Coach Session: Come Fly With Me / The Vision/ 01 / Elisabeth Maurice

Come Fly With Me. @ Knut Skjærven

Once again welcome to Elisabeth Maurice.

I hope it is ok that I use your first names since we virtually will see quite a lot of each other in the weeks to come. Not all the time, but some of the time.

As I have suggested several times this toolbox, and the coach process in particular, is not only about taking pictures. We will also dwell upon things like creativity and project handling. So consider yourself being part of a project. Your very own photographic project. You are just about to start it.


The first thing I kindly would ask you to do is to define your project. One way to do that is two develop and write down your vision of it. You may not know that you have such a vision, but you have. Being here as is already a partly execution of such a vision.

I will ask you to do this vision more precise and write it down. Literally on a piece of paper or, better, on this site. Here is the questions you are asked to answer:

What is your vision for your street photography for the next two years?

Having a vision saves you a lot of time, makes it possible for you to focus on your project, and indicates what sources you need to consult to get there. If you have a vision it is also much easier for you to review your images. Are they good executions of your visions are do they fall outside the focus area?

When you state your vision you state your dream. You overcome your first fears of flying. Like the young lady in the photograph above. Her vision was to make a good and interesting figure of herself flying in open air. See, even she had a vision. And she fulfilled it. Lucky I was there to record it.

Here is an maybe a more relevant and specific example of a vision. It is just an example and you have to take/make your own vision.

My Vision:

For the next two years I shall take street photographs from Paris in a style that reminds everybody of pictures shot by Henri Cartier-Bresson. (Example only).

Call your answer: My Vision.

My Mentors:

When you have written down your own vision I will ask you to point to (pointing to is a way of defining) one or two mentors for your project. Related to the vision above it would be natural to pick HCB as a mentor, but you have to find one or two mentors that you will use for the execution of your own vision.

Call your answer: My Mentor(s)

My Favourites: 

From the mentor’s portfolios of photographs, you will point to three to five images totally that are your absolute favourites. Of which you may want to say, hey, that is the type of picture I want to shoot.

Call your answer: My Favourites.

That is it for the first session. You don’t even have to pick up your camera. Just go right ahead with it. Deadline two weeks from today, or whenever you are ready.

Practical Information:

When you are ready, and remember all shooting later will be executions of your project vision, you will post the solution as comments to this post. Use the comment box below when you do. Please gather all the information in one comment: My Vision; My mentor(s), My Favourites and the links for mentor’s website and to favourite photographs.

NB: This post will eventually disappear from the stream of blog posts. Look at the tags and the categories I have used to find it again later.  You will be able to recover all posts by activating the relevant tags in the tag cloud, which you find in the blogroll.

Also, I have made a special page as a subpage to Street Academy where I will link all the posts in this coach event.

Good luck with it.

Copenhagen, August 30, 2012. All rights reserved.

Don’t mind the picture above. It is only a photograph :-).


No, we are not going to make a business plan but only use elements from such a plan. Having a vision is such an element. Here is a story to go with it: Since 2008 I have arranged annual photo summits in Berlin. The first two years I came back with 1500 plus images and when I started editing them I continuously asked myself: why have I taken this photograph? I loaded a few to the internet, printed none, and just let the rest be. In 2010 I said: End of that story and I made a plan (I did not write down a vision, though, but the results were the same). Since  I was in a city I might as well do street photography; since there were people all around, I might as well do people shooting; since street photography historically is in black and white I might as well do black and white. In July 201o I started Berlin Black and White. Is is still running, and when I go to Berlin now I am not spending days shooting roof tops, dead doves, architecture, and other nice but irrelevant stuff (irrelevant to the project, that is). Berlin Black and White was my first photo project ever. For me, having a vision worked really well.

So it will for you. I am very sure :-).


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  1. #1 by Knut Skjaerven on September 1, 2012 - 10:59 am

    (Copied and moved by blog author).

    It’s a great “mission” but it needs a lot of refection. I’ve been thinking about it since I read the post and need your help on this )). i love the photographs of all the classics HCB of course but also Brassaï, Walker Evans, Kertesz, Willy Ronis or William Klein. I think Ronis touches me particularly for his social approach and the fact that he concentrated on telling/showing life in a place he loved. There is also an other photograph I just discovered Mary Ellen Mark. She also photographed life around her in her neighbourghood. I think my project would be something around that – Parisians, in my area where I know them well. Their attitudes, their habits etc but I wish to widden the scope to other area of Paris I love too. I don’t know if that makes a good project at all… I probably need to dig futher before i can answer . I cannot certainly compare that to any classics. And I definitely need to read a lot about them )))).
    Your advice is deeply needed )))

    • #2 by Knut Skjaerven on September 1, 2012 - 11:59 am

      Elisabeth, thanks for this reflective answer. I like it a lot.

      The HCB vision was only meant as an example. Nothing more.

      I think that your suggestion of a vision for your own project is very sound indeed. I suggest that just proceed with it. I am really looking forward to see what comes out of this.

      This is going to be a learning experience for all of us. Not at least me .

      Have a very good weekend .


  2. #3 by Knut Skjaerven on September 1, 2012 - 11:53 am

    (Copied and moved by blog author).

    Still working on vision definition … I got so many questions… Regarding Black and white or Color for example. I like them both. I often don’t know which to choose they both have value. I love colors but sometimes B&W would enlighten the photograph and underline things. So that’s one point I cannot answer… Another question I have is regarding the mentors I mentionned. They have taken wonderful portraits but I really don’t know how they did. I am not able to take such photographs today even if I wish so should I take them as mentors for my project?

    • #4 by Knut Skjaerven on September 1, 2012 - 12:00 pm

      Elisabeth, I have now made “a vision post” for each of you to better separate the dialogs. I just moved both your comments to this new post.

      For further comments, please make them at this post that now carries your name in the headline .

      I will have a look at you questions a bit later.

      Have a good day.

    • #5 by Knut Skjaerven on September 1, 2012 - 12:09 pm

      Suggestions :-).

      1. There is no problem executing both black and white images under the same vision. That is entirely up to you.

      2. You are not going to copy the work of your mentor(s), but let yourself be inspired by their work. First and foremost by their style and attitude of photography.

      3. Maybe one day you will shoot even better than your mentor(s). Treat them with respect, but they are not gods.


  3. #6 by Elisabeth on September 1, 2012 - 12:05 pm

    I think my global vision would be something like capturing life instants around me. There is a movie called Called Smoke where the main caracters, Auggie (Harvey Keitel), takes one picture of people passing by his café every morning at the same hour. That is just wonderful. imagine the result over time. Just like you wrote your project on Berrlin is still going on. So I think for me it would be something like that. Capture life around me, happiness, sadness, funiness, odd things, people in situations that captivate me. That seems to very self-centered but I would like to consider it as a kind of journal to what I see around me.

    • #7 by Knut Skjaerven on September 1, 2012 - 12:12 pm

      I would say good :-).

      Now you need a mentor then and to point to a couple of images :-). So we all can SEE what you mean.

      Well done so far :-).

  4. #8 by Elisabeth on September 2, 2012 - 7:48 am

    Thanks a lot for your encouragements :-)!!!

    I would say I’m really classic in tastes. I will Pick-up Willy Ronis and HCB :-))).
    It’s pretty difficult to choose just one or two photographs of them only. I start with Willie Ronis here are those I would pick-up. I

    Le petit Parisien – 1952 – Crédit Photo: © Willy Ronis –,rw400/image.jpg . Very classical but so beautiful. This one embodies life and hapiness for me. I know he told that for this image he asked the boy to compose and took 3 shots but he could have taken it just like this.

    Paris, RER Châtelet-les-Halles, 1979 – © Photo Willy Ronis –
    This one is so funny. I just love it.

    For the sadness, and the social dimension here are 2 : & I could put more and more there :-))). But I really love those. Picturing hardness of life and the subjects being women makes me maybe feel even more concerned. The hooker beside the parking meter tells everything. And the woman selling papers at the crossing of lines with the cop behind… she’d better not move to much at that time :-)).

    And a last one…Summer holiday 1946 :

    I should stop otherwise, it will never end HCB after that …

  5. #9 by Tony Cearns on September 2, 2012 - 10:12 am

    Very instructive to pick Ronis, I think. His photography has such a big hinterland. Good luck.

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