A Conversation with Rick Wright

Posted by on Feb 28, 2013 in Interview | 2 Comments

Rick Wright has been instrumental in heightening the quality of instruction here at Project Basho. We recently had a conversation with him about his upcoming class titled “Photographic Method: Color and Shape” starting March 11th.

Why is it important for photographers to study composition and color?

Henry Peach Robinson once said that the goal of composition is to “agreeably lead the eye across the photo.” Composition is the bones/skeleton/armature of a photograph and provides movement, energy, and communication. Without an eye towards design, an otherwise great photographic moment can lose its power and force. Color needs the same attention as it shapes the emotion, story, and expression of photography. Good awareness of color and judicious use of the “palette of color” can play a vital role in simplifying the communication of any image. 

Who is the ideal student for this class?

Any student who is eager to escape the trajectory of everyday postcard and snapshot-type photographs. The most common complaint I get from students coming to my class on the first day is, “I see something really great in front of me, I take the picture, and then I find the image has nothing special whatsoever.” Anyone who has ever had this thought is the perfect student for this class!

How would you describe your teaching style?

My teaching style is very immersive and loose. Organic. Each class will start with some form of hands-on activity like drawing, working with color squares, or listening to music. I believe that there are MANY ways to learn new material, so you will not be sitting through three hours of slide lectures during each session. While the curriculum is somewhat set, I am adaptive, and I’m happy let some class sessions move in new directions, should great teaching moments arise. 

I do NOT hand everything over to the student and have them memorize everything. The student has to work hard to find and “earn” new ideas during the class sessions.

What will students learn in this class?

Students will learn the foundations of classic composition, of course, but they will also learn how important it is to avoid being slavish to the classic models. We will be building our own vocabulary in composition and color as we move through each session. Above all, students will learn how to think and see more clearly. They will learn just how powerful and thought-provoking composition can be, and how rich a role color can play in imagery. 

This is not a printing class or an overly technical class, but I am always open to any techie questions during the sessions.

What kinds of assignments will there be?

Assignments are designed to be somewhat open-ended and give room for lots of exploration. For our first assignment, students will shoot in black & white and start to see the world for its tones, patterns, and hidden “architecture” via innovative vantage points and basic rules of design. In our first color assignment, we’ll be simplifying our color use to 1, 2, and 3 colors, seeing just how powerful a photograph gets when color is reduced!

Can you think of anything else that a potential student would want to know?

I endeavor to see the creative spark in every individual. The class is serious, true, but also loose and fun. We’re entering into an adventure, with the opportunity to make stronger, expressive images.

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  1. William Felling
    February 28, 2013

    Having known Rick for the past 22 years, I feel he can help anyone find deeper connections to the world they see. The experience of the world, in fact, is the thing he most wants you to translate into the image!

  2. PA
    March 4, 2013

    I agree with William. In addition, Rick, through his fluid (which I prefer to loose) teaching style systematically challenges your assumptions. His exercises in thought and practice are more than simple mechanical endeavors. The class implores you to think on various levels of creative expression. His ability to switch gears based on your level of experience makes it very worthwhile. He is funny, loves quoting quotes and can grow a mean beard.


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