Archive for personal development

The Print and the Process Monographs

Posted in Artistic Development, Books about Photography, Good News, Inspirations, Photography Gear, Techniques with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 8, 2010 by Darwin

David duChemin over at the Pixelated Image has created a couple of new “Monographs” that are part of his Print and Process series. The premise of The Print and Process Monographs is to give images a place to stand on their own followed by a discussion of the creative vision behind the process. In essence the photographer creates a body of themed photographs and then gives personal anecdotes about the why and the how in the making of the images. David’s first monograph was on Venice and it had an underlying them of loneliness. David states in the introduction:

Venice is visually stunning. It’s also considered one of the most romantic cities in the world. And I was there alone, not to shoot the romance, but the loneliness. After a series of Italian workshops, I stayed in Venice to pursue a personal project, one that became these images. I was alone— even lonely—in Venice, and wanted I to shoot the city as I experienced it: through the lens of my solitary presence there, in my loneliness.

What I like about the monograph was not only the engaging imagery but also how David’s mindset helped capture a visually cohesive mood. As well, I loved reading about his creative voice in the making of the images and also getting some of his gritty little tech tips in the making of the images.

Today, David is releasing his second monograph in the series entitled Safari. This monograph is essentially a fish out of water tale of David in Kenya on safari shooting wildlife, landscapes and journalistic people scenes. This is not the David we know! I love his tales of having to stretch himself and move beyond his visual expectations. I could totally relate with David’s struggles to slow down, take it in, and get to a deeper foundation photographically rather than just machine-gun through the trip. There are great lessons in the monograph for anyone who just fills memory cards full of shallow images due to the novelty of the adventure. I especially like David’s new concept he calls “Layers of Impact” which he describes as:

a photograph goes from mediocre to good to great depending on the strength of the layers of impact. You can do this two ways. The first is to multiply the layers of impact, as in a well-composed (layer one) photograph that has a beautiful moment (layer two) captured in beautiful light (layer three). The second is to have one layer so strong that you really need nothing else, as in a grab shot of a moment of such intensity, that nothing— not even focus nor so-called perfect exposure—would increase the impact.

I really enjoyed David’s discussion and concept of Layers of Impact and will adopt his thinking in my shooting.

Beyond the personal growth and creative challenges David faced in Kenya there were the practicalities of gear choice and use. Anyone who travels and anyone who goes on safari agonizes forever about what to bring and what to leave behind especially given weight and baggage restrictions. I learned a lot from David’s experience and will use Safari as a reference for my own travel packing.

And finally The Print and the Process Monographs give us photographers something else to think about. That is, the PDF (or eBook)  as a mechanism to publish our own stories or themed work. There is great power in the PDF with vast distribution over the web where our work can reach many eyes beyond what we could ever expect through traditional book publishing. The e-publishing model allows us to share more personal work, more specialized topics and smaller projects with others. David’s Safari has reignited in me the desire and need to learn programs like Adobe InDesign and Adobe Acrobat Pro so I can share some of my stories as PDF eBooks with the world. I recommend anyone interested in being  inspired by another photographer’s work check out both monographs by David.

If you use the promotional code SAFARI4 on the link below when you checkout, you can have SAFARI, A Monograph for only $4 OR use the code SAFARI20 to get 20% off when you buy 5 or more books from the Craft & Vision collection. These codes expire at 11:59pm PST JULY 11, 2010.

Of course readers of this blog know they can also get  20% of any combo of 5 of David’s Craft and Vision e-Books until July 30th by using the code CDNLAND20

Click here to see all The Craft and Vision Titles.

©David duChemin

So you Wanna be a Professional Outdoor, Nature, or Travel Photographer

Posted in Articles about Photography, Books about Photography, Marketing, Stock Photography, Techniques with tags , , , , , , on March 5, 2010 by Darwin

Almost everyday I get an email from someone who totally loves to take pictures but who totally hates their current job–sound familiar? They all want to know how they can make the jump from enthusiast to pro. They want to live the dream of being a nature, outdoor, or travel photographer and they email me for advice on how to do it. The problem is there is no easy answer, nor is there a ‘correct’ path. I can’t answer their question in a short email; I would need to write a book about how to become an outdoor, nature or travel photographer. And actually I am probably not very qualified to answer–I kinda just fumble my way along and so far things have worked out. 

