I don’t remember Sheri as I can easily see 40 or 50 students a week teaching for Henry’s School of Imaging but she sent me an e-mail a couple of days ago thanking me for her class which she took a couple of months ago. One thing she specifically thanked me for was being so encouraging. Not to blow my own horn here too loudly but if there’s one thing I like to be is encouraging. I believe that every student who makes the least amount of effort can learn to take much better photographs after some basic instruction and practice.
I also know for a fact that any student who is truly interested in improving their photography and takes the time to study and practice can end up taking radically better photographs than they ever thought possible. And, to a large extend, it doesn’t matter what camera they own.
Back when I first started teaching for Henry’s I started every class by holding up three photographs. They were black and white landscapes and were obviously shot by somebody who knew what they were doing with a camera. Everybody thought the images were fabulous and then came the kicker: They were all shot by an artist in London, England who uses a pinhole camera. That’s right. These photos were essentially shot by somebody who used a camera no more sophisticated that a shoebox with a pinhole in one end and a piece of film in the other. My point was the camera, any camera, was essentially just a light-tight box and it was the photographer who took the picture, not the camera. It only recorded the image.
So let’s get to Sheri. Here’s a relatively new photographer who wants to see how far she can go as a professional photographer. And while I rarely evaluate student’s work or their websites (and Sheri didn’t ask for this) I think it’s worth your time to go and check out Despar Designs and see for yourself.
Here’s a young photographer learning her craft. Her images of people are fabulous. Sheri has a creative eye and she can see a great image when it presents itself. Now some of the images don’t work for me but most do. And remember I can say exactly the very same thing about my own work. If I were to offer any suggestions it would be to keep the very best images (like the ones on the introductory page) and not show any of the images that don’t support your type of photography or the level of excellence you’ve reached in your very best images. This, by the way, is good advice for any new photographer. We have to kill off our babies (not literally) and show only our very best images of which Sheri has lots. The fastest way to become known as an excellent photographer is to stick to one theme or genre and shoot the heck out of it. Sheri’s claim to fame so far is the intimate photo of the person that captures personality to the exclusion of all else. This is good stuff. There’s no clutter in Sheri’s images and few photographic tricks or obvious techniques. What Sheri does really well is shot deceptively simple, well composed and well lit images that emphasis the subject.
So where is Sheri going with her photography? In my opinion, she’s going as far as she wants to go. She’s got the chops. She knows what she needs to learn to improve and she’s already got a working portfolio of her images online. And, after sending me that wonderful email (and every teacher loves to get these kind words every once in awhile), she’s one of my favourite students and is fast becoming one of my favourite new photographers.
I am predicting we’re going to hear and see a lot more from this emerging new professional.