The challenge of should and would

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. 

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Does fear of missing out cost you?

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? 

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Small Rituals Big Results

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. 

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A numbers game

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. 

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Ever seen a movie that ran a little too long?

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. 

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Do you edit yourself out of your work?

We all spend a tremendous amount of time and energy, learning our style, voice, and vision as an artist. Unfortunately, it can become easy to fall into bad habits, quick filters, and popular trends that result in us editing our photographs to meet some other objective than our voice. In this week’s podcast, I take a look a how editing yourself out of your photographs can be easy to do, and the impact it can have on your work. I also talk about some ways you can look back at your images from previous editing sessions to spot issues, trends, or incorrectly applied techniques to identify problem areas. Once identified, you can start to edit the photos again leaning into your own process, identity, and voice to create a photograph that is more reflective of the true you rather than an arbitrary you. We are always growing and chasing who we are as a creative artist, but editing yourself out of your work, intentional or not, is a much harder road to making work that really matters to you. 

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Following breadcrumbs to your passions

Much like Hansel and Gretel, we often need to leave ourselves a way to get back home or to our creative place. If we use bread like Hansel and Gretel, we can easily get lost finding our way home. In this week’s podcast, I talk about how important it is to find your passion in your work and how to set some breadcrumbs to help you when you get lost. 

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Are you a how, why or where?

I have been working as a photographic educator for a long time. I have noticed in working with others something that has mirrored my own education as an artist which is the approach to viewing photographs.In this podcast, we break down the basic approach someone might take to view a photograph either their own or someone else’s work. I have identified three main buckets that I think people fit into to when looking at work.
The first bucket is the how bucket.

The second bucket is why you took a photograph.

The third bucket, and most significant in my opinion is the where bucket. Not as in where were you physically standing, but where were you in your heart and soul when you clicked the shutter.

All three have value, but I think that if you spend the time to understand where you were in your life, thoughts and being when you created your images you might find a path to your best work. 

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Routine is a winding road

Routines can be both good and bad. Routines help us keep organized, focused and hone our skills both technical and artistic. At the same time, some routines keep us from growing and changing. While some people advocate for a particular routine, I feel that each person should find a routine that works for them. By leveraging what strengths you already have and incorporating those into your process, you may find that you already have an effective way of working. If you, on the other hand, find your process to be too haphazard and disorganized each time you go out to photograph or work on your photographs, this is a chance to reshape your focus. 

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Do you have to be right?

This week’s podcast is a look at the importance of justify your opinion. Is it more important that you prove that you are right or that you make amazing work.

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Do you better your subjects?

As photographers, we are always trying to make our photos better. We might work with new camera gear, make editing enhancements in the darkroom or try out some technique in Photoshop. We are always trying to make the best photograph possible. In this week’s episode focuses on the importance of bettering not just the photograph but the subject of the photograph as well. Where is the source of your work coming from and what is its intention? Does your work come from ego alone or are you trying to make something bigger than yourself? As we work with our subjects, do we make sure that they get as much from the experience as the photographer does? As I explore this topic, we talk about how to find a real connection with your subjects and how to make sure that you aren’t just enhancing your images but also what you put in front of the lens. 

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March madness and photography

Every March in the US brings a bit of crazy to the workplace. The NCAA march madness tournament begins. This one and done competition has become a big focus of both all types of sports fans. Even people who don’t usually care about sports will fill out a bracket in their office pool. If you don’t know about the tournament, it starts with some play in games but gets set with 64 teams all trying to win the national championship for college basketball. The great part of the three weeks is that sometimes David does slay Goliath. The other big part of the season is that tons of people fill out a bracket in an attempt to figure out who will win what game and advance to the next round. Points are given, and dollars exchanged. It does bring an office together. However, as I no longer fill out a bracket and do the office thing, I did start to wonder could all the hype of the NCAA tourney be brought back into our creative practice. This week’s podcast is about how to use the craze and hype of bracketology to help us better our photograph and visual literacy.The first game is to select your 64 best images and put them into the bracket, and run images head to head to find your best. Remembering that it is a seeded tournament, so you have to break apart your one seeds from your two seeds. Upsets occur all the time to a 16 seed can beat a one seed. Second, you can list out your 64 biggest issue you have with your photography no matter how big or small and then use the bracket to help you narrow down your focus to only what needs your attention. Your final four eliminates 60 other things you think you need to focus on but can likely let go.

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