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How to shoot a Sketcher : Photographers at a sketchcrawl

November 6, 2014


I have the great fortune of being married to a photographer. It’s really the best thing for an Urban Sketcher. To have a partner who is always available to photo your events. I expect I’m not the only one who has a friend that doesn’t sketch, yet would still enjoy coming out to a sketchcrawl.

Here’s a set of photos from Laurel Holmes’ coverage of Simo Capecci’s workshop in Paraty, Brazil. We can use these to show some tips on shooting sketchers, and sketching events. These kind of shots aren’t always high art – but they’re the kind of reportage sketchers love to see after the fact. The documentary footage of how the drawings were made.

You can read about Simo’s class on Reportage, in her own words over here.


The Establishing Shot: Set the scene – show the sketchers arriving on location. Give people a sense of the adventure, and the time and place.

L_Holmes_Distillery_Paraty  (6)

Stalk the Instructor: Naturally, it’s important to get some footage of everyone, but try to be focused on the instructor (at least during the intro lecture). It gives you shots that emphasize the key concepts being taught, and it’s nice PR for your instructor, who is often a volunteer at a USK event.

L_Holmes_Distillery_Paraty  (9)

Sketcher’s Eye View: Looking over the shoulder, to see what the sketcher is seeing. This works especially well when paired with the sketch later. In some cases you can even get the drawing in the shot as well as the subject.

L_Holmes_Distillery_Paraty  (17)

L_Holmes_Distillery_Paraty  (7)

View of the Sketcher: The reverse angle is great too. A portrait of the sketcher at work, with some implication of what they’re interested in. Hard to get when the subject is far away, easier in this example. This can be done with two shots pasted side/side as well.

L_Holmes_Distillery_Paraty  (10)

Teaching Moment:  Get the instructor and students in some one-on-one interaction. It’s a good memory for the student.

L_Holmes_Distillery_Paraty  (22)

L_Holmes_Distillery_Paraty  (23)

The Crit: Always shoot the Critique – the time when people are sharing and learning from each other. Usually these are good documents of who was there on the spot, and how much work was done.

L_Holmes_Distillery_Paraty  (20)

The Sketcher in Portrait: Ideally, you’ll be able to get one of everyone – sketchers always look so studious! Try to wait for good posture, and not catch us squinting, please and thanks :)

L_Holmes_Distillery_Paraty  (15)

The Wide Shot: If you can get a few people in, with the context of what we’re sketching, it helps to underscore that Urban Sketching is a team sport.

L_Holmes_Distillery_Paraty  (24)

The Group Shot: This is the least ‘artful’ kind of shot – but come on, you need one of these. Years later, you want to know who was there.

Then fill it in with some ambiance – shots that include sketchers, and the subject matter, with some emphasis on people having fun.

That’s about it. Thanks for reading, and I hope more of us can bring photographer friends along to their sketchcrawls!

12 Comments leave one →
  1. November 6, 2014 10:13 AM

    Wow, that sounds like so much fun. I hadn’t heard of this before. Beautiful shots, too.

  2. Linda permalink
    November 6, 2014 10:46 AM

    Thanks for sharing these great photos, Marc. You and your wife are certainly a dynamic duo of talent!

  3. November 6, 2014 10:54 AM

    Nice shots! Congratulations to Laurel.
    Thanks for the explanation and tips.

  4. November 6, 2014 11:00 AM

    This should be a paying position at our next Symposium.

  5. November 6, 2014 11:39 AM

    We will use in the next Sketchcrawl in Balmadeda (Basque Country).

  6. Nandan Balwalli permalink
    November 6, 2014 7:01 PM

    We want to see the actual sketches…please….And happy sketching and painting.

    • November 7, 2014 7:18 PM

      Well, I wasn’t drawing on the day – Laurel was doing the photo’s while I was teaching another class. But Simo has her art, and from many of the students here:

      • Nandan Balwalli permalink
        November 7, 2014 8:44 PM

        Hi, I was an Industrial Photographer for 32 Multi Nationals india… I loved the recent sketch of the Processing Unit ….reminded me a lot of what I used to do in my career as a photographer. Thanks…and keep up the good work…teaching … Nandan

        Sent from my iPad


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