“He still zigs when everyone else zags”
This interview has first been published at the Critique Portfolio Pro group on flickr.
Mark Ivkovic is a London based fashion and portrait photographer as well as a member of this group. He has been working for several companies recently including ATQM, JimBag and Educate Elevate . You can find out more about Mark on his website, his blog or his tumblr site.
Without further ado we get things started:
Mark, first of all thanks for taking the time to answer my questions here in this interview for the Critique Portfolio Pro group. We are all curious and excited to hear more about your work. Do you mind telling us a little bit about yourself and your photographic journey?
Before I get into it I’d like to say I’m humbled that that you find my work interesting enough to warrant hearing a little about the person behind it so thank you all. It’s a challenging life as a full-time photographer, trading on something you’re so deeply attached to can at times be heart breaking but it’s a roller coaster I wouldn’t give up for the world.
So to me, I’m primarily a fashion photographer based in England, I’ve been a full-time working photographer for over thirteen years and have tried my hand at a number of genres before finding my true love in fashion. As my portfolio bio claims I’m a zagger when everyone else is zigging plus I never really wanted to be a photographer when I was a kid. I wanted to make cartoons with Walt Disney, I wanted to be an animator and that is what lit the fires of my creativity when I was young. I came to photography through sport, I was the kid with a skateboard, went snowboarding and spent his weekends rock climbing. I just kind of ended up taking a camera along with me. Sure I’d used the family compact before this but it was with the discovery of my Fathers old Minolta that something ignited my interest. I hauled it along and photographed friends skating, climbing and then through that some of my work got noticed by a couple of magazines. Then a year or so later after returning home from a gap year traveling the globe I’d decided to give the photography thing a try. Flippant I know but that’s how you think when you’re young right?
Thirteen years later and I’m still paying my bills with a camera and still feel the urge and love to take my camera with me every time I leave the house. It’s become part of me I guess, it’s my way of dealing with the world. I think I wrote a blog post once along the lines of; “For some the camera is a way to capture memories, for others a means of making money. For me it’s a way of confronting my own fears and insecurities.” Photography consumes me if I’m being honest, it tends to make everything else in my life become secondary.
Oh yeah, I’m kind of opinionated when it comes to photography too, technology, fan boys, internet forums, “experts”, teachers of and self proclaimed “award winning” masters in. I’m more interested in people who enjoy photography for the pleasure of the craft and who revel in the challenges it brings.
Wow, this is a fantastic story. I am especially impressed by your statement that after 13 years professional photography you still feel the urge to take your camera everywhere with you. How do you combine the passion for photography with your assignments? I could easily imagine after a day of shooting you don´t want to see a camera. But it sounds like it is the other way around.
Ha, well don’t get me wrong, some days are easier than others. It isn’t as easy as it sounds living the life of a photographer. Some days I really do just have to let the pay cheque be my inspiration, just kind of suck it up and accept that what I’m working on isn’t particularly creative or life affirming. Those are the days when I have to remind myself that I’m paying my bills with my camera and that is my one basic goal for success. Other days I’m working on projects that are 100% me, I’m loving life and get totally absorbed by my work. The life of a photographer is in trying to find the balance. For keeping the passion, I guess it’s just my way of dealing with it all. Susan Sontag claimed that for some the camera is a screen through which the user can avoid having to deal with the reality of the world. Now I wouldn’t go that far but it’s certainly something I use to compensate or overcome some of my personal difficulties in dealing with it all. Also, I revel in the actual process of photography, not simply the final product but the practice. The cameras I choose to use I’m deeply connected to, they are a pleasure to use and hold, they excite me. I believe that is why I also still shoot film alongside digital, the magic is still there every time I pull the roll from the developing tub or when I open the packet of negatives from the lab.
