It has been an intense few months. I have embarked on new photographic journeys and I cannot wait to share more with you. Despite all the news, today I would like to touch on something very important but often misconstrued – the joy of photography.
A few days ago, I came back from San Francisco where I had the pleasure of shooting with a group of amazing photographers. It was only three months ago that I led another Visual Poet Experience Workshop in Paris. During these events, we had intense discussions about the craft of photography, including a fascinating exchange with our guest, Ibarionex Perello.
One of the comments I often hear on the internet or in large group discussions is: “I am doing this for fun.”The underlying connotation is the notion:“I don’t care what others think – photography is fun – therefore whether my imagery is good or bad doesn’t matter.”I respect such a stand. However, after working with my students for the last few years and having in-depth conversations with other photographers I am more inclined to believe this attitude causes more harm than good.
Let me explain. There is no question that photography brings us great satisfaction and joy otherwise we would not be doing it. However, this feeling of joy, self-fulfillment and connection with our inner seeing is much richer if we produce strong and articulate work. In other words, hard work, internal discipline and unwavering commitment are prerequisites in crafting great imagery.
The process of crafting a great image can be a long, frustrating and risky experience. In conversations with my students they describe their frustration and fear. They tell me that the proverbial “joy of photography” is somehow lacking. I have to admit that it is partially our own industry fault.
In order to sell products and workshops, etc. photography is presented by many as something easy, trivial and commitment-free. In other words, anything goes! Unfortunately, this drug-of-the-moment doesn’t last long. With such a laissez-faire attitude many photographers tell me in private that they eventually crash as they lack direction and confidence. The chorus of “have fun” and “it is great” becomes both a distraction and an annoyance. You can ride on the wave of “fun” for only so long when the final results are lacking.
Are you saying, Olaf, that photography should be a miserable and duty-like exercise? Not at all! The real joy of photography comes from learning, working hard and crafting great imagery, not from covering every failure with “I am doing this for fun.” I see students who have the courage to strip off the veil of merrymaking and push themselves hard to create great imagery. Yes, they accept frustration, hard work and the risks such an approach brings but…when they see their first innovative and unique image, the real joy kicks in.They know very well how hard they worked to craft this one visual!Not only does such ardour last a long time but it builds the photographer’s confidence and provides a strong foundation for further development.
Let me share with you some recent imagery shot with the GFX50S, GFX50R and Hasselblad X1D.
For those interested, the next Visual Poet Experience Workshop is in Melbourne, Australia, February 22-24, 2019. You can register here. There are two spots left.
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