Follow Your Passion

I’ve been reading a variety of art instructional texts in an effort to find things that will help build my photography chops.  I’ve mentioned Betty Edwards’s ‘Draw on the Right Side of the Brain’ methodology previously.  I’ve also been exploring a couple of books about watercolor painting too.  A new one for me arrived this week, David Bellamy’s ‘Watercolor Landscape Course‘.  David is apparently quite a famous watercolorist and educator, although not the David Bellamy I’m familiar with.

The introduction has a number of useful comments for the prospective student.  The section ‘Getting Involved In The Subject’ particularly resonated with me.  Here’s an excerpt:

The best paintings, I feel, result from the artist having an affinity with the subject.  Painting is nothing if not accompanied by the poetry of feeling.  You need to find those subjects that excite you most, for only when you find an involvement with the subject can you do your finest work.

This as equally applies to photography and I couldn’t agree more!

Poke the Box and the Art of Shipping

I’m a huge Seth Godin fan.  My first intersection with Seth was around 2000 when I came across his ‘Bootstrappers Bible‘.  It was around the time that he was ‘Unleashing the Ideavirus’, the marketing book that he gave away for free as a pdf.  For a cash strapped book fiend like myself this was awesome but at the time I missed the point totally.

With 10 more years on the tires I’m finally getting the point and even more so now that I am taking photographs and writing about that process here.  I think that many of us worry about having our work ‘stolen’.  For some this is more of a concern than it is for others.  I may be a contrarian but it seems that the worst thing that anyone who creates anything to share or sell to the world is not having their work stolen but not having an audience.  For no one to care what you’re doing.  Why not instead figure out how you can reach the broadest audience possible and do that?

Seth’s new book is called ‘Poke the Box‘ and is a riff on some of the themes and ideas that he has been pushing for the last few years.  Namely you have to get your product out of the door.  Starting is not enough, you have to finish too.  You have to ship!

For many this involves overcoming what Steven Pressfield calls in The War of Art ‘The Resistance’.  That overwhelming fear of failure, of being rejected, of humiliation after putting your heart and soul into a project.  Seth Godin refers to this a the lizard brain.  Our instinctive response to danger or fear.  One way of course if listening to what the lizard brain is saying to do and then doing the exact opposite.  It requires practice but becomes easier with time.

Seth was interviewed by Dane Sanders this week and the video can be found here.  As always, a provacative conversation.

Get ‘Poke the Box’.  Read it.  Read it again.  Figure out how you are going to make a difference and go do it!

Why Photographs Work: 52 Great Images Who Made Them, What Makes Them Special and Why

I’ve been thinking a lot about vision, voice and style recently.  Perhaps in part because I’ve been listening to David DuChemin on creativeLIVE.  One of the exercises that David suggests to help develop your vision is to take a look at other photographers work and ask what were they were intending with the photograph.  This and much more can be found in David’s eBook ‘Vision Driven‘.  I’m much more of a techno geek and so delving into this kind of descriptive activity is very difficult for me.  So how to start?

George Barr‘s latest book – Why Photographs Work: 52 Great Images Who Made Them, What Makes Them Special and Why is as good a jumping off point as I can think of.  Each of the 52 photographs is first discussed by George and then the photographer also provides a perspective on the image.  This is quite a unique opportunity to get behind the scenes with some of my favorite photographers – David Ward, Joe Cornish, Charlie Waite, & Michael Kenna to name a few.  There are also a good number of photographers here that I wasn’t previously familiar with, such as Christopher Burkett & Michael Levin, whose work is quite well worth further study.

I am reminded that there are other sources for a discussion of making of the images.  Many coffee table photography books have descriptions of the photographers intent at the back of the book, along with the technical details.  Additionally there are a number of ‘Making of . . .’ books worth a look.  Perhaps the most notable is Ansel Adams’s Examples: The Making of 40 Photographs but I’m sure there are others.

Recognizing that I have these resources to hand to help me develop the language skills that I need to describe the intent of a photograph I’m off to practice!

Exploring Tools for Learning

It’s been some time since I was last a student but have decided to jump in and explore some of the options that are currently available to develop and enhance photographic skills and abilities.

I am currently considering the following options:

  • Books
    • Essential reference tools to support on going learning process

Updates on my experiences will follow in future blogs!

I am continuing to explore the coastline around my home and in particular to try different approaches to capturing what are all too familiar scenes.  After trying out the obvious images from this view point I decided to try an image where I moved to exclude the obvious.  From my initial edits this was the most successful of the series.  I like the effect and will try more of this style in the coming weeks.