The Marlene Dietrich Method

A background in art and knowledge of the work of the great photographers is helpful because art uses a common visual language. It helps to know how great artists use visual language. This knowledge and awareness can be both inspiring and intimidating. If you combine method, study and deliberation with an intuitive playful and quick response you will be doing a version of what I call the “Marlene Dietrich Method”.

I watched an interview with Marlene Dietrich where she went on at length about method acting and her process. It was all very mystical, mysterious, methodical, planned and disciplined. She then did an abrupt about face and said that acting was just saying the lines and not thinking very hard about anything. This was her version of Nike’s slogan “Just Do It”. These seemingly contradictory approaches that can be combined as both are helpful. The space between concentration and relaxation when drawing is an example of the flow between these two different mindful places. When you are taking or making pictures you often straddle the space between a critical evaluation of a scene and the spontaneous reaction to click the shutter. Give yourself time to plan for your photography.  Also, give yourself time for the spontaneous and embrace these seemingly contradictory forces.

See state of flow, or “being in the zone”: