Vincent Versace “The Lens is the Brush” | Talks at Google

The Lens is the Brush, The Camera is the Canvas, the File is the Sheet Music and the Print is the Symphony


In this talk, Vincent Versace will discuss his use of cameras, digital infrared black and white, the choice camera resolutions for what he shoots, as well as the lenses and software he uses and why. All focused towards one goal: the print. It is not about taking a photograph, but how to be taken by a photograph. The file may be everything but the print is all.


Google has a series of lectures in which photographers were asked to come and speak at Google office.  Thankfully for photography fans, Google has made this fascinating series of talks by photographers available to all via YouTube.

AtGoogleTalks (or @Google Talks or Talks@Google) is a series of presentations by invited speakers sponsored by Google given at various Google offices throughout the world. The series has feature categories such as Authors@Google, Candidates@Google, Women@Google, Musicians@Google and others. For technical topics, there is Google Tech Talks (also known as EngEDU[1]) which is dedicated to exploring areas of technology and science. Guest speakers range from present and past world leaders to little-known poets and artists. Talks range from about 40 to 70 minutes. As of February 2009 there had been over 1700 guest speakers.

I particularly enjoyed Vincent Versace’s talk after enjoying his book “Welcome to Oz” which provides a cinematic approach to digital photography and how one can use Photoshop to post process images, create dramatic lighting effects and image harvest.

Image harvesting is one of Vincent’s skill sets and it shows up a lot in his work. He often takes multiple photographs of a certain scene and then combines them for the final print.

Photoshop is not a verb. It is a noun. It is the means to an end, not the end itself. Vincent Versace

In the talk Vincent describes how his collection of lens and camera are brushes in his work. Certain cameras serve different purposes as well as lenses. As Vincent points out all lenses can produce a point of sharpness. That is what they are created to do. But that plan of focus exists at a single point and the rest of the image has varying degrees of un-focus. Since the unfocused area of the image make up the majority of the image, this is why you buy one lenses over another. Better lenses produce better unfocused areas or bokeh.

By understanding the quiver of arrows in his bag (camera bodies and lenses) combined with what he can accomplish in post production provides the brushes for his artwork.

I enjoyed Vincent’s rather eastern approach to the art of photography with his references to martial arts and the Art of War. It refreshing to listen to a real artistic approach to photograph rather than a product review. Its much more difficult to talk about the creativity behind photography then it is to talk about sharpness graphs and megapixels.

A still photograph is called a still photograph because the picture doesn’t move, not because the objects in the picture are not in motion. The photographer’s mission, should he decide to accept it, is to capture motion with stillness.Vincent Versace
In Vincent’s view the process of photography is in service to the magnificent end result which is the print.  This is one of the best Google Talks on photography in the series.

Books by Vincent Versace: