In the last few months, I have developed a new habit, the one of running every weekend a distance between 10 and 15 km. Recently I associated this healthy practice with listening to podcasts on my iphone, and the photography related ones are a natural choice This post (and hopefully a series of posts that I plan to write on regular basis) is not about reviewing various podcasts, but its more about the ideas that I hear mentioned there and that I found interesting and worth elaborating about. Or ideas that kept me thinking as while running, my brain is relaxed and I have time to reflect, to make my own opinion and to agree or disagree with the speakers or podcast host.
This Sunday, while improving my longest distance to 15km, I had the chance to listen to two episodes of "Photography Tips from the Top Floor "(. The two main ideas that Chris Marquard was talking about in these two shows were:
1) is the digital photography a way to avoid risky decisions during out creative process?
2) why passion for photography is lost and how to regain it back?
I started directly with digital photography (the few films that I shot analog many years ago does not really count). So all those technical advantages of being able to shoot countless of frames, without having to change the film, the ability to change ISO from one shot to another without sticking with one setting for an entire film), ability to shoot multiple exposures and decide later on during post-processing which one works the best, all of these points were there taken for granted from the very beginning of my photographic journey. And I can't even think about going down the road and shooting film as I am so much used with the benefits of digital photography . But thinking about all those differences and advantages is a dive back into the romantic period of photography, into the work of the classics, into a period when photographers were more courageous in their decision (and I am not talking here about some one like Robert Capa who was shoulder to shoulder with the soldiers during the wars that he was covering). Some say that limitation can make you better. Having one camera and one lens, preferably a prime one, makes you work your frame more, getting closer or far as it needs, removing the lazy instinct of zooming in and out. Its the risk to miss some shots due to being too far or close when the interesting scene is happening. Its the risk of making mistakes, but the mistakes are the ones that move us forward in the learning process. But its also a new intimate relationship that you develop with your gear, knowing it very well and using its strong points.
These days we are spoiled on so many levels. Those big zoom lens (like 18-300) move you 50 meters with only a slight hand effort, from wide to far away. You pay indeed at image quality, but its a compromise that you agree or not. The cameras are featuring more and more pixels so you can virtually crop any part of the frame, getting a totally new image. The dynamic range is getting better and better, the ISO sensitivity is improving a lot. We are leaving in exciting times in terms of photographic technology, we delay or remove the risks almost entirely, but which are the drawbacks?
I could list quite a few: we are getting pixel-pipers and technology obsessed (me included), we are always looking for the shiny new toy, for the extra step and extra reach, but sometimes we forget the emotion out of our frames. The cameras are getting more and more affordable and the cheap entry level ones are offering extremely good quality, so the amount of photographers and photographies out there is huge. Millions of images are taken, processed and posted every day and even if many can be selfies or simple holiday snapshots, the amount of high quality pictures is amazing. We are overwhelmed with this quality, we compare ourselves with people that are in the top of the craft, we aim for the best tools thinking that only the lack of glass or too small sensors are between us and out photographic success, and sometimes we kill the passion. And loosing the passion is exactly the second topic of the post. I can't say that I lost it totally, but I must admit that it fades a bit from time to time. If nothing excising is happening in my life photography-wise, no new photo trip, no new feature in a magazine or contest award, I feel like I am loosing motivation and I find it harder and harder to go out there and shoot. It could be also because Copenhagen at this time is a big construction sites so all the nice photogenic places are full of cranes and and green fences masking the work being done inside. And also coastline around Copenhagen is not extremely attractive either. Or its just because of me getting used with surrounding and failing to find anything it worth carrying a camera and a tripod. But thats how I loose motivation and how the passion fades away. Its not something total, I still shoot at least once per month, I still consume a lot of photography through the social networks I am part of.
But how do I get the passion back, how do I get motivated again? I have noticed that trying something new helps for this meter. First there were cityscapes in a period where I was only interested in modern architecture. It opened new perspectives and it diversified my interests. Recently I picked up again street photographic and I love moving around with a small mirrorless camera and a prime lens. I did some still life work in the past with not so exciting results. I am planning to do some food photography with the raw cakes that Carmen is preparing. I like trying new things and I think they keep the passion fresh as it is always fun to explore, to experiment and why not to succeed in a new field. Sometimes a new gear is bringing as well the excitement required to revive the passion; don't just buy something in the hope that you can gain back your excitement but more if you are willing to try something new and that piece of equipment is something essential for being able to properly experience that something new. I would love to rent equipment rather than buying it, but here in Denmark it is not something that common and convenient (renting a lens for a week might cost half of its price).
So if your loosing the passion for this wonderful craft and you feel less and less interested in producing new work, it might be because you are repeating same old subjects that does not turn your inner creativity anymore. So pick up new subjects, new techniques and new approaches and of out there exploring and having fun. It will do wonders for your motivation,
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