Friday, August 28, 2009

Anniversary Shoot

While I suffer with dissatisfaction over my photography, I need to prepare for tomorrow's shoot. The parents of a good friend will celebrate their 50th anniversary tomorrow, and have asked me to photograph the event. Well, actually I think I asked them. Either way, we have agreed that I will show up tomorrow with my gear and take some photographs.

I'm looking forward to it. I feel confident I can come away with some photos that capture how special the day was, and how special this couple is. It means a lot to me to get this shoot right. I have been reading books and studying photographs at every chance I get. I have asked my friend to look for any iconic photos from his parents' wedding that we might want to recreate tomorrow. I have also found some period-correct examples of couples poses that I want to try. To wrap it up, I hope to get a photo of the entire clan.

Time to get the gear set up and practice. Maybe after this shoot I'll find a glimmer of satisfaction.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I Can't Get No...


The other day I was talking with a wedding photographer who has many years of experience. During the conversation, I mentioned that although I (generally) like my images, I'm not satisfied with my photography. Her response was to the point:

"Get used to it."

Yeah, I get it. It comes with the territory, and I'm fine with that. I figure that if I ever felt satisfied with my work, then I would be done with photography; there would be no more challenge for me. Realistically, though, there is infinite challenge if I choose to open my eyes to it.

Since I started with my old Minolta X-370, the quality of my photographs has consistently improved. People started to comment on them politely, then they started to really mean their compliments. I upgraded equipment, shot lots more, and got more positive feedback. I liked my photographs, and thought others would too, so with much encouragement I started my professional practice.

I'm serious about it, so I study, read, and practice. And the more I do, the less satisfied I am. My shots aren't as sharp as I want them to be. Or the lighting is bad, with an unfortunate shadow appearing where I failed to notice it in my viewfinder. Whatever the reason, the more I learn the less satisfied I am in my work. But isn't that actually just a sign that I am indeed learning? I am learning what constitutes a good photograph, with good composition and good lighting and good exposure. I am also learning more about what I like in terms of a photographic style, and perhaps starting to define my own.

So now, after many years of ever-improving photography, my skills have seemingly regressed. I feel like I'm only just beginning to understand what I'm doing with my camera, and what's possible. Everything is in question, and I struggle with every image. I study the work of others, wondering if I can ever achieve that level of competence. Intellectually, though, I know that these insecurities are actually just the telltales that I'm growing and learning and seeing more.

I'm not satisfied, and I'm glad.

Friday, August 21, 2009


For a long time I have been pondering a problem:

* I need people to model for me so I can experiment and gain focused experience
* I don't have the bankroll to pay models for their time

A photographer acquaintance's web site gave me the answer: TFP = Time For Prints

This is exactly the solution I was thinking of, but I had no idea it had been institutionalized enough to ave a name. In essence, TFP is a bartering arrangement between photographers and models. That is, photographers who need models to practice connect with models who need experience in front of the camera and shots for a portfolio. No cash exchanged.


I am all about this bartering arrangement, and looking into how I get such a thing rolling. More news as I progress...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Yesterday, while catching up on my bookkeeping, I channel-surfed across a photographers' competition/reality show broadcast on some obscure network. The premise of the PG-rated competition was a bit weak: a bunch of photographers (all male in this case) get paired up with a bunch of models (all women in this case) to see which photographer and which model can produce the best photograph in certain time restrictions. Or something like that. The setting was some abfab beach resort with perfect weather and exotic backgrounds. The pairings changed throughout the competition, and then at the end everybody rated everybody, along with a panel of expert raters.

The models were predictably attractive and well-practiced at being photographed. What surprised me was how good these photographers were. Even the guys who seemed to struggle with the shot assignments came away with some spectacular images. I didn't pay enough attention at the start to hear about anyone's credentials, so all I know about them is that they weren't professional photographers. Now, maybe they had some behind-the-scenes pro guidance? Or maybe they were pros posing as amateurs? Or maybe they're just that freakin' good?

Whatever the case, I was impressed and inspired. The techniques they used, the direction they gave, and the confidence they had got me thinking about the few posed sessions I have done so far. With their example in mind, I have a lot of ideas for improving my photography. I'm anxious to do my next shoot to give these ideas a try.

Could be a bit tough - my next shoot is with a horse...