Forget your equipment and unleash your inner child. Take out your oldest camera – digital or otherwise, even if you know that it will shoot out of focus. Don’t be obsessed with sharpness and perfection (we can all get hung up on that one).
Set your camera on auto, and just shoot. Point and push.
Rediscover the joy of taking photos. Use your feet as your zoom, take all the ‘stuff’ out of your bag – go for a weightless walk. Rely on yourself and not technology. Use only one lens.
The more you relax about images, the better you will be. Choose to restrict yourself at least once a week, and just play out.
Remember what it was like when you first held a camera? – how exciting it was to go digital – to see the image you were taking on the screen as soon as you’d pressed the button. Where did that magic go?
Well, it’s still there, you just have to look for it a bit…..
Take away the stress, and go for a walk and have a good time……….
Then after that – get your ‘best’ camera out, and really appreciate what you have in your hand……
We were talking about projects the other day, and whilst I don’t tend to plan my photographs – I think that at any given time I do have projects in my mind. Some will come to fruition, and others just won’t ..
The projects I think about usually involve something I’ve seen or read about, and sometimes just looking through my Lightroom catalogue, and using collections, I can see themes starting to peek through.
I’m happily working on in camera movement (ICM) in woodlands, and am pretty content with some images I’ve made. Will it end in a full set of images? I actually don’t know at this time.
What we have to remember is that it doesn’t actually matter any more (well not for me anyway). The reality is that I can take as long as I please, and the set / panel / project will be done, when I say it’s done – and not before.
For me, the most important aspect of creating groups of photographs is to be physically doing it. Plus, some groups might fail, and you’ll never see them.
I’ll end this post with a quote from Robert Adams
‘When photographers get beyond copying the achievements of others, or just repeating their own accidental successes, they learn that they do not know where in the world they will find pictures. Nobody does. Each photograph that works is a revelation to its supposed creator’
The problem is thinking you know enough to think you’re right, but not knowing enough to know that you’re wrong………
What does success look like to you? Sometimes creativity is easy, and sometimes it’s not. I walk through the days trying to get past photographers block, and trying too hard just makes it worse.
Today is a good day, I’m feeling creative and inspired to get out and take some pictures, not for anyone else, but for me, and me alone. Today I’m past the block and on a roll. How long will it last? Who knows, and frankly I’m not worried, it’s about today.
One of the things I’ve learned in the past 18 months or so of Covid, is that I can shoot what I want – not for a camera club, or exhibition, or competition – and there’s been a huge sense of freedom in that. I realised that it was OK to put down the camera, and walk away for a week or two, to change my subjects and outlook – to get off the club treadmill which I hadn’t even realised I was on. To take a good break from social media.
I found that I am not ‘required’ to be a landscape photographer, or wildlife, or portrait, or creative for that matter – I took time to explore genres, to find out where I fit in with myself, and I’ve come out somewhat surprised.
I explored, went for walks, read art and photography books, remembered that the cameras we all have today (including those on our phones) are much better than the equipment photographers were using well into the 1990’s. We are blessed with great cameras, lens, and software, and yet I still hear complaints about ‘gear’. Hey guys, this lens at F1.4 is soooo much better than the same focal length at F2…
Photography is for ‘me’ now, not someone else (I did all that when working full time), and if that sounds selfish – so be it. It’s about feeding my own soul, and I’ve stopped worrying about what other people think of my work.
Online, I see images, one in colour, and one in black and white. The photographer is asking which is better, I can’t decide, help me choose. Is this the death knell of creativity – why are they letting other people choose for them? Asking random strangers on the internet to vet your work is always going to be an issue. About half the people asked liked the colour, and all the rest the mono….. so who was right…. one, the other, both?
Stand up for yourself, be brave and experimental, don’t let the ‘rules’ get in the way of your own vision. Remember that nothing these days is original.
When I was younger I was a musician. I played in orchestra, military band, dance band, jazz band, and theatre pit. I loved it. I played other people’s work as I was learning and after, I was very good at sight reading, better at key transposition, and eventually improvisation. I learnt the way most do though, I copied others, I read the scores for opera, and symphony, I learnt by rote. I learnt scales and harmony. I learnt how to use and maintain my instrument.
As photographers we do the same thing – we copy, we learn the rules, and play scales, we learn how to use and maintain our gear, we eventually learn to deviate (or improvise) from the theme, we learn to read the light, to transpose our thoughts and eventually create our own self worth.
