The Conversation

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I was waiting in a parking lot outside a hotel. A bellhop was talking with hotel patrons, describing an encounter where he was photographed by a local press photographer as he was walking down the street.

The conversation went something like this….

Bellhop
“This person came up and said they had photographed me and that they worked for the paper. They asked if they could use my name.”

Patron
“Oh.”
Bellhop
“But I said no way, I didn’t want to do that.”

Patron
“Oh no, don’t give them your name.”

Bellhop
“I mean a didn’t know what to do, but I just I wasn’t going to give them my name.”

Patron
“Oh no, you just don’t do that.” “What did they want?”

Bellhop
“They were going to run the picture in the paper”

Patron
“Oh.” (With Concern) “Did you make any money at least?”

Bellhop
“No, I didn’t even make any money.”

Now this might seem like an inconsequential event, but in my mind it speaks volumes about modern photography. Fear, suspicion and perhaps greed thrown in on top. What a strange and somewhat sad way to navigate the world. Having been a press photographer for several years it speaks to how things have changed in the modern world. People used to be excited about being in the paper.

I Like Old

68,484

(The number of views for Sebastiao Salgado’s TED Talk.) I’m just going to say this, Salgado is the best documentary photographer alive. You could argue actual composition and style, and there are others that are good, but when you boil down longevity, impact, scale and influence there is nobody even in the same range. Now, I’m lumping guys like Edward Burtynsky in another category of work, but that is my own personal preference. And I don’t put Salgado in the “conflict photographer” group either. Perhaps I should define Salgado as a “classic documentary photographer,” but that would be confining because he transcends the traditional outlets and the art world, but ultimately that is not what this post is about.

Can you guess what these numbers correspond to?

305,482
363,366
402,343
652,118

Yep, you guessed it. Camera reviews.

As you can see, these numbers are not even close, and oddly enough the geeks watching these reviews are planning (mostly talking) to hypothetically (Because most don’t actually make photographs.) do the kind of work that Salgado is doing only at an absurdly inferior level. Personally I think this is why people laugh at photography and our “geek” legacy. I also find this wildly depressing, and I think it’s been getting worse over the past decade. I think if the rest of the creative world actually cared they would feel sorry for us. Yes, I said “us” because I was spawned from the photography world. Multiple times per week someone asks me about gear, either what camera to buy or what I think of some new model. I have my standard, canned answers because frankly I detest talking about this stuff. “Whatever is small and whatever you are willing to carry,” is my number one response because I actually think this response is helpful and I truly believe it. When it comes to new cameras I have another canned autoreply, “I don’t know.” I should probably add, “I don’t care,” but that might sound a tad smug, so I’m currently holding back on that little caveat. Even if I wanted to keep up with the new models I’m pretty sure I would not be able to unless I quit my job, rid my life of all things meaningful and holed myself up with a case of Jolt Cola and some cheap hooch. But more importantly, WHY would I even want to do this? The absolute truth is your camera has so little to do with your images it’s almost irrelevant, but don’t tell that blasphemic tale to the masses sitting through unboxing videos. (There should be a minimal jail sentence for anyone caught hatching one of these devilish creations.) Heck, I did a test on my own YouTube page years ago with a “What’s in my Bag?” post and a “New Camera at Smogranch” blast. The “What’s in my Bag” video has almost 5000 views, which for me is massive because my mode of promoting my YouTube page is neglecting to tell people I actually HAVE a YouTube page. And to say the video is low quality is an understatement of supreme proportion.
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But something else dawned on me. I like old stuff. I like stuff that has been in my hands long enough to feel like it is actually mine. I like stuff I have a connection with. I’ve got a friend who buys almost every new point-and-shoot digital camera that comes out. No joke. All brands. Then he calls me and says “Okay, I’m serious this time, THIS IS THE ONE.” Then, two weeks later it’s on Ebay, and I get the follow up call. “Oh man, that piece of crap would’t focus and the skin tone was horrible.” I let him finish talking then I hang up on him. As you can see, I’m in need of new soles. I could buy new shoes, but I don’t need new shoes. I need new soles. These shoes finally feel like they are mine, and if anyone reading this knows me you know I wear these almost everyday. This will be my third set of soles for these particular babies. When I look down I know what I’m going to see, and more importantly I know what I’m going to feel.

