Friday, July 25, 2008

Alternative F'ing Photography

Today, I was inspired.
Heading to Austin, I began to wonder what to expect in the workshop by John Michael and Dalisa Cooper. I had no idea, so I decided not to expect anything and simply go in with a clean slate and a new page to take notes.
Little did I know that I would meet the most fabulous artist I've ever met. I didn't really have to ask many questions- John's agenda was well-planned, easy to understand, and extremely easy to see. He had two large monitors so that we could see what he was doing, and showed us every little Photoshop hint from start to finish. I can easily see that my experience is nothing compared to his 20 years or so.
The most memorable moment during our workshop that gave me chill bumps was when John talked about the inspirations behind his anti-bridals. As an outside viewer of his site and blog, I had always assumed that John approached photo sessions as I and many other photographers do- they arrive, look around, and shoot what they see. Au contraire! John actually thinks up something that he wants to shoot, sketches it into a sketchbook, and saves the idea until he finds just the right location and people to make it work. For example, he referred to the "flaming bride" picture, his shocking signature piece that appears on the front page of his website, as "Joan of Arc." Later, he showed us a picture from his blog of a bride with an exaggerated picture of a large, long hairdo, and then showed us the inspiration for that photo- the bride of Frankenstein. I dare you, Google the bride of Frankenstein, and then go to the blog at
At that point, I realized just what kind of person of which I was in the presence, and what a privilege it was to be watching this person work. John makes a "roadmap" in his mind of the pictures before he even goes on the shoot. Unlike most photographers, he doesn't care about the beautiful, the soft, or the scenery. He has these amazing images in his head, waiting to be taken, much like an author has a story in his mind, waiting to be written.

Some of my favorite quotes from the day are as follows:
"I don't have to be the best granny smith apple. I'm a half-sized dirty orange. " John
"if you do something that your mind can't recognize as normal, that will stand out. Your mind has to pause on it. You can't ignore it. Your mind has to stop." John
"Use everyone else's ideas as what not to do." John

Photographers, try as you may, but John Michael Cooper with AltF Photography will never be topped. His mind is always sketching.


AllenAyres said...

You said a lot of what I was thinking yesterday - it was amazing to see the man behind the curtain moving those dials and pulling those levers. :)

Great to meet you yesterday, you're probably out living the inspiration. :)

- Allen

Eric Doggett said...

Great to meet you yesterday - thanks for coming out to the house! And great quotes that you remembered! I will write those down and keep them nearby!


Huyen Nhi said...

Hi Tara! It was a pleasure meeting you this past Friday.

I know you were interested in the Actions that John was using so I wanted to let you know they are on sale right now in case you wanted to pick some up.

Hope all is well!

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