To thine own self be true.
-Polonius in Shakespeare’s Hamlet
In Hamlet, Polonius provides some last words of wisdom to his son as he gets on the next boat for Paris. While this quote has been stated over and over again, I think it’s something that is still true for photographers today. At the core of the quote is how you have to take care of yourself first so that you can take care of others. Of course, if you know Hamlet, you know that even for Polonius this is easier said than done.
In this week’s podcast, we talk about the importance of authenticity in our photography and creativity. At the end of the day, we can only create the things that are inside of our own head and experiences. To create real authentic work, we have to create work that is true to who we are. That is our genuine work. However, it is easy to avoid creating meaningful work because of fears, regrets and a host of other emotions. The challenge we all face is to work with all our feelings and reactions and find a way to create photographs that are reflective of who we are today and what beautiful worlds we see for tomorrow. In the podcast, I talk about how I look at and respond to my work and the challenges and hopefully offer up some ideas for you to use to step forward in creating your own meaningful work.read more
In this week’s podcast, we examine the importance of finding the shades of grey in our black and white world. It is, in many ways, more comfortable to approach our understanding of the world when we can quickly categorize and define people, places, and events. However, in our rush to judgment, we can often misrepresent what is actually happening in our experience. As a creative individual, I personally believe that it is our job to find the subtle nuances in the world that make up our story and experiences. Then through that lens of awareness do we create our art. The artist is always searching and trying to connect to even the smallest change and shift in the way they see the world. It is in those observations do we find our own voice.read more
When I was growing up, I always heard the phrase: Close only counts in horseshoes, and atomic bombs. Later in my career, I had a boss who always said: “good isn’t good enough, and perfection is the enemy of done.” These two phrases have been bubbling up a lot for me in recent weeks during my photography. This week’s podcast is about how those two sayings are shaping my approach to some of my photographs.read more
There is a remake or reboot trend that many of my friends talk about with Hollywood movies and television shows. Sure there are some reasons to reboot or remake a movie or show. Maybe it was awful the first time, but the source material was excellent. Or, perhaps there is a modern sensibility to bring to the work. However, in many cases, it can feel like it is laziness or an unwillingness to take a risk on something new and original.
When you look at your own photographs do you see them as something original or are you starting to do a bunch of remakes and reboots? In this week’s podcast, we talk about how to look at your photograph and examine your work so that you can get out of the rebooting loop and get back to the craft of seeing and telling your own unique stories.read more
When you are in school and getting ready to graduate, or you are starting to look for a job, you often hear advice from people about what to do with your life. Much of that advice was summarized in the book What color is your parachute. In that book, at the core is finding something you are good at and something you have a passion for and where those intersect you can find your ideal job.
Photography and our passion for doing work that we like often have that same interaction. In this week’s podcast, I talk about how some of the lessons in finding what we are inspired to do and can do in life can apply to your photography. We also talk about how for many of us those passions fall into a bucket list and that maybe, just maybe, we shouldn’t be making a bucket list but instead doing what we really love.read more
I love to travel and take pictures, and fall is my favorite season. In this week’s podcast, we talk about some of the lists that you need to make to be successful when you travel. While most people know to make a list of equipment, clothing and travel documents, I encourage everyone also to consider making a few other lists that are about your creative approach to the trip.read more
If you are a photographer, the only person who cares about your camera brand is you and other photographers. People who look at photographs judge photographs not if they were taken with the “right camera.” However, in our modern day of Internet fame and quick judgment, you might think that photographers are overly obsessed with gear. We shouldn’t be. Equipment is a tool. You are the photographer.
In this week’s podcast, I am asking for some help in getting us to change how we focus on equipment. If you are trying to learn about new equipment or old, many of the popular sites will pass judgment on equipment sight unseen. They will talk about features that don’t matter, corporate solvency and a host of other crap that has nothing to do with actual pictures. What I would like to see all of us is start to give up bullying people with their gear choices and return to a focus on the empathy and courage it takes to share meaningful work. Support, not the need to get clicks on videos by bashing someone’s gear choice, but rather to celebrate who they are. To do that, we all need to find a better way to share and to push back on those who proclaim their jealousy of fantastic photography by being angry about the tool rather than in wonder of the photograph.read more
Ever feel like you are running on a treadmill and going nowhere. In my creative practice, I call these loops, and just like getting lost in the woods, I start and end at the point even though I feel like I start in a different direction. This week’s podcast talks about some of the more common loops that I face, or I see others face in their photography, and how to deal with those loops.read more
Ok so after a quick rant on the war and revolution that is coming in photography click bait, this week’s podcast focuses in on balance. As we have discussed many times on this podcast, balance is something that is important when thinking about images while behind the camera. However, this week, we are focusing on the importance of balance, or lack of balance, in the final image.
Balance is about visual harmony and understanding of the frame. It is achieved several ways, but for most photographs, it is about how color, shape, form, space and design elements interact together. This week we focus on some of the central aspects of balance among those various aspects and how they can be used to move an image out of balance or into balance.read more
Michael Gregory, no relation, wrote an excellent article for Aperture in 1961 about the nature of photographic style and idea for how to define and use style in photography. I was recently rereading the article and used it as the foundation for this week’s podcast. One the most common topics I hear about that is related to creating great photography is that you need to have a style, but the definition of style is both ambiguous and misapplied. This week, using the insights from this 55-year-old article, we talk about what style is and how to understand how it appears in our photography and what it matters.read more
In this week’s podcast, we are talking about how to go about applying some of the basic concepts from minimalism and getting organized to make it easier to work and edit our photographs. At times it is very easy to get overwhelmed with the work required to make a good photograph. However, by learning to focus on a few key things that have been tried and tested to work in keeping organized, you might find that you can make better photographs more efficiently and faster.read more
I was flipping through Netflix looking at movies and got to thinking about how many movies follow the same basic formula. For example, in most romantic comedies, the couple gets together, and something happens that drives them apart. After some conflict, they are somehow pushed together and end up happily ever after.
In our photography, we can quickly end up following the same formula over and over again. In some cases, this might be ok, but I other cases this could cause us to fall short of our expectations and needs as a creative person. In my own work, I think that it is easy to fall into a formulaic rut. You learn what works and you just do it over and over again. The challenge this creates is that it the more you do the same thing, the more it becomes harder to change. The habit builds a deeper rut.
Sometimes our creativity is at the edges of our experiences. So finding ways to push our boundaries by doing something outside the norm is critical. Now, this doesn’t mean giving up good habits like morning pages, walks in the woods or daily images, but what I encourage you to do is to not write the exact same thing every day. The habit is not the formula. You might find that by sitting in the woods and listening to the birds, trees and wind might be better for you then just walking.
So as you approach your photography this week, I encourage you to look at what is the formula you are following that you picked up from others or isn’t working and apply a twist to the formula. What if your romantic comedy went dark or some other direction. What would it look like if your story was really your story and not the formula that we have all accepted?read more