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The same can be said for my camera. It’s the same boring model I’ve been using for twelve years. It’s not the only camera I have, but the rest, with the exception of one, have been with me for about the same amount of time and some much, much longer. (I did buy a new system in the last two years, but it was only new to me, and had already been discontinued roughly a decade prior to me acquiring it.) There is no guesswork. There is no awkward moment. There is no learning curve. In fact, the only thought I give toward them is choosing a format. That’s all I need. The burden of choice is lifted and I just going into the field to look and see.
As many of you know, I’ve taught a few classes here and there over the years, both here at home and along some distant shores. Many modern students are defeated by the newness of their equipment before they ever set foot on photographic ground. I look over to see them staring at new everything, their conversation filled with menus, buttons and custom functions, not to mention the software woes on the backend. It just doesn’t work, nor will it ever. Now, if you love the gear more than the actual photographs, yes it will work, and there is no shortage of all things new. I say this not being contrite, but I’m entirely sure that many of those watching these camera reviews have no actual interest in making photographs. This is a reality of the photography world.

My advice to you is two fold. First, get a camera, commit to it and put all the rest away in a locked compartment. Then give the key to a trusted companion under the promise that when you come to them in a sweaty frenzy claiming you REALLY need those other cameras because your Zupperflex 5000 is only good at street photography and your Zupperflex 5001 is the ONLY thing that will work for your softcore “poolside” glamour “work” your friend will, as promised, kick you in the teeth as hard as they possibly can. Second, use your chosen camera until it wears out. NOT until a new model is released, or a new software version flies down from the ether. USE THIS ONE CAMERA UNTIL IT WEARS OUT.

I know a few non photographers who have done this. People who love to shoot for the love of shooting who never went down the equipment rabbit hole. They ask me to look at the mirror in their battered FM2 or their 5D Mark II shutter with 500,000 exposure, the camera in one hand and the shutter in the other. These people know, the have seen the light and know the light comes from what it in front of you, not what is in your hand. Find something and grow old with it.

And people this is the FUN part, and I guarantee your imagery will IMPROVE. Less distracted photographer equals better photographer every damn time. And what’s so great about this is WHEN you imagery improves it illuminates the reality that the rest of the nonsense really doesn’t matter. Slowly your gear will become just a distraction because you will be consumed by your imagery, by the light at 3:43 PM, by a location or by something you haven’t quite put your finger on yet. Your gear will become a reflex used to scratch a creative itch and the thought of taking time to watch a YouTube clip about something new will finally strike you as absurd. It’s a learning process that has nothing to do with technology or screen time. It is about an ongoing conversation with good friends.

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It’s All Good

It’s all Good.

I’ve been around this photography thing for a while now, and I can’t ever remember a single moment when photographers were not asking themselves, and each other, “Is this a good time to be in photography?” It’s easy to want to compare one generation to the next. Was it better then, or worse, or now or later or never? And does it matter?
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I recently had a conversation with a consultant who said “I’m not sure why I keep hearing people say this is a great time to be in photography because it doesn’t seem that way.” This person was referring to the specifics of a certain genre of photography and to the business realities those photographers now face. Are there issues today? Ya, for sure, and serious ones that are threatening the livelihood of more than a few photographers. But haven’t there always been issues?

As I was waiting to get my tires rotated I began to really think about this. I looked around at the tire advertisements, the posters on the wall, the auto magazines on the table next to me, the mobile phone in my hand and the billboards outside the window and thought “What does all this really mean?”

What I do know for sure is that there are more photographers working and attempting to work than ever before. And the definition of photographer has changed, broadened and morphed into many different things. I feel very fortunate to have been able to do what I’ve done and have a career in photography from roughly 1990 to 2010. I did newspaper work, editorial, commercial, a TINY bit of fashion, a TINY bit of advertising, weddings and a ton of portraits, not to mention the steady stream of ill-fated documentary projects churning in the background the entire time. I can’t remember ever shooting for free, something that people get asked to do all the time now, but I’m sure I did. I was lucky on my timing, riding the wedding bubble from the beginning till a midway point when I pulled the ripcord. Weddings were my first real, consistent money. The first time I ever met with a client I walked out with a $4000 check, or roughly thereabouts. By the time I was done I was hovering around the $15,000 mark. I could have made more, but that price seemed to keep me in the clients I was fond of and my goal was to ONLY do ten shoots a year, something I stuck with religiously. I’ve turned down many more since I hung up my spurs, and I feel better passing these jobs to friends than I ever did accepting them, which is a very strange reality that speaks to many things I won’t bore you with here.
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I also turned down advertising jobs that ranged as high as $50,000 because as a friend put it, “These are jobs where there are more people behind the camera than in front,” and I knew how miserable I would be working this way. And I knew the production and creative fees should have been much higher, and even though $50,000 seemed like a lot at the time it actually wasn’t and would have barely been enough to cover my bases. And finally, I wasn’t an advertising photographer and was ill equipped to even think about doing jobs like this. These jobs were infrequent, but they offered a glimpse into another world. My point here is I had options and for whatever reason, the vast majority of the time, something came along. I like to think it was because of my work, my attitude, preparation, networking and luck, but I also know it is because other people helped me out. Other photographers, friends and clients who passed along my name or sent an email or made a call. Oh, and one final point here. Even at the pinnacle of my “career” I was still an unknown. I was going to say “nobody” but I won’t go quite that far. I wasn’t a superstar, top ten or even top fifty. I actually didn’t care about that, which is a problem if that is a goal.