Fortunately, I know someone who is a passionate photographer, a great business man, and a wonderful teacher. David Duchemin has written a book which has become the bible for those longing to turn their passion into a profession. If you have ever considered making the leap to full-time pro, or if you’re a pro but your business is suffering you owe it to yourself to read, digest, and put into practice all the great advice, philosophy and tips that David has packed into Visionmongers: Making a Life and Living in Photography. There is no other book like it and of all the “How to Make a Million Dollars in Photography” books out there, this is the one that really gets to the heart of the matter and really forces you to ask yourself, “Is this the path I want to take?”. This industry is tough, and the dream can be fulfilled, but realize what you think its like being a photographer is really different the reality of it. David makes you acutely aware of the differences. Highly recommended.  

Visionmongers by David Duchemin

Another resource that is full of great business ideas is from the No BS Photo Success team. These guys (Rob and James) have amazing ideas on how to make a portrait, wedding, and commercial photo studio succeed. Wait a minute, you think, I am a nature photographer, why the hell listen to these guys??? Not only are these guys fun and engaging, their ideas are applicable to any type of photography, it is all about marketing and marketing is what gets you business and buys you pizza and beer (yum, yum!). Smart photographers get ideas from others outside their speciality to make their businesses unique. So, if you live near Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon,  or Toronto go see these guys during their No BS Photo Success Cross-Canada Road Show April 2010. Highly Recommended! 

 

A brand new resource that is jam-packed with good information is Pro Nature Photographer – check it out, I am sure you’ll get some good tips here on how to run your business. Looking forward to continued informative stuff from this website. 

 

Here are a few more resources you might want to check out: 

Jim Pickerell’s Photo Licensing Options site

Dan Heller’s Business of Photography Blog

How to Go Pro – Ken Rockwell 

Taking the Plunge: Making the Transition to Pro Photographer – Samantha Chrysanthou 

The Stock Agent: Should You Seek One? – Charlie Borland (Part One, Part Two, Part Three

If anyone has other resources that have been helpful please email me and I will add them to this list. 

Good luck with your dreams! 

©Darwin Wiggett

Guest Columnist – Sept 2009

Posted in Artistic Development, Guest Columnist, Inspirations with tags , , , , on September 3, 2009 by Darwin

 The GO PHOTO Principles for More Self-fulfilling Photography

by Derrald Farnsworth-Livingston 

As an artist I have felt the joys when I click the shutter and know that I have captured something truly beautiful.  I have also felt the dismay when my efforts were futile in capturing the light, composition, or eliciting the emotion that I had envisaged.  Through contemplation of my experiences over the years I have come to find that for me there are 7 main points that when followed have helped lead me to more self-fulfilling photography.  These are the GO PHOTO principles: Goals, Organization, Perseverance, Holism, Observation, Trail and Error, and Optimism.

©Derrald Farnsworth-Livingston

©Derrald Farnsworth-Livingston

Goals

When successful people are interviewed about their rise, they almost always cite effective goal-setting as a key to that success.  Everyone has dreams and most dreams require years of hard work and dedication.  Often, success isn’t immediate and thus many give up on their dreams.  Successful people, however, set attainable goals in a stepped fashion helps to build to their dreams.  A photographer doesn’t buy a camera one day, take 100 photographs the next, and then publish a book on the third day, there are many, many, interim steps. 

