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Manifesto for Photography

Updated: Apr 29, 2022

The art and science of Image-Making

Authentic photographers are artists who use the camera as a wand to blend their artistic eye with technical know-how to capture snapshots in time. Photography is a visual language that expresses their imagination, beauty, emotions, and time. As the advertising executive Fred R. Barnard said, "One Look Is Worth a Thousand Words.”

Brian Smale has photographed some of the world's leading businessmen and women, scientists, inventors, and politicians. He has had assignments for magazines such as Fortune, BusinessWeek, Forbes, Fast Company, Esquire, GQ, Rolling Stone, and Spin. His commercial clients include Microsoft, Panasonic, Boeing, Fuji, and Seattle Children's Hospital.

The harsh truth of the camera eyes.

The manifesto for creative photography is:

1 Capture the essence of the subject.

Understand what your subject is, the purpose behind the picture, and how and where it will be used to do what. Then blend the art and science of your craft with aesthetics to create engaging, memorable, and brand-positioned outputs.

"The purpose of a photography assignment is to capture the essence of the subject and make it memorable. With editorial assignments, you tend to get a description of the personality and story. I then start plotting out the shoot by researching and familiarizing myself with the subject. If it is simply a portrait that is needed, I'll try to get an idea of what possibilities exist for relevant situations or locations to shoot in. If it is an abstract concept that needs to be conveyed, then I will start to think about things that may be important to the subject, such as objects, tools, lighting, composition, or some other visual device, and try to incorporate them into the photo."

2 BE True to Yourself.

Be authentic, live in the moment with conviction and confidence, and always stay true to yourself.

"If you try to predict what somebody else is going to want to see, you're just going to end up cranking out stuff that somebody else could do."

3 Excellence in CRAFTSMANSHIP.

Be deeply committed to and focused on continuously honing one’s craft through quality and completeness to the last detail by maintaining pride in the process to deliver outputs with technical know how and are aesthetically sound.

"A lot of it has to do with practice, and like all crafts, you have to know how to apply your tools, be comfortable with your equipment and what software can do to help enable the right outcome."

4 Make It Iconic.

Creation is not imitation! Reject conventions, constantly analyze, and question and challenge the status quo by providing an alternative and bring it to life by following your own path.

"There are some pictures that you just can't forget, like Bob Gruen’s picture of John Lennon with the New York City t-shirt. The unforgettable images from the Vietnam war of the soldier being executed with a pistol, or of the little girl who has just been hit by napalm, running towards the camera. These are images that are etched in popular culture, and in your mind, forever because they capture the essence of a horrifying moment that can never be unseen."


5 Don't Let the Future Leave You Behind.

Technology has democratized and changed the role of photography in society, by broadening creativity, accelerated experimentation, and made it accessible and affordable to anyone with a camera phone. Enabling people to capture images anywhere, anytime, and be able to send images to family and friends through text messaging, sharing it online, and allowing people to review and edit images almost instantly, and distribute them across many platforms, internet, social media channels at global scale. However, this is not in the same realm or league as a professional photographer, who understands the science, such as composition, lighting, and the art of photography. Photography is a language that communicates through visual objects and elements instead of words that connects emotionally to the chords of our hearts and expands our imagination.

"The digital revolution has had a phenomenal impact, and my pictures are better for it because of the instant feedback and how it liberates you to experiment and get results quicker. There's a great deal more forgiveness with digital than traditional film because you had to be very technically savvy, combined with how time-consuming and costly it was."

Brian Smale self-portrait

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Instagram: @briansmale


Roy Sharples

Founder and CEO of Unknown Origins, a creative studio on a mission to save the world from unoriginality by unleashing the power of creativity. Author of "Creativity Without Frontiers: How to make the invisible visible by lighting the way into the future."

Photography by Brian Smale

Attitude. Imagination. Execution.

Unknown Origins. All rights reserved © copyright 2021

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