To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else – means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.
-E. E. Cummings
I was listening to a podcast from F-Stop Collaborate and Listen a few days ago, this is a podcast produced by Matt Payne. Matt’s guest was Tim Parkin. Tim is the founder and publisher of the on line photography magazine, On Landscape. It may be one of the best photography magazines available today, on line or print. I am a subscriber but this is not a paid endorsement for the magazine, it’s just really good and I would like to see it continue. I should also put a word out about Matt Payne’s podcast F-Stop Collaborate and Listen as well. There are only a few photography podcasts that I believe are worth subscribing and listening to and Matt’s is one of the best.
Tim Parkin is obviously a very experienced creator with a wealth of knowledge and insight. This came across in a very open and humble way. One of the best interviews I have listened to in a long time. Besides the conversation on a wide variety of photography subjects Tim shared many of his personal thoughts on photography. During one of the casual conversation with Matt on the subjects of why people photograph, Tim made this simple statement; “You should live a life worth photographing”. That statement or something very similar seems to ring a bell but without doing some research I am not sure where I may have heard it. Regardless of if I have heard or read something similar before this time is seemed to make a much greater impact.
Impressing The World
Photography today seems inundated with statements, articles, and videos, about every possible area of photography. With enough time you can find information about any and every possible subject there may be when it comes to photography. Along with a bazillion pictures to illustrate the point. The problem with all of this is, it doesn’t help anyone create more meaningful photographs. It may help to create more technical correct photographs, but honestly who cares other than a few pixel peeping critics.
As much as wannabe photographers would like, there simply is no magic bullet when it comes to photographs or photography. Many will travel the World in search of that special shot. But are they really traveling the World in search of photographs? Or are they traveling the World so they can claim they traveled the World in search of photographs. There is a big difference. Have you ever seen anyone post a picture of a far off exotic location without telling anyone where it was taken at? My guess is probably no. They make it very well know where they were and what they photographed. They may also tell you the about the trials and tribulations, the pain, suffering, and near death experience they had to endure just to get that one photograph. My reply to this is almost always, nobody really cares I either like the photo or I don’t regardless of where it was taken or what the photographer had to do to get it. Honestly is seems somewhat self serving to make a point of your travels in order to bring attention to your photographs. If you liked traveling there fine. But don’t expect others to like your photographs just because you spent a bunch of money and time going somewhere.
Living Your Life
In the same vain as photography, life has no magic bullet as well. The only thing that may out number photography how to guides are personal self help how to guides. Humans have become a very impatient and needy bunch indeed. Speaking from personal experience I can honestly state that improving your life will improve your photography. Improve, benefit, enriches, enhance, whatever you strive for in your photography the key is not in some far away land, or hour long you tube video, or even a week long workshop. These things may help, but only if you know first what you need help with. Not what your photography needs help with, but what “you” need help with.
Jim Richardson once said; “If you want to be a better photographer, stand in front of more interesting stuff.” I have used this quote before and said previously I don’t fully agree with it. I am much more in line with the thinking of Paul Strand who stated: “Your photography is a record of your living, for anyone who really sees.”
When you live a life worthy of photography you will inherently want to record it. Be this through art of any kind. Ultimately the only person you need to please or impress is yourself. If others find pleasure in it, that is a bonus, not a requirement.