In the wake of Magic II (the second Fashion-Editorial Master Class), I have some concluding thoughts on the topic of Magic.
I can not stress how important it is to understand that Magic isn't a science. Honestly, if Magic were a science, I wouldn't want to teach it. And no offense to science, but it's the same reason I don't teach Photography 101 classes or Lighting 101 courses. I simply feel that there isn't any unique value that I could add to the subject. Because I am not in love with processes that you can download from the Internet or simply glean from a book. Instead, what makes me so interested in Magic is that it is elusive and that it is very personal.
And therein lies the conundrum. If it's so elusive and so very personal, then how can anyone teach a Master Class on Magic? My answer is simple. I am first and foremost completely honest about how Magic isn't formulaically replicable. Therefore I can only teach my techniques, my thought-processes, and my philosophies, using personal examples and live demonstrations.
Through presentations, I suggest a specific paradigm of Magic. Through debate photographers consider and challenge that paradigm. And by adopting (at least temporarily) my shooting style during the shooting sessions, my hope is that each photographer gets a glimpse of the same Magic that I experience during my shoots. Yes, the Master Class is academic in principle but by recreating as many of the same conditions I create during my own tests, the photographers can witness and experience Magic for themselves.
My goal is that they each photographer subsequently seeks to recreate his/her own Magic by themselves.
It's very likely that 20 years from now the subject of Magic will still intrigue me. As I get older, my relationship with Magic will mature and I'll have different sentiments on the entire process. But Magic will forever remain an art and never a science. My understanding of Magic evolves with every shoot and every interaction. I can only hope that in 20 years I'll be as willing to learn, challenge my own assumptions, and to teach Magic as I am today.
But 20 years is a long time. And Magic is a very personal journey.
It's a personal journey because no two people will experience Magic identically. For that matter, I believe that Magic is more about personal growth than about creating emotionally evocative images. For me at least, Magic has forced me to evaluate/reevaluate my interactions with people (and not just models). Why? Because without real human interactions a photographer has very little hope of creating creating Magic. Simply put, as a "Magician" you can not sit back and expect Magic to just happen. You have to get in there and be an active participant of the Magic "production".
To say that Magic has occasionally made me uncomfortable is a huge understatement. Striving for Magic has put me in some awkward situations. From working with inexperienced models to making impromptu wardrobe decisions, Magic stretches me in ways I don't necessarily want to me stretched. Magic tests me via situations that I fear I will most certainly fail. But at the end of the day, practicing Magic forces me to understand myself better. And by pushing myself out of my comfort zone and into the realm of real human interactions, practicing Magic keeps me in touch with the human element.
For that reason alone, it behooves all of us to study Magic and become apprentice Magicians.