Don’t be scared – remember that by trying to please everyone, you ultimately please no-one, and average is born.
Stay away from internet negativity, and don’t worry about what other people think – find your own voice and stick with it……
Many years ago, I gave up a pretty good job in the insurance market to become a full time photographer.
Part of my job then was to organise events for the insurance industry in Manchester, and we employed photographers to cover events. At one event, I actually sacked the guy on the spot for being – shall we say – inappropriate with the ladies….. it gave me great pleasure to tell him where to stick his lens……
I digress….. after this, I started to shoot the local events myself, and from there, I expanded what I did, to shoot dinners, presentations, and other events around the area, eventually giving up insurance completely, and started photography freelancing as a job.
I was introduced to agency work, and was sent to all sorts of places to shoot people and ‘things’ – the idea then was to get the images back to the picture desk as quickly as I could for print. I didn’t edit, other than maybe a quick crop. Images for news editorials must not, and should not be altered.
The great thing was being able to meet so many people – but it was hard work. Some celebrity folks were wonderful and co-operative. Others not so much, but I enjoyed the challenge.
Standing in the rain, waiting for people (or things) to come and go – waiting in the dark (in the rain) – uploading images whilst sitting on the floor of a shopping centre, or in one case, whilst being driven home.
Would I have changed it? – not for one second. It was a job I loved, and cursed in equal measure….
Which brings me to the purpose of this post…. There’s a lot to be said for being freelance – there’s a lot of joy and excitement – being in the right place at the right time – getting involved in Britain’s Got Talent, and the X-Factor finals.
What I do find frustrating is photographers who think that being freelance is an easy option.
It’s much harder these days to make good money. At one of the last dinners that I shot – one person told me candidly that he would just screenshot my website – and wasn’t bothered about a watermark.
Never mind – let’s let the matter rest, and move on…..
It’s Wednesday again, and it’s raining, and it’s September – plus it’s cold, and for the first time in what seems like months, I’ve headed for the jumper drawer and donned something warmer than usual… The weather people said something about an Indian summer, but so far, it’s not happened.
The last couple of weeks though have been fruitful, and I use the term how it should be used…. Blackberry picking (or bramble picking as they say in Lincolnshire). The berries have benefitted from the long sunny days we had, and then been swollen in full fruitfulness with the onset of the rain….. and whilst picking them, amongst the nettles that seem to enjoy the mix, I got stung, and pricked with the thorns…. and it was so worth it.
The woods are looking good too, with hints of autumn in there, and as I said in my last post, I’m looking forward to the golden colours which I feel sure will happen very soon.
I’m busy looking up places to visit when the schools go back, places that hopefully will have few people in them, so that I can enjoy the solitude, and take my time to get more photographs… the internet research has been ‘fruitful’ too.
So now I’m sitting here in the warm, dogs at my feet. One snoring, and one constantly nutting me for attention. I pause to give a scratch, loving the feel of warm dry fur under my fingers.
They’re content, fed, and sleepy….. which reminds me that it’s lunchtime……
The camera club gets back to ‘live’ meetings next week, and I’m looking forward to seeing people that I’ve not seen in the ‘flesh’ for many months. It’s a hybrid, so for those who don’t feel they can’t meet people yet, there will be zoom… internet has been installed, with an ultra sophisticated air conditioning system – all done whilst we were out…. There’s even been a full deep clean of the building to help us start off again…. (Thank you to all those folks who have worked so hard to make the room as safe as it can be…. you know who you are..)
Today though, I manage not only a haircut, but a longer walk out, to see if I could see the fox again…. It’s late in the day, but I spot him (or her), and this time I don’t have the dogs, but I do have a longer lens on the camera…..
The nettles are long on the edge of the field, but the grass is short now it’s been cut, and still green. The weeds are hiding the mesh fence, so it all looks much more natural….. I’ve steadied the lens on the gate, and I wait for him to look back at me. One quick glance and he’s gone – (is this a true foxtrot I wonder….).
It’s been a long while since I’ve seen fox out in the daylight – I did see another one some weeks ago running across a ploughed field… much darker in colour than this, blending in nicely with the ruts…
There’s been a weekend away too – to visit a friend on the opposite coast – heading for Liverpool was a treat…… and the weather was perfect.
I’ll end with things that I love:-
Friendship, fellowship and shared meals. Snoring dogs, fox in a field, and managing to get a picture I like. Lamb Tagine (that I’ve just learned how to make), and cups of hot tea…..