To all my peeps - want to talk about motivation?

Started Jun 28, 2012 | Discussions thread
(unknown member) Veteran Member • Posts: 4,734
Always refining, just ahead of my abilities

I started in photography with a 5x7 view camera around age 10. Big heavy mutha of a camera. Some big 300 watt lightbulbs in clip on reflectors. Had an appropriate enlarger etc also. Started out doing portraits of friends and neighbors. Enjoyed it mostly for the cool science feeling of watching images appear on the paper in the developer, toning, dodging and burning. Purely a technical joy.

Was thrilled when I was able to buy a Yashica D with my income from portraits of neighbors, because now I could photograph things other than in my studio. Also started into color. My shift was now more into a bit of artistry - how do I want this to look, what's the important thing in the picture. But it was mostly about "pretty" - making something that looked really nice, but often meant nothing and said nothing.

In my later teens, I got to assist a commercial photographer who shot everything from weddings to catalog shots of heart/lung machines. (Five cans of shine reducer sprayed on that sucker.) I started to learn about telling a story, then about telling a story in a single image. I started thinking about what wasn't in the frame, and started evaluating an image based on how long someone engaged with it. Got my first, second, and third 35mm kit, camera and several lenses, ending with a pair of Canon F1 bodies (one was serial number 28...) and six lenses. Shot all the photos for my highschool yearbook for three years, sports photos for several other schools, got hired for weddings and event photography independent of my mentor (some gigs he referred to me.)

It was the late 1960s and early 1970s. Psychedelia, enough said. Began doing crazy things with Kodalith - printing images onto Kodalith, doing solarization at various stages of the process or all of them, registering multiple images together into composites. Pulsating high contrast craziness. Printed black and white multiples with filters onto color papers. Launched into making large photo silkscreens, three and four color registration nightmares. My conventional work was stuck at stories, my unconventional work was all about "oh wow, man..." Had some shows.

Got to college, was an aspiring actor and director. Photography went to near zero. Only things I shot were occasional photographs of shows for publicity, and head shots to make a little money. Sold all my fancy gear because food was important. Shot point and shoots for the next many years.

Bought a couple Nikon F3 bodies and a couple lenses in the late 1990s because in my work, I was traveling the world and thought, I should be taking pictures. Discovered I didn't much remember all the things I used to know. Most of my pictures were pretty, or no emotion documentary. Occasionally stumbled into a real photography with emotion, gesture, etc. F100s, more expensive and nicer lenses because the one or two killer photos I stumbled into got some nice attention. Into digital with Nikon P&S, then D100...

Did a couple workshops where the leaders took me aside and worked me over about having the talent and skill but not the desire to be really good - and did I want to be really good. Let two of them adopt me as mentors. Started to get better, people started buying images, started winning slots in competitive shows.

Progression to today. I earn enough through gallery sales, competition wins, workshops I assist or teach (often on technical things, not photography itself) to keep myself equipped with the latest gear, from large format printers to exactly the cameras and lenses I want, build and equip a studio, pay for a couple shooting trips a year, pay for workshops. I still have to fit it into a main life that's completely unrelated to photography. My focus ebbs and grows over time. Up to 2009 was earning a lot, doing two or three individual shows a year and a lot of competitive juried shows. Almost no shows until this year, just didn't have the time.

I shoot m4/3 because it lets me do that without hauling around a DSLR and three lenses - the m4/3 kit I have with me all the time is smaller than a DSLR with one mid-zoom.

My focus and standards are pretty high now. I'm very focused on gesture, point of view, telling a personal story. Four juried show wins since April this year. Spending two weekends a month printing to orders. A lot of that work is shot with m4/3 gear. "The best camera is the one you have with you."

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