I often get asked what the things you can do to be a better photographer are. The two that are always at the top of my list are printing and consuming other people’s work. I like to use the analogy of ice cream when discussing other people’s work. Our work is one flavor of ice cream. Different people all have their own flavor. When we look at others’ work, it is like getting to try a new flavor of ice cream. We might like it. We might not. Either way, it helps us broaden our palate and understanding of photography or ice cream. Even if we love the flavor of our ice cream, trying other flavors will help us build a deeper understanding of what makes one brand of ice cream better than another. After all, not all Rocky Road ice cream is the same.
This week’s podcast is about how seeking out and trying a more diverse consumption of photography, much like ice cream, can help you build a deeper and more meaningful connection to your work. Because of the way photography history is shared, you will have to do extra work to find them. Much of the photographers we know from our photography classes come from a single perspective. So if you break out of that model, you will have to dig a little. Here are some suggestions.
Find a history of photography for a given country or culture.
Search for all photographers from a given country by genre in the library or online
Ask friends for a list of photographers.
Find a photographer you like and research who inspires them, or they like
Search online book stores for photographers you have never heard of using the you might also like feature of shopping websites
Search by publisher (www.photoeye.com makes it easy). If the publisher has one book you like they might have more. Some publishers also focus more on certain aspects of photography making it easier.
If you live in a city, find all the photographers you can from that city regardless of genre, race, age, camera type.
We used to be able to go to the movies, one of my favorite traditions was getting something from the concessions stands. Now I know they are a rip-off, but I just love having a treat during the movie. I am always somewhat annoyed; however, by the time it takes some people to pick a type of candy while in line. Now, I have read enough research to know that given too many choices, most of us can’t make a decision. Given too few choices and we rebel against our options. That leaves most of us in the Goldilocks zone of I want to have choices but not too many choices.
In this week’s podcast, we take a look at the impacts and some of the impacts of making choices and not making choices can have on our photography workflow. From capture to editing, there is no way around making choices. Luckily like most choices in life, we can change our minds after the fact. A photograph is very malleable and forgiving. The photo is always willing to grow, change, and evolve as our choices shift.
Ah, the great American past-time of complaining. Nothing beats hanging out with friends over a beer and complaining about all sorts of things in life. We love to complain about lots of things such as politics, weather, work, and even our photography. Photographers love to complain about all things photographic. Subscription fees, cameras, software, editing techniques, other people’s work are just the tip of the iceberg of topics photographers like to discuss.
In this week’s podcast, I dive into the complaint box and discuss why we complain about things, the payouts we get from complaining, and how to move forward from complaining about something all the time. Complaining is often just a symptom of something else going on. When we can get to the bottom of the issue, we can move forward with our work in a more positive direction. As you listen to this week’s episode, I hope you can think about some of your biggest complaints and maybe start down the path of letting them go so you can have more time to focus on your creative photography.
A couple of the things I hear photographs talk about all the time is hitting a wall, not getting good feedback, and fear in the face of change. In this week’s podcast, I tossed all of those issues into the Vitamix blender and hit high speed on the dial. No matter what problems you face, odds are you try to solve it by repeating the same behavior over and over. When we do that, more times than not, there is no change in the outcome.
When we need to have a change in our work, we need to try something different. Not new gear per se, but rather a new approach. If you don’t like the feedback you get, you need to find a way to ask for more meaningful feedback. If you have trouble editing images, the answer might be practicing the basics again. No matter what issue you are facing, sometimes all we need to try something different. While different can be scary, at least different has a shot of producing different results.
In her classic essay On Photography, Susan Sontag makes the statement:
Photographing is essentially an act of non-intervention.
So in this week’s podcast, I thought we would take a look at that quote and discuss how photographing and the viewing of photographs can be a non-intervening act. The photographs we make that are significant to us, and some of the photographs we view have a lasting impact. These things become acts and objects of the intervention. These photographs and the act of photographing can have a lasting effect on what we do and who we are. These images can become interventions in our lives that shift how we think, what we do, and what we believe.
In this week’s podcast, we focus on two aspects of the nature of critique. The how and the why of taking a photograph. The how is the technical side of things in creating the image. The why is who you are as a photographer in the photograph. The story of the image so to speak. When we work on images, ideally, we would have both aspects in our images. The image would be our best foot forward in both technical and story. However, in my experience, this isn’t always the case. There are a lot of us photographers who only are interested in a single aspect of the work. So this week’s discussion is about how to approach getting feedback, giving feedback, and how to possibly think about moving your work forward by listening to all aspects of the feedback.