20 Steps- An Exercise in Seeing

My Story.

When I was in college I participated in two summer photography programs called The Calumet Institutes.  I was majoring in photography at the time, and since I worked in the University Gallery too, I had the inside scoop on what positions were available.  The first summer I did modeling.  I figured that I could get some nice pictures and eavesdrop on the conversations of the paying participants.  It worked.  I heard some awesome advice and stories from some of the best people in the business.  I also had fake wind blown into my hair, or looked like this:

National Geographic anyone?

National Geographic anyone?

or this:

lets not wake her…she could be sleeping...

lets not wake her…she could be sleeping…

Thank God the modeling only lasted one summer.  I didn’t think I would survive after the laughing that just happened over here when I found these.

The next summer I was a personal assistant to the photographers. That was a much better gig, lemme tell ya. I was responsible to help them with everything from coffee to itinerary planning.  I got to hear Dennis Keeley talk about what it was like to photograph Sarah McLachlan’s newest album cover, or how Joni Mitchell was a total diva during her photo shoot (Darn! I like her, too!)

One of the instructors told us about this exercises that kept him “fresh”.  He called it “20 Steps”.  Now, keep in mind that this was still in the age of film photography, so some of this project will need to be tweaked. Anywho-the exercise was to take one roll of film, 36 exposures, and start by taking one picture from right where you were standing. You could zoom or not, you just had to take a picture. Then, you were to walk 20 steps and take another picture.  This process went on until you were finished shooting the entire roll.

I decided to try the process myself, and was quite surprised at what happened.  About 5 shots in I became MUCH more focused on “getting the next shot”.  Each picture got better and better.

About 5 years ago my family and I were winter vacationing in Ocean City, MD and decided to do a family art contest: 20 steps, digital style.  Recently, I found the images on my computer and thought I would share them.  Now, keep in mind that some of these images were taken by my nephews (who were 11 and 9 at the time).  I think they will be amazing photographers someday, since they are already better than me. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Copy of DSC_0325

Copy of DSC_0227






And the WINNER was Gavin, my awesome 9 year old nephew:


No wonder he won, he already had that artist swagger.


4 thoughts on “20 Steps- An Exercise in Seeing

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