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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That song is driving me crazy

Ever get a song stuck in your head? One that loops or part of it loops, over and over again. It just won’t seem to go away like a never-ending punishment for some karma thing you did. It turns out that part of the reason this happens is that we can’t finish the song or remember the rest of the song. In many cases, just listening to the song will help us move past the mind-numbing loop. Our photograph can be a little like that at times. We have some aspect of our work or our process that never seems to finish. We can’t let it go either, so it loops over and over. We might try to avoid it, but we know that it will just keep coming back. In this week’s podcast, we take a look at how these loops can happen in our work and in some ways they impact what we do and how to break the cycle. 

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Stick a fork in it

Listening to a couple at a restaurant recently, I overheard one of them say stick a fork in me I am done. After what I presume to be a big meal, they were not going to finish their meal. Over the coming days, I got to wondering about can we stick a fork in our photograph and be done? Are we ever full?

This week’s podcast examines some of the reasons why I don’t think you can stick a fork into your photography. From editing to inspiration to learning a new craft, there is so much that we are taking in from all aspects of photography that we aren’t ever really done. We might be done with a print or an edit, but even then we learn from that image as we look at it on the wall or the screen. That looking informs us of how to approach the next picture. As you look at your work and process, I am sure that there are times that feel like being done, but if you look back at your past work and imagine work in the future, I imagine that you to might realize there is no fork for photography.

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Inspiration requires a little work

Watching the bees get to work in the garden reminded me of the importance of inspiration AND the work to get inspired. Inspiration is a topic that comes up a lot among my artist friends. We talk about how we get it, find it, avoid it and respond to it. As I sit and listen to them talk, it occurred to me that inspiration is a process; not the actual inspiration, but the rituals that lead up to your inspiration. In this week’s podcast, I talk about the importance of recognizing the things that you do before you feel inspired. Maybe it is writing with a favorite pen or drinking your morning coffee in a special cup. By noticing what you do before you feel inspired can help you understand what you need to do again to feel inspired. Your challenge this week is to spend the time to recognize what happens in the days, hours and moments before your inspiration moving you to create. 

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Check your attitude at the door

In this week’s podcast we talk about how our attitude towards our photography, subject, learning and viewing photographs can make a huge difference in our ability to view and see through the camera. Waking up on the wrong side of the bed or starting the day off great can make a huge difference in how you process the days events. My challenge to you during and after listening to the podcast is to find a way to check your attitude all the time and make sure that you really putting into your work the experience, ideas and feelings you want to have with the work. If you want sad, angry or bland work for some reason then do so with intention. Make sure that no matter what you are doing in your creative life it is with the approach and passion you want. 

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Are technically good photos well seen?

This week’s podcast is a free form rant of sorts about how we talk about seeing in photography. While there are skills necessary to understand how and why a photograph might be seen as a good photograph, that doesn’t mean it was well seen. Knowing that using the rule of thirds and a blue shirt in an image makes people respond to it more doesn’t say it was well seen. Seeing a photograph is about more than having a good composition or technical skill set. It is about something more and more profound that has to come from inside each of us. So this week, I spent a lot of time thinking about how we see and view images and why is it that seeing well is so hard. Without much of an outline or script, I spent the time in front of the mic riffing on so of the randomness that comes to mind. 

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