Today’s post has been “lurking” on my laptop for most of the pandemic now and I think its time it was let loose to the public. The inspiration came from a signature on a post I read in DP Review and it got me thinking about things that are unavoidable as photographers. Now these are my own views and you are free to disagree! So with that out of the way let’s see how many of these you can identify with!
1. TANSTAAFL – There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch! Nothing is ever truly “free”, someone is paying for this out of their own pocket, so when you have your “free” photoshoot in most cases its the photographer who’s paying.
2. You are *not* as good as you think you are! – It’s quite common to see people leave comments on photos like “wow that’s amazing” even when the photo is decidedly average. To me anything “amazing” just means average, I’d sooner have people say thanks for taking my photo than gushing like a fanboy/girl over average pictures. If you do believe the hype from others you’ll never have any incentive to improve your work.
3. There is *always* someone better than you! – This is an undeniable fact. No matter what you do there will be someone better that’s just how it is! The people we follow produce awesome work on another level from what we produce. The thing is not to let it get to you and grind you down. Look at it as something to aspire to not tear down.
4. If you don’t like 3. You can always improve. – Realising the limitations in our work can often be painful, but if you can look past your bruised ego you can take steps to get better and improve your work. Try submitting your work for critique which can give you insights on how other photographers see your work. Watch training videos, YouTube has tons of free material available and other places like Creative Live, Phlearn, Karl Taylor Education, The Photographer Academy etc., may be paid options but the quality is there.
Sign up for training workshops (a bit difficult in these Covid times but I’m sure it will pass in time) to work alongside professional photographers and gain valuable experience you can take away and incorporate into your own work.
5. Hanging out with better people *will* make you better! – While Eric Clapton was highly regarded as a blues guitarist he was not known as a great technical player. Eric could have easily slipped into his typical performance and become complacent. He got around this by surrounding himself with better musicians than himself so that they would push him to perform better. Don’t believe me then compare Eric’s guitar playing with the late Steve Ray Vaughan and this is when he’s tired!
6. I don’t want to look at other people’s work as I want to create my own style. – Sorry to burst your bubble on this one but everything we do in our lives is as a result of some form of influence. No man is an island and no creativity can form in a vacuum, we all need something as a starting place.
Most professional photographers say that it takes roughly a decade before you finally arrive at *your* style. To me a style is like going to a sweet shop and picking out the sweets and flavours that you like. Kung Fu legend Bruce Lee studied many other martial arts taking things that worked for him leading to the creation of his own martial art style “Jeet Kun Do”. You’re not copying someone simply because you are *not* them, you can’t see things the way *they* see things.
7. There’s no accounting for taste. – Sad but very true, you spend ages editing a picture that you think will make people go “wow” only to find them liking a picture that in your opinion isn’t even that great. So what gives? What you need to realise is that photographers look at pictures differently from ordinary people. We can look at the composition, lighting, detail and processing whereas an ordinary person makes an arbitrary decision based on how a picture appeals to them. If you’ve ever given people a contact sheet of pictures to make their selection from you’ll know what I mean when you look at what they chose.
8. Gear doesn’t matter! – You’ll often hear people saying “Oh I wish I could have *that* camera” when comparing their pictures with others. A camera is nothing more than a tool that gets the job done. You don’t hear mechanics listing what spanners they have in their toolkit!
9. Photographers are creatives. – What makes a “good” photographer is not what gear they use but their knowledge and experience in knowing how to get the best out of what they have and out of what or who they are taking a picture of. There are elements of art, composition, lighting and image processing that coupled with a camera result in a picture.
Some people may say “all they do is press a button and stick a filter on it and charge us £’s” to which I reply “no slapping a filter on it is what you do to my work when you post it on social media!” 😛
I hope this post has given you something to think about. Do you agree or disagree?