Color photograph of a forest scene using a multi-exposure technique.

Finding Your Artwork: unbelievably simple truths about art making

Wherein I share my youthful ignorance and what I (finally) understood about art making. One of the biggest sources of consternation for art school students (and young artists generally) is the need to “find your work”. Finding your artwork is art school speak for, “what should my art be about?”. Alternate versions of this include: “finding your voice”, “finding your style”, and “finding your niche”. It’s a declarative statement about the content, and the subject, and the form of your work. It’s your succinct response to the prompt that you’ll hear again and again… “Tell me about your work.” Young artists … >>

Image with the text "The Greatest Camera in the World" superimposed over a photograph of several camera arranged on a white background.

Revealed: the greatest camera in the world

Film or digital? Small, medium, or large format? Leica? Hasselblad? Canon? Nikon? Discover the definitive answer, once and for all. Photographers are a weird bunch–they can be strangely tribal about the tools they use. Having worked at multiple camera stores in my early life, I’ve been privy to numerous, completely unnecessary arguments about Canon vs. Nikon, or Kodak film vs. Fuji Film. I never really understood the motivations behind these arguments, as I wanted to own all the cameras and to use all the types of film. Maybe because photography is expensive, people want to feel good about their choices? … >>

Black and white photograph of a field at sunset. In the midground, a thicket on the left balances a stand of trees on the right. Fog is just beginning to appear.

Overcoming inertia: how to kickstart your art making practice

Everything starts somewhere. Here’s a few starts to consider. It’s been often said that starting is the hardest thing. Overcoming inertia, getting the ball rolling, making the first mark–this can be hard. Isn’t not-doing something so much easier than doing it? You can always do it tomorrow, after all. Not doing means you don’t have to think, you don’t have to commit, you don’t have to expend energy. I’m not sure it’s always true. To paraphrase a statement attributed to Mark Twain, “Starting is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I’ve done it thousands of times.” Of … >>

A mocked up photograph of an issue of Viewfinder by StartPhoto magazine sitting on a table. Next to the book is a glass with flowers, a cup of tea, and a camera.

🚀 It’s the start of something new.

Introducing Viewfinder by StartPhoto, an email newsletter about art making, photography, and reigniting creativity. Hi, I’m Ron ‘RonJohn’ Johnson, the creator of StartPhoto. I’m writing this newsletter/blog/podcast (whatever it ends up being) for you. And to be honest, I’m making it for myself, too, because I have needed, at one point or another, all the things I plan to share with you. I’m still figuring out Viewfinder as I go. To use a phrase that comes up a lot in my life, “I’m flying the plane while still building it”. Viewfinder might end up being highly personal, but hopefully not … >>

Photograph of half empty coffee cup and used spoon sitting on top of a newspaper.

Finding inspiration in the everyday: still life photography

Photography is an art form that enables us to capture the beauty of the world around us, and still life photography is no exception. It offers the opportunity to create art out of everyday objects, using composition, lighting, color, and other techniques to tell a story and convey emotion. In this article, we will explore the art of photographic storytelling in still life photography, with a focus on finding inspiration in the mundane, creating dynamic compositions, playing with light and color, exploring textures, and using props to create visual interest and coherence. Still life photography provides a unique challenge to … >>

A photograph of a caucasian man wearing red knit cap in dark room

Capturing emotion, meaning, and revealing truth

Photography is an art form that allows us to capture a moment in time, freeze it, and convey a message or emotion through an image. As photographers, we have the power to tell stories through our photographs and communicate our perspective on the world. This is the essence of photographic storytelling, a powerful tool that can bring attention to important issues, inspire change, and move people emotionally. But how do we create compelling photographic narratives that convey emotion and meaning? What are the key elements that make a successful visual story? In this article, we will explore the art of … >>

Low-key photograph of sand dunes.

On the edge of darkness: mastering low key photography

Low key photography is a powerful technique that allows photographers to create moody, dramatic images that play with light and shadow. By using a combination of careful lighting, creative composition, and post-processing techniques, photographers can create stunning images that capture the viewer’s attention and imagination. In this article, we will explore the world of low key photography in more detail. We will provide 10 tips and techniques for capturing stunning low key images, including advice on equipment, subjects, lighting, and post-processing. 1. Understand the basics of low key photography Low key photography is a technique that involves the use of … >>

A perfectly aligned disciplinary formation of cypresses under a red sky and reflected by water in its lower part. Infrared photography allows changing colors giving a surreal look to any photo.

Unlock the surreal world of infrared photography

Infrared photography is a unique and fascinating approach to capturing the world around us. Unlike traditional photography, infrared photography involves capturing light that is not visible to the naked eye. This creates a surreal and dreamy effect that can be used to capture a wide range of subjects. From landscapes to architecture and even people, infrared photography provides a creative and artistic way to explore the world around us. To capture infrared images, specialized equipment and techniques are required. Most cameras need to be modified to capture infrared light, and specialized infrared filters are used to block visible light and … >>

Photograph of a snow capped mountain under gray clouds, lit by an orange and purple glow.

The beauty of nature: capturing landscapes in creative ways

Nature is one of the most awe-inspiring subjects for landscape photography. From sweeping vistas to intimate details, the natural world offers endless opportunities for creativity and exploration. But capturing the beauty of nature in a photograph can be challenging. In this article, we will explore 12 tips and techniques for creative landscape photography. 1. Plan your shot Before you head out into the field, take some time to plan your shot. Research the location and the weather conditions. Look for interesting features such as leading lines, patterns, and textures. Consider the time of day and the direction of the light. … >>

Grayscale Photo of Person Wearing Black Pants Walking Across Posts.

Dramatic images: the astonishing interplay of light and shadow

The interplay between light and shadow can make or break a photograph. A well-placed shadow or a beam of light can turn an otherwise ordinary scene into something dramatic and visually stunning. In this article, we will explore the art of using light and shadow to create compelling photographs. We will cover 10 tips and techniques that will help you elevate your photography to the next level. 1. Understanding light Before we dive into using light and shadow to create dramatic photographs, it is important to understand the nature of light. Light travels in straight lines and illuminates everything in … >>