Not long ago, I started writing an epic blog post that was intended to encapsulate the entirety of the hoard of photographers that have influenced me over the course of my career. As soon as I started pulling together the list, I knew I was in trouble; my first pass was ten, that list soon grew to almost twenty and I’m not even close to being done.
At some point, it dawned on me that I shouldn’t try to rewrite “War and Peace”, maybe it would be better to publish this as a series of posts, rather than a monolithic tome of which most of you would tire before I got to photographer number two.
Get Out of Your Rut and Start Shooting Again
As a new photographer, you’ll find yourself hitting plateaus on a maddeningly regular basis. The work you were so happy with a few months ago will start to look crass, mediocre, in some cases – downright embarrassing. Your unfortunate spouse will have you listen to you continually lament that you’ve run out of new ideas, your work is getting stale and you’re in a rut.
Secretly, your significant-other will agree, “How many perfectly-centered, ‘bulls-eye” style partially-in-focus images of flowers will I have to look at before his/her photography becomes interesting?”.
If you’re like me, there were at least several months where your camera sat and collected dust because you were bored and frustrated with your lack of progress and you didn’t know how to move forward.
At this point you’re desperate, you’ll start thinking foolish thoughts like, “Maybe if I convert the image to be black and white, EXCEPT for the rose that she’s holding, I’ll make the rose brilliant RED!”
This is your warning sign, this is the clue that you’ve crossed over to the dark side.
It doesn’t need to be like this.
Writers run into this problem all the time! For many writers, the way they fall back in love with writing is to read the work of other authors. Maybe you’ve heard the expression, “Writers read”. Same goes for photographers, the great photographers are also regular consumers of the work of others. It keeps you fresh, teaches new techniques and helps inspire you to continue working to improve your craft.
So today, instead of geeking-out on off-camera-lighting techniques, I will highlight an artist that influenced me when I first started out.
Kertész was one of my early favorites. I love the simplicity and the sense of humor he displays in his images. He toiled in obscurity for most of his career, gaining recognition only later in life. He taught me to stop trying to please others, that it was “OK” to make images that only *I* would appreciate. He was quoted as saying:
I I love Kertész’s work in large part because it serves as a reminder, a great photograph can be found in almost any environment, it’s up to the photographer to find it and share their vision with the rest of us.
I do what I feel, that’s all, I am an ordinary photographer working for his own pleasure. That’s all I’ve ever done.
So tell me, who is the photographer that most influenced you? Don’t be stingy, give us your whole list and make sure you tell us the reason they had such an impact on you.
That’s it for today! Leave your choice in the comments section and I’ll be sure to highlight it in my next post.
The Napa Photographer