Is this a good time to be in photography? Yes, of course, without a doubt, but I will answer one question with another. Is this a good time to be in the business of photography? I will sneak out with “yes and no.” Or maybe I should say “maybe.”

But there is another point I want to make. Even having a discussion about this is a first world, privileged discussion. A significant portion of the world lives in poverty and isn’t wondering about portfolio sites, or whether to go with Lightroom or Aperture. These folks are thinking food, water, shelter, so why don’t we put the debate aside and realize it’s always a good time to be in photography when we reduce it to what photography means to most people. Story. History. Evidence. Family. Stripped down into the study of light, composition, timing and theme, how can photography be anything other than fantastic?

It’s been a long while since I was excited about my own work. With my departure from the industry came a departure from frankly thinking about myself way more than I should have, a necessary evil at times when you are being judged on a shoot-by-shoot basis and when the world has seemingly become infatuated with the online popularity contest.

Today I love what you are doing far more than what I’m doing. Don’t get me wrong, I have the best job in the world, but when I see someone else make a strong image, book, breakthrough or valuable creative failure I think “that’s very cool.” I get hit up on a daily basis to promote things and people and projects, and most of the time I really enjoy it. So I’m not really IN photography but it’s still a really good time for me to NOT be in it. Does that make sense?

There are certain things in this world that never get old. Honesty and humor are two at the top of my list, but also things I think are lacking in modern photography. When I think about the photographers I know who display humor in their work I think of how they, and their images, are beloved by almost everyone I know. When I think of the serious types I don’t find the same feeling or the same admiration from the masses, or even the same understanding, and don’t think the humorous types aren’t serious about their work, they are, but they know where it fits in the hierarchy of being human. I think this is a good reminder that we need to keep things like photography in perspective, and in some ways, like dating, the subtle approach is far better than the frontal attack. I don’t fault serious photographers for being serious. Each of us filters what we do through a set of parameters, allowing certain feelings to rise and fall to the top or the bottom.

There are few things in our history as powerful and preserving as the still image. Still images confront the viewer. There are no distractions, no sound, nothing moving and perhaps not even a caption to whisper in the viewer’s ear. Still images, good ones, are potent. You don’t need much. Just a tiny, tiny dose, and like acid they etch themselves on your memory and they don’t let go. When I make an image I feel is going to be solid I can’t stop thinking about it until I see the negative. It’s one of the best feelings in the world, and when I see an image by someone else that has all the right ingredients it actually makes me somewhat nervous because I want to stop what I’m doing and tell them “Jesus, you nailed it.”

So yes, it is a fantastic time to be in photography, but it may take a redefining of your position for you to agree. And if you don’t agree, then that’s okay too. When I think about photography now I think about things like voices, connection, water, paper, ink, humanity, film and the websites and books of many, many other image-makers, and I wonder why we even debate. Photography for me now isn’t the headline or the best seller. Photography is that thing that takes me away, that visual book I can reread again and again, and when people ask me about photography now I say “It’s a part of my life.” I wish in some ways that it had always been just a part, but we all take different journeys through this little rectangular or square way of seeing the world, of living the world, and there is no going back. And rightly so.

Postcards from a Wedding

I wrote this post over a year ago and totally forgot about it. Sorry. It WILL be the last post I ever do in regard to anything related to a wedding. Ever. I’ve been out of that game for a long, long while and won’t be going back anytime soon. I’m not even sure I could do it anymore. Anyone who has ever done a wedding knows it’s both a mental and physical game.

CLIFF NOTES: If you don’t want to read this opus the basis is MAKE YOUR OWN IMAGES.

