No Worries

Via Jack Hollingsworth:

"Amateurs worry about equipment. Professionals worry about time. Masters worry about light." -  Anonymous

I disagree. Every photographer should consider their time, equipment and lighting. No photographer needs to worry about it.

Also, why wouldn't the amateur also consider time and light? There's still a lot of assumptions, made by those who write about photography, that need busting.

What Are You Willing to Give Up for Photography?

As much as photography adds to our lives, we often forget it comes at a cost.

Besides money, we invest our time, creativity and attention. When we focus that energy on one thing, it comes at the cost of other things.

To leave this unexamined is a recipe for frustration and anger.

Ask yourself:

  • What projects am I willing to drop to practice photography?
  • How much time am I willing to take away from my family/friends/job (if my photography doesn’t involve them)?
  • What is my budget?
  • What has brought me the best return on my investment in the past?
  • What am I absolutely not willing to sacrifice?

Amateurs give up the least to enjoy photography. We get to use whatever camera we want and chase an experience to enjoy the experience. The documentation is secondary. The costs in terms of money, time and effort is minimal. The returns can be enormous.

Artists give up what they choose to give up. This creates all kinds of interesting conflicts. The costs vary. The returns can be enormous.

Professionals give up what someone else chooses. The costs can be enormous. The returns can be enormous.

Photography adds way too much to our lives not to invest in it. That’s why you’re reading this.

Invest wisely.


This article and a list of interesting links appeared in the weekly A Lesser Photographer newsletter. Subscribe here.

Commodity Failure: A Rant

I love this. A rant from a professional’s point of view about the commoditization of “average” photography and the importance of creative problem solving in setting yourself apart from the crowd.

“People could give away cars and there’d still be a market for Porsche and Ferrari. And you wouldn’t hear Ferrari complaining about it. Because they aren’t just selling cars; they’re selling sexy, prestige, and the colour red. You still think you’re selling photographs.

Eyetracking Photojournalism

I’ve seen this linked to quite a bit and the research is interesting, but the conclusions seem off to me based on what was tracked. 

Professional photographs were twice as likely as user-generated photographs to be shared, according to ratings given by people in the study.

What they forget to tell you is whether the viewer was personally connected to anything in either the pro or amateur shots. My guess: of course not. This should be kept in mind for all the findings published.

The longer or better developed a caption, the more likely it was to receive attention.

Yep. I’ve been saying this all along. Storytelling with photos is great, but adding words is better.

The importance of “storytelling” to photography was mentioned by nearly every subject in the exit interviews.


No surprise here.

The eye tracking seems to support everything we believe in, but be wary of the inability to distinguish between kinds of storytelling and the context of the viewing. It’s not exactly scientific, but it’s another data point in our favor.

It’s time to change your thinking. Your day job isn’t standing between you and your passion. The former is actually paving the way for the latter.
J. Maureen Henderson

I get a LOT of email from college and high school students working on a career essay, asking what is the best photography school to attend, etc.. I tell them ALL to go out and get a real job and then buy a camera. That’s the only way that you’re going to control what it is that you want to shoot.
Michael Hardeman (from a book of interviews I did with landscape photographers that never made it past draft stage)

Another Reason to Go Amateur

From Christian Jarrett at 99u:

Research suggests that work driven by internal ambition and reward—in other words for the sheer joy and satisfaction of doing it—tends to lead to more original and imaginative end results than work fueled by the promise of external gain, such as money or kudos.

“Follow your passion” may be terrible career advice, but it’s great hobby advice.

Don't Quit Your Day Job

From Cory Doctorow’s book, Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free (via Austin Kleon):

“Whatever kind of arts career you’re hoping for, the odds are against you. This is a serious downer. Pretty much everyone who ever set out to earn a living (or part of a living) in the arts failed. “Don’t quit your day job” isn’t just a sarcastic barb to toss at your friends when they play their guitars at you: it’s goddamned great advice, especially if you’re hoping to support a family or save for your old age.”

We [Pros] tend to think of ourselves as the most important class of photographers, but in the hundreds of millions of photos getting uploaded each day, we’re statistically insignificant.
Teru Kuwayama, Facebook’s Photo Community Manager