A sacred place or thing historically as been often associated with the worship of a deity or god. However, something can be sacred, even outside the context of religion. There could be places, people, ideas, or things that inspire, stimulate, are worthy of honor, or hold meaning in our lives. These sacred things could be very personal or allow us to connect with something bigger than just ourselves.
In this week’s podcast, we talk about how our approach to sacred can impact our photography. In some cases, it can shine a light on what matters to us when we photograph. Other times, it might help us understand why we gravitate towards one photograph over another. Other times, it might help us not pick up a camera out of respect for someone else’s sacred place. As we discuss this notion of sacred in photography, I hope that it gives you a chance to reflect on what is important to you in your work and how your work might be able to provide you with an opportunity to honor what really matters to you.
A friend recently recanted a story to me about how, when he was in school, they were only allowed to shoot one roll (36 frames) a week for homework. No more than that one roll for any week. He talked about how each frame became more critical because of the discipline and experience you had to have to get the best of the week in those 36 frames.
As he was talking, he mentioned that each frame was more precious than he imagined when he started. That got me thinking about the notion of precious in photography. This week’s podcast takes a look at how we approach the things we photograph, places we photograph, and ideas we photography as a container for what is precious to us. Rather than focusing on what is sharable, likable or not, this week I talk about how we can shift our approach to thinking about work and creating work so that each of however many frames we take are precious little gems.
A recent trip to the store had me overhear a couple talking about how opposites attract. I couldn’t get that idea out of my head and how it might apply to photography. I eventually made a list of opposites that I could think of related to photography. As I completed the list, I realized that many of these are no opposites that attract or repel but rather work together.
This week’s podcast takes a look at how to develop a list of opposites and how diving deeper into the word pairs can lead to a shift in your approach to seeing behind the camera and appreciating your photography. It doesn’t matter what you photograph or how far along you are in your process, getting a better understanding of your mental framing and approach to your work with this exercise might lead you to some interesting insights.
Ok, maybe there isn’t really wrong research. I do think there is the research we do before a trip that can have us create work that isn’t our best. In this week’s podcast, I talk about how your approach to researching where and what to photograph at any given location can be a problem in creating your work. I think research is essential when planning for a trip or outing. However, I do believe that if we spend most of our research time looking at other’s photographs online of the same places can negatively impact our work. Those images set a tone, expectation, and “correct” way of seeing that can become an undue influence.
Rather than looking at photographs of places you plan to visit, I would encourage you to do your research by reading about the history, culture, and spirit of a place. Maybe some novels or poems that are set in the location. Perhaps you look at some travel blogs but skip digging in on the images. The more your imagination can work to help you think about what you might photograph, the better. When we spend time looking at other images, we run the risk of replication, duplication, or disappointment because of the quality of light isn’t the same. By shifting how we prepare for that trip, we might be able to find a better way to approach our photography. With that new approach, we might get more photographs that we enjoy.
This week’s podcast takes a deeper dive into the question we discussed last week about facing difficult times in your creative process.
I think everyone gets stuck sometimes and ends up in a dark place when creating.
There are times when you have to take photographs because the bills depend on them being made, but even then, those photographs can be hard to make. You have a voice in your head telling you that things are hard, can’t be done, and you just aren’t feeling it. At times you feel like you are on the road to nowhere. When that happens, what is a photographer to do?
In this episode, I try to talk about some of my feelings when this happens and what I focus on to help with the process. I also talk about how focusing on the measure of photography, reasons for photographing and the power of feeling lost in the dark has as you turn the corner on your process — learning that being nowhere can help you find what is inside your own voice and show you that you are better today because of what you did yesterday.
As we kick off 2020, I thought I would make this week’s podcast all about the five most common questions I got asked in 2019 that weren’t related to camera gear or printing. I thought each question was exciting and provided an interesting insight into the creative process.
Here are the questions I talk about in the podcast this week. I hope that you find the questions as enjoyable as I did.
