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This is the second part of a selection of motivational photography quotes from famous photographers, people who have shaped photography into the art form that we love today. They sometimes are as valuable and inspiring as their photographs and many generations have learned and will continue to do so from these masters. These photography quotes are followed by a personal interpretation. It is what I feel was the message transmitted. However, everyone has their own view of things and that always makes inspirational quotes like these even more interesting!
“Don’t shoot what it looks like. Shoot what it feels like.” - David Alan Harvey
Harvey couldn’t have said it any better. One of the most desired qualities in a photograph is the ability to transcend that which is visible to the naked eye and capture the atmosphere, thee feeling, the magic. Harvey is one of Magnum’s seniors and he has traveled the entire world capturing unique moments. In the act of photographing, one should always look for the essence of the subject. Having the technical ability to achieve a correctly framed and exposed image is only part of the process. It is the emotion one feels when viewing a powerful photograph that is harder to waken.
“Hardening of the categories causes art disease.” - W. Eugene Smith
There is a fine line between having a signature style within a genre and repeating yourself over and over again until people hardly expect anything else from you. Many photographers face a real danger by labeling themselves. Obviously, in the professional market you have to have an established status. You can’t market yourself by doing everything and shooting all genres because people won’t take you seriously. However, with this comes risk. I truly believe all professional photographers should pursue personal work, photography that is in no way intended to produce income, but rather to bring inner satisfaction. This fuels creativity and drive in the long run. The bad news is that most photographers feel attracted to different kinds of photography than the one that puts food on the table, but they are too afraid or tied down within the boundaries of their label. So what if you’re a portrait photographer? Maybe you enjoy photographing planes or wildlife . When it comes to personal work, you should try to free your mind and break conventions. Just shoot whatever your inner voice tells you and enjoy it without wondering what category it might fit in.
“If you are out there shooting, things will happen for you. If you’re not out there, you’ll only hear about it.” – Jay Maisel
If I could mention only one thing that makes the difference between a successful talented, photographer and an unsuccessful, equally talented one, it would be this. People who get somewhere in life do so by taking action. We all have ideas, we all know great locations, and great stories that could be photographed but few of us actually do something about it. It all comes down to the finished product, not the idea of it. Creative people tend to think a lot, sometimes so much that they forget to get of their chair and start working on the idea they came up with six months ago. It’s not an easy pill to swallow, but if you want to get better at photography and people to know you, you have to work constantly.
“Photography is the power of observation, not the application of technology.” - Ken Rockwell
I would be lying if I said I’m a big fan of Ken Rockwell in any way. This time however, he was spot on. Keep in mind, he is the guy that reviews every piece of photographic technology that hits the market. Photography is indeed about seeing things and not so much about the tools. We all enjoy using our cameras or making a living with them, but one should never forget that they are just instruments that are there to help you materialize your vision on the reality surrounding you.
“Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary.” - Cecil Beaton
This speaks for itself. Like in every other aspect of society, being different means being brave and not seeking approval. Go out on shoot what you feel you should, not what you think the people on your Facebook fan page will like. If it’s good, you’ll know. If it’s not, no problem. Keep shooting and aim to be different. You’ll get there eventually.
“The best way for photographers to become rich and famous is to go into another field”- Bill Jay
This is in the same line with the joke that says “if you want to make quick money from photography, sell your camera”. Indeed, if fame and fortune is what you’re after, go do something else. Photography is a hard business to make good money (I’m talking six figures) and it is still early for it in the art market. That’s not to say there aren’t rich and famous photographers in the world. Before you bring up Annie Leibovitz and David LaChapelle, remember they are the exceptions, not the rule. Yes, it can happen, but it takes quite a bit of luck, being in the right place at the right time, knowing the right people, living in the right city and working so much you won’t have time for anything else. And even if you do meet all these requirements, it would still be a slim chance. If you’re in it for the money, it would be a lot easier to make a career change. You might actually get there and it would be a heck of a lot faster! Also, and this is a personal belief, no photographer that is in it only for the money is a good photographer, artistically speaking.
“Computer photography won’t be photography as we know it. I think photography will always be chemical”.- Annie Leibovitz
Try not to laugh at this one. It proves a few points. She was both right, and wrong. Photography as the world knew it back then is pretty much gone (sadly), and very different from how we work today. It is understandable that nobody believed we would come to this level of technology twenty years ago and this shows how much adaptation was necessary, how much things have changed and how different the required skill set is. Nowadays, you don’t have to be a chemist anymore, but you better be good at a desk, behind a computer. However, photography is still the same, just improved. Sure, there is nothing like good old black and white film with its delicious grain and digitally unachievable grays. But overall, technology allowed us to become better and to express ourselves more freely, and for that we should be grateful that photography is no longer all chemical.
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Image credit: eurobanks / 123RF Stock Photo