A year and a half ago I was having my portfolio reviewed by one of the picture editors of Sports Illustrated in the ballroom of a small hotel in New York. He told me something that, at the time, I took as a compliment even though I know he meant it as a criticism.
You’re like the perfect newspaper shooter; you can shoot everything well, but you don’t excel in anything.
I didn’t think much of it at the time, in fact I was fairly proud of the proclamation, thinking that newspapers and traditional photojournalism was where I wanted to go.
Today at The Flash Bus event in Denver, I had the opportunity to listen to two well known and well respected greats in the photographic circle: David Hobby (of Strobist) and Joe McNally ("The Moment it Clicks").
During David Hobby’s portion of the lecture, he talked about his new project, HoCo360, where he is making an effort to connect with the stories in his community. His business model is shoot the photos and post blogs about them, giving the subjects prints and such of his photos in the hopes that it will lead to revenue down the road.
Hobby is an ex-newspaper photog and is understandably disenchanted with the profession. It’s obvious his passion for storytelling hasn’t withered, but his faith in traditional media has.
So when I met Hobby after the workshop and began talking to him about his project, I mentioned that I had just interviewed with a newspaper and he told me, without hesitation, “don’t do it.”
It’s like waking up every morning on a slowly sinking ship.
He recommended that I take a good, long walk and think about what I am good at, who might be in the market for those skills and how to make it profitable. He said I didn’t need money to start, only to find a way to make money with what I’m best at. He recommended that I rethink my career path and everything that I had thought was in front of me.
And now I’m lost.
That brings me back to the beginning. What was once a criticism misunderstood as a compliment is finally becoming clear to me as a fatal, glaring weakness. How do I excel and out-perform far superior photographers in their areas of expertise to survive?
While at least one friend who I bet will read this will be thinking “I told you so,” it’s really starting to sink in that I don’t know how I’m going to make it in this industry. I just have no where else to go though, nothing else I want to do.
I’m just… lost.
I need time to really think about my path now, and what I should expect of myself down the road.
I think it’s time for a good, long walk.
Decided it was worth it. I registered for Flash Bus 2011, and I’m not sure if it was a good idea, but dammit I can’t resist.
In other news, I’ve got a couple of fun things coming up. I’ll update tomorrow on one, because should it fall through I’d rather not get anyone talking about it. The other, however, is a fun little cover shoot for Asian Avenue Magazine of Colorado Avalanche forward Brandon Yip and Colorado Rapids players Kosuke Kimura and Davey Armstrong.
So, for now things are looking up. Colorado Press Association Job Fair tomorrow, then prep for the portrait shoots over the weekend. Thanks for reading.
Someone have $100 I can borrow?
Empire State Building, New York
Photo: Joe McNally
In the city that never sleeps a new awareness about energy means the Empire State Building now uses bright lights at night only to celebrate holidays and special events. And power-hungry Manhattan has generating potential of its own: A tidal-energy project under development in the swift-flowing East River could power a thousand homes.
Sometimes you get portrait subjects that are impossible to work with — naysayers about everything, unenthusiastic and who make it plainly obvious there are better things they could be doing with their time. Then there are subjects who are so easy going and laid back and open to anything that you think “Oh, this’ll be a piece of cake!”
Then sometimes they’re so laid back they don’t really bring the equipment you ask, are completely without ideas and do only and exactly what you ask. Which can be alright, if you’re good at thinking on your feet and have contingency plans out the wazoo. I am not one of those people. I hate to say it, but ideas are scare with me, especially when it comes to sports portraits, I just don’t have the creativity and originality required to pull off the kinds of things people like Donald Miralle can pull off. So when your subjects arrive without the things you wanted, sometimes you just have to revert back to the basics.
With Danny, a dual sport athlete in soccer and football (and damn good at both), it meant foregoing all of my original ideas that involved the dramatic juxtaposition of football and soccer and just go with nice light and a comfortable pose. Luckily being as laid back as he was, it was easy to get him to take a few extra minutes to try some weird and, ultimately, less impressive ideas. But all after making the clean, safe shot.
All that came after a bit of a feature hunt that really turned up nothing… until I pulled into the parking lot at Sand Creek High School (where I was supposed to meet Danny) and saw the entire baseball team, all on Fall Break, cleaning and painting the baseball field. Bam, a few minutes of working the scene and I found myself a nice, colorful little feature for the paper. It’s a little frustrating driving around everywhere in search of a feature and one just falls into your lap, but you’re still glad they did.
That quote I posted the other day, by Joe McNally? Today exemplified that down to a T.
“Sometimes it’s all working for you and you still miss. Other times it all sucks and you get a terrific frame. You just never know. The one surefire way to get nothing is to not bother looking.”
That’s all for today, time for a couple of days off and then back to it! Take care and thanks for reading!