “style” just to let people know it was your photograph this will hurt more than help. You will miss shots trying to stick that style into photographs and you will get so caught up on your style it will limit you as a photographer. No matter how much other more experienced and successful photographers tell you your photographs are not good, you fight the criticism because its your style. A style can just become a repeated mistake.

        Now that I have seen your video and read some of your articles I am convinced HCB and you are correct! The structure of the image has to come first no matter what the light is!

        On a side note I was actually considering getting a medium format camera that shoots a square image. Do you feel the 6×6 format is easier to compose on versus a rectangle shape of 35mm, 645, or 6×7?

        Very nice talking to you Adam and thanks for sharing your knowledge!

      • Hi Adam,

        “In terms of Winogrand, I agree with John. His stuff looks thoughtless and unconsidered. Simply attending art school, as he did, does not actually mean that he learned anything. There are a bunch of photographers like him out there. It does the greater photographic community a huge disservice. Its almost as bad as the guys who say that they roll out of bed and make good pictures. This is another joke. It all takes work.”

        I don’t find that his photographs look thoughtless and unconsidered. There are some pictures that don’t appeal to me, but his great pictures look to me not just the result of thought and consideration but moreover the result of a rare level of intelligence, emotion, individuality, and inspiration.

        And I don’t know anyone who ever argued that the mere fact that Winogrand went to art school gives his photography any merit.

        As to disservice, I think it is quite the opposite. And if there are photographers who have been misguided from looking at Winogrand’s pictures, then that is not Winogrand’s responsibility. I don’t feel that an artist needs to make his work with the objective of avoiding that other people may poorly emulate his work. This applies to Cartier-Bresson as well. It is not Cartier-Bresson’s responsibility that so many people made so many rote, dry, boring, uninspired, impersonal imitations of his work.

        And Winogrand’s pictures give quite the opposite impression that photography does not take a lot of work.

        Cornelius H

      • “Frank was more of a numbers guy. Many, many sloppy mistakes. His American’s series is famous, but it kills me. If he paid closer attention to the frame lines, that body of work could have been so much better.” – Gary

        Perhaps if he had been so much concerned with whatever framing improvements you have in mind, then he would not have created photographs with the immediacy, deliberate sense of discomfort, and meaning that he did.

        Cornelius H

    • Hi Gary,

      “John [Free] told me [that Winogrand] [...] just used the machine gun approach to photography. Threw the camera around clicking away without ever really thinking about what he was doing.”

      I know for a fact that it is false that Winogrand did not think about what he was doing. I know this from having heard Winogrand lecture, from speaking with him, from several times having seen him shoot, from studying his pictures, and from having looked over many hundreds of his contact sheets.

      Of course, no one knows that there were not certain instances in which he was not thinking while shooting, but there is a body of his work in which it is plainly clear that there is thought behind his picture taking.

      Of course, I don’t begrudge anyone from having whatever criteria by which they view Winogrand’s work poorly, but it is false to claim that he was not thinking about what he was doing. Moreover, Winogrand’s work has inspired the admiration of many people, including educated photographers, critics, and fans of photography, and this is work that generally does not pander to a glib popular aesthetic, so we should suspect that this admiration is earned and not produced on the aesthetic cheap.

      If one’s evaluation of photography is predominately a preoccupation with certain formal considerations, then one might or might not appreciate Winogrand. But if one’s evaluation includes not only composition but also composition (even if unconventional) along with a number of other aspects that are crucial to the beauty (even if it is odd, idiosyncratic, oblique, or neurotic), emotion, excitement, adventure, originality, and sense of discovery in photography, then a great deal of Winogrand’s work is at a pinnacle. It is a real accomplishment to have such a fiercely personal and uncompromising approach to photography and yet communicate so much to so many people.

      It’s remarkable to me that certain detractors of Winogrand have not themselves made pictures even close to approaching the fascination, originality, beauty, compositional audaciousness, excitement, wit, energy, emotion, and objective record of having moved and inspired people that Winogrand’s great pictures have. I don’t claim that someone has to have any photographic accomplishment at all just to critique photography; anyone, including non-photographers, may come up with a sound critique; but when people who do represent themselves as accomplished photographers trash talk Winogrand, then, yeah, I say: What body of work do they have that achieves the qualities of Winogrand I just mentioned?

      “I guess he took about 10 rolls of film a day!”

      It’s not unusual for photographers in the field to shoot ten rolls a day. And a photographer’s picture taking may very well be served by shooting many frames as action is rapidly changing in front of the photographer. And every photographer has a different approach and different objectives that may demand shooting in different quantities. And especially some photographers are concerned with experimentation and/or with putting themselves into such fast moving situations that pictures need to be taken in quick succession.

