Teeksa Photography

Photography of
Skip Schiel

Exercises for Learning Photojournalism

By Skip Schiel


© All text copyright Skip Schiel, 2003 and earlier


Photograph someone you know. Discover something you’ve long suspected, but have never established. Try this exercise a second time but now try to surprise yourself with an insight you’d perhaps never achieve without the aid of photography.

Photograph someone or some group you have no prior experience with, on the street, in a tavern, at a sporting event. Can you reveal some special facet that appears to come only from long term association with the people?

Photograph yourself doing something, some place, at some time, like riding a bike, driving a car, riding the T, walking.


Concentrate on a place long familiar to you, like your bathroom, basement, work site, car interior, or closet. Strive to bring to light a new observation.

Go somewhere you’ve never been before, and observe carefully, first without the camera, noting the light especially, then use the camera to probe further.


Cover an event thoroughly, till you’re exhausted, have steeped the event—and your rendering of it—fully.

Try a slice of life approach, only a portion of a full event, a part standing for the whole: synecdoche.


Be faithful to the reality of a story, concocting nothing, showing truthfully everything presented to you.

Fabricate a story, design it from beginning to end, allowing yourself the luxury of a script or story board, and actors, settings, studio lights.

Exemplary photographer—

Pick one model photographer you’d like to learn from, and copy. Look at style, approach, mentality. Go one step further.

Cross two photographers of different persuasions, perhaps one from the U.S. and one from Asia, or one from antiquity and one alive, young and fashionable, or one more commercial and one less. Explore the combination.

Your experience—

Design and implement a project that portrays your experience as a human being. Note Charlie Parker’s insight: What you haven’t lived won’t come out of your horn.

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