I have to tell you the response to Monday’s post absolutely blew me away. It clearly hit a nerve and that tells me there are a lot of photographers out there that have been told one thing in the face of a very different reality. And the truth is that the bulk of the pros I know routinely do some very dumb things, make mistakes, and in general take the messy way around to getting their images. Thankfully they are also as humble as they are talented, they learn from their mistakes and they move on. And also, they make absolutely beautiful photographs. And as far as I can tell, that’s the point. Someone please disabuse me of that notion if I’m wrong, but seriously, this isn’t math class. How you get there matters not one bit, generally speaking, so long as you end up with images that are beautiful, true, or both.
But lest anyone think that this is a celebration of mediocrity, it is not. What it is is a call to arms for photographers who deep inside that the photographs we take matter, and that the process ought to be as unique as we are, and as the desired images are. It might be a very messy process for you, but if that’s what it takes, then mess it up, because the images matter most, and any process that gets you there in the best way, is the process you must follow.
That said, it’d be a poor confessor that let us all of the hook without penance, without pointing out that our sins were not only forgivable but avoidable. So because I also believe deeply that our craft matters and the better you are at your craft and the more thoroughly you know your tools, the better your images have the potential to be, I want to encourage you to look at the long list of things you still do not know how to do, the habits that end up costing you time and money and missed opportunities. Life’s too short to get bent out of shape about most of this stuff, or to let it stand in the way of doing what we love. So be patient with yourself, and don’t beat yourself up, but be conscious of when those messy processes and habits we all love to cling to, hinder more than help, and get working on them.
Your images, your craft, and your passion for this art, deserve more than the labels we use, and the goofy expectations we carry for ourselves, but they also deserve more than a cavalier approach to things that matter. For some of us that means caving in and learning to shoot with a tripod. For some it means a more conscious effort to dial in that ISO, and for others still it means checking your pockets and for the love of Lexar stop washing your CF cards. If it affects you, your process, your images, or the gear it takes to create those images, it matters. So pick one, start small, if you must, but get to it. And in the spirit of the last post, the comments are open. What small steps are you taking to move you, your process, and your images, to the next level?
Monday’s post brought a tonne of new readers. If you’re new hear, welcome here. Feel free to poke around, leave a comment of introduction, and be sure to check out the five years of archives. If you’re looking to improve your craft then I heartily recommend you check out Within The Frame, The Journey of Photographic Vision. if you’re looking to improve your business I can’t think of a better book than VisionMongers, Making A Life and Living in Photography. I wrote both of them so if I were you I’d be very suspicious of the recommendation, but I recommend them all the same. Also check out CraftAndVision.com, the online home of my eBooks. Improve Your Craft, Buy Less Gear. And all of them for only $5 each. Welcome here.