This week’s podcast starts with a quick rant against people who review photography gear, products, and methods which they haven’t ever used the product. I am amazed at how many people use a product for a few minutes, hours or never use the product and still feel qualified to write a review. If you find people who are writing or speaking about products they don’t use, it might be worth your time to find a different reviewer.
The main topic of this week’s podcast is about the hardest thing in photography. In my work with others and more hours than I care to admit in my introspection, I feel like the hardest thing to do in photography is be authentic without reacting to our insecurities. The willingness to stick to who we are as photographers against a tidal wave of opinions telling us to do or be something else is so hard. We are inundated with people telling us to be something else, photograph something else, or try something new when really what we should be doing is focusing on how amazing the chance to see through the lens and experience more of ourselves photographing things we love. That is the essence of photography. Being amazed by the world around us and finding our connection to the places, people, subjects and emotions. Yet, there is so much noise around us telling us to be something else. The gear we need. Lessons to learn. Things to avoid because others photograph them. Learning to turn off everything that keeps us from being who we are and were meant to be might just be the hardest part of photography.
As the end of the year draws closer, I keep hearing more and more people talk about how tired they are. The holiday season and current state of the world has so many people I know feel like they are burning a very short candle at both ends. This week’s podcast is focused on how we get to the point of exhaustion and some ways to hold, live with and move through the experience. I know in my own practice the regular everyday life events keep me busy. When you compound holidays, the loss of my brother a year ago, ever-changing software to learn, photos to take and so many other parts of my photography to keep on top of, it can be so hard to stay on top of it all.
In rereading The Zen of Creativity again, I discovered a paragraph where he talks about how being different doesn’t make you original or unique in your creative practice. This week’s podcast dives into how we approach our photography and photographic work as it relates to originality. You often read about how important it is to be different in photography to stand out from the crowd. Yet, when you look at photographs are they really that unique or even that different. I many cases, photos often look the same even when different. So what is it that we should focus on rather than just trying to be different. Originality comes from the work origin which in turn means from the source or place where something arises or is derived. It isn’t applying something different in the darkroom or photoshop. Originality comes from a new source or place. Shouldn’t our goal be to find originality in our work rather than just trying to be different?
I get asked by family and friends this time of year what makes a good gift for a photographer. In past years, I have talked about books or gear that I think might make for a nice gift. This year I wanted to return to this idea but provide some other gift options that I think most photographers could appreciate but might not ask for.
If you are a photographer, give you photographs to family and friends. Nothing is more meaningful than a gift from the heart you created. This gift will also force you to finish your images and make some prints which is always good practice.
Give meaningful feedback about someone’s work. Take the time to send the photographer an email or take them out for coffee and really talk about what their work or one of their projects. The feedback will mean so much for than a passing like on a social media app.
Give away old cameras so that others can start their road into photography.
Give or create a space for you to be creative. Give up on the pressure of making something, improving, selling and try to relax and remember that it was the love of photography that got you started with the camera.
This year I am recommending books not related to photography, but to other interest, a photographer might have. It might inspire them to do more work or help them better understand a project or photograph they have undertaken.
Tickets to a museum to see some art.
We all have a house in crazy town. As much as we like to think that our crazy thoughts, insecurities, and ideas are unique, if you spend time talking to any creative person, you will quickly find that they have crazy thoughts too. In this week’s podcast, I spend some time talking about how we live and work in crazy town. I hope that once you learn about your own sense of crazy that you might find support and friendship by sharing your own version of crazy with others.
Sometimes when we share, we learn that we all suffer the same insecurities, fears, hopes, and dreams. If we spend time only focusing on our own story and voice inside our heads, we can go crazy. By sharing and listening to the stories of others, sometimes we can break down those fears and barriers that hold us back.