I was asked to write about advice for wedding photographers, something I promised I would never do again. However, earlier in the year(2012) I photographed my last wedding ever and I thought it an opportune time to sign off on this industry and business. This post might seem hard hitting, which I hope it is, but the intention is simply to make people think. As photographers we are capable of so, so much, but in difficult economic times, or trying times for the industry, I am baffled by the level of conformity perhaps best illustrated by the portrait/wedding world. Yes, many weddings are comprised of the same format, preparation, ceremony, celebration, and there are similarities from shoot to shoot, so in some ways repetition, standardization and trends all contribute to an assembly line type situation. However, I spent ten years in the portrait/wedding world and was successful because I did NOT conform. There is power and there is value in unique imagery, just as there is in unique literature, poetry, art and sound. So the next time we find ourselves walking on the same well worn path, let’s turn around, step off or begin hacking a new trail.

I named this post “Postcards from a Wedding” as a tribute to Magnum photographer Susan Meiselas and her “Pictures from a Revolution” film. Yes, we are talking a major stretch between the Nicaraguan Civil War and a wedding in the Caribbean, but hear me out. In or around 1990, when I was first beginning my official photojournalism degree at the University of Texas, Susan Meiselas came and screened this film for the PJ students. My first “photojournalism” class had hundreds of people in it because “photojournalism 101” was an elective that any communication, art or journalism student could take. Consequently it was a packed house. I was hooked. Completely and utterly hooked. First, the film gave me a feel for who Susan was. Second it gave me a feel for what type of effort it required to do this work, and it also gave me a clear picture of the connection between a committed journalist and the people she was working with.

Susan’s Nicaragua work was also graphic, violent, beautiful and felt like the kind of work that I wanted to make. Years after meeting her, and years after graduation, when I finally had a portfolio I believed in-my first book-I sent her one, unannounced. This was before I had a computer, email, cellphone, etc, so it was mailed to her in a giant envelope. Several weeks later it came back, and it came back with a long, handwritten note. In a nutshell it said “You see the world in a unique way but you have to learn how to make YOUR images.”

Maybe, just MAYBE, there were two or three images in the entire book that would prompt someone to say I saw the world in a unique way, so I figured she was being polite, which she had already proven by writing me back! What I took from her advice was the last part. I had to learn to make MY images. This is easier said than done. I see so much work today, so much, and the overwhelming majority is work I’ve seen before. Finding vision, as I’ve said many times in the past, isn’t easy. And you can find it only to lose it just as quickly as you found it. I know, I’ve done it. Several times.

But let me break this down with the wedding thing in mind. It is a challenge to bring up weddings and Susan Meiselas in the same sentence, but it’s my blog and my soul died a long time ago so I’m gonna go ahead and do it. I’ve written about this for years and normally get crucified when I bring it up, which is reason enough to do it. The wedding photography industry is filled with photographers who aren’t really photographers in the traditional sense, but that’s okay(They approach from a different angle). If someone finds joy in working in an industry then more power to them. However, there is a downside to this little tale if you have wider plans. If you have “other plans” in photography it can be difficult to be associated with the wedding industry, fair or unfair that is the truth.(Just had this conversation again, last week, with another photographer who said he was not getting commercial work due to being known in his area as a wedding photographer.Much to the chagrin of another photographer who didn’t think this could be possible.) One of the ways this can go away is if wedding photographers learned more about not only photography but about themselves. You GOTTA study, work, toil and fight to figure out who you are with a camera in your hand, and frankly most people don’t do it and the industry doesn’t put ANY pressure on them to do so. There is also an unfair stigma associated with wedding photographers. “If you can’t do anything else, you do weddings.” This just isn’t true anymore, not by a long shot, but the IDEA remains and sometimes this can be a real issue requiring educational skills on the part of the photographer.

The wedding industry was the first industry where I listened to photographers tell me they learned the business by going online, in 2005, and copying who was hot. This isn’t good. That might get you a business but it doesn’t make you a photographer. There is one photographer in particular, someone I first heard about years ago, who has been cloned by an entire generation of wedding photographer, right down to his camera and lens. I see dozens and dozens of wedding snaps that all look EXACTLY like his…only not quite as good. But guess what, it’s good enough. The bar is low so people can get away with this. And also, a lot of wedding snappers base their work and credibility on their clients who are mostly people who DON’T look at imagery. They like most things. This doesn’t lend itself to developing a higher standard.