I learn so much about my own personal process through shooting for myself everyday too, I’ve learnt that the act of creation stokes the fire of creativity. By which I mean if I go out and just simply start making photographs, of anything, rubbish snapshots, photos of my feet, my dog, a wall, interesting light, through doing this I find that I start to see much more “photographically” than if I head out and think “right I’m only going to take a shot if I feel it’s good enough to print and put on the wall.”. Those are the days I come home not having taken a single shot. I guess it helps remind me to just let go of it all, or as Anders Petersen should say to “take the brain and put it under a pillow and allow oneself to shoot with the heart and stomach.” I love Anders viewpoint on photography, something about his outlook and opinion resonates with me.
I’d also say that a lot of the time the personal images and photographs I make never really get shown (to the internet) they are almost my sketch books, ways to explore ideas or discover themes in my work.
Now that you mention it, let´s get the gear question out of the way. You shoot film and digital! A great combination in my opinion, using whatever tool seems to be the best for a given situation. I love the look of film. What are the cameras you use, both personally and for assignment? Which do you like most?
Yeah glad we can get this out the way quickly, I get a lot of emails about this stuff and I get a lot of negativity as I make a big deal about not following the GEAR masses, not being overly concerned with the latest & greatest and what not. Don’t get me wrong the whole G.A.S. thing affects us all at different times, I’ve had that time of my life and moved on, or so my bank manager tells me. I mainly get the negativity due to what I use now though.
Digital: Leica M9 - 35mm / 50mm - Canon 1d mkiii / Canon 5D mkii - 35mm / 50mm / 85mm & 70-200mm
Film: Leica M2 - Contax G2
For paid work up until about two years ago the DSLR was the only thing I’d use. The film rangefinders were for personal work. Then came the whole digital M thing and this is where my I learnt my lesson in GAS. I went through Olympus E-P to Fuji X100 to Leica M8 to Olympus E-P again to Fuji X100 again to Leica M8.2 and eventually just threw caution and my bank balance to the wind and landed with the M9. So with the most expensive camera I had being for personal work, I thought that was a little dumb so it started coming with me on commissions and I’d see how I worked with it. At first it was in between sessions or at the end of a shoot if we had time. Now I shoot probably 90% of my work with it, studio, location, tethered, even shot beauty with it last week. The DSLR’s are just getting dusty. It isn’t that it’s necessarily “better” because pretty much anyone could grab the specs from online and prove that technically it isn’t. It’s just how it feels for me to use, the joy I get from making photographs with it, the way in which it allows me to see. I think that DSLR’s are great technical cameras and that’s usually how I end up working with them, the rangefinder almost frees me from this and lets me experience my subject. I know the whole Leica thing usually divides photographers and I can see why. I’m often asked if it’s worth the money or if I’d recommend it and most of the time I say no. I tell people that if they have the money to buy one with a lens then that money can be better spent on the latest Nikon or Canon or whatever with a few really good lenses. With that they’ll be able to do what they like. However for me it makes sense, it’s a personal thing I guess.
With the film gear, it’s still rangefinders you’ll notice. I’ve learnt that for me the rangefinder “way” fits my process and personality. Plus it comes down to me always wanting to zig when everyone else zags. At the moment I’m bringing the Contax along on fashion jobs just to play with it really, get what I need with the digital but also play and see how it looks on film. The M2 is my B&W camera and again depending on what I’m working on it often finds it’s way into my bag just for that little “option” of Tri-X.
So my favourite camera? the M9 with 50mm f/2 by a long way. The M2 is more my moody, artist camera :) and the Contax is my play around camera. My everyday camera is usually the M2 / 35mm loaded with Tri-X.
You’ll note with film I only use 35mm stock, I made this choice a year or so back, mainly to stop me buying medium format cameras from my “always wanted list”.
Yes, you are right we all have to deal with gear somehow. Of course it is important and the major tool we use in order to let our creativity flow. They need to be tools we like and tools we are happy to use. I can totally understand your enthusiasm for rangefinders and I am happy to hear the M9 works so well for you and it can even substitute a DSLR in many cases. As we have the gear question covered, I would personally be interested in your daily working routine? How does a typical assignment looks like? Can you tell us about your way of getting the shot you envision? This is what I find really difficult, having an idea in mind and getting it from my brain to paper.