      “Yes he did get some nice shots, but his ratio of successful images was very very low.”

      And what difference does that make? You’re welcome to your own praxis of evaluation, but for myself, I don’t view photography in terms of such ratios. It makes sense in, say, baseball to care about, say, a batter’s ratio of at bats to hits (though, as I understand there are better statistical measures than batting average), but I don’t see this as a consideration in evaluating a work of art.

      On the other hand, for whatever reasons (at the very least, to save film costs) a photographer himself may wish to use methods that give him a better good picture to exposure made ratio, and so, Winogrand may not serve as a model in this way. But that is a separate matter from evaluation of the pictures themselves.

      Cornelius H

  31. Hi Adam,

    This may interest you [ ... if you are not already aware of it ...]:

    HENRI CARTIER-BRESSON: “Henri Cartier-Bresson’s Last Decisive Moment” (2004)

    Link:
    http://www.americansuburbx.com/2010/11/theory-henri-cartier-bressons-last.html

    Regards
    Sean

  32. Hi Adam,

    This academic paper may interest you:

    LIKENESS IN HENRI CARTIER-BRESSON’S PHOTO-PORTRAITS

    by Shana Cooperstein
    Bachelor of Philosophy, University of Pittsburgh, 2011
    Submitted to the Faculty of the School of Arts and Sciences in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Philosophy University of Pittsburgh 2011

    Reference link:
    http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=theory%20behind%20bresson%20images&source=web&cd=41&ved=0CC4QFjAAOCg&url=http%3A%2F%2Fd-scholarship.pitt.edu%2F7394%2F1%2FCoopersteinS_etd2011.pdf&ei=4RTxUKz-OLC4iAfJ24CoBg&usg=AFQjCNH2xE4kRyW6dIEXfoxXhN2unE330A

    Regards
    Sean

  33. Nice vid on ”bridging the gap” very educational! thank you!!!

  34. Hello Adam I just watch your video poste by B&H Photo and recomended by Eric Kim. It was really a thrill to see and hear you explain some basics about composition plus you really come across in explaining the principles which I often overlook, it makes me want to look over again at my work to analise it in detail. And your work is tremendous. I use both film and digital, mostly 35mm but also medium format. My residence is Guatemala,Guatemala-Central America. So as you might suspect there is lot of oportunities for culture photography, the term I like to use is Visual Antropology. Is no coincidense I met you is for bringing my work to another level.

    Regards

    Ernesto Asturias

    • Hi Ernesto,

      Nice to hear from you. I was in Guatemala a few years ago and absolutely loved it. You have a ton of cultural activity to shoot down there. Hopefully with the BH video you can take full advantage of the opportunities.

      There is a tremendous depth to the study of design, which is bound to have a positive impact on your images. Wanted to wish you the best of luck with it!

      Kindly-Adam

      ps I miss the banana bread and coffee in Antigua. Some of the best I have ever had!

  35. Adam, saw your lecture on utube from a link on APUG. I thought it was excellent with wise educational advice for photographers. With regard to the Capa quote “If you aren’t good enough, it’s because you aren’t close enough.” You indicated this as meaning physical distance. I have sometimes wondered if Robert Capa meant close in an emotional way?

    • Thanks Clive,

      Glad you enjoyed it.

      In terms of Capa, think he meant to say that we should not shoot with 300mm lenses. We should be a part of the activity, even if that is a little risky. The emotional involvement is all debatable. The option should be there, but getting emotionally involved is not obligatory to a good image.

      On the flip side the current street trend of Gilden-esque in your face pictures is, as far as I am concerned, a misunderstanding of the quote. And it is creating piles or terrible photographs.
      Just because we can see up the nose of a subject does not in any way equate to it being a good picture, unless of course your audience is a bunch of Eye-Nose and Throat doctors.

      Best-Adam

      • “Just because we can see up the nose of a subject does not in any way equate to it being a good picture [...]

        Of course that’s right. On the other hand (and with no opinion of Gilden intended here), just because the subject is shot close, from below, and with a wide angle does not entail that it is not a good picture.

