Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Are You Trying Too Hard to Make Great Photos?
When I view the work of someone who is at the early stages of their photographic development (film pun intended) I'm not so much looking at the technical merits of their photos. (Or lack of them.) After all, they are people who are just starting out. As such, they haven't amassed much experience. Of course their images are going to be rough around the edges, technically speaking. Instead, what I'm checking out is how their eyes, their photographic eyes, are revealed in their images regardless of the technical expertise the images reveal.
A good eye, regardless of experience and level of technical skill, will most always reveal itself whether the person behind the camera is a beginner or someone much more advanced. It's a natural thing that the technical stuff, even when it's not yet where it should be or will be, can't hide.That's not to say a naturally good eye won't develop and get better with time, practice, and experience, it will, but you can often spot a good eye in the work of newer photographers even it's not yet developed. I suppose it's one of those diamond in the rough kinds of things.
One observation I've made, however, is that more than a few newer photographers seem very impatient to produce stand-out work. They seem to be working too hard to show off, i.e., to make great photos -- be it with the camera or in post-production -- rather than being focused on learning how to consistently produce good work. Notice I said, "good work," and not great work. There's nothing wrong with aspiring to produce great work, but it shouldn't be at the expense of routinely and consistently producing good work.
If you're personally satisfied snapping one great photo out of hundreds and hundreds of not particularly good photos, I guess what I'm saying isn't for you. But if you're working to consistently produce good work, I think you'll find the number of great photos you snap (when you reach a level where you're shooting hundreds and hundreds of good photos) will be significantly increased. By the way, when I say "great photos" I'm not talking about images destined to become iconic or legendary. I'm simply referring to photos that are better than good. Sure, that's a subjective thing, but I think (leastwise, I hope) you get what I'm saying.
So here's my advice, a bit of FYI or however you want to take it: Some of you should quit trying so hard to produce an occasionally great photo (however you're trying to do that or with whatever tricks and gimmicks you're throwing at your photos in order to do that) because there's a good chance you're doing so at the expense of producing many more good photos. If you focus on consistently snapping good photos, those great photos will follow suit and they will do so more often.
Here's a little more advice, FYI, whatever: Even when you're consistently producing good photos, you might not end up with as many great photos as you'd like or had hoped for. Sorry, but that's just how this photography thing works. When it comes to great photos, more than a small amount of serendipity often needs to take place to produce those great photos. The serendipity factor is why beginners sometimes produce great photos, even those who barely know WTF they're doing. But if you're routinely and regularly producing good work, you'll give serendipity a much better chance to work its magic.
The pretty girl at the top is Sunny. (Click it to enlarge it.) It's certainly not a great photo but it's a good photo given its intended purpose. At the risk of sounding a bit full of myself, I can consistently shoot good photos day in, day out, every day if need be. *That* ability is what gets me hired, rather than the occasional great photo I might snap. Consistency should be your goal without relying on serendipity. It takes a while to learn (and practice at) becoming a photographer who can produce good work on demand just about whenever it's demanded. There's no magic involved. Special natural-born talents aren't required. It's simply a product of learning, practicing, experience, and skill, which means anyone, if they're willing to invest what it takes to do so, can become a photographer who is a consistently good photographer.
Note: I have a special discount going on with my eBooks right now. The discounts are actually for a promo Ed Verosky put together to go with his latest newsletter, but even if you don't get Ed's newsletter, feel free to take advantage of the discounts anyway. (I recommend signing up for Ed's free newsletter-- I think you'll enjoy it and your photography may benefit from it as well.)
I'm offering 25% off my Guerrilla Glamour, Guerrilla Headshots, and Zen and the Art of Portrait Photography eBooks. Click the graphic (in the right-hand column) for the eBook you're interested in purchasing. The link will land you on my sell page. When you get there, click to buy and you'll be magically transported to a shopping cart. There's a place on the shopping cart for you to enter a discount code. Use the code, edsale and $2.50 will be deducted off your purchase price for any of my three eBooks I mentioned above. I also set up a 10% discount on my recently released Flash-Free Portrait Photography book. For that one, use the discount code, flashfree and $1 will be automatically deducted from your purchase price. These discounts are ongoing until this Sunday at midnight, 09-01-13.
Another Note: A personal friend of mine, a photographer named Kirk (no relation to the captain of the Enterprise-- Kirk is my friend's first name) will be the instructor of an upcoming photography education class at Calumet University's Los Angeles campus. The class is called "Understanding Lighting for Making Great Portraits." (Click the title I just provided to learn more.) Kirk's class will be held on September 7, 2013. And yeah, I'm well aware Calumet isn't a real university and its "campus" is a large retail photography store but that doesn't really matter. There are many ways to engage in formal education and they don't all take place at actual colleges or universities. If you're an LA area photographer looking for a course like this or you think it may benefit you, check it out!