I’m not sure I have a typical day. However I’ll try and explain how jobs/shoots/ideas are planned. Getting the envisioned shot can at times seem tricky I’d agree, professionally I think it’s probably easier than personally. On a typical commission we’re shooting to a brief, sometimes this brief is very specific, at other times fairly open but it isn’t as simple as me turning up, reading the brief and then taking the shot. Hours, days or weeks of planning go into most shoots. During that time period visuals are used to express almost every single thing we want to get into the image. So that’s make-up, hair, clothing, feeling, the look, the setting etc. We pull images and create a mood board which we then use to form our brief. We’ll have “hero” images which are the ones that really tell the story of the brand or clothing we’re shooting. Take for example a recent Spring/Summer 14 campaign I shot for JimBag, I was sent the “brick” or brief from my client. This had been worked up by him, his business partner, the art director and myself. From this a 60 page booklet was produced. This contained inspiration images to show the feel of what they wanted, styling clues for the wardrobe, models we we’re using, locations we wanted to use, products we were shooting, hero images we wanted to create. For this this job it was really easy for me, I was booked because of how my work feels & looks, it perfectly matches the brand and it’s image. With so much pre planning and being allowed to shoot “my” way meant that I knew every shot before we even set up. Now in fashion we also shoot what are called tests. These are effectively where a team comes together without pay to “test” an idea or concept, to create new work and effectively show the world the kind of thing they want to be booked for. This is where I get to really risk ideas and concepts because if it all goes wrong I simply don’t show the work. With these we still create mood boards but they’re often a little looser and more a general idea as to feel and concept. These are the really fun shoots where anything can go, we’re creating fantasy. The way I tend to work is I get my subject to play a role, I see the photographs as still frames from a movie, telling a story. This can be hard depending on my subject though and that’s where experience directing people comes in. It isn’t directing, it’s more convincing them to play the part, to make it believable.
Sometimes though I’ll just call up a model and say “Hey let’s just go shoot something super simple, just the two of us” these are often the times when it’s easier to concentrate on that connection between the two of us, to get that emotion into the image. On a busy set with ten or more people watching can make holding that relationship between the model and myself tricky but without that connection my images mean nothing, so it’s nice to just go back to a simple shoot now and then. A typical day however is usually me sat at my desk doing paper work, dealing with job requests, hunting down clients, editing images, walking the dog, going for a run or cycle.
What looks so magical from another perspective is sometimes filled with routine. But this is the backbone of our lives, isn´t it. The magical moments appear and we need to be prepared. It´s almost a philosophical idea that we need to “leave room for this magic to happen.” The “tests” you do, challenge you creativity. Where do you get your inspiration from? Do you think you follow a certain direction (style or mood), something your soul tells you to do?
Yeah I know, the perceived daily routine of a full-time photographer seems a lot more rock n roll right? Truth is I’m still running my own business and with that goes the whole business deal. Don’t get me wrong I shoot a lot but I also have to file taxes and market myself. The tests are indeed where I get to become more creative, this is certainly a different challenge to those on a commissioned shoot set for sure. Just stepping back quickly to your last question about finding it hard to translate the idea in your head to a final image, most of the people I regularly work with when “testing” will tell you that I’m rarely happy with my work, I still struggle to fully express my vision fully through my photographs but I think the harder we chase that and the closer we think we’re getting, the more elusive it becomes. I guess it comes down to the whole “just disengaging the brain and letting your heart take over.”
