It’s a long, long road

I hope that you and your family are safe during the COVID-19 outbreak. For a lot of us, we are following stay-at-home orders and not going out much. For those of you stuck in essential jobs, thank you for continuing to do your job. I have had several conversations with my photographer friends about how they are dealing with all of these changes. For many of them, while stressed about the general situation, they felt it was an opportunity to really dive into their work. While this has been true for some, for others not so much.

In this week’s podcast, I talk about how important it is to remember that not only is dealing with our current crisis a long road ahead, but so is photography a long road. Along that road will be many stops, twists, turns, and changes. What matters most is that you find your center and focus on the key things you need in your life now. For some that might be going all-in on photography and for others, that creative spark might seem gone. No matter where you are, know that the journey will continue. Finding your center and focusing on what matters most, keeping your energy up, and recognizing that sometimes we need to cut ourselves some slack when we aren’t getting done all that we thought we would.

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A turning point in your work

In this week’s podcast, we take a look at the importance of recognizing when you hit a turning point in your work. This might be technical, where you finally learn your workflow tools and feel confident editing. It might be in learning how to use some camera features that you always planned on learning. The turning point might also be more in your artistic vision as you learn to communicate more deeply what you are thinking and feeling behind the camera. No matter where you are in your process, each of these turning points furthers you on your journey and should be celebrated for what they are, a gift.

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More things change & the fear of simple mistakes

I am often amazed at how often we get caught up in the most simple of problems. It doesn’t matter if it is as simple as picking a new camera or picking out what image to edit and print. We can spin around and around trying to get a problem resolved that we have made more complicated than it needs to be. Many times, the best images, solutions and ideas have a simplicity to them. Not that they aren’t complex in composition, meaning or structure, but rather our experience of those images and ideas make them more than the sum of their parts.
In this week’s podcast, we take a look at some of the simple mistakes we can make as photographers and how to put our best foot forwards to getting what we want out of our photography.

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Putting your best photographic print forward

As photographers, we should be making prints. There are a whole host of reasons why we should make prints: the materiality of it, shareability, improved seeing, longevity, or some other reason you might have. We also spend a considerable amount of our time looking at photographs that are mere reproductions of the original image. In this week’s podcast, I tackle the importance of looking at the best prints and reproductions possible. Often when we think about someone’s photographs, it is from copies we might have seen on the Internet or in a book. In many cases, those will pale by comparison to the original work (and in some cases exceed). As viewers and creators of photographs, we need to make sure that we are putting our best foot forward in our prints and also contextualizing the work of the others so that we can properly evaluate their work.

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The misguided adventures of composition in photography

Photographers are an odd bunch. We often find our conversations drifting from one absolute to nothing be absolute. One area that I have always found interesting, and seems to fit this back and forth, is how approach and talk about composition. When you learn about photography and photographs, we talk about the rules of composition, elements of composition, and how they should be followed. Then as soon as tell people to follow them, we ask them to break the rules to be exciting or showcase examples of a photographer who has been able to make interesting photographs by not following the rules.
In this week’s podcast, I take a look at how our misguided approach to thinking about and discussing composition can be a problem. We will look at how photographs with composition and not subject are no better than images with good subjects and no composition. Ultimately, we need to understand how various elements of composition come together in a photograph to help us understand and appreciate the photograph, intention of the photographer, and possible meanings of the photograph. While composition might be all about connecting and making space and dimension in a photograph, as photographers, our ability to understand composition is central to getting work created that speaks to who we are as photographers.

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How does being focused on production lead to unnecessary pressure in our photography?

It is really easy to feel overburdened when working on your photography. There is so much to learn, photograph, and share that you can quickly start to feel like you are under a tremendous amount of pressure to deliver. It might be pressure for time, expectations being met, desire, or just plain ego. No matter the cause, the notion that we are under so much pressure to produce that we get stuck might be caused by how we think about production and creating meaningful work.
When we get under too much pressure, it can result in us not having a chance to create meaningful work. We begin to think about all the things that can go wrong or breakdown in our process rather than celebrating the good. What we need are some release values to help us identify and remove some of the pressure. In this week’s podcast, we take a look at how the idea that pressure and production of images are related and some techniques or release values to help us move past and get out from under this feeling.

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When the camera does it job better than you thought possible, then what is the excuse for bad photographs?

I was having a conversation about the advances in camera technology and how at some point in the not to distant future the camera will make a perfect captured frame with exact colors, focus, infinity depth-of-field possibilities, etc. My friend was all excited about that possibility. I, in turn, asked what happens when the camera is no longer to blame for a bad photograph? And if it isn’t the camera, how is that different today.

In this week’s podcast, we dive into that question of what is really at the core of a bad photograph. Over the course of the podcast, I talk about how if we assume the great camera exists, what impacts will that have on how we critique, edit and review our work and the work of others. In the end, I realize that even with today’s amazing cameras, it might be time that we stop making excuses for not seeing as if they were rooted in the camera faults because one day, that may not be an option

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How sacred places, people and things can change our approach to our photography

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.

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Notions of the precious photographic moment

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.

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Why opposites aren’t always an either or proposition

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.

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The wrong type of research can ruin a photograph

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.

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The road to nowhere

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.

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