The Long and Winding Road

For those that know me, it should come as no surprise that I’m using a Beatle reference in the title.  I sort of like those guys and always have. In fact, I started collecting Beatle “stuff” in 1964 and still avidly collect and have made numerous trips to Liverpool, England to maybe just feel closer... and take a few pictures. But as I thought about this article, it really does seem to be about the road we are all on. As Arthur Rainville has said numerous times, it was never about the destination, but always about the journey. It is often long and winding and even lonely for some.

Photographers are weird. There, I’ve said it.  We are looked upon as artists, terrible business people, and we would rather go out and take pictures than just about anything else when given the option. This is what separates us from attorneys. engineers, teachers, chefs, steel workers, and accountants. When we get off work, we still go work at our craft. It’s what we do and who we are. Most other people do not do this. I’ve often said that we are not only the purveyors of our craft but we are also consumers of our craft. Our best friends are usually photographers, we get our inspiration from photographers, and we are exhilarated by new technology for photographers. Sure, there will be some who long for the good old days of a simple camera and a roll of film.  But we are not there any longer.  We have moved on. And I am delighted about that

History tells us there have been about three major paradigm shifts or changes in the world of photography since its inception. Certainly, many more than that have come along with subtle changes. But the big stuff that has had the most impact has been when Eastman Kodak manufactured “safety film” in rolls for the consumer, the advent of color film and papers, and finally the explosion of digital photography.   

While we strive to continually try new and creative techniques, we can always rely on a simple neutral background to direct viewer attention to the subject.

The thing about a long and winding road is that no matter what is going on in the world, it is always here. The road is here, the scenery will change, equipment, technique, ideas. Next week or next year there will be something new again. The newest camera model from Canon, the new favorite lens from Tamron. And there will always be more new versions of our editing software. But those are all tools of our craft and not our craft.  We are the ones empowered to work this craft, work it well and professionally, to create memories, magic and mayhem and everything in between. It’s up to us. All of us.

Here is where you come in. Are you ready? This is your challenge. Change.   That’s right, change. You have to change. You have to keep up. You have to do everything you can to stay on top of your game because last calendar year, more than 300 billion photos were taken that were never printed (estimate from PMA meeting). And you have to do it NOW. My intent is not to frighten you but to alert you. As long as you are on top of your game, you’ll always find work. It won’t always be easy, but it will always be possible. It won’t do a lot of good to complain about all of the consumers with cameras or the emerging new photographer clueless about charging fees that are appropriate for their work, so we might as well all quit complaining about it.  Let’s just change and move on up to another level.

The "One-Light Portrait" has been done by Master photographers and was created by Master painters for many years. 

So with all of this in mind let’s all take the following pledge:

“I, _________________________ (state your name), do hereby promise to grow, stretch, push myself, learn my craft well, and produce the highest quality work for my clients. That I will do my best to fulfill my clients’ wishes and represent our industry with pride and professionalism.”

I love our craft and perhaps more importantly, I respect it.  And I hope you will join me in keeping up with those that came before us who took it to another level because they were all so willing to change, to elevate, to do better.