There will be many disappointments and many setbacks, but attaining your goals can give you the lift to take you to the next attainable goal and then the next.  When I first began shooting I set goals that were easy for me to reach, such as capturing a landscape shot of a prairie sunset.  I then moved on to the goal of shooting a bear in the wild, which lead into the goal of capturing 25 intimate nature shots.  All these steps led into the next.  Without writing down my goals and pursuing each one of them vigilantly, it would be difficult to move to the next level.   When you achieve one, go for the next and always have two or three levels of goals planned ahead of time.  There must always be goals, without goals, there is a lack direction and without direction there is a lack of motivation.  Lack of motivation ultimately leads to a failure to produce meaningful images.

IMG_7401_mrbear

©Derrald Farnsworth-Livingston

Organization

Disorganization can be downfall of many great artists.  If settings are not tracked, techniques are not noted, and if work is not labeled properly, sorted well, and filed in an easy to use system, how can any of it be referenced when needed?  If you are experimenting with filters wanted to know if the image that used the 3-Stop Reverse Grad was better than the one that used the 2-Stop Hard Grad, would you know which shot was which?  If you need to find a specific piece and there are no methods by which the item can be searched, how would you identify it?  Any additional time spent looking for settings or images becomes tedious and unproductive.  By keeping things labeled, noted, and documented, the extra time that would be used to identify these properties will be minimized.  Additionally, that organization can extend to your portfolio which you can periodically reference to evaluate your progression.  With an accessible portfolio, successes and failures become easy to track. 

Perseverance

On our artistic paths we often find barriers that arise preventing our vision from becoming reality.  Sometimes we’re missing inspiration or perhaps we feel a lack of creativity.  When learning a new method, a new technique, or a new piece of equipment, it is quite often not the first time that we get it right.  It is probably not the second time either.  Giving up when something is not easy will not bring growth or success.   The best photographers have dedicated years to the craft and have suffered similar tribulations and ultimately prevailed.  I know that when I have endured problems and persevered it has made me a stronger photographer and a stronger person.  There will be many blocks ahead, but by overcoming them it will constantly increase your momentum to take on the next challenge.

©Derrald Farnsworth-Livingston

©Derrald Farnsworth-Livingston

Holism

Holism is the philosophical concept that an individual is greater than the sum of his or her parts.  Each part of the person is important and those parts all join in force for the greater good.  If one of those parts is not in synch, the whole suffers as a result.  I firmly believe that if there are negative controllable factors in your life that are preventing you from achieving the goals that you have set, you must address these issues.  Frankly, this is good advice for almost any situation.  Ignoring issues rarely cause them to disappear.  Anything negative in your life that you can prevent or address and don’t ultimately becomes a distraction to your artistic vision.  Once everything is working in unison, the resulting force is commanding and powerful.

Observation

Without understanding the nuances of light, the strength of composition, and the elegance of form, we are lost.  For years scholars have sought understanding as to what constitutes pleasing aesthetics.  They polled the populous, studied the mathematics, and built upon what previous predecessors had discovered.  Above all, they learned that observation requires more attention than simply seeing.  It is an unending journey of discovery and one that requires an adjusted view.  Strong photography requires strong observation.  Strong observation requires a strong imagination that can build the scene in the mind’s eye.  Learn the art of observation by gazing upon your world, studying your surroundings, and by searching for beauty in chaos.

Trial and Error

We all have our successes that we want to build on.  The important thing is that those successes do not root us to the same type of photography or image all the time.  By trying new things we expand our experience of our art and we can move in directions that previously may have seemed daunting.  Error may be found more frequently than success in the beginning, but it is from learning from those errors that we can become more compelling artists.  This may be as simple as trying a new filter to something more complex such as capturing portraits when your primary experience is macro photography.  If you see a new technique by an artist, try it!  If it worked for them, it may work for you and subsequently you can expand and grow upon what you have learned.  Digital photography is great in that we can try and try and try and we don’t have to pay to process anymore.  Unless what you want to try is film and then go for it!

