Podcast #202 Do you know a bad photograph?

I have been struggling lately trying to understand why so many more bad photographs are out there. Part of it is a volume game. Part of it is an education game. However, I am not focusing on the bad photographs from someone who doesn’t aspire to make great photographs. This weeks’ podcast is focused on why a photographer who wants to make great work continue to put out bad photographs. 

As I spent time reflecting on this, I realized that we spend so much time consuming bad photography that it impacts how we see behind the camera. Like eating nothing but junk food, it is hard to be healthy when nothing good is consumed. So how do we get better? We spend time looking at better work. Look at photo books, museums, and photographers we respect. Spending time with great works inspires us to do great work.

To be better at making good photography, we need to find a way to consume good photography. By removing and eliminating the terrible part of our visual diet, we can work to see better and make better photographs. Sure junk food now and then is ok, but you can’t live on cake alone.

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Value of note taking

One of the most overlooked skills to develop as a photographer is good note taking habits. Before the wealth of data provided by digital cameras, note taking was essential to understanding your exposure, subject matter and development needs.

Outside the understanding the technical aspects of photography, note taking can also help you to relate and connect with your work in the field. Note taking can help you remember the emotions, feelings, and sensory experiences you were having while taking a photograph. Because photographs lack all the senses outside of seeing, it is easy to forget that smell, texture or taste might compel us to make a photograph. By taking notes, you can help remind yourself of the experience or better yet figure out how to incorporate that experience into your photograph before you click the shutter.

In the end, we all want to make better photographs. Taking notes can help you learn more about your technical and artistic choices faster. You will have a record of why you did what you did and a solid foundation to build from when you can reference what you were thinking at the time.

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Giving Thanks

This is the 200th episode of the podcast. Eva, my australian shepherd, is in the studio today like always. She wanted to remind me that it is the 1400 dogcast. Anyway, dog humor aside, this week’s podcast is about being thankful for connecting with photography. There have been so many people who have influenced my work over the years, and many of them have no idea how much impact they have had. Over the course of the week where I was thinking about those people, I got to thinking about how important photography is in connecting us. 

So as we turn into 2019, I hope that you find ways to use your photography to connect with others by sharing, talking about and viewing the work of others. Using your photography not just to work on skills and technique, but rather to find a way to build real connections to people by sharing ideas, stories and feelings in the capture of light. 

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Hardest thing in photography

This week’s podcast starts with a quick rant against people who review photography gear, products, and methods which they haven’t ever used the product. I am amazed at how many people use a product for a few minutes, hours or never use the product and still feel qualified to write a review. If you find people who are writing or speaking about products they don’t use, it might be worth your time to find a different reviewer. 

The main topic of this week’s podcast is about the hardest thing in photography. In my work with others and more hours than I care to admit in my introspection, I feel like the hardest thing to do in photography is be authentic without reacting to our insecurities. The willingness to stick to who we are as photographers against a tidal wave of opinions telling us to do or be something else is so hard. We are inundated with people telling us to be something else, photograph something else, or try something new when really what we should be doing is focusing on how amazing the chance to see through the lens and experience more of ourselves photographing things we love. That is the essence of photography. Being amazed by the world around us and finding our connection to the places, people, subjects and emotions. Yet, there is so much noise around us telling us to be something else. The gear we need. Lessons to learn. Things to avoid because others photograph them. Learning to turn off everything that keeps us from being who we are and were meant to be might just be the hardest part of photography. 

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Podcast #198 Feeling Exhausted?

As the end of the year draws closer, I keep hearing more and more people talk about how tired they are. The holiday season and current state of the world has so many people I know feel like they are burning a very short candle at both ends. This week’s podcast is focused on how we get to the point of exhaustion and some ways to hold, live with and move through the experience. I know in my own practice the regular everyday life events keep me busy. When you compound holidays, the loss of my brother a year ago, ever-changing software to learn, photos to take and so many other parts of my photography to keep on top of, it can be so hard to stay on top of it all. 

