My 2011 effort to become a better photographer in 52 assignments.

About Don Giannatti

This is info from Don Giannatti

Today we start our 52 weeks, 52 Assignments Project. We’ll just refer to it as “52?. An assignment every week with discussion, critiques, development reviews and more. If you are wanting to make the break and go into professional photography, this integrated, synergistic approach may be just the thing you need.

The first post of the new year, the first post of 52, and we must set some ground rules:

This website exists for you, the reader. There are many sites out there that will teach you how to put a light on an umbrella stand, set an exposure, and make a shot. There are sites that will open your eyes to the joys of composition, strobes, natural light, Photoshop and how to make a beauty dish out of a potted plant (sans the plant).

I have no intention of trying to double down on that effort, rather I will do what I think I do best. Mentor. And I am going to try a little experiment here on the web. We will try this for a year, see how it goes and adjust next December.

In college I took a course called “Integrated Musicianship” at ASU. Under the guidance of composer Ronald LoPresti, a small group of hand picked students met each morning at 8AM and we held class until 1PM. 5 hours a day devoted to the integrated study of music. We conducted, analyzed, composed and performed music in such a way that it was totally natural in its relationship to our studies. We saw and worked with the entire scope – from tonality to orchestration to presentation. Nothing was separate, all was synergistic.

As it should be.

As it will be for us as we pursue the development of a professional position in commercial photography. Whether you want to make it a full time career or just do some extra commercial work to add to your income, this is a serious foray into the heart of the beast.

We will take the same approach to the work we do as photographers. We are going to immerse ourselves in the process and the production, with plenty of discussion of the techniques.

For this incursion into the workings of a professional photographer, we will need certain items and certain mindsets.

Let me say right at the start that I am not a wedding photographer, nor do I do much direct to consumer photography. I doubt we will be doing much in those particular genres, but I would expect that a lot of what we do will make the leap over to that work as well.

Our mindset is one of discovery, adventure, a willingness to work beyond the bounds, and a desire to make images that are the best they can possibly be.


Due: On or before Monday, January 17, 2011

Assignment Number One: Mission Statement #1
January 3, 2011

1. Write a short vision statement that explains to yourself what you want to shoot and how you want to shoot it.

2. Do a photo in or around your home or current place of residence to illustrate your vision statement.

What do you want to do photographically? Tell us with a single paragraph what you want to be able to do with your images. Tell us what you do without telling us you are a photographer. Accompany that message with a single image taken around your home. Inside or out, make a photograph that adds insight into the mission statement you will be writing.

Don’t get overly flowery, just write down what you want to do.

“I am a story teller. I illustrate the times in which we live and try to put it into a context of meaning with images of ordinary people in extraordinary situations. I strive to enlighten each and every one of us by portraiture that reveals more than the surface reflects.”

“I want to capture that moment between reality and fantasy with my images. A tiny sliver of time caught for eternity, and worthy of notice, is what I work toward with every image I take.”

“Chicks in stripper heels, wrapped in caution tape on railroad tracks…”

Well, maybe not that one.

We will revisit the mission statement toward the end of the year. Maybe things have changed, and maybe they will remain the same.

January Assignment Forecast:
(Note: These are assignment dates, not due dates)

Assignment Number Two: Portrait of a Stranger
January 10, 2011
We will be doing an on location shot of a stranger. More to come next week, there will be parameters and instructions.

Assignment Number Three: Still Life
January 17, 2011
We will also be discussing how to bill this type of work.

Assignment Number Four: Environment and the Weather
January 24, 2011
Three shots for a magazine story.

Special 5th Monday Quick Assignment to be announced.
January 31, 2011

Storage Area for work:

We will be looking at work and critiquing it. At this point we will be working through the Lighting Essentials page at FaceBook, but for those who will be doing some of the premium stuff with us, you will need an online storage area. My favorite right now is It is free for 2 gigs which will be fine for what we are doing. Even if you are not planning on doing the full program with us, you should most definitely have a DropBox account. Click here and sign up (I get a few megabytes added to my account if you sign up through me).

Currently we have a Lighting Essentials Flickr page where we can share images, and some new things are in the works, but for now we will use it. Click here to become a member (free of course) and we will use the forum until we get the FaceBook page ready.


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