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*the condition of being physically fit and healthy while maintaining a skillset required for professional photography.

*maintained by the practice of rapid, experimental compositions, layering, and the search for optimal light.

This is not about good photography. This is about practice and staying in photographic shape for when real opportunity presents itself.

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  1. None of this resonates with me. It’s all practice as far as I am concerned, photography is my practice. A “real opportunity” can present itself at any moment, it’s all the same. Feeling more and more distant from these supposed teaching moments, not just yours, but others I follow as well. Safe trip back to New Mexico, hell you’re probably already there.

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      No idea what you mean. It’s practice until it’s not or until you are being paid by someone to work as a photographer and the pressure and intensity skyrocket. You fail and you don’t get hired again. It’s that simple. That’s where these moments become critical. And if you aren’t still learning you have real problems that go beyond photography. I just got off the phone with a colleague, literally seconds ago, and learned something about photography I didn’t know. I reach out to mentors all the time. Photographers, business folks, founders, designers, etc. who are the ones that lead me to different destinations.

  2. I have often thought about whether or not one has to keep using it out of fear of otherwise losing it.

    Looking back at my own pro work on the only means left for me to see a little of it, my website, I think that I’d do a far better job now than I did back in the day.

    Why? Well, so much has changed since the advent of digital. For a start, the Internet has opened up an amazing source of seeing other professional work. Was a time when to do that, you had to buy magazines or books, and as they cost money, they were usually limited. Now, new stuff is visible 24/24/7 and it’s mainly free to view. The spectrum of what’s possible has grown immeasurably. It’s not about copying, it’s about broadening the mind.

    That said, I used to think of myself as a very good printer, but in all honesty, I do think that’s an area where daily exercise is essential: you reach a stage where you don’t even need to think about it; every new negative just tells you what it requires, and if it’s your own work, printing becomes a kind of working backwards to what you intended in-camera – simply the next logical and final step. However, break that particular chain for a few years, have manufacturers cease producing your staple materials, and the relearning curve will be cruel, cruel because you’ll remember what you could once do on automatic and now can’t. (I’m writing about darkroom printing.)

    Seeing pictures before you make them is different: that’s part of your being, and no, I don’t believe that everybody can take a few lessons and go on to be a creative thinker. To me, that’s just the marketing of snake oils, a less than elegant, and a particularly mean way of picking somebody’s pocket. There are thousands of things for which I accept that I have absolutely no aptitude; why would I believe that photography, somehow, is different, that everybody has it in them to become good photographers? I made a reasonable living with photography – had I tried that with music I’d have been stoned to death within five seconds of opening my mouth or plucking a string. I see it as a part of the dumbing down culture, where every kid leaves school brandishing a certificate, even if it’s often really a declaration of his/her uselessness. We live in a society where the message is that we are all amazing, multi-talented people. I wish we were. We are not.

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      I lose it when I don’t use it. I”m about to embark on a voyage to Peru to teach a workshop. Why on Earth would I think I could get off the plane and make five star images without being in “photo shape?” If I do think I can do that, something I don’t know ANYONE who doesn’t shoot daily can do, then my five star rating is most likely someone else’s one star or two star. Most online folks seem to know nothing of photography history or even what else is being done now. If subpar is your goal, sure, just bang away and be happy but knowing what I know about you, that’s not likely. Printing, for me is the same. Absent from the darkroom for any length of time requires me to relearn quite a few things. I don’t know a single master printer who doesn’t say the same. (I only know two now….)

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