I get asked all the time, during workshops, in e-mails, in private messages, what words of wisdom I would give to a new and aspiring photographer. Here's my answer.
- Style is a voice, not a prop or an action. If you can buy it, borrow it, download it, or steal it, it is not a style. Don't look outward for your style; look inward.
- Know your stuff. Luck is a nice thing, but a terrifying thing to rely on. It's like money; you only have it when you don't need it.
- Never apologize for your own sense of beauty. Nobody can tell you what you should love. Do what you do brazenly and unapologetically. You cannot build your sense of aesthetics on a concensus.
- Say no. Say it often. It may be difficult, but you owe it to yourself and your clients. Turn down jobs that don't fit you, say no to overbooking yourself. You are no good to anyone when you're stressed and anxious.
- Learn to say "I'm a photographer" out loud with a straight face. If you can't say it and believe it, you can't expect anyone else to, either.
- You cannot specialize in everything.
- You don't have to go into business just because people tell you you should! And you don't have to be full time and making an executive income to be successful. If you decide you want to be in business, set your limits before you begin.
- Know your style before you hang out your shingle. If you don't, your clients will dictate your style to you. That makes you nothing more than a picture taker. Changing your style later will force you to start all over again, and that's tough.
- Accept critique, but don't apply it blindly. Just because someone said it does not make it so. Critiques are opinions, nothing more. Consider the advice, consider the perspective of the advice giver, consider your style and what you want to convey in your work. Implement only what makes sense to implement. That doesn't not make you ungrateful, it makes you independent.
- Leave room for yourself to grow and evolve. It may seem like a good idea to call your business "Precious Chubby Tootsies"....but what happens when you decide you love to photograph seniors? Or boudoir?
- Remember that if your work looks like everyone else's, there's no reason for a client to book you instead of someone else. Unless you're cheaper. And nobody wants to be known as "the cheaper photographer".
- Gimmicks and merchandise will come and go, but honest photography is never outdated.
- It's easier to focus on buying that next piece of equipment than it is to accept that you should be able to create great work with what you've got. Buying stuff is a convenient and expensive distraction. You need a decent camera, a decent lens, and a light meter. Until you can use those tools consistently and masterfully, don't spend another dime. Spend money on equipment ONLY when you've outgrown your current equipment and you're being limited by it. There are no magic bullets.
- Learn that people photography is about people, not about photography. Great portraits are a side effect of a strong human connection.
- Never forget why you started taking pictures in the first place. Excellent technique is a great tool, but a terrible end product. The best thing your technique can do is not call attention to itself. Never let your technique upstage your subject.
- Never compare your journey with someone else's. It's a marathon with no finish line. Someone else may start out faster than you, may seem to progress more quickly than you, but every runner has his own pace. Your journey is your journey, not a competition. You will never "arrive". No one ever does.
- Embrace frustration. It pushes you to learn and grow, broadens your horizons, and lights a fire under you when your work has gone cold. Nothing is more dangerous to an artist than complacence."
I totally need one of these. I could get an Imperial Storm Trooper costume to go out, ahem... "shooting." Steal of a deal at just under $800 with 2 (coordinating) lenses.
Alright, folks. This week is all about composition.
Here are your tasks.
Photograph an S-curve.
Apply the Rule of Red to create a point of interest.
Create a pair of pictures, one balanced, one unbalanced.
Create a pair of pictures, one symmetrical, one asymmetrical.
Create a pair of pictures, one applying the Rule of Thirds and one completely ignoring the Rule of Thirds.
Challenge: make at least one of the above tasks involve silhouetting and/or backlighting.
Don't forget you only have a few more days to get your images to me for the Technical Critiquing workshop!
(Doesn't she have the cutest little feet? She's pretty excited about having a baby soon. SHE isn't having one though. There's ONLY one in Mom's belly.) Thanks so much for letting me come and see your gorgeous new digs, make animals with your spare change, and take a few pics for my personal collection. (You look pregnant, not fat, by the way.)
