I had a conversation with a friend a while back about photography and at one point, relating to photo editing, I asked him, Why do you care what someone else does so much? There was a long, almost uncomfortably long pause. The answer that he gave didn’t really matter much to me, but that pause really got me thinking about the idea of why do we care about things the way we do.
So this week’s podcast dives into the notion of caring about your work and how it impacts you and the viewers of your work.
When I was younger, I worked for a high-tech startup that had to lay most of the company off in order to survive. They didn’t do anything but prolong their demise, but the language used during the layoffs has stuck with me. I hadn’t thought about it in a long time but recently heard someone say it when talking about photographs. The phrase used when I was laid off and in the review was This isn’t personal. It’s just business. The thing that stuck with me all these years is that it is business to the sender of the message, but nothing but personal to the receiver. This week’s podcast examine the impact of that phrase when talking photography.
Sometimes when we look at a photograph, we just don’t get it. We move on and don’t give it another thought. However, assuming the photographer was attempting to make something meaningful with there work, the photograph does have something to say. I have grown to think that it is our job to try and understand our reactions to photographs so that we can better understand the photographer. While we may not fully appreciate the images, if we can walk a mile in their shoes we might gain some deeper understanding into who they are and how they move through the world. In turn, maybe someone will offer us the same kindness. In this week’s podcast, I talk about how spending the time to think about the experiences of someone that led to the making the image can tell us a lot about who we are and how we see the world even in someone else’s image.
In a follow-up to last week’s podcast on the value of interviewing others and yourself about photography, this week we talk about some possible subjects or ideas to consider when planning your interview. I always recommend that you start with the work. Look closely at the images and projects someone has created to get focused. Think about what you want to know about how the work came about, what they learned from the work, and their approach. As long as your asking questions that focus more on the why and awareness of the images and projects, you really can’t go wrong.
One of my favorite exercises I use to teach photography and learn about my own work is called the interview project. This process involves you doing enough research about a photographer you are inspired by or want to learn from and then create a set of 10 to 20 interview questions that you would want to use to interview them. In some cases, you might be lucky and be able to use those questions to interview the photographer. Still, sometimes they might no longer be alive. Either way, part of the process is to answer those questions as if you were the photographer. This will help you get some insights into how you might approach the work. You then use those same questions, slightly modified to fit your work, and then interview yourself.
The podcast this week walks you through the process and so possible insights you might be able to get with a simple little exercise that gives you big rewards in understanding your own process and work.
Sometimes it is the little things that can make all the difference. In a photograph, it might be a shift in POV or depth of frame. In our printing, it might be the right paper selection. No matter what you are working on a small change can be a big deal. However, as the days seemingly run together in this year of COVID, I got to thinking about how easy it is to miss the small changes since everything and every day seem to blend.
This week’s podcast takes a look at how small changes can impact your photography and work. Hopefully, they can inspire you to try out the same or think about what small changes you will carry forward even when things shift out of our 2020 way of being.