Excellent topic and points made that support the need to maintain balance between the craft and art of photography, by fellow Photographer Darren Rowse. Although the primary focus (no pun intended) in this particular video is on portrait photography, much of what is said also holds true for other subject areas as well. Connecting on a personal level with the portrait subject can also apply to connecting on a personal level with nature, landscapes, interiors, macro subjects, etc. Naturally there’s not the “drawing-out” and fluid interaction between photographer and subject, but there’s still passion for the subject and the need to tell the story of the moment.
Perhaps the difference between the great photographer and the good photographer, as it applies for non-portrait subjects, has more to do with the great ones achieving the successful connection by flowing outward that which lies within? Light, camera and being in the moment are the keys that unlock the door. Great images result. From my experience the best portrait and wedding photographers tend to be natural extroverts. Nature and landscape photographers tend to be the opposite. But there’s no doubt the great ones in all areas of photography know full well the value of making the “connection.”
There’s something very special that’s going to be happening in Dayton, this Saturday, December 4, 2010. Help-Portrait is an event that’s not about the photographers. It’s about providing and donating portrait photography to families who normally wouldn’t be able to afford or have access to portrait studio services. Help-Portrait is a phenomenal, national movement and I’m happy for the opportunity to participate and help here locally in Dayton. Here’s the 411 –
WHO: We are photographing the local families of the U.S. Armed Forces deployed or deploying.
WHAT: Each family with have a portrait taken, edited, printed and given to them on site. Packet will include 1-5×7, 4-wallets and a digital file if desired. (no pets, please)
Walk-ins are welcome throughout the day and you do not have to make an appointment, however if you know that you will be coming to take advantage of this gift, if you email us with your name and approximate arrival time it will help with our work flow. If you would like to help us in that way send your name and approximate time to firstname.lastname@example.org (She will NOT be replying with a confirmation to your email)
Funny – and insightful – article by Photographer Gordon Lewis. I’ve been involved with photography and around many other photographers so long now that I can spot the “gear heads” a mile away. That’s great that they are passionate and enthusiastic about photography, but to place SO MUCH emphasis on equipment and gear is a mistake.
I’m paraphrasing another photographer out there somewhere, but “if a particular camera and lens were so great then it would go out there and capture images on its own.”
I’m not trying to offend these photographers. Really, I’m not, because many of them take my workshops. The point I’m trying to make (emphasized by the humor in this article) is that many aspiring photographers become so occupied with a particular camera brand or model, or lens, or whatever, that they fail to concentrate their photographic efforts where it matters the most – developing, enhancing and growing their “internal” camera, as in artistic vision.
Honestly, I can’t think of one time I’ve not been out shooting and I’m approached by someone (almost always a guy, usually older) with the “hey, that’s a Canon 5D (they immediately start “running” $$$’s). I bet you get good pictures with that camera. Hey, that’s some lens you got there ( . . . . start “running” $$$’s). I bet you get good pictures with that lens.”
What is it about camera gear that brings out the “geek” in so many people ? Why is it that camera gear is viewed as an arena of competition ?
Have we become so much of a consumer-drive society that the brand of product we carry trumps individuality and creativity ?
Yes, I’ve got good gear. Yes, it’s a significant investment. But what’s even better, and much more of an investment, are my skills as a photographer and vision as artist, not to mention a lifelong student of the nature of life and light within and on the subjects that I pursue with my passion for the craft and art of photography.
The most important gear in my toolbox is 10+ years old. Some of the things I use that make the most difference are the least expensive items found in my camera bag. Much of it was purchased used. I’ve learned what works best to serve my needs as a photographer. I don’t serve the gear, and the subsequent debt that inevitably follows the prioritization of equipment over process. Granted an entire industry – from manufacturers to retailers – has thrived on hobbyist obsession with the “latest and greatest.”
Just don’t ask me about preferred computer hardware. I guess when it comes down to it there’s a bit of “geek” in all of us. It’s just a matter of not letting him or her dominate who we really are, and the artist each of us was meant to be.
My dream assignment – The Eagle Hunters of Mongolia. Top pro photographer Art Wolfe demonstrates how he works with such incredible subjects in challenging outdoor conditions, changing his position and angle until subject and light come together for the perfect photograph.
Last night I returned home from a full-day workshop in Cincinnati – PhotoTech by the Ohio Valley Chapter of ASMP – to discover in my mailbox a nice letter and certificate from the Professional Photographic Certification Commission. After taking and subsequently passing a two-hour, comprehensive written examination on technical expertise and successfully submitting 20 images from different commercial photo shoots to a panel of judges for review and approval, I have officially earned the designation of Certified Professional Photographer. Currently there are less than 2,000 professional photographers in the United States who have earned this designation.
Just last week I traveled to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado with my daughter Emma, age 10. I learned the hard way last summer to make the best of the time I have with my daughters, so this year I planned a special trip with both of them. For Chloe, age eight, it was Washington D.C. last month. For Emma it was the mountains in Colorado. During the school year they live in Texas with their mother, and the winters here in Ohio for me, as a single dad, can be pretty tough. So far this summer is going much better. We’re having a ton of fun and capturing some great photographs.
Another topic I wanted to mention is the art and business of the fine art nature gallery. Whenever I visit resort towns, particularly out west, I love to browse the retail galleries of some of the top professional nature and landscape photographers. They’ve got it going on. While we were in Frisco, Colorado we wandered around a bit in the retail gallery of Colorado Photographer Todd Powell. His work is jaw-dropping gorgeous, and in his gallery he does all of his own printmaking and mounting.
Another gallery that just blew me away was that of Tom Mangelsen, located in the terminal of Denver International Airport. WOW ! Incredibly beautiful prints, meticulously composed, captured and edited. Tom raises the bar of excellence for any nature and landscape photographer who aspires to fly in the stratosphere of professional success and accomplishment. Tom Till, Art Wolfe, Jim Brandenburg, John Shaw and David Middleton also rank right up there with the best of the best when it comes to fine art nature and landscape photography.
I would love to have had a successful gallery operation, such as those of any of the above mentioned photographers, here in the Dayton area. I’m confident I have the body of local photographic work as well as the necessary skill, knowledge and equipment for fine art printmaking. In fact I somewhat attempted the effort at my previous retail location, off of Far Hills in Centerville. Sadly I didn’t receive hardly any foot traffic (other than salespeople) until I announced I was closing the store and marking all of my print inventory drastically down. That turned-out to be the confirmation of what I have always suspected to be the case with the local art market.
The problem with Dayton (and for that matter, all of Ohio) is that the market just isn’t there. Fine art print galleries are always most successful in high- dollar, tourist areas, such as in and around the grand vistas and National Parks of the American West. There are some notable exceptions, but the one constant is easy access to customers who 1) have the disposable income to purchase fine art nature and landscape prints, and 2) APPRECIATE and know the skill and artistic talent required to create incredibly striking nature and landscape photography.
It’s a shame because I have discovered Ohio to be rich in scenic locations that translate beautifully into fine art prints, providing buyers of professional nature photography with a unique, local touch to how they decorate homes and offices. Unfortunately here in Dayton the photographers who have achieved that level of skill often get pushed to the side or grouped-in with other visual artists, whether it be at public showings or in galleries. Been there. Done that. It’s not for me.
The best I can do at this point is “build my market” where it doesn’t exist. I think I’m making progress, but I – and the local market – have a long way to go. Perhaps someday.
Fine Art – Stock – Commercial – Portrait – Workshops