OK - no - seriously - it really is Mardi Gras Today. If you can manage it, have pancakes for supper. Heavy on the syrup. Your kids/significant other/dog will love you. At our house I'm having visions of painted macaroni necklaces and paper plate masks. Only they'll be edible tortellini necklaces, and you'll have to lick the sauce off the paper plates before you can make your mask. Or use it to paint your mask. Whichever.
Happy Day Before Lent, everyone!!! Next stop: The Easter Bunny! Uh, wait - the pagan goddess of eggs. No, no, no, the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Right. I always get those confused, worse than Baby Jesus and that fat guy in a red suit.
P.S. I'm giving up caffeine this year.
I be come a shrovin,
Vor a little pankiak,
A bit o' bread o' your baikin',
Or a little truckle cheese
O' your own makin'.
If you'll gi'me a little, I'll ax no more,
If you don't gi'me nothin, I'll rottle your door.'
Hey Chica :)
First - Holy moly - I think *I* might burst with pride - and I'm just Kaelan's aunt! That is so wonderful :) Please tell him I'm proud of him when opportunity arises. I'll be sure to tell him myself when I see him, too, but just so he knows I saw his pictures and I think they're great.
Second - good luck with your Vampire issues. Sometimes it's useful for me to read about these sorts of things and remind myself to be mindful about slipping into such behaviours. I'd like to think I don't engage in these behaviours - at least not frequently. But, also, to be sensitive to when I might be so that I can stop and think through what's actually underpinning the behaviour. So many counter-productive behaviours and attitudes are symptoms of other things.
Finally - I wanted to tell you I completely empathize with your sentiments about finding places that really touch you. Lots of places are fun/beautiful/interesting... most don't grab you by the heart and imagination and proceed to shake you awake. Not everyone goes to a rich-white-honky tourist trap like the DR and sees things to be as complex as you did. I hope you have many more opportunities to head back to the DR. Maybe next semester you can take a Spanish class??
Love you muchly,
Today my 11-year old son accompanied me on my shoots. He took the Crash Course last summer and has proven time and again that not only can anyone learn to use a manual camera (he learned on my old Pentax K1000) but that he has a natural eye. He's very excited to share his pictures. We even created a new watermark just for him! Without further adieu, may I debut the first ever images from Schock Schots!
(I just might burst at the seams. Just. Might. Squee!!! He's one of US!!!! lol)
If anyone else here is interested in critiquing Izcariot's images, please do!
- In order to be part of the family, you must be willing to lick your plate clean, even (especially) at formal dinners.
- You have to know how to have a few (read: several) drinks and retain a sense of humour (especially) when one of their nearest and dearest decides to doff some duds. (I saw more parts of the male anatomy this trip than I did in almost 5 combined years of diaper changing of my own sons...)
- There is NO WAY you can spend any amount of time with their family and friends, and not end up as in love with them, as the Bride and Groom are with (especially) each other.
It's seriously SO hard to believe the girls are already 6 months old! As I've been sifting through the archives for the portfolio images on the new website, it's been like a stroll down memory lane, and yesterday I happened to come across the mat pics, which, if you recall, were taken with not suitcases but HORSES.
(I'm sure this means something not very nice in Italian...)
(As the one usually pointing a camera around, I have come to accept the fact I often have this effect on people. I'm used to it.)
Miss L was deliciously sweet, with perfect pouty little lips and some of the longest baby feet I've ever seen.
Even though she didn't weigh in like a pipsqueak at birth, I imagine by the time I get to see Miss L again for her 3-month session, she's going to be a relative giant.
Mom and Dad, congratulations - she is nothing shy of perfection.
(And, she looks GREAT in a basket. Remember - you know where to find me if you ever want to borrow the Magic Sleeping Egg Basket...)
Mr B, though, wasn't nearly as excited about my opportunity to take maternity pics as I was. After regaling me with his rockstar prowess he spent the rest of the session (generally) hiding from the camera.
As for big brother B, he's still far more interested in musical instruments than the doting gurgling face-making photographer. He did, however, play a song for his new sister.
Apparently, little miss A appreciates his talent.
I know it's selfish of me to say thank you instead of congratulations, but I'm going to risk it this time and say thanks to Mom and Dad for taking my advice and making me another nice baby to visit. MUAH to you all! (And Bear, too...)