VCU Photo Safari

10:00 -10:50 am | Tom Woodward will be your guide on this photo safari as we look at the world through different lenses. This shift in both perspective and attention has the potential to change how you think about many things. After a brief exploration of a few different types of photography, we’ll take our new considerations into the world we walk through every day. On our return we’ll share what we’ve captured and look at opportunities to extend these conversations beyond today’s excursion.

I’ve been wanting to take a group of faculty out to take pictures since hearing about Abilene Christian doing it. Seems like it’s a good idea in a few ways. We look at our regular location in a new way. People get a chance to see how many interesting possibilities are right in front of us every day. In general the process opens up the chance to talk about lots of things that apply outside of photography – like the ability to tighten up action/feedback loops to make progress, framing things conceptually and then doing, trying to imitate styles, etc. etc.

I made a quick website that morning to hold photos we took so we could have discussions around the photos after the fact. Participants could submit via the Jetpack post by email option or through the Gravity form on the site. A quick and easy way to create a multimedia website with multiple authors but without the overhead of accounts.

I used the images below to demonstrate some thematic/style considerations. I wanted the photos to be from the VCU area for credibility and, after some internal back and forth, I opted to use my own photos. I decided it gave me additional credibility to use my own images.1

The World is a Stage2

The world is like a movie set if you look around. It seems fake at times there are so many strange and amazing things out there . . . but you must look . . . and keep looking.

Three cats, One Window

centuries of waiting perfected


I am waiting

Morning reading


Sometimes looking at patterns/lines/colors and enjoying them more for their relationship than for any inherent subject based interest is a fun way to look around.

nature intrudes


leaves, shadows, and patterns


Bokeh is harder to do with camera phones but still possible and some apps let you do it after the fact. Bokeh refers to the portion that is out of focus. Instagram is one of those apps but there are many others. The depth of field is a related concept and refers to how much of the image is in focus. The wider the aperture, the shallower the depth of field.

Nailed it.


she stands alone


Macro shots focus on closeup images. Cell phones can do a decent job with shots like this but special hardware is often useful for DSLRs or cell phones if you want to pursue this seriously.

sharp edges


Harley Skull and wheel


Street/Stranger Photography

Street photography is usually black and white and often focuses on capturing an ephemeral moment. There are issues you want to think through when photographing in public and how you might or might not want to interact with strangers in public. There are whole groups dedicated to interacting with and photographing strangers.
I went through the desert . . .

rabbit ears

Stranger #48 - Eugene Wallace


Reflections are always fun ways to look at the world. Pools of water, windows, sunglasses, actual mirrors etc. can all provide interesting effects.

In the pursuit of perfection . . .

the many faces


High Key/Silhouette/Shadows


railroad bridge

inconstant shadow



Games/Social Commentary/Words

I play around a bit with cropping out letters in words or capturing strange scenes that I might use in larger conversations.
I checked for cats earlier


1 It felt a bit egotistical . . . but so does starting all these sentences with “I”.

2 or at least really, really odd and beautiful in ways we mostly ignore

Comments on this post

  1. Suzanne said on September 19, 2014 at 3:18 pm

    Love these Tom!

    • Tom Woodward said on September 19, 2014 at 8:59 pm

      Thanks Suzanne.

  2. byzantiumbooks said on September 20, 2014 at 8:39 am

    This was the first group photo safari thing you had done? Fooled me! It was a great way to spend part of the morning, and good to see so many folks taking the same kinds of pictures I like to take.

    On my way to the parking garage later, I took more. I think it was 109 pictures altogether, of which a few seemed reasonable enough to put up on Flickr. The album is at

    • Tom Woodward said on September 20, 2014 at 9:47 pm

      It was awesome you made it over.

      I need to make it out to VA Beach in the near future.