Optimism

Optimism is key in life as well in photography.  We have all felt despair at one time or another, it’s part of the human experience.  Sometimes it can be easy to lift ourselves out of that feeling and move on.  Most times, it’s not.  For example, I often chase light on the prairies of Nebraska for grand landscapes (yes, in Nebraska!).  I would look at the weather reports, gauge cloud cover, and then scoot on out to where I predicted the show would happen.  Guess what?  I’m only right some of the time.  I used to get frustrated and dismayed and return home empty-handed. 

Once I became a father I was reminded as to my primary purpose of being out there.  As my daughter looks with wonder at all the scenery and creatures and with excitement yells “turtle!” or “froggie!” I too feel that excitement.  Simply being outside with nature and breathing in the fresh air is a reward in itself.  Once I had that reminder, I began witnessing other things that I may have dismissed before – the graceful blue heron taking flight, the symphony of frogs at dusk, and shimmering dew drops on blades of grass.  I have found that by having a positive outlook on life, most negative thoughts will fade away and I can immerse myself in my work. 

©Derrald Farnsworth-Livingston

©Derrald Farnsworth-Livingston

By embracing these philosophies, I believe that I have grown, not just as an artist, but an individual as well.  My vision is more certain, my techniques continue to expand and grow, and the feelings I have regarding my photography have gone from black and white to Velvia color.   When I pick up my camera I feel that whatever I choose to capture will be more self-fulfilling and meaningful and shouldn’t that be the most important personal elements for any artist? 

Journey Of Light Photography

web: http://www.journeyoflight.com

blog: http://blog.journeyoflight.com

email: drfl@journeyoflight.com

Beyond the Trophy

Posted in Artistic Development, Workshops and Seminars with tags , , , , , , , on June 12, 2009 by Darwin

I get two types of photographers on my photo tours. The first are the amateurs who love nature and use their camera as a vehicle of immersion into nature’s beauty. They really don’t care what they photograph as long as they get to be in nature. The experience is first, photography second. They have no agenda other than to enjoy nature and learn a few new things. These photographers really benefit from the photo tour not only in terms of personal growth in photography but also in reconfirming their connection with the natural world.

The other group are the semi-pros, these photographers are really serious about photography and come mostly to get great pictures to add to their portfolio. They want to be put in the right place at the right time, get the shot and move on. These photographers are trophy hunters, who want to bag their limit of killer images. Enjoyment of nature seems secondary to getting the shot. They are the ones who get stressed if the sunrise fizzles or if the bear doesn’t cooperate by looking into the camera with a bouquet of dandelions hanging from its mouth. In short getting a trophy is job one.

The hardest part of being a photo leader is balancing the two approaches so that both types of photographer get the most out of their trip. I know the Canadian Rockies so well that I can almost always get people to great places in stunning light. It really is not that difficult of a job once you have a basic understanding of light and local climate and geography. Getting people into classic mountain scenery in prime light is what I get paid for and what is expected. For example here are three ‘trophies’ from the Spring 2009 photo tour.

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

 

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

 

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

Everyone whether amateur and semi-pro are happy when the drama of nature unfolds in a such a theatrical way. Who wouldn’t be with such obvious beauty? But part of a the reason to take a photo tour is to be exposed to new sites and ideas. A good photographer can pull out fine images from more subtle subjects; subjects that have inherent beauty but on a less grand scale.
In most locations, I try to give photographers at least two hours to shoot. The first 45 minutes is usually needed to record the obvious stuff, the mountain lake and reflection, the golden light on the peaks, the plunging waterfall. The remaining time is used to force people to really ‘see’, to find stuff that is easily missed but worth shooting.
The amateurs, although less practiced at seeing, really get into the picture taking process in the second hour on location. Often they get so immersed in shooting that they wish they had 3 or 4 hours in one spot! I have a hard time pulling them away to move on to the next location. The semi-pros on the other hand are often done within an hour and are itching to move on to the next wall hanger. To them, they either miss the subtle images, or they think those photos are unworthy of their effort.
©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

 

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

So as a photo leader, I need to balance the wants of the trophy hunters with the needs of the amateurs (immersion) and therefore I have settled on 2 hours per location as the best compromise.