1. What was the biggest lesson you learned in 2019?
2. How long does it take to become a professional photographer?
3. Do you have any good books for me to read?
4. How do you know when to work in black and white?
5. Do you ever get stuck in your process and feel like you can’t create following your process?
As we close down the year and decade, many of us start to look back and reflect on the past year or ten. I am not a huge fan of looking back at what was cool in 2015 as a part of the decade. I would much rather think about the coming year. As photographers, we are always dealing with time and issues in time. It is part of the reading of photographs and the making of photographs.
As the new year dawns, I got to thinking about how much time there is. I hear from so many people how time is lost, and there isn’t time to make the photographs they want. So in this final podcast of 2019, I talk about how your approach to giving yourself time from making empty spaces can be one of the best gifts you can give yourself to start the new year.
I’m excited to be producing my 250th episode of the podcast for this week. It is a milestone that I never imagined when I started years ago, and it has been fun thinking about all the episodes I have had the honor to create thus far. As I began to reminiscing, I realized how much my podcast, while photography and creativity focused, isn’t really about being a better photographer by using a formula, but rather more about a wandering path.
That realization got me thinking about how much we can miss in our photography and learning when we try to focus our scope of work down so small that we miss the big picture. While it might be valuable at times to have a defined sequence of events, much of our creativity isn’t driven by that method. If we get closed-minded, we can miss the boat. Maybe we solve the wrong problem. Maybe we miss out on new information. Maybe we mark an accomplishment and yet feel as if nothing was done. No matter what you might be feeling, you can shift your approach to your photography in a meaningful way by embracing a more chaotic approach to your path and consistently remind yourself that it might not be as simple as A to B to C.
I was recently helping a friend who was insistent that his camera lens needed to be adjusted because it wasn’t able to properly autofocus. I tried to tell him that it was likely a technique issue, but he was insistent. So he and I got together to test the lens, and sure enough, it was him and not the lens.
As I reflected on the experience, I got to thinking bout how many of us have a manual focus autofocus issue in our photography. In the old days, most people who missed focus would assume it was them and not the camera, but as automation comes into play with “better” technology, we seem to blame the gear quickly. In this week’s podcast, we talk about how we approach the source of a problem that can have reaching implications into our shooting and editing of our photographs. No matter what issues you face as a photographer, you will need to sort out how you will approach things when it turns out that it isn’t your camera but you that has an issue.
Most photographers, when they are learning about camera gear, learn that the lens controls the perspective. This isn’t exactly accurate; the subject to lens distance determines perspective along with the point of view. However, from a podcast a few weeks ago about fear, I was asked about perspective and meaningful photography. This week’s podcast is about how our perspective and approach to the things we photograph will be a cornerstone for what defines important personal photography.
I don’t know a photographer who sets out to make or take bad photographs. Yet, we all come home with lots and lots of bad pictures. In this week’s podcast, we take a look at the value of the bad photograph. I feel too many photographers don’t take photographs for fear of the bad photo, but you have to respect the photographer that in the face of that fear is willing to pick up the camera and make photos every day. While most of us might want to avoid making them, I argue that there is value in appreciating and making bad photographs.
I have often wondered what people think is the hardest thing to photograph. When I have conversations about this, those conversations more often than not start with some technical aspects of photography. Learning how to use studio lighting, getting in a good location, or finding a unique vantage point are all topics I hear people talk about.
This week’s podcast focuses on what I feel is the hardest thing to photograph. That is the thing that causes us to feel fear or some reason. Maybe it is not photographing people for fear of rejection, or perhaps it is not figuring out what is unique about a location to you, so you end up with a cliched shot. No matter what you photograph, I would venture to say that at some point, you haven’t gotten the shot you wanted because of some fear. The challenge we all face is that in the face of that fear, can we still photograph. My guess is that when you take the risk, you end up with some fantastic photographs.