A brief exchange during a passing conversation a few days ago got me thinking. Someone said something about how lucky I was to make a living as an artist. I immediately corrected them; while immensely thankful for my career, a job where I get to wake up every day and make images, I felt obligated to point out that most of the time I am not, in fact, an artist at all.
At best, assignment photographers are craftsmen, not artists, solving other people’s problems and putting other people’s ideas into effect in the most timely and cost-effective way possible; to think otherwise is delusional. Read more…
Here’s a thought-provoking video making the rounds online — one that you might want to watch if you love photography and have been thinking hard about your career path. It’s based on a lecture given decades ago by philosopher Alan Watts, who poses the question, “What would you like to do if money were no object?” Read more…
I have been taking pictures for almost twenty years now and so much has changed over those years. Back in the beginning gas used to cost $1.00, Bill Clinton was president, and I was picking up a camera for the first time. I started out in high school playing with my father’s Nikon FM2 and taking pictures for the school newspaper. Today, I work with a medium format digital back shooting national ad campaigns, magazine articles, and catalogs. Some aspects of how I photograph have stayed unchanged, but a great deal has changed considerably. Read more…
Do professional photographers belong in delivery rooms? More and more of them are showing up there. The New York Times has an interesting piece on the rise of birth photography as a up-and-coming niche:
Birth was once considered a behind-closed-doors affair — a messy, painful and fearsome event where neither mothers nor babies looked their best. Then, expectant fathers entered the picture, snapping photos or taking videos with shaky hands. Now, there is both a surge of interest in the experience of childbirth — not just as a means to a baby but also as a moment to be relished in its own right — and a greater desire to capture all of life’s moments (and often share them on Facebook).
[...] The photographers and their clients have grown accustomed to puzzled looks and probing questions (Pictures of what, exactly?). But their rationale is simple: If you are going to document a child’s every bite of mushed banana as if it were a historical event, does it not make sense that his or her entrance into the world be photographed by a professional?
I try to stay involved as much as I can with students studying photography at different institutions in the area. Every year I go back to RIT and do a lecture on the business of photography and I feel it’s important that I do so.
Recently I got an email from a young photographer asking me about the career of being a still life/food photographer. Read more…
Consumer affairs blog The Consumerist caused a stir earlier this week by offering the following advice to people looking to earn some extra cash for the holidays:
Become a photographer. Most photographers will tell you that persistence is at least as important as skill in creating great work. If you know people who are looking to take portraits or holding a social function, offer to shoot it for free and sell them the pictures if they like them.
Needless to say, the suggestion caused quite an angry response from actual photographers, who equated the tip with telling people to buying a hammer in order to become an independent contractor. Stan Horaczek over at PopPhoto has also written up a lengthy response. It looks like people are taking Missy’s advice quite seriously.
Photographer duo Joachim Guanzon and Marden Blake (AKA aesonica) created this short behind-the-scenes video showing how they recently shot and Photoshopped an Audi A4 photo for a print advertisement. You can read a longer how-to over on the aesonica website:
The goal is to make it look as if you had 20+ lights, grids, flags and reflectors to shoot your project. There is nothing better than hearing someone ask how many lights were needed to create your shot and revealing that you used only one. The trick is by doing something that could realistically be done with enough equipment and lighting skill, with only one light.
On the other hand, if you get too carried away, there is nothing worse than someone asking if you used Photomatix to compile your HDR garbage shot followed by “My 13 year-old has that program too!”
Tamara Lackey recently sat down with Chase Jarvis to talk about how he became a successful photographer. Chase offers a lot of really good high-level advice for aspiring photographers based on his own experiences — both the successes and the failures.