Become a better photographer by seeking out diversity in the photographs you look at

I often get asked what the things you can do to be a better photographer are. The two that are always at the top of my list are printing and consuming other people’s work. I like to use the analogy of ice cream when discussing other people’s work. Our work is one flavor of ice cream. Different people all have their own flavor. When we look at others’ work, it is like getting to try a new flavor of ice cream. We might like it. We might not. Either way, it helps us broaden our palate and understanding of photography or ice cream. Even if we love the flavor of our ice cream, trying other flavors will help us build a deeper understanding of what makes one brand of ice cream better than another. After all, not all Rocky Road ice cream is the same.

This week’s podcast is about how seeking out and trying a more diverse consumption of photography, much like ice cream, can help you build a deeper and more meaningful connection to your work. Because of the way photography history is shared, you will have to do extra work to find them. Much of the photographers we know from our photography classes come from a single perspective. So if you break out of that model, you will have to dig a little. Here are some suggestions.

Find a history of photography for a given country or culture.
Search for all photographers from a given country by genre in the library or online
Ask friends for a list of photographers.
Find a photographer you like and research who inspires them, or they like
Search online book stores for photographers you have never heard of using the you might also like feature of shopping websites
Search by publisher (www.photoeye.com makes it easy). If the publisher has one book you like they might have more. Some publishers also focus more on certain aspects of photography making it easier.
If you live in a city, find all the photographers you can from that city regardless of genre, race, age, camera type.

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Do you prefer to pick Junior Mints or Skittles when going to the movies and other thoughts on choices we make in photography

We used to be able to go to the movies, one of my favorite traditions was getting something from the concessions stands. Now I know they are a rip-off, but I just love having a treat during the movie. I am always somewhat annoyed; however, by the time it takes some people to pick a type of candy while in line. Now, I have read enough research to know that given too many choices, most of us can’t make a decision. Given too few choices and we rebel against our options. That leaves most of us in the Goldilocks zone of I want to have choices but not too many choices.
In this week’s podcast, we take a look at the impacts and some of the impacts of making choices and not making choices can have on our photography workflow. From capture to editing, there is no way around making choices. Luckily like most choices in life, we can change our minds after the fact. A photograph is very malleable and forgiving. The photo is always willing to grow, change, and evolve as our choices shift.

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Do you run a complaint department?

Ah, the great American past-time of complaining. Nothing beats hanging out with friends over a beer and complaining about all sorts of things in life. We love to complain about lots of things such as politics, weather, work, and even our photography. Photographers love to complain about all things photographic. Subscription fees, cameras, software, editing techniques, other people’s work are just the tip of the iceberg of topics photographers like to discuss.
In this week’s podcast, I dive into the complaint box and discuss why we complain about things, the payouts we get from complaining, and how to move forward from complaining about something all the time. Complaining is often just a symptom of something else going on. When we can get to the bottom of the issue, we can move forward with our work in a more positive direction. As you listen to this week’s episode, I hope you can think about some of your biggest complaints and maybe start down the path of letting them go so you can have more time to focus on your creative photography.

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When you get stuck, trying something else sometimes does work better

A couple of the things I hear photographs talk about all the time is hitting a wall, not getting good feedback, and fear in the face of change. In this week’s podcast, I tossed all of those issues into the Vitamix blender and hit high speed on the dial. No matter what problems you face, odds are you try to solve it by repeating the same behavior over and over. When we do that, more times than not, there is no change in the outcome.

When we need to have a change in our work, we need to try something different. Not new gear per se, but rather a new approach. If you don’t like the feedback you get, you need to find a way to ask for more meaningful feedback. If you have trouble editing images, the answer might be practicing the basics again. No matter what issue you are facing, sometimes all we need to try something different. While different can be scary, at least different has a shot of producing different results.

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Is photography about non-intervention or do we play an active role in our creating and viewing of images

In her classic essay On Photography, Susan Sontag makes the statement:
Photographing is essentially an act of non-intervention.
So in this week’s podcast, I thought we would take a look at that quote and discuss how photographing and the viewing of photographs can be a non-intervening act. The photographs we make that are significant to us, and some of the photographs we view have a lasting impact. These things become acts and objects of the intervention. These photographs and the act of photographing can have a lasting effect on what we do and who we are. These images can become interventions in our lives that shift how we think, what we do, and what we believe.

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The notions of how and why in the critique of your photography?