Inspiration for test ideas can come from anywhere for me to be honest. A piece of music, a film, something someone said to me, a place. I recently re-watched Moonrise Kingdom, now that’s a beautiful film but there’s this one scene where the main characters are on a beach dancing to a french song. It’s awkwardly beautiful yet free all in one moment. There’s something in that that I’ve taken as inspiration for an upcoming test. So yes I’d say that it’s something my soul tells me to do, I can’t just head out and think “I’m off to find some inspiration”. I just need to engage with life and let it come to me naturally. I think life is our main inspiration as artists and I’d advise anyone looking for inspiration to step away from the internet and go and engage with the world around you. I’m also inspired by the people I work with and (perhaps geekily) the cameras I use. I’m lucky to live a creatives life and work surrounded with other creatives, often an idea can quickly catch like wild fire and become something larger than I’d first imagined simply by chatting to others about it. I am inspired by other photographers but more by how they see or their ethos rather than the images they create.
Style & mood are both something I’m working really hard on in my work at the moment. It was early last year when I had a portfolio review with an agency and they (rightfully) pulled me to pieces. My work was all over the place, yeah it was good but it didn’t show what someone would get if they booked me, it just didn’t have a cohesive feel. That’s something I’ve had to train my subconscious to work on. I’m getting there, my portfolio certainly feels more like it’s mine now and I’m seeing something of a style develop but even so, I still shoot the odd project which when I look at the final images a week or so later I just hate them as they don’t fit “me”. That’s a hard thing to realise, sometimes I’ll shoot something and we’re all “Wow that’s so cool, it looks awesome.” and I go home all happy. Then a week goes by and I look at them again and I just don’t feel connected to them in anyway, I created them but they just don’t feel like “my” work. Often this is brought about by chasing the wrong kind of inspiration or foolishly trying to create work like someone else. Never compare your work to others and never try to shoot like someone else. The best piece of advice one of my mentors has ever given me is just that, Make your pictures. Three simple words.
“Letting the heart take over”; - a great paradigm, even though it seems easier than it probably is. There is a very thin line between inspiration and copying others. A trap every photographer has fallen into most probably. Learning to live with our own failure and putting effort into getting over it is an important skill. Most likely this is a never ending challenge and the advice “make your own pictures”, as simple as it sounds, will challenge you even further.
I would like to get a little bit technical again. What are the special skills a portrait / fashion photographer needs, to set himself apart from other photographers of other genres? What are the challenges in fashion photography?
Lots of things in photography sound easier than they are but I think eventually after enough “practise” one starts to realise that in fact maybe it isn’t as hard as we believe it to be. Failure is a natural part of the creative process but it’s perhaps one of the hardest parts to accept. I think it’s in making your own pictures and remaining honest to yourself that is really what a portrait / fashion photographer (or any photographer) needs to concentrate on to set themselves apart. We all have the same tools and the same basic ingredients with which to create our work. I’ve heard others claim certain lenses gives them their style and that’s frankly a load of rubbish. If the most defining thing about your work is brought by the lens you use then anyone else can do what you’re doing. Again this is a very simplistic answer but essentially when it boils down to the core this is all that remains, it’s staying true to yourself and creating your photographs.
Sure there are a whole host of other things one needs to have in the bag of tricks though. I guess the skill that most separates the portrait / fashion genre from others is perhaps connection. The ability to get a feel for a person and bring them alive, to connect, converse, it’s the ability to form an intimate connection with your subject in often a very short amount of time. This allows you glimpses of who they are. You also need to have a bit of an ego on set, if you are to create YOUR images then you need to control the team around you. So you have to ensure everyone is working well together, nothing is going wrong, everyone knows what they’re doing but also everyone needs to understand that this is your set and you are in charge. Many a time I’ve heard others say a stylist or even model started taking over and saying what shots to take etc etc. if you allow this to happen then you have lost creative control of the shoot and you’re no longer making your photographs. Most of the people I work with are down to earth but every now and then I come up against an ego. It’s like anything, you just have to make it work, you need the ability to manage people.
