Whenever I teach, I always simplify.
I try to use as little jargon as I can because my goal isn’t to impress but to
show share what I know.
One of the most humbling aspects of working on a newspaper staff of about 20 other photographers is this: as good as I thought I was, there was always someone better on staff.
But that someone who was better also had weaknesses.
Everyone was super competitive and always wanted to have the best picture that would run on the cover.
Some of my colleagues were bad at breaking news assignments, because they couldn’t read a map, but they made up by being good at portraiture or photo essays because research was their forte.
Others didn’t know what ‘an eagle’ in golf or a ‘tie-breaker’ in tennis meant, yet that never stopped them from trying to outdo the others.
There were a lot of big egos, but we had mutual respect for one another and that perpetuated or fostered an environment which made the level of photography extremely high on a daily basis.
Back then, it wasn’t about who got the picture online first.
There was enough time to choose the best image.
When picture editors disappeared from the landscape of newspapers, it seemed the criteria of what was important also changed.
Pictures today have a self life of perhaps 5 seconds.
Then they are pushed down news feeds never to be seen again until some controversy resurrects it, assuming it is archived properly.
This mindset of instant and fast with questionable quality makes it kind of tough when I encounter it in students.
They are practitioners of Sray-and-Pray School of Photography.
They don’t think carefully before they push the shutter button so when they are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of images, they can’t commit.
It’s not that I don’t shoot at lot.
I do shoot a lot.
Shooting a lot for me means premeditated sequences or bursts, not mindless movie-making.
Being around other photographers is important because even if they are jerks, you get a sense of where your skills are when you see what they create.
There doesn’t need to be prizes or accolades,
You can usually tell if you’re honest with yourself.
So get with some sort of community of like-minded photographers and share your work.
There’s plenty of Meetup and Facebook groups these days where you live. Personality conflicts aside, there’s bound to be one that will welcome you.
Just check your ego at the door.
I just want to thank Patrick Brien for featuring me in the Artist Spotlight of the Press-Enterprise today.
That made this day very special!