Friday, March 27, 2009

Beast Of Burden

So yesterday a friend and mentor of mine, Joe Boris, pointed out to me after I made a short blog post that it had been five months since I made my last post, titled Labor of Love. In said post I talked about how great it had been to get out and actually shoot for fun, shoot for myself rather than for a paying job.

And now I find it kind of ironic that a discussion Joe and I had a month or so ago was the inspiration for this post – a post that I have been putting off writing ever since. Why have I been putting it off? Is it laziness? Nope, not that. Is it a lack of time? Nope – I have time. Is it a lack of ability? Somewhat – I am not the best writer in the world and have trouble putting my thoughts down in writing – but I’m certainly not illiterate either. So why is it that sometimes I will put things off -- procrastinate over doing something that’s not that big of a deal and just let it haunt me? I'll tell you why – I want what I create and present for others to see to be really good. Whether it be photography OR a simple little blog post.

Back to the discussion Joe and I had. So we were talking about me shooting random photos when I am out and about with my iPhone and then posting them to various social networking sites. Basically just sharing with others the way I see the world in my day-to-day life. Nothing complicated at all; I shoot it, tweak it with in-phone software, and then post it -- all inside of maybe three to five minutes right from my phone. It is fun and kind of allows me to enjoy and remember why I fell in love with photography to begin with.

This being the simple act of seeing something great or interesting and then capturing it to share with anybody that cares to see the world through my eyes. No planning out a big shoot, no worrying about things with the shoot going wrong, no spending hours in Photoshop doing post production. Just straight-up photography for fun at that time and not feeling the burden of all that can go along with shooting stuff with my real cameras. Feeling guilty because I need to be doing something business-wise rather than playing with photos I shot “for fun”. Following up with clients, finding new clients, paperwork, etc. All things that are not necessarily fun – but are required if you want to stay in business.

So Joe’s perspective on all of this was quite simple. This being that if you are going to take the time to shoot something then you should take the time to do it right and not with a camera phone. Shoot it with something that you can actually get a print from and not something where your file might look pretty on a computer monitor but can never be any more than that. Shoot it in a way that it will have commercial or fine art value – which is not really possible with the small file size that a camera phone creates. Wise words on his part and a very valid viewpoint I think.

I would expect no less of Joe because he is one of the most meticulous, detailed oriented people I have ever known and a great photographer all together - I have learned sooo much from him. Yet I still haven’t followed his advice and have continued with my little iPhone photography work.

Why? Because I crave being able to take photos sometimes and then just being able to let them go and not think about it anymore. There are also times when having my regular camera around would be impractical - it’s kinda hard to put my camera in my pocket and carry it with me all the time like I do with my iPhone.

So what I am getting at is how and when you should draw the line on wanting everything you do to be perfect and or just so – so much so that it can be counterproductive. This blog post is a perfect example of this – I keep on struggling to find the perfect way to express my thoughts on the matter in a concise way and just can’t seem to do it without rambling. And this is why I have put off writing it for so long because I knew it would be like this.

I have shots from several photo shoots I did for fun months ago that I have not even touched yet because I always feel like there is something else I need to be doing work-wise. How do I find that balance of shooting for myself, which is important, but not let it bother me so much in the process?

Am I the only one that allows my desire to do something well to keep me from doing it at all? Right now all of these iPhone shots I have included in this post are my own way of dealing with this – my way of just appreciating something for what it is at any given moment in time. Not over-thinking it, not overdoing it and not feeling like I have to perform up to standards I would expect from myself otherwise when it comes to photography if I was shooting with the beast of burden that my actual cameras can be at times.

It’s a very odd feeling when you love something so much, yet still feel so frustrated over it at the same time. I guess that is just the price you have to pay when you are trying to make a living at something you are so passionate about.


malik m.l. williams said...

so, i just want to thank you for this. hit me on so many levels.

Steve Leibson said...

Advice that stifles your creativity and tries to force you to do things according to someone else's concept of "right" is not very good advice. I think your iPhone shots are captivating. Would it be "better" for the world never to see these shots because they can't be used to make big prints? I don't think so. We all have so many voices inside of our heads that tell us why we shouldn't do something that I sometimes wonder how we get anything creative done. Creation is a tough process. Revel in the fact that you have found a way to express yourself that works and that you enjoy. In other words, less navel gazing, more shooting.