Lever trap bar

Photography Leverage

Dear friends, a thought on my mind this morning; how to leverage yourself as a photographer.

“Give me a spot to move and I shall move the world!” – Archimedes

One of the greatest windfalls in my life was discovering Archimedes. The notion of Archimedes lever is that if you know what your lever is, how to adjust the length of your lever, and where to stand and place your fulcrum, you can move the world.

Consider how the ancient pyramids of Giza were built; probably a series of pulleys, levers, and wheels.

What is the notion of lever in photography?

I believe that everyone has a certain strength as a photographer. It is different for everybody.

For example for myself, my ultimate lever in photography is probably street photography. Why? It is a combination of my extroverted attitude, my joy of interacting with people and strangers, and my personal ethos of being lightweight.

Also, my joy of the visual. I love all art, but out of all of them, visual artwork is my greatest joy. As a child, I loved drawing. I even got hand selected to join a special art school at a young age, hand selected by one of my teachers who saw my gift as a child, yet I never attended because my family ended up having to move.

How to identify your strength

This is a tricky thing; how do you identify your strength as a photographer, in photography?

Several ways you could think about this. The first is to just think about what brings you with the greatest joy. Without thinking about the external, internally, what is it that drives you and motivates you in photography? Is it your joy of exploration? Is it your joy of seeing how your photos will manifest? Is it your joy of creating artwork? Is it your creative outlet?

There is no right or wrong answer here, rather, it is simply an accuracy thing. Try to think accurately what really motivates you. This is one of the great steps in philosophy. Self-knowledge.

How to leverage your photography

Once you first figure out what your real motivation in photography is, then you can begin to exploit it, and to maximize it. A simple thought is share as you learn, and share the process. For example my initial motivation in street photography was to figure out how to actually do it and how to overcome and conquer my fear in shooting street photography. For me, 99.9% of the difficulty in street photography was how to overcome the initial hesitation of shooting it. Fear conquering.

At the time, when I first started blogging around 2010, there were lots of websites on street photography, and lots of great street photographs on the Internet, but no blogs or websites outlining how to do it. Also this was still the early days YouTube, even before they were advertisements. Therefore for me, starting my YouTube channel was simply a way to explore and demonstrate how to do street photography. My initial street photography gopro point of view videos were popular, because it showed how street photography was done in the real world. Nobody ever showed you this unique perspective before.

Simplify the process

Think about it; if you first introduced photography to a kid, would you teach them all the boring manual settings, and how to shoot in raw? Of course not. You would just set it to the simplest settings, and just teach the kids how to point and click the shutter. Even funny enough, I’ve discovered that my son Seneca, even my young niece and nephew prefer to use a camera with a physical button, rather than using an iPhone or a smart phone. Why? I think there is a primal joy in using haptic things, and haptic buttons, and haptic feedback. For example, Seneca at a year and a half loves my Lumix G9 camera, with all of the buttons, tilting LCD screen, and the physical shutter sound. He also loves to turn on and off my Ricoh GR, and shoot pictures.

Why I don’t like interacting with adults

A lot of things are ruined once we try to make it “professional,” and try to do it in a “legitimate” way. What is adulthood? Stealing the confidence of our children. Consider, how fearless and confident kids are, but as they get older, they are trained by their parents and society to become more fearful, more hesitant, and less self-confident.

For example, see how young kids dance and wiggle their bodies to music without self consciousness, but once we become adults, we think we must look “cool“ when we are dancing, or have special training and dancing. My personal aspiration is that Seneca gets older, I want to augment his self-confidence, rather than allow external structures to steal it.

Just leverage it

Truth be told, there are certain environments which are more conducive to our photography. But — I say,

Leverage your environment to photography to the maximum, regardless of how boring or poor your environment is.

For example, if you live in a suburban hell hole, just leverage that. Shoot photos of interesting houses in the suburbs, shoot selfies of yourself, look for rust and decay, and just shoot whatever’s interesting to you before your very eyes.

The greatest motivation in photography is maximizing your photography regardless of where you are.


Leverage your photography to the next level

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Other random things on my mind

  1. Packing, getting ready for a 2 to 3 month long excursion to Phnom Penh Cambodia, South Korea, and maybe Vietnam.
  2. Really enjoying the trap bar deadlift, just did an easy 455 pounds at the gym. The only downside is a lot of the trap bars at gyms have very short sleeves, which means it is a little bit more difficult to progress your weights, after a certain point.
  3. A very optimistic thought: I might actually finally be stronger now than I was before Seneca was born. To me this is a hugely motivational thought, because my health was very poor after his birth, and in the early days. Now, I feel like I am in the clear, and ready to go on the up and up.

What next?

  1. Make your own website/blog via bluehost.com, and install wordpress.org. A website is the ultimate leverage for your photography, whether analog or digital.
  2. Decide and acknowledge yourself that your current situation is not optimal for photography, but disregard it, and strive to maximize your photography anyways.

Share your knowledge

Regardless of how experienced or inexperienced you are, you always have something to share. I encourage you to teach photography, either at a local center, at your local school, or any sort of organization which is helpful towards kids and adults. Teaching is beneficial for them and for yourself. I like the idea that when one teaches, two learn.

Learn more

Start here >

Interesting thoughts?

If this gave you any interesting thoughts, feel free to forward to a friend!


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