In May of this year,  I was fortunate to get a group filled entirely with amateurs, there was nary a trophy hunter in sight. And what a difference it made to the experience! Of course we went out to the best places in the best light and got some nice iconic photos, but we also went to places where good photos were harder to find but were more satisfying to capture. And the group was thrilled with every opportunity we had. It was joy to be immersed in our own little worlds and not be worried or rushing to capture the next big trophy.

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

I totally understand the trophy hunter mentality especially if you are trying to capture saleable images, I used to be a trophy shooter myself! But more and more I appreciate the amateur approach, the almost childlike immersion and joyful experimentation. The pure joy of living in the moment and not judging if what you are doing will sell, or impress, or resonate is liberating.  Doing just for the sake of doing! By sitting and putting the camera down and smelling, and feeling, the experience is richer. I think to make fine images, one needs to move beyond the trophy and out of yourself. This is why I love shooting with amateurs, they photograph for the joy of it and not for some outward recognition. I now consider myself an amateur in every sense of the word and my photography is better for it.

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

Guest Column – Jay Goodrich

Posted in Artistic Development, Guest Columnist with tags , , , , , on June 2, 2009 by Darwin

Jay Goodrich emailed me with a wonderful idea. He suggested we both write an essay on Where does Your Creativity Come From?  Below is Jay’s Essay. My essay appears on Jay’s Blog

Where Does Your Creativity Come From?

by Jay Goodrich

Well you see when a mommy and daddy are very much in love…Oh wait, that is where I came from, not where creativity comes from. 

It comes from Don Julio 1942 Tequila. Kidding, well sometimes it does. 

Down deep inside of me there is a flutter and when that flutter is there, creativity is…. 

Actually, I have been thinking about this self-imposed article idea for about a week now, ever since Darwin and I agreed to trade blog posts written about the same subject. Our topic suggestion as written in my email to him was “Where Our Creativity Comes From”. The problem I am having is, well, how to be creative with this article. I don’t know why.  I have been on this creative rampage for years now, with very few lulls in the action. I have come up with so many ideas that I have had to create a document that contains them all. That document is up to 20 pages in length, single-spaced, with 8 point font now. So why can’t this guy, who jots down at least one idea every day, come up with the answer to his own question?

©Jay Goodrich

©Jay Goodrich

I sit here slamming the keys of my keyboard only to put something on an imaginary piece of paper on a monitor that displays something that only exists as coded zeros or ones in a place called cyberspace. Here are my pretty pictures, I hope you like them. See you next time. Well maybe I just need to think about this…

©Jay Goodrich

©Jay Goodrich

What have I done in the past when my photos have been horrible and nothing has seemed to come together? Why have I not had problems lately? Ah, therein lies the answer. Jackpot, Lotto, complete winner!

I was a bonafide city slicker growing up only 35 miles west of New York City. My only take on nature was venturing out into the “woods” in our backyard, which was bordered by blacktop on almost every side. I picked up my first camera as an adult about 17 years ago. I was fresh out of college, just moved to Colorado to escape the city and discover salsa that was real. I was shocked by the unbelievable, unspoiled beauty of my surroundings. I was visiting all of these really cool places and I decided that it would be a great idea to buy a camera to document everywhere that I had been. One camera, one lens, and a wobbly tripod that my dad leant me. The photos didn’t suck, some of them are in my portfolio to this day. Looking back, I often wonder how I achieved what I did with very little knowledge of photography and sub-standard gear. The answer was simple; my creativity was being driven by my inspiration of my surroundings, so it was really easy to put my knowledge of design (my degree was in architecture) into my compositions. That inspiration fueled that flutter deep down inside of me and I took to photography like steel to a magnet. It was so cool to chase the light. I am not saying that all of my images were great, by in large they were trash, but I had the inspiration to continue to persevere.