Sure all the other skills are needed too, light, composition, exposure etc etc. but you can take a pretty girl in pretty clothes, stand her in some pretty light and still make a dull picture. Without that connection it means nothing and it isn’t something that can be faked either I don’t think, that’s when it looks forced or your subject looks self-conscious. Now this is quite a big challenge in fashion work, which is why I try to give models a “role” to play. These are people who are used to being in front of the camera but without direction they will default to a standard set of poses, which often appear staid. To create something different the photographer has to put themselves into the shoot, to force that connection. On a busy set after 10 hours or so when everyone is tired this can be hard but it’s up to me the photographer to keep the energy up and the connection alive. So I guess endurance is a key skill too.
When you talk about the skill to connect to your models, you probably mentioned the biggest problem new photographs encounter when shooting people. Especially the combination of two unconfident persons will not work out perfectly in the beginning. To overcome this fear and this uncertainty is one of the hurdles every new photographer needs to take.
All the other skills you are talking about, exposure, light and composition need to become second nature. Light seems to be a big part of your work and except for the expression of the model, light makes the image. In many of your pictures you have chosen a very contrasty light in others it is more moody. How important is light in your vision of what you want to create?
I’d fully agree that the connection is one of the harder skills to master as the only way to learn it is to do it. Now imagine having six models in one image and having that connection with each one at the same time…….
Light, ultimately is all we have with which to make our photographs. Without it we get nothing. Learning to see light and understand it is possibly the easiest and hardest part of photography. I do think a great deal about the lighting in my work, it’s something I’ve spent a long time learning and something I’m constantly trying to master. It can be used to strengthen the feeling in the photograph or it can be used to juxtapose. It has endless forms. I love natural light but also relish the challenge of creating lighting set-up in the studio. Simple light to me is key, especially in studio portrait & fashion work. I’m usually trying to keep my work believable and so that means making the light believable. My ideal work space is a daylight studio. Large windows at my back which can also be blacked out if needed. I love shooting into the light, I love window light, I just love light and you wouldn’t believe how excited I get when a sudden pool of direct sun appears somewhere in the studio. I guess Irving Penn is a huge source of inspiration in this sense, he kind of reinvented the daylight studio and his simple, modernist style is something I deeply admire. I just find it fascinating how someones whole appearance can change depending upon what light you put them in. I think I could honestly talk for hours about light.
Light is a fascinating subject and I am sure there is much more to say. We have covered a lot of ground so far. I do have two more questions I´d love to ask before we bring this interview to an end. We have been talking about style and moods and the urge to produce personal work rather than just copying others. How important is post-processing and re-touching in your workflow and do you have certain direction you are going to, a certain style you are trying to achieve? Do you also shoot film during assignment?
To me post-processing and re-touching are two separate things. Retouching is the polish that is applied once the image is complete, it’s that extra 1%. Both play an important role in any modern photographers tool box. Many new photographers think that these are new ideas but they’ve existed in different forms for quite some time, dodging & burning, hand retouching negatives. All these “tricks” existed in the darkroom but they took a much more skilled hand and a great deal more time & effort. Like I say though they are tools available to us so it’d be short sighted of anyone to dismiss them.
Again though I think this is where knowing your work pays off. If you understand what you want to say with the photograph then post-production is a great tool to exaggerate that. If I’ve shot a fragile moment, in moody light then I’m going to keep that feeling going through my post-production. I’ll use whatever tool it takes to give the strongest final impact with the photograph but the important thing is that it has to be believable in it’s own context. I’m known for creating a lot of monochrome work, I don’t have a preset or specific action to get me the look I want, I just know what the final image needs to look like. When I shoot B&W I’ll shoot it in a certain way and edit in a certain way to get the feeling and B&W look I like, for this kind of work I think understanding how film B&W looks & feels is a huge bonus. My colour work has two looks I think. One is the soft, dreamy, pastel feel, the other a moodier, darker feeling more akin to my B&W. Sometimes these looks overlap but essentially it comes down the the story or message I’m wanting to convey. Also it’s vital that whatever look I go for it has to run through the whole series from that shoot, otherwise it won’t make sense to the viewer. So when it comes to post-work my first task once I have my select files to work on is to Identify my intention. What am I saying with the images? What feeling am I attempting to convey? How do I want my viewer to feel?
