Friday, May 29, 2009

Photography Lessons

Eggs, c. 1967

I did not have the benefit of formal photography or art training. When I first became interested in photography, I read everything I could find and looked at every picture I could see. Two pieces of advice stuck with me. The first was that you really couldn't reach your stride as a photographer until you'd shot 50,000 pictures. The second was that anyone could learn most anything you needed to know about lighting by making photographs of eggs.

It would take some time to hit the 50,000 picture mark. (I'm not even sure if I've hit it yet, forty years later.) But while on the road to that goal I could at least set up a tabletop studio in my bedroom using poster board, a single incandescent light bulb and three eggs and learn something about lighting. I photographed every imaginable permutation of these three eggs. I arranged them in rows, in a circle, end-to-end and stacked. I shot them from overhead, underneath and from every imaginable horizontal perspective. I was too naive to have any artistic intention other than to explore the potential for light falling on curved surfaces. I was using a hand-held meter, knew absolutely nothing about white balance and was using an old Kodak camera with a fixed lens I'd bought with money saved cutting grass for neighbors.


  1. What a wonderful photo. I could somewhat relate to what you wrote here, as I feel the same way trying to learn about watercolors, but I have a very long way to go before I hit that 50,000 mark, I think. Your photos are beautiful.

  2. ps
    Eggs! What a great idea. I have practiced painting them, but never even remotely thought about them for photography, and they're perfect subjects.