How noise can diminish your photography

This week’s podcast focuses on noise reduction in photography. Now you might be thinking that we are going to be talking about how to use the software in Lightroom, Photoshop or other tools to reduce the noise caused by higher ISO settings in digital photography but that is not the case. I am talking about the noise in our heads as we try to make new photographs or look at photographs. 

In the podcast, we will take a look at the impact of decision-making styles, interruptions, and how we make choices as ways to combat too much noise in our work. Hopefully, you will be able to find some quiet time and reconnect with your internal process for making decisions and celebrate your process as part of your creative life.

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Is over-planning impacting your photography?

This week’s podcast focuses on something that has impacted my photography and creative practice more than once–over-planning. When I am getting ready for a big trip or photographic adventure, I do a lot of research about where, when, and what to photograph. All that research can sometimes come in handy, but other times, this results in my over-planning my time costing me some photographic opportunities.

In my own process, I have found over-planning shows up and causes me some angst in five primary ways. I don’t think one is worse than another, but each can cause problems. Those areas in no particular order are:

over-packing too much gear

getting too much information to process

can’t react at the moment

can’t respond to cool changes in the plan

disappointment.

These five things often show up when I over-plan and don’t properly plan for my shoots. Do any of these show up in your process or do you have others not mentioned that happen when you over-plan an adventure?

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Games played and a lost and found

I recently watched a group of kids make up playing a game in the park and it sparked an idea for how to better approach my own photographic practice. This week’s podcast takes a look at that process and how the end result made for a new approach to my creative practice. 

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Why photographs should read, draw and sit still

I get asked all the time what it takes to be a better photographer. Is there a class to take or a book to read? I always come back to the basics that photography is about seeing, telling a story, and finding your sense of self in your work. This week’s podcast talks about the importance and value of taking the time to draw and sketch, reading all types of books and finally the importance of learning to observe the world around you. 

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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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