Retouching is also important and I know the fashion industry gets a lot of bad press over re-touching and creating unrealistic versions of models. I think a lot has been done lately to reverse this but we all know it still happens. When shooting a beauty story yeah I retouch skin, I use the liquify tool, I’ll dodge & burn to enhance. But it has to be done sympathetically otherwise the honesty is gone and the image is no longer a believable reality. Again I guess this is where my focus on the honesty in my work takes over, I’m drawn to the beauty of imperfection, the delicate tiny flaws and nuanced variations. So in retouching I try to find the balance between truth and perfection.
As to shooting film on assignment, yeah I do at times. On rare occasions a client actually requests it, other times I do it as a change of pace, then other times I just do it for fun. Lately with my Contax I’ve shot on camera flash for the first time in my career. I always swore you’d never find a flashgun on one of my hotshoes but here we are. I just had a recent attraction to the snapshot aesthetic and nothing says snapshot to me than harsh, straight up flash. I’ve even used a Leica flash unit that I was rather kindly given on my M9. It’s a different look for my work, I’m not sure I’ll change to it but it makes for a different feel. I actually shot two rolls of colour neg with the Contax last week on a test. My planned lighting was natural light from a wall of windows behind me for a super soft, dreamy light. However the hair took about an hour and a half longer than I’d hoped meaning the light was fading fast from outside and I needed a new plan. I shot the ambient light with the M9 but then switched up and just blasted away with the Contax and it’s flash. When it came to putting the editorial together I preferred the film shots. I guess that’s the “leaving room for the magic to happen.”
Today everything is focusing on Photoshop techniques, neglecting the idea of the final image. Filters are tempting and sometimes we just throw them without intention on our images and see what we get. The other way around is a much finer approach, where you know already during the image taking process, how the final image will look. Post-processing will now be a tool to achieve this final result and not at tool to make a bad picture look better. All the images on your website or in your flickr stream are very natural and this is what I personally like a lot.
You have mentioned before that you normally don´t show your personal work online. What kind of personal work do you shoot? When browsing through your website I was fascinated about a series called “Triptychs”. What is the story about those images? Are you working on a personal project?
I agree that the filters & presets are indeed very tempting and I feel at times it’s good for us to simply click around and see how each one will affect a certain image. It can give an appreciation of what is possible with the shot rather than simply doing what one always does. So they’re a blessing and also a curse, like any tool we have they need to be used considerately. I’d also add that having an appreciation of what photography looks like also helps ones post-production.
I’m glad we’ve got on to my personal work to be honest. I often urge working photographers to shoot as much personal work as they can, it keeps us fresh, keeps us in touch with the joy of creating images just for us. I think a lot of my personal work can merge with my commissioned work simply as I enjoy photographing people, I enjoy trying to show humanity, our scars, our flaws and our beauty. Like I’ve mentioned I always have a camera with me and will usually shoot at least a couple of frames a day, film, digital, iPhone, whatever. It’s just something I do. A lot of this is junk, stupid little pictures of random scenes I see that make me laugh, or make me sad or interested. Anything that makes me take notice really. I would say though that I tend to have themes or loose collections that I have in mind. These can be simple things such as “lines” or ‘contrast” or more complex notions like “proof of existence”. Some of these everyday shots make it to my tumblr, sometimes i’ll put them up on here (they’re easy to spot as they’re the photographs without people in :) ) other times if I feel a certain series is complete I’ll pop it up as a blog post but I rarely make much of a deal about this stuff, it just is. I believe that a project or series should never be shown until it is complete but also that such projects should be long term things. Not a quick “oh this week I’m just going to photograph red and make it a series”, I’m talking at least 6 months to allow yourself time to understand the idea and to form a strong small series of images. However you are correct in spotting my exception to my “don’t publish until complete” rule, my triptych project. This is the one major personal work that I share, firstly it’s easier for me to get someone to sit for me if I can show them what the final image will look like but also because I’ve been working on this for over three years now and when I first started it was just a bit of fun.