        Cornelius H

  36. Hi Adam,
    Let me begin by saying I’m OLD and recently retired and altogether bored with this new found freedom. My 36 year career was exciting and worthwhile but I let it consume all my time. I did however enjoy bits and pieces of photography until the digital revolution began and I quit. Two weeks ago I bought my first digital camera and I’m loving it and am trying to condense what probably should be years of learning into months. I think I have watched every BHPhoto video produced concerning technique and composition. Yours touched me and I’m curious as to what the costs are for your workshops or training at your NY studio. Oh, one more thing I am only a wee bit better than the average point and shooter so I have a long road to hoe with not that much time.
    Thanks for the wonderful video. It was an eye opener.

    Sincerely,
    Gary

    • Hi Gary,

      Congratulations on retirement. I am sure many readers here would love to have more time than they know what to do with.

      With your new found freedom, I am pleased that you picked up a digital camera and are now filling your time with the new endeavor.
      By studying Design you will eventually discover limitless options with your camera. Even if I had 100 retirements ahead of me,
      I dont think I would even scratch the surface of things I would love to explore. The field is that rich.

      I will send you an email about the workshops and One on One studio sessions here in NYC. We will find something that works for you.

      Glad you enjoyed the BH video.

      Best-Adam

  37. Hi Adam…

    I found you through Eric Kim’s site and I’ve so enjoyed your essays. I’d like to subscribe for updates but when I clicked on the RSS feed in the FIND ME box I only get an xml page, not an option to subscribe.

    I thought you’d like to know and thanks for creating good content.

    Regards, John

  38. hi adam. Strange question. Ive been researching bresson,The boy with the bottle. I came across your site and i finally decided to ask a question.
    I have had this print for twenty years plus. I understand that they might be signed or stamped but have never checked. I have never wanted to disturb the frame.
    After a lot of search into buying another print of it, i noticed how hard it was to get one. My question revolves around the value for insurance, any help would be welcome.

    Hope this mail finds you well.

    Simon.

    • Hi Simon,

      Take it to Christies or Sothebys for it to be appraised. You will need that for insurance purposes too. They can open the frame, usually not a big deal. You can look at the embossed stamp or signature. They opened one for me a few months back. The black frame came apart with a few screws. While I am not positive, HCB frames are not the object of value. If you have a 16th century dutch frame its a different story. If not you could also take it to a gallery. They are not obligated to help you, but if you explain your situation they might be willing to sort you out.

      Take a picture of the signature and stamp when you open it up.

      Best-Adam

  39. Was leafing through Szarkowski’s Looking at Photographs and thought you might like what he said about Cartier-Bresson:

    “Without minimizing the value of his work as reportage, it must be said that Cartier-Bresson’s photographs are revered by other photographers because they are beautiful. They possess grace, balance, surprise, economy, tension, and visual wit: the quality of a good gymnast or dance. Or the qualities of good pictures.”

    Szarskowski’s writing displays these same characteristics.

    • Hey Ben,

      Great quote, thanks for sharing with everyone here. For those of you who are not familiar with John Szarkowski, give him a look. He was the director of Photography at the Museum of Modern Art from 1962–1991. He wrote extensively on photography and offers a wonderful perspective on many photographers.

      Best-Adam

  40. Hello, Adam,

    I have been following your blog for a while and to be honest for quite some time I have been wondering whether you would agree to have a look at some of my images (call it “random portfolio”) and comment in brief? : )
    Here is a link: http://www.rangefinderforum.com/rffgallery/slideshow.php?puid=26582
    Thank you!

    • Hey Anton,

      It might be better for you to do a portfolio review with me. Drop me an email and we can set it up. A bunch of scattered brief comments will not do you much good, but if we comb through them you will walk away seeing things very differently.

      Best-Adam

  41. I loved your PetaPixel article and was VERY dissapointed it was pulled. Do you happen to have it posted anywhere else? I would love to share it with some of my photographer friends and it was SO helpful to me.
    Thanks much,
    Lionel

    • Hi Lionel,

      The article is still here on my site, give it a look if you would like to read it.

      Best-Adam

  42. Hey Adam, I’ve got to say your b and h event space on art movements in photography is my favourite b and h presentation, closely followed by Jeff cable’s discussions.
    I just missed the petapixel post and are disappointed I missed it.
    If there is anyway I can have a read of the article, any info would be appreciated.
    Love your photography and style, hope your Italian is progressing well!
    Cheers,

    Tim,
    Geelong Australia.

    • Hi Tim,

      Thanks for the kind words on the presentation and the italian : )

      Happy that it spoke to you. The article is currently offline but should be up sometime in the future.

      Best-Adam

  43. Hello Adam, My post is like a Photocopy of the one mention before. First heard about you Thru the discussions in the B&H store and been a fan ever since. Also miss the post by Eric Kim and will like to know if I could have access to it. Maybe after learning Italian you can try spanish it will become easier to you.