In this week’s podcast, we focus on two aspects of the nature of critique. The how and the why of taking a photograph. The how is the technical side of things in creating the image. The why is who you are as a photographer in the photograph. The story of the image so to speak. When we work on images, ideally, we would have both aspects in our images. The image would be our best foot forward in both technical and story. However, in my experience, this isn’t always the case. There are a lot of us photographers who only are interested in a single aspect of the work. So this week’s discussion is about how to approach getting feedback, giving feedback, and how to possibly think about moving your work forward by listening to all aspects of the feedback.

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Does binge-watching television programs impact your photography?

In this week’s podcast, I talk about some of the impacts that might appear in your photo editing and viewing as a result of binge-watching. While it is fun to sit down and consume a show from beginning to end as fast a possible, there is a cost to this approach. Much like eating good food, without a palate cleanser, our ability to sense subtle nuances in how we see, taste, and experience the object of our affection is lost. We need to have a way to reset our visuals and start fresh. As we dive into this subject this week, I discuss some impact binging can have on our editing and selection process. I also discuss some ideas for how to refresh our process so that we don’t fall into a bland diet of visual consistency.
While you may not think this applies to you, you might be surprised at how your consumption of social media, your own library of images, and the other visuals you watch impact how you approach your photography. Maybe, with a little bite of ginger once in a while as you work on your photos, you might find some treasures you never saw before.

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The notion of mundane and the art of stir crazy

This week’s podcast focuses on the impacts in our photography when the days, projects, images, and seeing seem to drag into each other over and over again. The groundhog effect, so to speak. I don’t think there is a person out there who hasn’t had a negative sense of deja vu when it comes to there photography. Maybe you are stuck working locally rather than getting to travel. Perhaps you think you are editing what seems like the same image again and again. The mundane comes in all sorts of flavors. While it can be a challenge to face the same repetitive task over and over again, there is value in meeting this pattern head-on. You might be surprised by the impacts and what you see on the other side of your photography and seeing.

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Do you think about your ethics as a photographer?

I hope that you and your family are safe during the COVID-19 outbreak. This week’s podcast is based on a request from one of our listeners regarding a question of ethics in photography. Ethics, our sense of doing what is right and wrong, is at the core of each of us. As photographers, our understanding of right and wrong regarding what and when to photograph should be a key consideration we make..

While those ethics are different for each person and depending on your job might be different because of what you are assigned to photograph, as a community, we should be talking more and more about the ethics of making photographs. There is always an impact on taking and sharing a photo on the people and places we photograph when our choices cause side effects even when unintended.

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Time, acceptance and the value of a daily check-in

I hope that you and your family are safe during the COVID-19 outbreak. This week’s podcast is a direct response to conversations I have been having with my friends and associates as they struggle to deal with their creative process during the pandemic. As the days drag on from one to another, the creative spark for many people has become less enjoyable and harder to maintain.

This week’s podcast focuses on the importance of doing a daily check-in. Really looking at how you are doing with your well-being. Not just your creativity, but your health, mental, spiritual, and emotional well-being too. With this awareness, there is much to be gained by acceptance of where you are at.

Accepting your current state doesn’t mean giving in to where you are. Instead, you build from the strength that comes from naming your experience and finding peace in that awareness. From there, we can find a path to the next steps. Rather than pushing back on our creative process or lack of creative process, we can see there is strength in truthful storytelling through our photography. No matter how that story is told.

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Digging into your archives

I hope that you and your family are safe during the COVID-19 outbreak. I have been having some conversations with people lately about how they create their work. In the course of those discussions, I have found that a lot of people seem to focus on the next thing. However, in my experience, there is a lot of information to be gained by returning to your own photography library and looking at it with new eyes.

In this week’s podcast, we talk about a few different ways to dive deep into your older work looking for new patterns, concepts, ideas, ways of seeing and hopefully gaining some new insights into your process. There is a lot to be gained by learning to see patterns and ways of seeing even when we weren’t aware of them at the time we made the photos. Hopefully, if you take the time to do a little digging, you might be surprised at what you learn about your approach to photography.

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Thinking about time and photography

I hope that you and your family are safe during the COVID-19 outbreak. As we all have been forced to make changes to our daily routines, it got me thinking about time. Time is one of those things at the foundation of photography, and I believe, defines a unique aspect of photography as a medium and form of communication. I also have begun to really realize the awareness impact of having less time everyday can have on my approach to my work. As photographers, we are bound by our sense of time and relationship to time in our work. We can extend time, compress time, slice time or shift time. In each image is some how our relationship to time.

In this week’s podcast, time takes a center stage and I talk about how our approach to time, loss, memory, and abstractions alters our thinking and approach to making photographs.

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