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Where I Am Right Now as a Photographer

A friend asked for a contribution to a book he is writing. I told him at first I thought I was helping him out, but it turns out he was helping me by asking. A little introspection never hurt.

This is the first pass of what I wrote:

I am a people photographer. I shoot beauty, portraits, and dance. I enjoy many aspects of photography, and can see myself as a commercial photographer, for example, but right now my focus is as a people photographer.

I live by a simple philosophy: a day shooting is better than a day not shooting. Actually, that’s not quite true: a day working on photography is better than a day not working on photography, be it actually capturing the image or working at post-processing. But I do love to shoot.

I feel very fortunate to be a photographer today. The accessibility of both the means (the equipment) and the knowledge (books, training videos, seminars, etc) has never been greater. This truly is the “golden age” of photography.

It is the process that draws me into this. I once took a creative writing class in college where the professor stressed that it is the journey itself that is important; your reader wants to enjoy the process of reading what you wrote. How you get there is more important than what lies at the end.  I thought that a great piece of advice.

It is my goal to have the viewer of the image take pleasure in the act of looking at it, of examining it and relishing its subtleties and discovering something new about it each time they gaze on it. I feel that isn’t possible unless I myself relish the process of creating it.

I’m working on that journey right now. I am trying to develop a style that is uniquely mine, one that emphasizes simplicity in composition and presentation while being sensitive and understated. A timeless look, but drawing on a more contemporary, minimalist look.

I am in a position where my “day” job continues to be rewarding, and at the same time allows me opportunities as a photographer. This is fortunate for me as it allows me to pursue my vision quest without the encumbrances of earning a living at it. There’s a lot of freedom where I am at now, and I want to jealously protect that as long as I can.

Realistically, 80% of any profession, especially as an entrepreneur, is business. It is my belief, therefore, that the 20% you get to spend doing what you love needs to really count. It has to make that other 80% worth it.

He also asked for my top 10 tips:

  1. make the vision reflect who you are, but make the image reflect who your subject is
  2. embrace failure, but make sure you learn from it
  3. it’s not about the equipment, it is about the image
  4. however, nice equipment, like any good tool, can make the process more enjoyable, and may make it easier for you
  5. whatever you use, get to know it
  6. know how to get the safe shot; make sure you get it
  7. know the rules: composition, lighting, exposure, etc.
  8. break them often enough so you know when you can get away with breaking them
  9. learn as much as you can from as many people as you can
  10.  but in the end, be yourself
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