I am always bothered when I hear people say that you are too optimistic, or you’re wearing rose-colored glasses. My response to them is always the same. Your damn right, I am. The outlook you have on life, and your creativity is the most significant decision you can make.
Now, this isn’t to say that I don’t worry, fret, or get stressed at times, but when that happens, I work to get back to a place where I can focus all that is good and great. I often hear photographers worry about new gear, software, techniques, or locations they would like to go. When they don’t have what they want, it is a problem for them. In this week’s podcast, we take al look at how that approach can be a huge block that leads to apathy in your work. As we dive into the topic, we talk about how a shift to positivity and excitement can do more for your creative life than any issue you imagine that you need to overcome to finally get the click you wanted.
I have several friends who like to gamble. Poker and blackjack for the most part. When they are playing, they always talk about being on a hot streak or a cold streak. When it is good, things are hot, and the universe seems to give them the cards they need. When it is bad, well, it is bad.
I think many of us approach our photography in the same way. We remove the focus, effort, energy, and vision to an external source calling it a hot streak or luck. Luck is something that we see as a way of explaining a variety of events that are good or bad, where we seem to have no choice in the outcome. In this week’s podcast, we take a look at the idea of a hot streak and what it means to do meaningful work. Work that is personal and driven by our vision rather than by some hand of the universe, giving us the power to see.
I have a quote from Gary Winogrand that says all photographs make a new fact. As I looked back on that quote, it got me thinking about how much narratives and storytelling come into photography. Anyone who has been introduced into photography in the last few years have been hit with the importance of storytelling and narratives in photographs.
In this week’s podcast, we take a look at the importance of narratives in photography and discuss how direct storytelling in a photograph might not be practical or even possible. As we consider the various options for storytelling, I encourage you to go back into your work and see where you might benefit from taking a different approach to your storytelling. See if you end up with a better overall photograph when you shift your approach. You might find that even if it is just a pretty composition with the write supporting context, something more important emerges.
I love being able to drive on a roundabout. If they are well designed, they make the traffic flow so much better, but if you haven’t ever driven on one, knowing what lane to be in can be problematic and stressful. As I was recently driving through a local roundabout, it reminded me of a question I am often asked. That question is, where do I point the camera to make a good photograph?
Part of pointing the camera is knowing what you like to see and understand in the world, and part of it is knowing what subjects/subject matter have stories to tell. Photography is about both. If you are only showing your version as a photographer, you are missing the point. The best images tell a story, and I make the argument in this week’s podcast that it should first and foremost be the story of the subject/subject matter. As a photographer, it is our job to tell that story the best way we can. So light, tones, color, and all the photography things are applied to ensure that the scene in front of the camera gets to shine. If the photograph is all about the photographer, that experience for the subject and ultimately the photo will be drastically different.
As you listen to the podcast, I encourage you to think about whose story you are telling and why. I encourage you to try to think of your work with the camera as more collaborative rather than an I story you want to tell.
I find that it is sometimes difficult to work with a strong feeling of uncertainty. It doesn’t matter if it is technical, artistic, or just a feeling I have. I like to think that I have some clarity in my work and process. However, the reality is that I frequently don’t have a clear idea when I set out to work what might happen.
In this week’s podcast, I talk about the importance of accepting uncertainty and ambiguity in our photographic process. While it might be uncomfortable to work this way, I believe that the value of learning how to roll with the changes and finding inspiration from learning along the way is more valued than always having a hard correct interpretation.
I also think there is so much we can learn from spending time with the uncertainty of what we are working on at any given time. It is in that space of wonder that our creativity can produce the best results.
I was recently asked if I sign my photographs. I found this to be such an interesting ask because it seems so simple on the surface and yet within it holds more profound questions. Our signatures carry power. A signature can bind you to an agreement, signify acceptance, and provide a notion of who you are. From signing checks (or a screen) when purchasing something to contracts to artwork, the signature says we accept this object or agreement as outlined.
As photographers, the signature on the work indicates that the work is finished and that we accept the work is as good as we can make it at the time. It is an agreement that we put on the work. The signature says the work is good enough, says what we want, and we are happy and moving on. This, of course, doesn’t mean we can’t improve on it later, but for now, this is what we’ve done.
In the related context, the idea of something being signature-worthy and if the work I create is signature-worthy comes up for many of us. In this week’s podcast, we talk about the idea and meaning of the signature and signature worthy work.