“Take your phone out and clean your lens,” was the first advice Sharon Farmer, the first African-American woman to be hired as a White House photographer and the first African American and first female to be Director of the White House Photography office, gave to those gathered at the Alexandria Black History Museum for the "Better Photography for Picture Takers" session.
“Get closer, fill your frame with the subject,” directed George Tolbert, the first African American official U.S. Senate photographer. The dynamic photography duo filled the hour and half long session with photo tips, laughter, networking, and pure fun. Both are members of the Exposure Group, African –American Photographers Association
While each added their individual tidbits, they both added to the discussion on the “rule of 3” or having three areas that a viewer can focus on in one picture. This gives the picture more depth and ability to tell a more complete story.
In the process of explaining the rule, Farmer projected a picture onto the museum’s movie screen. The picture included the main subject, an intense singer, surrounded by a backup singer, and musical surroundings. Then, she asked participants to imagine the image as a headshot of the main singer and how much visual information the picture would lose. “If the picture was a close-up of the main singer, we would not have context,” she said.
As Farmer mingled with the group she added, “I was always amazed by the ladies who would use their I-phones to make sure their make-up was on right,” as she pointed out the many other features cell phones have to assist good image viewing and taking. “Measure,” she says, for example, “lets you decide the size of the image in which you are pointing.”
As participants took turns to showing off their images on the screen for Farmer and Tolbert to critique, Brandon Johnson told how he uses the Pro mode to take celebrity shots.
As participants took turns to showing off their images on the screen for Farmer and Tolbert to critique, Brandon Johnson told how he uses the Pro mode to take celebrity shots. “See what a cell phone can do,” critiqued Tolbert. Francesca Scott showed how she used apps to modify her pictures, while Farmer added that some of those functions are built into your cell phone.
Tolbert was glad that no one asked what type of camera he prefers. He added “the type of camera you use really does not matter.” Over the decades, the duo has used an array of camera types including film, digital, and now cell phone. However, Farmer added, “There are certain pictures that I could not have taken with a cell phone.”