Hey kids. I received an email from a budding young photographer asking about ideas, projects, and photography itself. Like George Bush Jr., I was a total mess until I was about forty, so anytime a young person reaches out I try to take the time to engage because I sometimes wonder what my life would have been like had I actually had a brain at a young age.
I responded to this person, as I do to all my communications, and after I wrote this I thought it might have a wider appeal or perhaps make some of you think about your own photography in a new way. I get many a question about projects and ideas in particular which always strike me a bit funny.
I’ve never once been stuck without ideas or directions to follows. Never once. If I had to provide ONE concept that makes this a reality it would be the concept of curiosity. If you have it you will never run dry. I love the elderly and feel that how we treat our elders is one of the most grievous ills of our society. The elderly who thrive into those seemingly untouchable years are those who never lose their curiosity. Those who call and ask things like “Is Facebook the Internet,” or “How do I learn to code?” or “Where do I get a home pregnancy test?” (wink, wink)
Here is my response.
Geez, into photography at fifteen. Way to go. I was a total mess at fifteen. Okay, a few things. Who are you? What do you read? Where do you live? What do you think about when you wake up in the morning? What are you afraid of? What do you believe? How do those beliefs make you feel?
This is how you find stories. Choose something that makes you FEEL in some way. Good, bad, confused, fearful. This will allow you to engage. I am a HUGE fan of the library. I know we are in C19 times so we have to wait to visit, at least for now, but the library is a free education waiting to be exploited. Its endless and contains millions of story ideas.
The war zones, famine and strife will be there if and when you are ever ready for that. No need to investigate now. War is what we humans do.
As for the actual nuts and bolts. You have to practice. Every chance you get. There are no shortcuts, no videos, and no online nonsense to ease the pain of learning. Failing is mandatory. Safe is for average photographers. Take chances with your visual style and those images you can’t quite explain are the images that will point you to who you will be in five years. Don’t throw anything away. DRM