If I’m totally honest this series has gained me more interest than I ever expected, I’ve had commissions based upon it, magazine features and offers of sponsorship. It’s the one body of work that I feel totally connected with and the one project I’m shooting that I see no end to. This year I’m actually making a huge effort to step the project up and really push forwards with it to the stage where I feel ready for a mid-series or side-series exhibition. Like I say the first one I shot was just of a friend who I cycle with, we’d made a stop and I just thought hey let’s try this, then the rest just kind of followed as my head filled with ideas of places to go with it. Again if I’m being honest it is almost something which gives me a “free pass” to connect and discover people who i’m interested in who maybe I wouldn’t have the nerve to contact under “normal” circumstances. That’s a really big thing that photography has given me, a pass to explore people.
Mark it was great pleasure doing this interview with you. Honestly, it was very refreshing, insightful and full of good information and advice. Thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions. It would be great if you will be around here to maybe answer some questions that may arise.
Sebastian it’s been fun, I’m always dubious as to what I can say that might help people but if I can perhaps get across my particular viewpoint of what this whole photography thing means to me then maybe that will help someone else. I’m more than happy to try and answer anyones questions should they arise following this interview, I guess just pop them in the comments and I’ll try my best to shed some insight. I’m happy to talk about anything really, I’m an open book when it comes to my work, no secret magical formulas, just hard work, experience & luck I guess. I’d like to thank you personally again for also giving up some of your own time in putting this together for the CPP group, if I’m honest it’s one of the more meaningful groups on flickr and one that although I don’t participate that much, I’m often around just checking out what folk are saying or doing. So praise also goes to the team who keep it all running smooth and straight.
I would add that if anyone has any connection with any of the following people I’d love to talk to you about it :)
Tilda Swinton, Red Bull Media House, David Blaine, Wes Anderson, George Clooney. My list goes on but hey you gotta ask these things, never know right?
I’ll add a few final thoughts that might again shatter peoples illusions of what a working photographs life is like and I’ve spoken to others about this and they agree. None of us are ever happy with our work, most of the time we feel like we’re one step from the edge of a cliff, that we’re held together with sticky tape and the slightest breeze will cause it all to come crashing down. We’re mostly insecure simply because we trade on our art, yes we have thick skins but when you put your heart into the very same thing that you’re selling, it’s a hard place to be at times. This I think can be seen if you watch someones work long enough, you can tell where they are at on the ride. We make mistakes, we screw up, we make sucky pictures, we leave the lens cap on, we forget that we’re still at iso 800 when we step outside from shooting indoors.
I know I tend to bang on about certain things and I’m glad we didn’t get to talking about HDR or spot coloring … … . . but I’m opinionated because I care about photography, It’s an all encompassing thing, it can be orgasmically high or reach levels of depression that are really really dark moments. It sucks to have something that has that much control over you. But I’m in love with photography and if I’m not doing it I’m not happy.
Finally before I sign off I’ll give my one piece of advice to those who ask what they need to do to make better photographs.
Our lives have become digital, our friends now virtual and everything you could ever want to know is just a click away. Experiencing the world through endless secondhand information isn’t enough. If we want authenticity, then we have to initiate it. I actually think Dan Milnor told me that but it stuck and it’s very true. If you want more interesting photographs then put yourself into more interesting places, or more interesting situations and I think that might be a paraphrased Jim Richardson quote. Oh and don’t believe the camera companies or those that they sponsor, they just want you to buy more stuff they don’t care what your photographs look like.
Thanks for taking time to listen to my brain spill.