    Thanks,
    Ernesto Asturias
    Guatemala,Guatemala
    Central America

    • Hi Ernesto,

      Nice to hear from you and thank you for the kind words. No need to apologize for the photocopy comment. There are many many photographers who are looking for more information about design and I am happy to provide it.

      The article on HCB is temporarily offline, but should be up again within a few weeks.

      Keep posted.

      Best-Adam

      where are you from in Guatemala? I went through Antigua some time ago and loved it.

  44. Hi Adam,
    Looking forward to hearing you talk tomorrow at B and H. Will you be doing any NYC workshops in the near future. Thanks.

    All the best,
    Jo-Anne

    Your photography is fantastic. love it

  45. Hi Adam!
    Loving your talks @ B&H (via youtube).
    Greetings from Italy.
    Ciao
    –m

    • Hi Mark,

      Glad to hear you enjoyed the B+H video.
      Looking forward to being back in Italy in September.
      Maybe we will see you at a workshop in the future.

      Best-Adam

  46. Great video on talking to strangers. I do have a question.. I am on the “left” coast (California) in Orange County. I have had a terrible time getting someone to use for modeling. Seems everybody is afraid of something I don’t have any idea of….any advice?

    • Hi Ed,

      Glad you enjoyed the video on talking to strangers. Tomorrow I will be posting an article that answers your question.

      Best-Adam

  47. Wow! THX,THX,THx

    I really, really like what you are doing. Also your work is awe inspiring. Hope I can learn enough to even come close. Again thanks for sharing such good info with us…

    • Hi Ed,

      Nice to hear from you…glad that my work is a source of inspiration for you.
      With proper training ANYONE can get there…that means you too!

      Best-Adam

  48. Hi Adam,

    Your site is superb – truly a cornucopia of rich and wonderful information; it’s among the most engrossing photography websites I’ve found.

    I have two questions about a cornerstone principle you mentioned, and then a followup. At http://www.adammarelliphoto.com/2011/05/your-shot-003/ you wrote:

    “The way to compose with the 1:1.5 rectangle is to use overlapping Root 4 rectangles.”

    1) Regarding, e.g., the the illustration captioned “Geometry breakdown for a 1:1.5 rectangle using a Root 4, upper portion. Knut Skjærven”, why do you omit the diagonal that would run from the upper left corner to the bottom right corner of the leftmost rectangle (mutatis mutandis on the other side)?

    In this case, on the left, it would be be the diagonal that runs from the upper left corner to the running girl’s left hand. (I don’t ascribe any particular importance to her left hand; I’m merely making clear which omitted diagonal I mean.)

    Put another way, why are there three diagonal emanating from the lower left corner but only two diagonals emanating from the upper left corner (mutatis mutandis on the other side)?

    2) Why do omit the two diagonals that cross the middle square? In the first of the illustrations captioned “Beijing, China 1948. Henri Cartier-Bresson”, the baroque diagonal in the middle square would be almost nearly right on top of the thickest of the diagonal shadows on the wall.

    3) This technique of overlapping root 4 diagonals would seem to be difficult for a beginner, as it requires imagining simultaneously a complicated (at least for a beginner) diagram for each of two different root 2 rectangles. So what more simple technique would you recommend as a startup for exploiting the energy and depth of diagonals in the 1:1.5 format?

    Thanks for any light you can shed on this.

    Cornelius H

    • Hi Cornelius,

      Could you send me 10 images by Winogrand that demonstrate that he was anything but clinically blind?

      Since a camera handles reproduction, the skills a photographer need are drastically reduced in comparison to a draftsmen. Winogrand as far as i have ever seen is like a random accident. the low hit rate is because eventually anyone is bound to get a hit.

      Best-Adam

      • Adam, in other posts I wrote about Winogrand, but I don’t see what that has to do with my questions in the post to which you’ve responded.

        I think your elucidation with regard to my questions would help to making more clear your structural analyses.

        But, as to Winogrand, first, I did comment in another post about the notion of hit rates. As to specific photograph, rather than making lists, I think the discussion would be served better by starting with, say, two examples:

        1. Hard Rally, New York (the one with “Impeach The Red Mayor”, the flag waving protester, and the little girl).

        2. Hollywood Boulevard (the one with the guy in the wheel chair, the three women, the V-shaped shadows, and the kid at the bus bench).

