VIEW THE PORTFOLIOS

Ten galleries of images representing David's work, both personal and professional, over the last 8 years.

READ THE BOOKS

If you've tried the books about gear and long for something more, David's poured his heart into 20 books and ebooks for you.

COLLECT THE PRINTS

Two carefully curated collections of 24 beautiful fine-art prints and folios for your walls or your personal collection.

Winning at Yoga

One of the best things most of us can do right now is stop asking so many people what they think of our art, whether that’s photography or not. Art is not a democracy, it’s a way of sounding your voice and when you allow others – especially unknown or anonymous others – to determine the direction of that art, you’re allowing it to be diluted.  Yes, learn about your art and your craft from people you respect, but that will only take you so far before you stand at the edge of the place where art is done alone, without the input or concensus of others, and you leap.

There’s an unfortunate thing happening online these days. A photographer finds some commercial success, which is sometimes, but not always, an indication that their art is good. They teach some courses and a growing number of younger photographers learn what they can. And then people begin not to adapt the things they’ve learned, which is good, but to adopt them wholesale: to replicate. Soon a forum is started so these adopters can critique the work of each other and – forgive me for being a little too blunt – they all drag each other into homogeny and mediocrity. Looking to these teachers and forums is the surest way to dilute your own voice, or to ensure you never hear it. Art is created as a result of a journey inward, not when a certain amount of people “like” your work.

We flock to these places, and they’re different for all of us, because they are safe places. They allow us to think we’re making progress, and to be fair, sometimes, early on, there are things to be learned. But more than that I think we go there because we see a chance to for our ego to get a hit of approval, or a “nice capture,” which seems to be the drug of choice among new photographers right now. Art is a solitary thing. We do the best of it alone because it’s there where things are quiet enough and the other voices  silenced enough that we can do our thing, wrestle through our process, fall down a few times, and create something authentic. Something that’s ours alone without being pulled to the middle by opposing voices.

Art takes courage. It takes courage to find our vision, and the voice to express it. Having a few people around, trusted voices from people who create work we respect, can help. But even those voices don’t know what’s inside you. They have no idea what you long to say, what things are bursting to get out. It takes courage to pull away from sources that tell you, “ do it this way” and to find your own way. It takes courage to step away from the atta-boys and the nice captures, none of which mean a thing, no matter how sincere the source.

Art is not a democracy. Photography has been said to be the most democratic of the arts, but that refers to access, not to what we create. Your work requires no votes to be authentic. It requires no endorsement. And it just might be that all those votes and endorsements are standing in the way of discovering our best work. It’s why I will not longer judge a photography competition, or enter one. I agree, you can learn something from competing. Maybe. But I don’t think the potential gains outweigh the loss. The idea that you can win at art is, as a friend recently said so well, as absurd as the idea that you can win at yoga. We trust the judges and arbitrars of taste so much all we can do is second-guess ourselves.

Art is about us listening to your voice, hearing what you have to say, look at what you are pointing at, with the medium of your choice. It is not about you listening to us. That’s conversation, and it’s pivotal to relationships, but it’s not this. It’s not art.  If you need input, find one or two voices who will listen to you, hear your art, and talk to you about making it stronger. The more sources you try to get this from the more directions you’ll be pulled in, the more difficult it will be to find your own way, and the more likely it is you’ll create art that please no one, least of all yourself.

Don’t be an acolyte. Listen. Learn. And then move on in the direction only you can sense is the most authentic. Follow the fear, lean into it, learn from the failures. Then try again. Sure, it’s a little harder, but by God we don’t need more imitators and more art-by-concensus. We need boldness, authenticity, and the kind of imperfect, flawed, honest art that can only be made when you listen to one voice alone: yours.

Aug 4th

2013

Comments Comments 8
CategoryPosted in: Pep Talks, Rants and Sermons, The Craft, Thoughts & Theory

Greater Intimacy

I believe that when Robert Capa said “if your photographs aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough,” part of what he implied was more than just physical proximity, but a more intimate knowledge of the subject. They’re connected of course, and if there’s one thing that I love hearing from others about my work, it’s […]

Aug 1st

2013

Comments Comments 11
CategoryPosted in: Postcards From..., Travel, Wallpapers, Wilderness

August Desktop Wallpaper

One of the most magical forests I’ve ever been too, this forest glade on Ramsay Island in Gwaii Haanas was straight out of a story book. I spent a too-short, but very happy, hour here climbing over moss-covered logs and dodging bear scat, half-expecting to hear the trees speak to me. A slow shutter speed […]

Jul 31st

2013

Comments Comments 19
CategoryPosted in: Images, Postcards From..., Travel, Wilderness

More from Gwaii Haanas

I’m heading to Bali tomorrow but I’ll do my best to drop a line. In the meantime, here’s a few more postcards (didn’t see the first ones? You can find them here), and some shop talk about packing logistics, from last week’s trip to Gwaii Haanas. Like the Ocean Light II trip to the Khutzeymateen, […]

Jul 30th

2013

Comments Comments 15
CategoryPosted in: Lightroom & Workflow, The Craft

Visualizing Spots in LR5

If there’s one feature I love in the newest version of Adobe’s Lightroom, it’s the Visualize Spots tool. There wasn’t much fanfare about it, it kind of snuck under the radar a little, but for me this is huge. Lord knows I try to keep my sensor clean but it’s a losing battle. My usual […]