I’m not gonna show you the bulk of the work I did on this wedding(Private), which by the way was the final wedding I will ever do. It’s over Johnny. The vault has been sealed and dropped overboard. I did this wedding for several reasons, but most importantly I did it because I really like the people involved. That’s all I need. Yes, the location was great, I had freedom to do what I thought best, and even though I was the official photographer I was also part of the gang, which makes things far more civil and enjoyable. The images you see here, with the exception of two, were all made with a plastic, discontinued underwater point-and-shoot. The rest were taken with a 43-year-old rangefinder. Why did I use these old tools? Well, I like them, but they also give me the STYLE of image I was going for. And when I say this I mean for THIS particular shoot. I had a very concrete idea of what I wanted the final product to look like the DAY I accepted this job, which was months and months before the shoot. I didn’t just apply my “wedding photography” to this event like all the rest. I’ve done weddings where I shot a grand total of 20 images THE ENTIRE DAY(665 Polaroid), and I’ve done others where I shot digital and shot literally thousands of photographs. I’ve done weddings in black and white only. I’ve done 6×6 weddings, 6×7 weddings, 6×9 weddings, and even used a 4×5 once or twice. I’ve shot Lomo, Holga, Pentax, Fuji, Canon, Leica, Polaroid, Zeiss, Voigtlander, Contax and a homemade pinhole. I used this messy range of clunkers because I had a vision for what the job not only required but how I envisioned the final product. I had this vision because I had experimented enough to know what worked and what I could expect to walk away with, and I was fine tuning my approach and technique to fit each job individually. This is a doable thing when you are doing a total of ten shoots a year. It becomes REALLY difficult when you are shooting 20+ events per year and suddenly conformity becomes a part of the equation. If someone else can do your editing you might be on the path to assembly line.

The goal is to be able to see the final project, which in this case is a book, and say, “I know who did that.” Call it style, vision(overused) or point of view, doesn’t matter. What matters is HAVING ONE. Wedding photographers should demand more. They should rally around those who take chances and set a tone that borders on chaos and failure, not volume and year-end-sales. Could we possibly take anymore of the mystery and experience out of it?

To be fair, working as a photographer these days is not what it once was. There are different pressures and the value of photography, especially in the mind of the general public, has changed and not for the better. There is less appreciation for the process and also less concern with the longevity or impact of the images. But, this doesn’t mean you don’t fight the fight. If you are a wedding photographer you have to educate yourself and your clients to what it is you do, SPECIFICALLY, and why you do it that way. In the long run, it’s all you’ve got. And don’t go thinking this is a rant against wedding photographers because this level of operation is happening in almost all genres of photography. Having an online following or filling a workshop doesn’t make a good photographer. These aren’t bad things, not by any stretch, but what I see happening is people associating these abilities with photographic talent. In my opinion, the best photographers in the world aren’t on social media and they surely don’t teach a lot of workshops. Why? Because they are making their work instead.

For you newbie wedding photographers out there I’m going to cut you some slack. Keep learning, keep expanding your knowledge base. The people I want to direct this post at at the “pros” who have suddenly found themselves in the wedding world. This really started happening about fifteen years ago, based mostly on economic pressures. YOU folks have a responsibility. YOU have the knowledge and experience which makes it truly painful when I see YOU conforming to what the industry is subscribing. When you homogenize your photography to meet an industry with seemingly no quality bar it really has devastating effects and not only on the wedding market, which is some ways is impervious to impact. How many times have I see or heard a photographer from another genre land on the wedding market and make some bold proclamation about “doing things right” only to see the same person six months later churning out the same generic content under the fateful statement, “Well, the clients aren’t complaining.” Weddings offer certain photographers, very good photographers, their FIRST real chance to make decent money, and ultimately for some that becomes overpowering. I get it, but ultimately I don’t get it. It just makes me sad. These folks tend to stop making good imagery, and not just within the borders of their wedding work. They just stop creating or thinking or whatever it is that made them photographers in the first place. This in turn drags the industry down ever so slightly. And then someone else does, and it happens again and again and again, and suddenly the slight variant is a deluge of brain drain. The truth is these people don’t need to do this. Many of these folks came from genres where the photographer has lost all rights, all ability to work in a pure sense, and where they have had to conform, sign contracts and give up on working in the style they dreamed of working in, but in the wedding world you can do ANYTHING you want to do, so when someone gives up, conforms, caves in, it makes it that much more difficult to watch. So if by any strange change ANYONE actually reads this post, take this ONE thing away which is to find that inner photographic kid once again. Stop doing what you think you have to do and start doing what you WANT to do. I guarantee your work will improve and photography will be a lot more fun once again. Photographers have an inherent power I wish they would take more advantage of. Not everyone can do what we do. I’m a firm believer there are the SAME number of photographers there always has been. There are millions of people with cameras, but they aren’t photographers. When you make a unique style, or recognizable style of image, there is a power you can harness and your clients will know and respect this. Your images might not fit every job, but you don’t really want every job. You want the right job.

