Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Should photographers be a little more anti-social?

Anti- social networking that is. With the explosion of twittering, facebooking, blogging and general social networking going on in the pro photography community these days I wonder if camera manufacturers should be adding texting keyboards to their pro level DSLR's as well as video. Not if high end commercial shooter Tim Tadder has anything to say about it. He serves up a good reminder of the importance of photographers keeping their focus point on what really matters, making images that absolutely ROCK!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Critical Reviews

The only serious photographer who should be remotely ashamed of his current body of work is the one who can no longer scoff contemptuously at the work he was creating a year ago. It's a good idea to submit your best stuff to QUALIFIED critics from time to time as a path to new growth but the more you invest in qualifying yourself to become your own best critic, the faster you will grow.

Here is the danger in that. I don't think I've been fully satisfied with an image I've created in a long time. I try not to lie to myself but I know I can do better... every time. Sometimes the critic I've developed in myself takes the joy and passion out of what I am creating right now.

When I see that happening I give him the day off. I pull out my camera phone and take pictures of the Don King hairdo I made on my 14 month old out of bath time soap bubbles. I set up the tripod and shoot a lousy stop motion animation of my 8 year old and I building a Lego model. I throw up the lights at a family reunion and allow myself to take over lit snapshots of the people I love. In essence, I try to go back to the days when the camera was a toy instead of a tool. I give myself permission to suck at photography for a day and enjoy it.

I'll also take some time to review the work I've shot in the past. I let the critic in me rip the photographer I used to be a little so he can ease up on the one I am today. I can see the development from one month to the next but I'm also inspired again by some of the hidden gems tucked away in those old directories. It's nice to see how many times I got it right, even when I didn't know the precise, technical, photographic definition of "right."

I find that I always come back to the paycheck work with a fun sense of humor, a more relaxed spirit, and a renewed passion for image making. It tends to show up in my frames like a proverbial catch light; a sparkle that people feel when it's there but they can't put their finger on what makes that image better than the one where that subtle thing is missing.

If you get discouraged by your images now and then, that's good. It's the mark of an unrelenting drive to be better. Just don't stay there, and sure enough don't let anyone else put you there, especially online critics of your work. If you are better than you were a year ago, congratulate yourself and keep trudging ahead. If not, I don't care how good you are, you need to shake it up, because you could be... you should be, a whole lot better. Don't have the same regrets a year from now.