The most important part of photography that no one can teach you.

June 24, 2019  •  Leave a Comment


The picture right there is a picture of me doing the most important thing anyone can do with their photography, and i'm not even holding my camera.  It's not even really a specific thing, or skill that I am practicing, but it's what I am.  And what I am is out of the house, with my camera strapped to me.


     Without achieving this nothing else can happen.  Sure if I have a shoot scheduled I'll roll out of bed, i'll prep my kit, and I'll go to the shoot.  If all I ever do is scheduled shoots of things that i know how to do perfectly then where is the growth, what is there to learn? (aside from the near certainty that something will go wrong and you will have to think on your feet and improvise.)


For myself (and after asking around a surprising number of other photographers, and aspiring photographers)  The ABSOLUTE hardest thing about photography is just putting your shoes on, snapping your lens in place, and walking out the damn door, with no real need to do so.  Once I'm out and on the streets it comes back to me, I remember why i'm there and the shutter just snaps.


     Why is this so hard? I didn't really consider it much till reading "EVERYTHING IS #@%!ED" by Mark Manson recently and some of it showed me the issue. So to completely inadequately summarize:

     Because in each of us there are two minds, one rational thinking mind, and one irrational feeling mind.  Contrary to popular belief in each of us it is the latter that really steers the ship.  No matter how much we are "in control" the reasons that we do things are rarely logical, there must be an emotional impulse.  Most of us could sit down right now, and write out a schedule.  This schedule would be an almost exact road map to becoming who we want to be, sitting where we want to be, logically and rationally.  Following this road map is a whole different story.  What we SHOULD do, and what we WANT to do are completely at odds generally. For example here's a little talk I had with myself last week.


Chris (the rational one):  "OK man, it's 10:00 lets get out of the room, pack up, hop on the train and shoot."

James (the emotional one): "Fuck you, I'm tired."

Chris: "OK I'll give you 30 minutes to lay here like a self-serving lump and putz around on your phone, but after that... we need to go."

James: "Sure"

(30 minutes later)

Chris: "OK you had your time, lets go"

James: "yeah but I've changed our mind, it's hot out, and by the time we get on the train and get out we'll only have a couple hours of good light anyways, let's just do it next time"

C: "No, you do this to us every time!  Get up, lets at least get in the shower, and pack the camera bag.  We'll discuss it further from there"

J: (while in the shower) "OK I guess this isn't too bad, but like WHY do we need to go shoot? We don't have any job, maybe if we're lucky we'll find some prints to sell from our website... but more than likely not.  It's our only real day off so why waste it walking around sweating, dodging the stares from all the other city-dwellers.  Feeling like an imposter documenting peoples day to day lives, like some alien species doing a documentary on humans in an urban setting"


C: "Because this is what we do... remember it was YOUR IDEA to get into this, remember when we had a desk job? and we knew how much money we were going to make every two weeks?  Then someone said "Man I really like creating cocktail programs, and training people, and I let you just do it!?" then...


J: "But..."


C: "And when we decided to spend all the money we had on a brand new camera we didn't even know how to properly use?!  We can make a business out of that someday you promised!  So I did all the ground work.  I watched tutorials, got you out so you could shoot, budgeted for the shit ton of lenses, flashes, tripods, filters, soft-boxes, and everything else you NEEDED to have."


J: "Yes but..."


C: "I'M NOT DONE ASSHOLE!  All i'm trying to do is be successful and help you do what you want to do, and you fight me every step of the way.  That's it! I'm done convincing you.  You wanna spend thousands of dollars on gear, invest precious time into something and not follow through, fine! go for it.  In a few years when you need to find a cheaper place because we can't afford it because you never wanted to do the thing you love doing, i'm sure i'll be here to do the fucking math for you again."


J: " OK... OK... I'm putting on my shoes... you're a real dick sometimes man"


3 hours later...


J:  "Man i'm glad we came out, this was a great idea! We've handed out cards, talked to a restaurant owner about doing seasonal shoots, and took some dope ass shots today Chris! ... Chris?  Hellooooo Chris....."


C:  "Fuck I hate you sometimes"



This is the trick, our emotional mind is a petulant spoiled child, when they don't want to play ball you have to convince them, first you reason and give them gifts to sway them.  If that doesn't work you scold them.  If that doesn't work you tell them you're taking the ball and going home.  

You do what it takes to convince them, because once they're having fun, they are going to prance around and act like it was their idea the whole time.

If all that fails, find someone to push you.  James is an emotional creature and doesn't like disappointing the people he cares about.


DSC_6345-2James Trying to make it look like it was his idea the whole time That's James right there, look at that smug asshole trying to pretend it was his idea all along...  

You have no idea how long I had to argue with him to let me write this.


Even if you're not a photographer hopefully you can use this advice for whatever your version of "shooting" is.


while you're here it would mean a lot if you created an account and just browsed around... you don't have to buy anything, but it's nice to know who's watching... James doesn't give a shit of course, but Chris could use it to guilt him later.



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