©Jay Goodrich

©Jay Goodrich

Then about ten years into my passion, something happened. For lack of a better description, I hit my “blue period”. I think it was because I hated my job at the time – working for an architecture firm that focused not on design like architecture should, but on making money from cookie cutter drawings. There wasn’t an ounce of creativity in the job that payed the bills. I had been published a bunch of times, so I thought I was “The Man”, and I was basically bored and broke most of the time. I still shot, but knew enough to throw away what didn’t work, which was basically everything. I was making money with photography, but not a lot, and I was pretty much lost. This lasted for about two years. That is long time to suck as a photographer – career ending.

©Jay Goodrich

©Jay Goodrich

Then I was given a the break of a lifetime; my employer had to lay me off. At first, I was pretty broken-hearted (only because I was about to become really poor), but all of that emotion made me do something that I never thought possible – I jumped from the ship and started to swim on my own. Don’t get me wrong, I swallowed a ton of water in the process, and still do. But it’s less and less, and I have learned to breathe a bit more while under water. Most importantly, my life is mine.

©Jay Goodrich

©Jay Goodrich

About that same time digital was starting to take off and I purchased a brand new Canon 5D. The day that I received it was the day that life started all over again. I took this photo on the Eagle River right across the street from my house, and something just clicked. This sent everything regarding my photography career into super-manic, never look back, keep working, work hard, push, push, push, forget about breathing mode. Now I was fueled, recharged and ready, but how did I keep that energy from fizzling out? Well, I relied on something I never thought possible – my education as an architect. I knew design, I loved design, I just needed to figure out how it could work together with photography.

©Jay Goodrich

©Jay Goodrich

I started reading about everything that inspired me-painters, graphic designers, architects, other photographers, architecture itself, builders, construction, music, movies, even tv shows like Discovery’s Biker Build-off where two designers would create custom choppers with the winner taking home only bragging rights and a cool trophy. All of these disciplines worked into my creative mindset, overflowed my inspiration tank, and had me shooting images like never before. I haven’t taken less than 20,000 images a year for the past five years. I have amassed a portfolio that I could truly be proud of.

©Jay Goodrich

©Jay Goodrich

So I have answered my own dilemma – my creativity comes from anything that inspires me. Anything and everything that brings me excitement. In the past year I have become friends with many of my favorite photographers, I have traveled with them, taught with them, eaten and drank with them, and discussed with them. Those friendships have lead to images and ideas even more powerful than I have ever imagined.

©Jay Goodrich

©Jay Goodrich

Thom Mayne, the founder of the architecture firm Morphosis, writes in his introduction to their Buildings and Projects 1989-1992 book, “I suppose…that our method somewhat resembles that of Canetti’s Doglike Writer: obsessed with sticking his damp nose into everything, he insatiably turns over the earth only to dig it up once more.” I think that the harder you work your mind, the more you push yourself, the more creative you become. Don’t let yourself turn over the earth just once with your photography –  turn over the earth many times trying everything, and just when you think you have had enough, turn it over again. Eventually, creativity will hit you like it has hit me, and hopefully, when it does it will never stop. And if it does manage to slip from your grasp, pour yourself a two-finger glass of Don Julio 1942 tequila, sit down on your favorite chair or couch and proceed to allow creativity to catch up to you once again.

©Jay Goodrich

©Jay Goodrich

 

 

Guest Posting – Younes Bounhar

Posted in Artistic Development, Guest Columnist with tags , , , , , on April 21, 2009 by Darwin

I have always wanted this blog to be about life as we live through the lens. How do we, as a community of photographers, see the world not only through our lenses but through our living? In this spirit, I am happy to host photos from photographers in any genre (hence the LLTL monthly photo contest). As well, I would love to hear your ideas, rants, opinions and musing about our craft. If you have something you want to share on this blog feel free to send me your stuff. Below is a piece from Canadian Photographer, Younes Bounhar.

