We are business partners.
She typically drives the equipment truck safely city-to-city while I sit in the passenger seat and work on my computer. Both of us see the world through our different eyes. We argue much of the time and we agree occasionally. We respect each other’s opinions.
In our files we keep a collection of quotes from brilliant thinkers. Not all of these quotes are from photographers, specifically, but the words can be applied to our profession. Provocative quotes make us ponder our lives and keep us sharp and humble.
This will be Part#1 of the blog because we have so many more favorite quotes! Read on.
“Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.” ~ Henri Cartier-Bresson
Digital has made photography inexpensive and accessible. Henri was a career film photographer. Now we can spray & pray all day long with our 64G SD cards and never have to worry about the cost or time investment of developing the film in a darkroom.
Quite frankly, it took me a hell of a lot more than 10,000 photos to make a single portfolio image. I respect the lost art of the last-generation film photographer. Their commitment to the craft is something I may never completely understand.
We learn from our oopsies and from our on-the-job mistakes. Every tough lesson makes us a better photographer.
Once – at the top of my game as a corporate photographer – I was hired to make a large-scale group portrait of the Board of Directors. I loaded the 4×5″ sheet of film backwards into the camera. It was the worst day of my career. I rebounded with my tail between my legs.
Personal progress comes in baby-steps every time we press that shutter-release button. On the job experience, combined with after-hours study, brings success.
"The camera can’t put heart, soul, or passion into your photographs. That’s on you." ~ Unknown
If you give three chefs the same ingredients, tools, and same recipe for spaghetti marinara, the chef who cooks with passion will create the best meal.
If you give three people the same camera and the subject to capture. You will see snapshots versus photographs. It will be obvious which photographer loves their subject matter most. You can see who waits hours for the good light. You can see who pours their heart into post-processing their work.
A photograph created with passion will hold the eye of the viewer longer, because the viewer will feel that same passion.
Photography, at its most basic level, is a form of expression. A camera does not intuitively produce an impactful image. For this, we need to tap into our right-brain from which intuition, creativity, and imagination are derived. Our end goal is to capture what we feel rather than what we see. That emotion becomes contagious to the viewer.
Of course, we still need to “read the manual,” but technical skill alone is not enough. By combining these, your creativity can be utilized to the fullest.
“There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept.” ~ Ansel Adams
Photograph vs. Snap-Shot. Engaging composition captures your viewer and sends them on an emotional visual journey. The ideal “sweet spot” to shoot from is based upon the story you want to tell.
The moments before we take our camera out of the case are often where the most critical decisions are made. Don’t rush these moments, and then let the treasure hunt begin!
A good photograph tells a story with a single frame.
What are the elements? Are these elements contrasting or complementary? What is the overall mood of the photo? What is the main subject? Is the subject creating drama? How?
Of course we cannot achieve every goal in each photograph we make, but we can certainly pre-visualize the story and create more impactful images with some forethought.
“Comparison is the thief of joy.” ~ Theodore Roosevelt
We humans have a burning itch to find out where we stand in the pecking-order of our society. So we compare ourselves to our peers. Upon comparison, a tiny percentage determine that they are at the top of the food-chain, and the vast majority go into seclusion because they feel inadequate.
Photography forces us to climb out on a limb, naked… fully exposed and vulnerable to attack. Social media compounds this vulnerability, as attackers are often nameless and faceless trolls.
We all have different levels of skill and experience as image-creators. Challenge yourself to find satisfaction in your own photographs, and take it as a personal success when a troll takes the time to put you down, in an attempt to elevate themself.
Art is not a math problem. There is no right or wrong way to do it. Be patient, persistent, and insatiably curious to learn more. Chances are you are better than you think.
The reward lies in the process.
“I’m a professional photographer, which is why I tend bar for a living." ~ Ship S., DJI Photo Academy Student (during check-in interview)
Earning a living as a professional photographer might sound romantic, but the truth is what it is.
I was standing at the registration table when I heard these words come out of the mouth of one of our students. I nearly spit out my coffee! I had never heard such abrupt honesty about being a “professional” photographer. I actually gasped as I realized that he was part of the 98% who try to earn a full paycheck as a photographer and fell way short. We all laughed out loud, but it was a forlorn moment of reality.
Professional photography used to be a craft which required study of films, lens characteristics, light, and chemistry – this weeded out the masses.
Today we see iPhone images that blow our historical perspectives to smithereens. This is the new reality for professional photography. Still, to survive as a full-time pro photographer, the individual must exhibit strong business and sales skills. The photographer must imagine they are peddling used cars or timeshare condominiums. These is not an easy sell anymore.
Quality and good service over a few years will pay off and lead to a fruitful career as a photographer without having to pour beers for a paycheck. (nothing wrong with beer. Just sayin’.)