Sunday, June 7, 2009

The newspaper and a cup of coffee

Self portrait.

Last Friday I read an interesting Q & A on the "A Photo Editor" site.
It was a Q & A with photographer rep. Deborah Schwartz. Interesting article but what caught my eye was what she said about her clients. Her photographers are people who do work that she personally likes. She can relate to their work.

She said, It's about getting out there for yourself and shooting what you love because you love doing it. Have a strong vision and have something to say that people want to hear.

I love that insight, although that's easier said than done. Isn't it.

I wanted to see for myself what her photographers work looked like so I went to her site and clicked over her clients portfolios. You may love it or hate but one thing is certain her photographers shoot a certain way and they stick to it throughout their portfolio. Their photography is consistent. I appreciate looking at work like this. I respect people who have a style and stick to it in spite of outside influences like editors, mentors, teachers, friends, and family who may or may not like or understand the work. Photography is so subjective! An editor might not understand your style or vision so they put the proverbial thumb on you and shape you into who they need you to be. I say Bull Shit! Own your work!

I know a lot of very experienced photographers and how many have truly original point of view. Lets say I know 30 photographers. I would say 3 or 4 have a strong style that makes them unique. Most are very good at what they do but is it uniquely original. In my opinion no. Those are rare birds indeed.

I believe I am a good photographer who has made some great images over the years that will withstand the test of time. But, I have really struggled getting out of the box and find that euphoric bliss called original creativity.

I think as a photographer your work evolves over the years. As your interests shift and visual maturity enlightens you can grow. But I think many people who are creative struggle with personal vision. I think we are influenced by so much that it is really hard to find your way.

For most of use we are not born with it. Many years ago back at NAU my track coach "Red" Haberlack said to me "Brad, you have come as far as your going to go on natural ability, it time to go to work". He was so right. A life lesson. I think the other 26 photographers I know have peaked with their own natural ability. I have to work really hard and I have an obsessive passion to do the best I can do and I still constantly struggle and question.

1 comment:

andy said...


This really strikes a cord with me. I'm in the process of putting together a new portfolio. Well, I'm struggling to put together a new portfolio. I've having trouble finding my voice. I'm overwhelmed with the idea that I need to make my portfolio marketable. I recently read the first few chapters of "Letters to a Young Poet" by Rainer Maria Rilke. The book is a collection of letters from Rilke to a poet friend. The friends asks for feedback on his poems. He wants to be told that his work is good. Rilke instead talks about what it means to be an artist and that no one can really tell you if your good. You do it because "you must". Since you must, he suggests to totally own it. I think if we can do this with our photos we'll find our vision.