Stacking the Odds in Your Favor

Landscape photographers seldom get any credit for the amount of work and dedication required for their craft. I often here comments such as “wow he’s so lucky, that sky is incredible!” or “I could have pulled it off had I been there!” The fact is, to consistently produce high-quality images there is no such a thing as luck! The only luck you get is the one you make yourself. So, how do you stack the odds in your favor? 

©Younes Bounhar

©Younes Bounhar

•1-    Get out there and  get out there often.

As much as there are times I wish my camera would just go out there and get me some incredible pictures, it has remained, to this day, an unfulfilled promise. Simply put, the more you are out there, the more you are likely to shoot in awesome conditions. Spectacular light rarely waits for the week-ends (as much I hate it!), so whenever you get a chance, grab your camera bag and head out to your favorite spots (make sure the camera is in the bag though!). 

•2-    Know you gear.

I always like to hammer the fact that it is not the gear, but the photographer that makes the shot. That said, you can’t realize your vision unless you know what your gear can and can’t do, and that you can get it to do what you want it to do. Know your camera inside out, know exactly what each of your lenses can and cannot do. It is not when the light shows up that you should try to figure out how your split density filters work…be ready to seize the moment when it comes and don’t let your gear get in the way. 

•3-    Know your subject.

Whether you are visiting a new location or paying an old friend another visit, if pays to research your subject ahead of time. It’s hard to shoot a moonlit scene on a new moon or tide pools at high tide. Know when and where the sun rises and sets. Check out the moon cycle and the tides to maximize your shooting opportunities. Whenever I go out on a shoot I also make sure I get to my location at least an hour or two ahead of time because it allows me to carefully study the location and plan out potential compositions. 

•4-    Familiarity breeds success.

I really love traveling and photographing new areas with a fresh pair of eyes. The reality, though, is that I can’t travel all year long and as such am bound to shoot areas I am fairly familiar with and I this reality to my advantage. First, because I know I can go back anytime, I don’t have any pressure to get the wide-angle, cliché shot, or any shot for that matter. I can just take the time and experiment to my heart’s content until I get something I am satisfied with. Second, by knowing the area, I can also better predict with greater certainty where the light conditions will be the best on a given day and as such increase my odds for a successful shoot.

©Younes Bounhar

©Younes Bounhar

Guy Tal – Essay

Posted in Artistic Development with tags , , , , , , on April 18, 2009 by Darwin

One of my favorite photographers and writers has posted a thoughtful essay on his blog. If you do not know of Guy’s amazing photos and in-depth, skilled writing, I urge you to go to his blog and his website and be inspired. Thanks for sharing your talents with us Guy!

The Evolution of the Photographer

Posted in Artistic Development with tags , , , , , on January 6, 2009 by Darwin

In Issue 79 of LensWork magazine I read an interesting quote from Brooks Jenson:

“I’ve often said of my own work that in my early years I tended to photograph for other people; in my middle years I tended to photograph for myself; and as I’ve matured, I find more and more I photograph in response to the generations of artists through the ages who have come before me”

For me, this quote resonated with my experience as an artist. As a younger photographer (20’s and 30’s), I shot with other people in mind. I wanted people to see what a ‘clever’ and ‘creative’ photographer I was. I was just hunting for accolades! Whenever I went shooting with other photographers the outing turned into a competition. It was all about who could make the best images. I was so preoccupied with watching what other photographers were doing and competing to be the best that I lost track of the reason I was shooting in the first place–personal expression.

Later, in my 40’s, I gave up trying to please others–or worse, trying to out-gun them! Instead I shot solely for myself. I turned inward creating images that were meaningful to me and that fed my soul. In the end, the only person I needed to please was myself. This phase continues today but I feel something more stirring inside….

I find I am in agreement with Brooks Jensen:  I think photographers end up creating their best and most memorable work in their ‘mature’ years.  A sense of history and place is coming over me. I want to create images that come from my soul but also give a tip of the hat to my artistic predecessors.  Who I am today is necessarily a product of those who have produced before me, and it is this realization that is somehow the most comforting for me. Darwin

Balsam Poplar Leaf in Allstones Creek