        Cornelius H

        • Cornelius,

          As I had suspected both images are complete failures (no subjects, zero design, terrible value assessment). Winogrand could not see. Thats about all the words I would like to devote to him. If he does something for you…then I would encourage you to continue enjoying him, but for someone who comes from an art background he is like using a thermometer as a compass, utterly worthless.

          In terms of your other questions, yes they can be explained. Send me an email and I will answer one of them with a short video. This is the type of material that I teach in the workshops and one on ones because it takes a bit of time and examples to properly illustrate.

          Here is a PDF on dynamic symmetry which will introduce, at length some of the concepts. But my advice is to have someone walk you through them. Otherwise it ends up being rather challenging. Not to say you need to study it with me. If there is some teacher locally that can give you this material, work with them. Most importantly you have someone who can take you through the material quickly and efficiently.

          http://www.rivier.edu/journal/ROAJ-Spring-2011/J507-Willard-Hall-book-review.pdf

          Best-Adam

          ps your older comment came into my inbox yesterday, which is why I responded to them in this order. Not sure what accounts for that, website server maybe.

  49. As i suggested before, send some images.
    Adam

  50. Hi Adam, do you have any plans of coming to Chennai, INDIA.

  51. Thanks Adam, Please drop a line to my email address when you have plans to visit Chennai.

  52. Salam

    I am Ahmad from Sudan .. I just want to say that I enjoy the lectures you did for B&H
    specially the Bridging The Gap lecture. you are amazing and I have learned a lot from you.

    so Shukran .. Thank You

    • Hi Ahmad,

      Nice to hear from you all the way from Sudan. You are too kind. Glad to hear the videos are proving helpful for you.

      Best-Adam

  53. Adam, I cannot find the small Arca-Swiss base plate. Where did you get yours. I use the Leica ball head also.
    Jerry

  54. Just saw your talk on B&H videos on street photography.

    It was fantastic!. I have re watched it several times..

    Love your presentation skills..

    Be well

    • Hi Pedro,

      You are too kind. Happy that you enjoyed the video. Welcome to the site and I trust that you will enjoy the other articles.

      Best-Adam

  55. Hi Adam,

    Loved the B&H video on street photography man! Very educational yet entertaining way of approaching the subject!

    I’m a photography student from Belgium. I’ll be in NYC for a few months very shortly, I’d love to meet/visit you if there’s an opportunity!

    Shoot’em!

  56. Wonderful items from you, man. I’ve remember
    your stuff previous to and you are simply extremely excellent.
    I really like what you’ve acquired here, really like
    what you are stating and the best way during which you assert it.

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    it wise. I cant wait to learn much more from you. That is actually a great web site.

  57. Hi Adam,

    I “discovered” you via Eric Kim blog and you have opened my eyes to the underlying art in photography. I must say I’m very impressed and you made me realized there’s a language to art & photography that can be learn much like music and engineering (I’m an engineer by training). I’m a street photography newbie and really keen to go further into it. Recently I started my website keribang.com/photography. Do take a look if you have the time.

    I read your posts on composition and watched your Bridging the Gap B&H video – excellent video BTW !. Right now I’m digesting your suggested Myron Barnstone free videos and will buy his video series once I have the fund. I’m also saving to get the one-on-one online session with you, hopefully by Feb this year (our Malaysian currency is much lower than USD so need a bit of saving).

    So I would like again to thank you for enlightening me about the language of art and how it apply to photography. You got me walking around with one eye squinting & the other close :-)

    Cheers.

  58. A link to your “Bridging the Gap” video was posted to UglyHedgehog.com this morning. I watched it twice.

    I took art appreciation in college. Loved it. I took photography in college. Loved it, too. Why I never connected the two is making me stomp in tiny circles. As soon as I can see straight, I’m going to take some pictures–with my new artistic eye.

    Thank you, Adam!

    • Hi Deborah,

      Thank you for the link back, you are too kind…glad you enjoyed it (twice no less.)

      The reason you probably never connected the two was not your fault. Art history is normally taught as a specialist class of how to put college students to sleep in dark rooms. The odds that they engage you and actually teach you how to apply it to something else would be too much to ask of most universities.

      Enjoy your new eyes! Im sure they look lovely on you.

      Best-Adam

  59. Hey, bud. I haven’t been Facebook in a while – email me so I can email you. What’s another good way for me to get in contact with you? My cell is 973-865-8792

  60. Hi Adam,

    I enjoyed your talks on B&H videos enormously and would like to follow your suggestions to purchase The Barnstone Method’s on-line drawing courses. However, when I used the link on your homepage to process the purchase I received a message saying the store is unavailable. Is the link still working?

    Thanks and kind regards,
    Pepper

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