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Podcast #197 Different doesn’t mean original

In rereading The Zen of Creativity again, I discovered a paragraph where he talks about how being different doesn’t make you original or unique in your creative practice. This week’s podcast dives into how we approach our photography and photographic work as it relates to originality. You often read about how important it is to be different in photography to stand out from the crowd. Yet, when you look at photographs are they really that unique or even that different. I many cases, photos often look the same even when different. So what is it that we should focus on rather than just trying to be different. Originality comes from the work origin which in turn means from the source or place where something arises or is derived. It isn’t applying something different in the darkroom or photoshop. Originality comes from a new source or place. Shouldn’t our goal be to find originality in our work rather than just trying to be different?

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Podcast #196 Season of giving

I get asked by family and friends this time of year what makes a good gift for a photographer. In past years, I have talked about books or gear that I think might make for a nice gift. This year I wanted to return to this idea but provide some other gift options that I think most photographers could appreciate but might not ask for.

If you are a photographer, give you photographs to family and friends. Nothing is more meaningful than a gift from the heart you created. This gift will also force you to finish your images and make some prints which is always good practice.
Give meaningful feedback about someone’s work. Take the time to send the photographer an email or take them out for coffee and really talk about what their work or one of their projects. The feedback will mean so much for than a passing like on a social media app.
Give away old cameras so that others can start their road into photography. 
Give or create a space for you to be creative. Give up on the pressure of making something, improving, selling and try to relax and remember that it was the love of photography that got you started with the camera. 
This year I am recommending books not related to photography, but to other interest, a photographer might have. It might inspire them to do more work or help them better understand a project or photograph they have undertaken. 
Tickets to a museum to see some art.

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Podcast #195 We all live in Crazytown

We all have a house in crazy town. As much as we like to think that our crazy thoughts, insecurities, and ideas are unique, if you spend time talking to any creative person, you will quickly find that they have crazy thoughts too. In this week’s podcast, I spend some time talking about how we live and work in crazy town. I hope that once you learn about your own sense of crazy that you might find support and friendship by sharing your own version of crazy with others. 

Sometimes when we share, we learn that we all suffer the same insecurities, fears, hopes, and dreams. If we spend time only focusing on our own story and voice inside our heads, we can go crazy. By sharing and listening to the stories of others, sometimes we can break down those fears and barriers that hold us back. 

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Podcast #194 Should it be easy?

When you read content on the Internet, you will eventually run across material that falls along the lines of five easy steps to a good photograph or three easy ways to make killer portraits. There are literally thousands of these lists. I imagine I have written...

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Podcast #192 Distance and intimacy in photography

Someone asked me recently about what is the correct distance to shoot a photograph. I was a first taken back by the question because it seemed a little strange to me. After digging a little, it was apparent that the photographer was interested in making sharp photographs. So we talked depth of field and subject distance impacts as options. However, the topic got me thinking more and more about distance as it relates to intimacy in photography. 

In my experiences, one of the most significant indicators of a great photograph is the level of intimacy between the photographer and subject/subject matter. You can feel it when you looked at a picture when the photographer was really connected to the work. As we continue to find ways to see the difference in the world, I feel that we strongly desire a connection to people and place. In our photographs, if we can find a way to make more intimate relationships to the objects on the other side of the lens, we might just see that our true intimacy comes from building real ties to those people, places, and things. Even in a fleeting moment, we can find respect and harmony and trust through the lens. So in this week’s podcast, we take a dive into what intimacy might do for our work. 

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Podcast #191 Imagination and our photographic process

I have always been amazed by people who are willing to share their imaginations with others. The more fantastic the story, the better. For me personally, I think we all have those stories in us, but for some reason, many of us don’t share them. In this week’s podcast, we are going all in on the importance of imagination in our photography. 

This doesn’t mean that you are doing compositing or making crazy sets to photograph, but it is about really allowing your storytelling to be about the worlds you live in and imagine every day. Sharing the fantastic of what you experience. In the podcast, I talk about how imagination in my cats to kids all showcase how everyday things become amazing, but we as adults often forget how to allow that to escape. Or even worse, we treat it as crazy. At the end of the podcast, I give you a couple of ideas to help you connect with your inner imagination and hopefully find a way to let it out through the camera. 

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