Been chatting with a new friend about photography a lot in the last 24 hours. I apparently have a philosophy about photography now!
Strange, but I guess I do. So lets see if I can figure that out based on that conversation and some public ruminating.
1. Photos are an important way to catch reflections of ourselves at various times and places. Ourselves as an individual, community, nation, world. There are iconic images that will last, some that come to my mind immediately are: 9/11 Falling Man, National Geographic's Afghani Girl, a pregnant Demi Moore, the Buddhist monk on fire. Photos help build a collective conscious and for this reason the act of taking pictures won't die out. There is always a place for my pictures.
2. Everybody looks better lit. A light source is needed to make any image at all (sunlight, flashlight, fire light, star light) but there is nothing wrong with helping out an image with some strategically placed strobes. I try to light my photos in this way as much as possible.
3. People are important. If you take a picture of someone, making them the dominant part of the picture is key. I prefer having my people front and centre. If I'm gonna take a picture of a couple I want most of the attention on them as a couple... put them front and centre, that's why they're there.
4. Be a geek. Geeking out about something = passion. If you're passionate enough about something to think and talk about it all the time, you're living the life. Too many people walk through life without passion, energy or excitement. Find that passion, be passionate, live passionately. I'm passionate about photography.
5. Learn much and learn often. I fail and make mistakes all the time. Sometimes I repeat those mistakes but it just means I haven't learnt my lesson yet. Study, read, try, fail, try and fail again. I shoot better pictures now then I did last year at this time. I know next year at this time I'll shoot better pictures then I do now. This can only happen by learning much and frequently.
6. Be driven. If you want it, go get it. I passed the "I wish I had..." stage of photography last year. "I wish I had a camera," "I wish I shot pictures of people," "I wish I was better at...." Do it, make it, create it, think it, build it, realize it, become it. Also, dismantle it and restart.
7. Deliver for your customers. If someone wants photos from you, take wonderful passionate photos for them but follow that up with the best darn customer service you can friggin possibly offer. Deliver and then over deliver on customer service.
8. Promote the pants off yourself. Talk about it everywhere and to everyone who will and won't listen. Take pictures of and for everyone and everything. Spread the word, hand out your card. You could take the best pictures in the world, but if no one knows about you, how are you going to be successful at it.
9. Know your history. Learn where photography has come from. Everyone knows the saying, "Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it." What's photography's history. What are the failures, successes, struggles and triumphs of the well and little known photographers who bring us to where we are today? Learn about Alfred Steiglitz, learn about Man Ray, learn about Robert Capa. Know who Joseph Nicéphore Niépce is. Understand what a photograveur is, or what rayographs are. Learn what has influenced photography. Once you see the influences of the past, you can predict and determine the future.
10. Technological proficiency is a must. Natural skill, talent and luck will only carry you so far. I firmly believe that my natural skill and talent is very slim. Luck has and always will play a big part in my picture making abilities...it has to, there are too many variables. To make up for that lack of natural abilities, knowing my apertures and shutters and ISOs and how to light and even how to efficiently use technology to post-process images is massively important to my photography becoming better.
11. Shut up and take the picture already. After all that's what I love. Pick up the camera, adjust the settings, push that button, expose the film to the scene you've created and just shoot it now.
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