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David Hoptman: Photographer, Educator, founder of PhotoCreative Workshops/Composition using Shadows.

David Hoptman professional photographer/artist, and founder of photo creative workshops now teaches photo compositional skills online. He has lived in Santa Fe New Mexico for most of his adult life. Previously David was teaching photography at the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, prior to that living in Italy, David taught photography at two colleges in Florence. He has created a new style of teaching that works both in person, as well as online. “The idea is to begin to perceive the environment as forms, dropping the labels and seeing things without preconditioning,” says David.

David sets the foundation for understanding how shadows affect photographic composition:

Photographers looking to improve their imagery would be wise to consider the strategic importance of creatively incorporating shadows into their photographic compositions. Shadows are transient forms dependent on the sun, clouds, and time of day providing drama, intrigue, and dimensionality to photographic compositions. The more mindful you become of shadows inhabiting your everyday reality the greater your appreciation for shadows will grow, as will the quality of your photographic imagery. Shadows are a key ingredient that significantly impacts photographic imagery.

Within two-dimensional art forms such as photography, painting, and printmaking, shadows as forms have as much importance as mountains, clouds, architecture, etc. Shadows are transient forms that populate our daily lives, although taken for granted unless it’s a hot summer's day, and finding a cool shady spot is at the top of the agenda.

The next time you are out photographing focus your awareness on the shadows. Look at the forms of the shadows and the objects that cast them and construct your composition integrating the shadows as forms.

Compositionally shadows are just as important, if not more important than the forms that cast them in the two-dimensional reality of photography. The more you become aware of the shadows within your everyday reality the greater your appreciation for shadows will grow as will the quality of your photographic imagery. Shadow Awareness is key to a strong composition.

Shadows and highlights are the spice of photography much like salt and pepper is for food. We find cuisine boring without spices and the same applies to bland photographic imagery. Shadows are certainly not a mandatory component for all photographs, although from my perspective are welcome guests.

Shadows make our everyday life fascinatingly beautiful and have the ability to lead you to the starting point of your next photographic composition.


Shadows are underappreciated, unnoticed, and forsaken forms without which our everyday reality would be boring and bland. Shadows should be recognized for their beauty, drama, mystery, and eloquence. Find a shadow, make the photo, and share it to Instagram or Facebook on the last day of each month. Use #shadows for submitted imagery. Winners become shadow masters for one month. Participants are welcome to submit prose, poetry, and haiku along with their images.

Shadows rarely appear on rainy days.

Shy they are on cloudy days.

Brave and dignified on sunny days.

Shadows in constant flux

Coming going

from dawn to dusk.

Casting dark spaces in brightly lit places

Shadows hold sway on bright sunny days.

Shrinking away as clouds come their way.

Learn more about PhotoCreative Workshops on their official website:

Follow David Hoptman on social media:

Perceptive skills, Imagination, and

intuition are foundational qualities needed by everyone striving to make harmonious insightful photographic imagery. Almost anyone can learn to incorporate these conceptual and insightful aspects of perception into the creative process. The key is to slow down, be in the moment, and understand how to work with relationships of space and forms.

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