Greg Heisler on Photography Techniques and Drawing Inspiration from Within

A couple of days ago, we featured a BTS video showing how portrait photographer Greg Heisler got a great Time magazine cover shot of Michael Phelps before the 2004 Olympics using some creative techniques and a lot of preparation.

In this video, part of the same Master Series, Heisler discusses photographic techniques and how they can actually mask your vision if you rely too heavily on them.

Here’s a short snippet from the video that describes some of Heisler’s views on technique and inspiration:

Techniques are like gloves, and you can wear different gloves for different occasions. But your actual vision is like your fingerprints, they don’t change. And if anything the techniques hide your fingerprints… what I’m trying to do is get enough stillness in the lake, so I can see my reflection…

There’s a lot of inspiration to be drawn from these 3 minutes and 47 seconds of video. So, if you’ve got the time, press play and enjoy!

(via Strobist)

  • Bob

    Nothing that I’ve not heard a million times before in any aspect of your life. ‘You are individual, only you can create something unique that is personal to you that you can class as YOUR work…blah blah blah!
    Never heard of this guy until now so I checked out his website….not blown away at all, in fact very underwhelmed. Found it difficult to see his individuality in the work, am I missing something?

  • Joakim

    If I get what he talked about you shouldn’t find a ‘red line’ all over his work, like you do with lots of other photographers.

  • Albi Kl

    Have to agree that most of his work seems to lack substance though it’s apparent there are those that appreciate his style (such as Time magazine). His work under the headings ‘dynamic’ and ‘contextual’ however appear to have a message or a story behind them. Something the viewer can take away from the work.

  • Sid Ceaser

    I love Heisler’s work, especially his “Quiet” section and his actor/star portraits. As the years go on and on and I keep shooting, I recognize that it isn’t so much the image as the relationship with the subject. Greg has personality to spare, and the first time I saw him in an interview I instantly wanted to be his friend. He possesses a very calming, simplistic, easy way of talking and developing rapport with someone, which isn’t an easy task. If I were to base this off of comments from PetaPixel commenters, it would appear that it isn’t very easy at all for most people.

    I’m sure it’s easy to say “I’ve heard it a million times before and blah blah blah” yet not many people can reach that level of comfort ability with their subjects. I watch local “photographers” quite a lot, and they can’t even get a conversation started; it’s usually “do this. look here. No, here. Up. Look here. Turn. That way.” etc.

    I wish I had Greg as an instructor. I bet his classes would be fantastic.

  • Jeremy

    i feel you but not everyone wants a conversation when being photographed. maybe it’s a cultural thing, but in my part of the world, many of the people i shoot just want the photographer to get on with it, do a good job, and let them get back to their busy schedule instead of making friends during a portrait session.

  • Bua

    This is a fairly deep message and will fly over most people. That’s cool because not every one is deep or is ready to look within.