Awards–These medals were awarded to folks who were prisoners of war at a special ceremony at the Mission Inn. I documented the unveiling of the Prisoner of War Memorial for the Riverside National Cemetery. The event was solemn yet bittersweet for those in attendance.
Eventually everyone gets there. That point where if you see a scene before you, you can confidently expect that you have the picture in hand, when you trip your shutter.
Even better than that, if you can visualize exactly how your â€œcaptured imageâ€ will look. By that I mean, you’ve got control over exactly what is in focus and sharp and what is blurred out.
For the more advanced folks wanting even more â€œcontrol,â€ they add their own lights into the scene to controlÂ the â€œmoodâ€ either through highlight and shadow, or saturation of colors. It just requires lots and lots of practice.
Once there, you might think about some goals for yourself.
Before you set unrealistically high standards and goals for yourself you have to realize:
There’s plenty of accolades out, no need for jealousy
There’s no need to be jealous of what other photographers have “achieved.” This is especially true if you have peers who are either folks who bought their digital SLR the same time as you or were in the same photography class.
Winning awards and contests is nice, but in the end you take pictures for your own enjoyment. The Photographer-of-the-year award is all relative to how many people and who entered the contest.
Contests and awards get you out there using your camera and there is no better way to improve than to be out there shooting.
If you’re trying to become established as a local artist, winning a contest can help get your name out there.
If you’re a photographer at a small newspaper, winning a contest can be your ticket to a bigger newspaper. But we won’t go there since newspaper photographers are becoming an endangered species.
You can’t possibly shoot every type of photography
Photography is expensive, even now, that it’s in the digital realm.
Everyone dreams about going on an African safari to photograph animals in the plains of the Serengeti. What? It’s true. I do.
If you won a free ticket to fly there and back, expect to take out a small loan to be able to take full advantage of the free ticket.
If you’re going to be heading all the way there, you have to know traveling with your gear requires a lot of planning. Expect also that you’ll need to rent some long, long lenses.
As a newspaper photographer I didn’t get much of an opportunity to shoot glamor or fashion even though I have an interest in it. Now that I’m on my own, I try to get out of my comfort zone to learn.
Interestingly, I found a post on a Reddit forum where my efforts were critiqued. I did concede when I wrote the post at Rising Black Star that I was stepping out of my comfort zone.
(Scroll down the page and look for a post by zhx where he writes and “this guy thinks he’s competent enough to teach technique to beginning photographers? Unbelievable.”
When you have a blog, you open yourself to lots of criticism and you learn to take your â€œlumps.â€ The trick is not to let the negativism get to you.
You can’t excel at everything
It’s human to want to be the â€œaceâ€ who can do all kinds of photography.
We all know Annie Leibovitz can photograph people especially celebrities well, but she knows her niche. That’s why there are folks who specialize in food and product photography.
Newspaper photographers are expected to be generalists.
I’m biased of course, but I think newspaper photographers don’t receive enough credit for their hard work. Their art is expected to carry the page and draw readers into reading a ho-hum story day-in and day-out.
Match the type of photography with your personality
If you’re the shy type, photography can bring you out of your shell.
I know of many photographers who behave very differently when they don’t have a camera in their hands.
Had your fill with people? Maybe landscapes are for you.
Keep an open mind.
The thing to remember is not to make broad statements. Statements like â€œlandscapes are easy, you just have to show upâ€ will not win you friends.
I’ve said it before. Even if Ansel Adams provided the exact GPS coordinates of every picture he took, time and place and all the EXIF information, I don’t expect anyone to be able to re-create his works of art.
It takes more than being there, unlike the mantra photojournalists subscribe to, â€œf8 and be there.â€
Landscapes require tons and tons of patience. The photographer is seldom able to light the entire scene, so they have to keep going back when the light is right.
Set some realistic goals, but don’t let them limit you unless you are independently wealthy and have all the time in the world.
On behalf of those of us who have to make a living, let me wish you all a Happy New Year.
May all your captures be fruitful and do share them, if not here with me, with friends and family!