I get asked all the time what it takes to be a better photographer. Is there a class to take or a book to read? I always come back to the basics that photography is about seeing, telling a story, and finding your sense of self in your work. This week’s podcast talks about the importance and value of taking the time to draw and sketch, reading all types of books and finally the importance of learning to observe the world around you.
In this week’s podcast, we take a look at the impacts of talking about the effects of the should and would in our creative photography. So much of what we do as photographers is damaged when we focus on what we should be doing and what we would be doing rather than what we are doing in the present.
In my own experience, should and would are indicators of living in the past or future rather than focusing on what I am doing now in the present. What I would do is future based, and what I should be doing is out of guilt from the past. As discussed in the podcast, there is a huge benefit from learning to let go of saying should and would and embracing the power of focusing on what you are doing right now.
I have several friends who are obsessed with the news. They watch it for 18 hours a day. They worry that something will happen that they might miss. Something will trend that they don’t know about. In this week’s podcast, we talk about how that fear of missing out can show up in three ways that could impact your creative process.
The first topic is chasing trends. Everyone has something they love, but it is hard some times to no jump on the popular bus that everyone seems to be riding. If you give up what you love to chase a trend, what does that cost your creativity?
The second area is the importance of getting out of your head. Does the need to be in the know cause you to make us all sorts of stories that aren’t true that you can’t let go. Does your creativity suffer from being wrapped up inside your internal monologues?
Finally, we talk about how fear and failure go hand in hand. The fear of missing out can lead to how you contextualize failure. If you redefine failure, does that shift your fear of missing out from a failure to know into something more productive?
I was cleaning a bookshelf in the study and came back across Mason Currey’s Daily Rituals. In the book, Mason details the daily rituals that artist and creatives spend their day. As I flipped back thru the book, I got to thinking about the small things that we do and how they can make a huge difference in our approach to photography and creativity.
In my case, something as simple as taking the cap off my favorite fountain pen tells me that something significant is happening. It doesn’t mean that what I write is great, but that everything I do with that pen makes me happier than when I use a different pen. Cleaning the nozzles for each printer in the studio every Friday reminds me of the importance of printing in my work.
As you think about your little routines, I am sure that you might find something that, when you do it, makes everything seem better or more significant to your work. This week’s podcast explores some of those rituals and how we can try to find ways to improve on what we do by celebrating those small rituals by making more significant results in our work.
I recently saw a roadside coffee stand to offer 64oz lattes. That is about 1.8 liters for those of you on the metric system. It is a huge latte. It reminded me of being a kid when 7-11 introduced the Big Gulp, which is now tiny by today’s drink offerings. All of those numbers got me thinking about the impact of numbers on our photography in an age of computation.
Numbers drive so much of our photography. Shutter speeds, f/stops, star rankings, slider amounts, ISO and so many more numbers it is hard to say that numbers in the photograph don’t matter. However, I would argue that we spend too much time focused on the numbers and not what matters in the photograph, which is the heart. When we look at a photograph, we should be thinking about the numbers we should be thinking about how we feel, think, and respond to the image.
In this week’s podcast, I talk about how to approach your work so that you can remove much of the distraction of the numbers game and try to focus and return to the core of your photograph that lies in your heart and soul.
I recently watched a movie that felt a little too long. The overall concept was good. The action was good. The directing was good. The acting was good. The movie just felt like it was about 15 minutes too long. A little trim of some scenes here or there would have tightened up the film and made it better. I am sure if you think about your own viewing experience, you can come up with a movie or two that was the same.
So how does that translate into our photography? Much like a movie, our editing process, behind the camera and in the darkroom, requires us to make sure we put enough information into the story to provide all the necessary context to follow along, and at the same time, remove any unnecessary parts to keep the story from wondering. It is one of the significant challenges we have in making interesting photographs. Where is the intersection point between too much and not enough?
As you consider your approach to your photography, thinking about all the ways you try to reduce your approach with gear, language, techniques, remember that to tell the most straightforward and most compelling story that you need to be mindful of the long edit effect.