And stop talking about new equipment. It won’t help and has no bearing on your imagery. I’ve been having conversations with photographers who tell me they are worried about showing up at a job with a 5D Mark III because they are afraid the client has the same camera and won’t think of them as a professional. This is incredible. If your client can make the same image you are making they maybe you AREN’T a photographer? (Buy a 40-year-old camera and you won’t have to worry about this!) Your photographs should be about light, timing, composition and your visual history, but if these items started in 2005 by you copying someone online…you might have a problem.

If you are offended by this post just know….I’m by no means a perfect person or photographer(OBVIOUS), but what I am is a pretty decent witness to the times and to photography. I’ve made plenty of horrible images, some for myself and some for clients. I’ve had successes and failures and this post is simply my opinion. Take it or leave it. I walked away from working as a photographer so that I could work on purely my own work. I fought the downward slide of “professional” photography for the past ten years. It’s doable, but it’s all about education of the client. To do this you need the kind of work that educates. You don’t need a standardized test that EVERY OTHER photographer has.

My advice for wedding photographers? My advice to young photographers?
It’s all the same, and I’ll go back to what Susan told me all those years ago….make YOUR photographs, whatever those may be. In the long run, it’s all you have. You have to get outside of the wedding world and look at the full range of photography being made. Perhaps your images will be more influenced by Sternfeld, Steber, Shore, Smith, Salgado, Seliger, Stanmeyer or Strand than someone in the wedding field. If you don’t know these names(Please, please, please don’t tell me if you don’t know.), start there, look them up and see how you feel.

I walk away from this industry with overwhelmingly positive thoughts because I walk with memories of the people and the true moments that happened far from the glitz and glitter of the reception, those moments when hearts beat fast and the honest decisions were made.I walk with the truth of knowing that I was chosen to be the witness.

PPS: The images you see are the images I printed for MY book of the wedding. A snapshot book. 6×9, 300-pages .

Clarification

I want to clarify something, based on the messages and emails I received in the last day.

I am still making work. My work isn’t really straight photography like it was before, but the work I’m creating now, in many ways, is better. This is just my opinion, but I think the work is not only better it’s more interesting. Photography is a PART of what I’m doing but not the primary focus. I’m doing this for a variety of reasons, but primarily I’m doing this because I want to. Remember, I was a photographer for roughly twenty years, and I really felt like I had done it long enough. I don’t want to be a photographer any longer. I don’t want to make pictures for other people, and I don’t want to do assignments. This week I was contacted by a German company and a US based company to do assignments and I passed both of them along to friends. Absolutely nothing wrong with either of these inquiries, it’s just that I don’t have the heart to do it any longer. On a similar note, several of my portrait clients call and email each year asking for me to return to the saddle, but I can’t do that either. I miss the kids I grew to know, but I can’t go down that road again.

Also remember I came up during a time when photography was viewed and treated in a very different way than it is today. In some ways I feel like I caught the tail end of “what once was,” and how things are being viewing and handled today don’t feel the same to me. I want no part of it. I know other people who love it and think that things are better today than ever before, so whatever makes you happy is what you should do.

After making 170 publications with Blurb I finally feel like I’m starting to understand what is possible, and frankly I haven’t scratched the surface. NOT being a photographer has given me all the advantages because I have total freedom and am under no industry restrictions, restrictions which are frankly holding back so many talented people. I’m branching out in my little Blurb world, branching out to illustrators, designers, artists, street artists and anyone else who isn’t afraid to take risks and break with the traditional world. Photographers, sadly, are rarely in this space. I find most pros have limited grasp of what a platform like Blurb really is, and most are waiting to get a traditional book deal, even when that means ten to fifty thousand dollars out of their own pocket. Think this is rare, think again. It is the norm. Again, I love traditional publishing, buy traditional books all the time, but this is ONE path, not the only path, and certain people understand that and others do not.

I am a VERY fortunate individual. I get to work with creative people, make projects and get to continue to explore the world. I have art materials on my fingers, film in a truly strange assortment of cameras, paper in my journal and a desire to help other folks figure out what it is they are visually searching for. Things are good.

My advice for today is do something you don’t know how to do.