A couple weeks ago I was listening to a live interview with Seth Godin, author of Purple Cow and Tribes, and photographer Dane Sanders, and was challenged, yet affirmed in my own thinking by Seth. This is something that’s been on my heart for the last several months, so I gotta share his advice.
What I love about Seth is his honesty. He was quick to point out that anyone who has $200 bucks and access to the internet can pick up a camera, download some free software, and plastering the web with their images and announce to the world that he or she is a photographer. That’s not how it should work. The tools are not scare anymore, they’re easy to access. With that said, Seth continued to challenge the status quo: why should you get paid to shoot? And by the way, he said, you’re not entitled to receive pay for your work. You have to EARN IT. What makes you different?
You have to get out of this place of FITTING in and into a place of STANDING OUT.
What really stuck with me was this line from Seth: You need to be honest with yourself; if you’re taking average pictures, for average clients, you need to STOP. That industry is dead.
The last several months have been filled with reflection for myself and for those within my business. Look, I’m not perfect, I don’t have it all figured out, and once I, myself, was doing photography for the wrong reasons.
But praise the Lord, I’m starting to find my place in life, and I’m learning that the camera is just a tool.
I’m hungry to learn more about what it means to be a photographer, the history of photography, and why the heck I do what I do in every aspect of this business.
My hope and prayer for photographers out there, myself included, is to be intentional:
Start at the beginning. Examine why you truly want to be in this business, what makes your work unique, learn what the heck all those buttons and menus and joysticks do on your camera (I’m shocked at the number of photographers who don’t know the difference between P and M). Define what you hope to accomplish with your craft. And I would challenge you to think through each and every release of the shutter before you take it, asking yourself, “WHY am I taking this picture?”
I close with two thoughts — one of my own and one of a legendary photographer before my time:
If digital cameras didn’t exist, if the internet hadn’t been invented, if creating an image required stationary subjects and long exposures, WOULD YOU STILL BE A PHOTOGRAPHER?
“The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.” — Dorothea Lange