I did a trip to Paris solely to take photographs for myself back in 1992. That sounds selfish, but I didn’t have any children to take care of and my wife was enmeshed in a busy career as an art director for a prosperous advertising agency.
I was approached by Agfa that year to be a tester for their line of APX films and I requested a case of their 100 speed film and another of their 400 speed film. They asked me where I wanted to photograph and I said, “Paris.” A month later, in late October, I was there with a camera bag full of new Canon EOS lenses and a couple of camera bodies. Oh, and a big shopping bag full of black and white film.
As I sat trapped in a coach seat on an aged and tattered American Airlines airplane I had time to think about the whole spectrum of art photography. I wanted to have a clearer window into the different ways in which people who aren’t using their cameras to make a living in a traditional, commercial application of photography approach their subjects and their understanding of style. How much is generated internally and how much is a reflexive reaction to a world inundated in images?
I spoke with a person in the film industry on Friday. We were talking about HMI lighting and he made a remark concerning still photographers. I give him credence since his background originally included a successful career in photography. His remark, in regards to the real lack of lighting acumen among most shooters was this: “There’s no such thing as a good photographer under 40.”
As the recipient of a great education (thanks in no small part to my parents), I’m always fascinated by discussions of how college influence what we do and achieve later in life. As a music major, I could have never fathomed that I would one day become an entrepreneur, and when I think back to college, it had very little to do with the acquisition of technical knowledge, and more about being exposed to a wide range of subjects, people, and social situations.
Our pal and fellow photo blogger David Hobby of Strobist is currently over in Dubai for Gulf Photo Plus 2013, and yesterday he had the privilege of purchasing the first Fujifilm X100S to be sold on planet Earth. Hobby tells us he’s in love.
“One should still try and get as close as possible to what you want in the initial click.”
A friend of a friend just pointed this out in a conversation we were all having on Facebook. It’s prompted me to say something. To explain what “getting it right in the camera” means to me now, and what it meant to me in the old days.
Sometimes it’s easy for photographers to take for granted our skill set. It becomes natural to forget, from time to time, all of the elements rattling around in the synapses of our visual cortexes in the few tenths of a second it takes to put in motion the mechanics that make a picture. Like any professional of a trade, eventually you get to that point where you can begin to make it ‘look easy’, like anyone can do this. And with digital cameras and software readily available everyone sure is trying. The major problem comes when they start charging for their self-perceived craft and simply can’t perform… or don’t care to for that matter.
This is how I ended up photographing my own wedding.
The New York Times has published a recently-discovered interview photographer W. Eugene Smith gave the American Society of Media Photographers back in 1956. Here’s Smith’s response to the question, “When do you feel that the photographer is justified in risking his life to take a picture?”:
I can’t answer that. It depends on the purpose. Reason, belief and purpose are the only determining factors. The subject is not a fair measure.
I think the photographer should have some reason or purpose. I would hate to risk my life to take another bloody picture for the Daily News, but if it might change man’s mind against war, then I feel that it would be worth my life. But I would never advise anybody else to make this decision. It would have to be their own decision. For example, when I was on the carrier, I didn’t want to fly on Christmas Day because I didn’t want to color all the other Chistmases for my children.
He also shares thoughts on the issues of staging and retouching. It’s a fascinating read. Check out the full interview through the link below.
W. Eugene Smith: ‘I Didn’t Write the Rules, Why Should I Follow Them?’ [NYTimes]
I don’t really need anything for Christmas this year. But I would appreciate if you would bring some gifts to my favorite photography manufacturers.
Since the moment I walked into Milford Photo looking to buy a professional camera in the winter of 2011, I have been exposed to constant judgment for being a rich, stupid and spoiled 13-year-old who wanted an expensive camera to take “artsy” pictures that I didn’t know how to take.
Contrary to society’s beliefs, I do not fit into that stereotype in any way, shape or form. Unfortunately, I am associated with this stereotype because that is the view society chooses to observe and overplay.
Bestselling author and marketing guru Seth Godin published an interesting thought to his blog yesterday that is very relevant to aspiring photographers. He writes,
When everyone has access to the same tools then having a tool isn’t much of an advantage. The industrial age, the age of scarcity, depended in part on the advantages that came with owning tools others didn’t own.
Time for a new advantage. It might be your network, the connections that trust you. And it might be your expertise. But most of all, I’m betting it’s your attitude.
The photography industry is definitely one that has experienced (and is experiencing) a leveling of the “tools playing field”. Even more so than before, it’s what goes on in the 12 inches behind the viewfinder that sets players apart.
When everyone has access to the same tools [Seth Godin via A Photo Editor]
Image credit: PHNAT.jpg by gary_pix