I wanna share with you some of my thoughts on overcoming any obstacles you might have in photography.
I. Photography shouldn’t be hard.
To be frank, photography is simple. Easy. Even a child can make good photos.
All you need is an iPhone or smartphone. Don’t get suckered by the photo industry telling you that you need some high end digital camera, zoom lenses, and to shoot wide open to get “bokeh”. The photo industry thrives off you being a sucker, and spending thousands of dollars in camera equipment you don’t need. You are better off investing that money into attending photography workshops (education), buying photo books, or traveling.
A big misconception in photography is that you need to know technical settings. You don’t.
For example, do I need to know computer programming in order to type words on my computer?
Do I need to know the chemical composition of meat, in order to make a hamburger?
Do I need to know all political theory, before I give my opinion on Donald Trump?
You don’t need to know how to shoot fully manual in order to make good photos. In fact, with the iPhone and most modern digital cameras, you no longer need to know technical settings. And I think that is great. The less we worry about our settings the more we can focus on story telling in our images, composition, framing, and capturing images with our soul.
II. Photographer’s Block
A lot of us as photographers get blocked up creatively. I will teach you how to overcome any hesitations you have in your photography.
First of all, just use your smartphone. This will help you overcome the problem you have lugging your big and heavy camera with you everywhere you go. The best camera is the one that fits in your front pocket. Make it an assignment to only shoot with your smartphone for 3 months, with no other camera. Lock up all your other digital cameras in the closet.
Secondly, give yourself permission to make shitty photos. The chance of you making a good photo is extremely slim. For me, if I make one good photo a month, and one great photo a year, I’m doing very well. So think of photography like baseball; the more you swing the bat, the more likely you are to hit a home run.
Third, don’t shoot if you don’t feel like it. You shouldn’t force yourself to make photos. Otherwise, it will suck all the joy and glory out of it. It is kind of like how pornstars don’t enjoy having sex, because they are forced to– it is just their job. A lot of professional photographers I know lose a zest for photography, because it just starts to feel like a job and chore.
Only shoot when you feel like it. You can go a week or month without making any photos. And if you don’t feel compelled to, that means you have reached a Zen-state of mind.
Remember, the purpose of photography is to help us live a good life, not for us to make good photos.
III. Make photos you like to look at.
You won’t know what photos are good or bad. But you know what photos are interesting to you or not interesting to you.
So now my rule is before sharing a photo, I look at my photo and ask myself:
Do I like this photo?
I assume like I am seeing the image from an outside perspective.
You know you have a good photo when you look at your own photo, and you are impressed with your own photo. No need to fake humility if you think you are a great photographer.
Photography is a life long battle– a battle against time, a battle against your mortality, and a battle against your self doubts and self insecurities.
Make photos to make yourself proud. Make photos to build your confidence. Shoot street photography as a practical means of learning to love to take risks in life, of building your personal confidence, and finding joy and beauty in everyday life.