"The Bomber and The Catalina"
Maybe I'm an odd duck. Let me rephrase that... I know I'm an odd duck. But there have always been a few things in the photography world that have puzzled me or that, despite mass interest, I've been reluctant to endorse as a photographer looking to create a career as opposed to a hobby. I thought I'd get them off my chest today. But please know they're only my opinions, and if you are coming from a different place in your photographic journey they may not apply to you in the same way.
Firstly, online photo communities that have a cost to join. Now if you're just getting started and need to surround yourself with various talent and styles, and haven't pegged your true niche yet, or strengths, these are a great tool for learning. Discussions happen, tips are swapped, and there might even be contests that keep you motivated. But honestly, after you've grown, you're simply paying to remain inside a tidy little photographic playground where the only others there are exactly like you. You generally won't see companies lurking these member-only sites looking for future talent, especially local businesses who can connect with you right away... it's JUST more photographers. There's no one who's looking for stock photos, they have sites of their own where you go to them instead. So I'm sorry, but after a while, these feel like a dead end to me unless they have something to connect anyone who'll ever need a photographer in some capacity. Meeting other photographers from around the world is fun, but there's so many free photo communities that offer that, that the paid members-only just seems stifling. In the end, even the free communities can be a drain on your valuable time that could be spent making face to face connections that might open up new opportunities. In fact, Twitter has brought me ten times the opportunities in less than a year, than all the other communities I was once apart of for several years combined! Why?
Because your photography gets exposed to EVERYONE.
Whew. Good to have that off my chest. Next, the group photowalk. Now before anyone gets upset, I'm greatly in favor of meeting other photographers, getting to know them, swapping funny stories and advice. And I'm also in favor of workshops that challenge you to stretch, try knew things and meet some people in the process, because these are usually groups of no more than ten, and you have a vast location to utilize while you focus on learning. I'm talking about the group walks that take place in the local park down the street and about 30 of you swarm it with cameras, and everyone is trying to get the shot no one else will get. It just seems crazy to try to accomplish so much in such an overexposed area. Maybe it's me, but I much rather prefer working alone, able to concentrate completely on my process of learning, exploring, and redefining what I love about a certain location, instead of having to time everything I do around whether someone else is in my spot, or in my shot. I can count on one hand the people I know I can photograph with that don't feel the need to constantly walk the same paths, keep up conversation, or need to compete for "the" shot of the day. Have I done group walks? Yes. Did I get great photos? Yes. But the cons outweighed the pros after a while, and if you're far enough along that you no longer need a life line, be careful that for the sake of being one of the group, you don't get held back. I've seen it happen.
Lastly, make decisions for yourself. I'm all in favor of continued learning, reading the latest photography books, following the blogs of the pros... but as you do all that decide why something does or doesn't work for you, and avoid the bandwagon mentality. Test things for yourself. Stand up for your creative vision. We're discovering as digital photography evolves that the die hard rules of photography, and processing, and use of gear are all changing too. Labs print jpegs way better than they used to, Raw isn't always necessary, sensor size/quality is still more important than mega pixels, and not everything has to be neon-like HDR or special effects to be fabulous photography. And sometimes it does. Know your camera. Stop obsessing about digital noise so much that you never get the shot with the higher ISO. These are just a few examples of what we all struggle with. Decide what's important to where you are and go with it.
Like I said, I feel like these were things I always wanted to say, and was in the mood to say them today. I don't expect everyone to agree, and my views could even be wrong for all I know. But this is the great thing about owning a blog... I get to have my say regardless. Just bein' honest!
Thanks for the ramble... and have a super Tuesday!