One of the things I see happen most frequently in the field with groups of photographers is this kind of herd mentality that almost invariably works against the photographer. Particularly when things are not going perfectly. It’s cold, the eagles aren’t doing much, everyone’s been out for a long time, and soon enough, people start talking of packing up, of food and hot drinks, or editing images or watching TV, and before you know it, as the light ebbs, ever so slightly, people pack up and head for home/motel/town.
We all know once the light, on a gorgeous clear afternoon, goes down, the photography for the day is over, correct?
No. Continue reading
Writing Your Photography Business Plan
Mapping out where you want to go with your business, any business, probably starts best if you understand where it is right now. There’s no point in trying to decide how to get somewhere if we haven’t first identified where we are. There’s little point in trying to figure out a place we would like to be without knowing upfront whether or not we’re already there.
So sit down and assess, honestly, where your business is. Don’t just do the accounting and look for a profit/loss sheet. That’s important, but go beyond that. Look over your portfolio/stock files and assess where your work is. For a stock nature photographer, how’s your photography coverage of bald eagles? Los Vegas city lights? Blue whales? From a business viewpoint, that’s all about inventory (what an ugly word that is). That’s part of what your ‘product’ (perhaps an even more ugly word) is, so examine it. Write down, in some brief statement, where your work is at. For you.
How about your service? Where is that at? Email response, print quality, timeliness and efficiency of getting files off to the lab, prints off to the gallery/UPS, images off to your stock agency/website. Examine it and see where you stand. And if it sucks, note it down. If it’s awesome, note that down too.
How about your advertising? Where is that at? Beyond just advertising, how about your business marketing in general? Continue reading
If a tree falls in the forest? We’re all familiar with the old adage, and I think it’s an interesting question pertaining to art. If a musician, for example, doesn’t play music for an external audience, is s/he really a musician? Must a photograph have an audience?
In my opinion, the answer is a resounding no. Art is something creating. Art is the pursuit of idea. That process of making some thing is the essence of art. Playing my guitar in my room, alone at night in the dark, can be every bit as artful as a performance on any stage. Sitting outside the little Shack in the winter woods, alone but for the forest and the great night sky, gently playing my Native American Flute is art. Lifting my camera to the eye, reaching through the viewfinder for my composition, bringing together the elements I see, crafting an image, is art.
Whether the end product of that art reaches an audience is secondary; all too often that’s something over which I have little or no agency.
Art needs no audience. Art needs artists; people who make art.
That is the gift art brings our lives. What do we give in return?
I read it again last night. This nonsense has to stop. Why do photographers so often have such a hard time simply acknowledging that what we do is inherently technological? As such, technological advances (i.e., new gear) can (and typically do) play an enormous role in the work we produce. Perhaps much more so than most other art forms.
You’ve all seen the kind of commentary I’m talking about; another piece about how painters don’t talk endlessly about their paintbrushes. Or, even more inanely, how if Art Wolfe were to shoot with a P&S camera, he’d still produce a remarkable portfolio. It’s the photographer, not the camera, that produces great work, blah, blah, blay.
Right? Continue reading
“The word photography is based on the Greek φῶς(photos) “light” and γραφή (graphé) “representation by means of lines” or “drawing”, together meaning “drawing with light” (ya gotta love Wikipedia).
“Photography means painting/drawing with light”.
It’s time photographers (and photography) mature, and walk away from this virtually meaningless phrase. The phrase is a fabrication, deception at best, and has never been valid. Let it rot. We’re not painters, we’re photographers. We no more “draw with light” than does any person with their finger in the sand. Pixels and film aren’t light, they don’t even “capture” light, they merely represent it – to propose otherwise suggests only a childlike understanding of what light might actually be.
If interpreted in this callow manner, all painting would similarly be “painting with light”. Indeed, all visual art could be a form of painting with light; drawing with pencils and crayons, digital graphic arts, sculpture, pottery, dance, et al. Van Gogh painted with light. Michaelangelo painted with light. Early aboriginal cave paintings were painted with light; with no light, there’d be no painting. Most certainly, there would be no viewing these paintings. The idea that we paint with light is no more valid than saying carpenters sculpt houses with stardust.
One afternoon we hiked out around the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge just because. We must’ve wandered a little close to a Jaeger nest, as this bird suddenly appeared from nowhere and made its displeasure known.
The Parasitic Jaeger is also called the Arctic Skua or the Parasitic Skua. While not a “parasite“, the bird is well known for it’s piracy of other birds’ food. Stealing food is often called “kleptoparasitism” by folks who like to use large prodigious words to describe simple, everyday stuff; scientists, for example.
Though solitary, they’ll often ‘gang up‘ on other birds to steal food. One of the folks on our trip, Steve Weaver, was witness to such an act, when he saw and photographed 4 Jaegers harassing a Red-throated loon, finally driving it from its nest and eating the eggs the loon had been defending. Amazing stuff.
The Jaeger isn’t simply a thief though – the bird also hunts for prey, such as rodents, small birds and insects – Jaeger is the German word for ‘hunter‘.
Parasitic Jaegers look kinda like a gull, but the wings and flight are more falconesque. Pelagic birds, they spend the bulk of their time at sea, coming ashore to breed. The young will often spend the first couple of years of their lives over the seas, not returning to land until they reach breeding age.
Some of you might recall the Long-tailed Jaeger photo I posted previously from a trip to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) a couple of years ago. The Parasitic Jaegers are closely related, a little larger, but not so large as the Pomarine Jaeger.
I posted this ahead of time; right now I’m out on a hike, but thought I’d post this image from my recent trip to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Taken on the final evening of our trip, this Glaucous gull (Larus hyperboreus) and chick were a beautiful sight in gorgeous light.
The gulls are pretty common in the refuge in summertime, and can be pretty aggressive in defense of their young. This gull and its mate were busy most of the evening dive bombing a Red-throated loon that was nesting nearby; apparently too close nearby for the gulls’ peace of mind.
Hope you enjoy the photo. I’ll be back from the current trip soon enough, and wil try to post a few more images and some video from the trips. Until then,