photography

Photograph Something

Winter

“You don’t have to be Michael Jordan. You can still play in the NBA.” – Jeffery Saddoris, On Taking Pictures, ep. 39

Sometimes, just walking out your front door and snapping a few shots around the neighborhood is enough. Get outside and get something done – it’s often plenty.

Mr. Saddoris was right: I don’t have to have some big project in mind in order to take photos. Sometimes I’ll get lucky and find stuff, as with the shot above.

I guess that’s my goal this year. I don’t have to have some overarching message to communicate (although I do have an idea for one – more on that later). Instead, I can lug my camera to more places and find beauty in the everyday. I feel like I already do that with my iPhone (and Instagram).

You know what’s really helped? Seeing more activity in my Flickr feed. Some days just one post by a contact can spark my creativity enough to say, “You know what, I can share something today.” Even if it’s a photo that’s been sitting in my to-edit queue for months, the drive to post something can be enough to finally finish the thing.

I still like the big photo projects, the big weekend adventures, the hours spent in Lightroom culling the good from the meh – but it doesn’t have to be all that. Maybe a photo a day will seem like less work. More fun.

A photo a day. A mini project. Surely that’s doable.


Flickr Is Dead?

Flickr is not dead. It is very much alive. It’s just not the creature everyone wants it to be. Fortunately there are other places for personal snapshots of daily life. Flickr is where I will continue to go for everything else.

Stephen Coles, courtesy of Grant.

I’m in agreement. I use Flickr as an archive, as a way to discover great photos, and as a way to share photos with friends. I’m also using it for work: we’re switching to Flickr for our website photo galleries. It’s so much easier than using Joomla! tools, it’s not even funny.


Thomas Hawk Interview

An interview at PetaPixel with one of my photography heroes and inspirations, Thomas Hawk.

My favorite quote:

People have asked me over the years if I’d like to do photography full time and my answer has always been no. Part of working as a professional photographer means that you may end up having to shoot things that are not your passion.

I totally agree. Photography is a hobby. Getting paid is nice, but I’m always nervous it’ll take the fun out of one of my passions.


Jump the Fence

Call me a railing jumper. I wear it as a point of pride.

That photo of the waterfall above? I had another one from the viewing station, probably 20 to 30 feet above where I took the above shot. Then I glanced over the wooden railing that surrounded the viewing station, saw a root-studded path down to the rocks below, and jumped.

It happens often enough, especially on trips and photo assignments, that I automatically look for a way to hop the fence and find a path to get closer. It happened on that trip Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. I only hesitated because there were a mom and a dad, with their two kids, standing next to me, and I didn’t want to be a bad influence on the kids.

But then I thought, “Well, why not?” Maybe the kids will get yelled at now, but isn’t it better to show them that a little rebellion will do you good?

Sure, jumping the fence could get you hurt (the rocks were slippery from the waterfall spray) or arrested (though I didn’t see a sign – but more often I do). But getting a closer view of that waterfall was worth it.

Now this kind of thing gets me in trouble. I’ve had enough run-ins with the authorities that keeps me at least pragmatically cautious. My first instinct, though, is to jump the fence – always has been.

Don't slip.

While in Yellowstone, it wasn’t enough that I saw pretty waterfalls from the park roadway. No, I had to slide down the ravine, step into the river, scramble up the rocks, and get a closer view. Tasting the river is more memorable than seeing it from the side window.

Grand Canyon - My little rock ledge

At the north rim of the Grand Canyon I noticed, just next to the lot where middle-aged insurance salesmen parked their Buicks, a little outcropping of rock. It was dozens of yards away from the main viewing area, the one encircled by metal railing. This little ledge off to the side? The one partially covered by ragged desert brush and boulders? No one was there. It was all mine.

So I climbed it. And as my legs dangled from the edge and the tourists screamed in horror, I felt like I was getting a view that few people saw. There’s something to be said about experiencing the Grand Canyon all by yourself, with no one around, and with nothing holding you back from the void. There was no railing here.

And so it is with life. That’s pretty obvious, but the more I travel, the more I realize people are content with staying within some prescribed boundary.

This philosophy is largely situational. Rules aren’t there simply to be broken. As Dr. Renner, my journalism professor and mentor always said, “Rules are made for smart people to break.” In other words: learn the rules, pay attention, and break them when it makes sense.

If everyone broke the rules willy-nilly, there might not be waterfalls to photograph. But if breaking the rules means harming nothing or nobody but yourself, I say go for it.

Jump the fence.

On the edge.

Maybe it says something about my compulsion to hang there on the edge of nothing. Maybe I just need medication. I don’t know.

But while I have legs to carry me and a lack of the kind of common sense that says “stay within the boundaries,” I’ll keep doing it.

In fact, I’d recommend it to anyone.


Photoblog of Jorge Quinteros:

I really encourage you to print some of your photos and if you have the space, decorate your home with it. There’s no reason why a lot of the photographic work we’re proud of should live only in our hard drive or online. People still appreciated printed material and it’ll demonstrate you take pride in what you do because you chose to have it hung rather than tucked away in dusty albums.