Lesson Learned: Make the Pictures You Want to Make
I’ve been meaning to write about this for a few weeks, so here goes.
After I finished up in Denver (more posts to come from the summer) I spent a few weeks visiting friends and loved ones in Missouri and home in the suburbs of Chicago. I had tons of time to think, look over work and prepare for the fall. While I was in Missouri, I sat in on the Staff Photojournalism class and listened in to the week’s critique. At the end of the class, one of my former professors asked if I had any advice to give the new staffers. I looked at my experience and rambled and rambled and tried to tie in as many of my weird photo related philosophies I spend so much time thinking about.
But it struck me while I rambled, really nervous in front of the students, wondering what I could say that would help, that I was really giving myself advice. I pride myself on being able to point out my flaws, especially in my work, and I realized all I was doing while talking to the class was giving myself advice.
I find that I get in my own way a lot. Maybe everyone does. I talk myself into staying in the car or not getting that weirder angle I know will be make a more dynamic picture, etc. Mostly just because I’m worried about pushing boundaries with subjects on quick daily assignments where building rapport is sometimes overlooked or short-changed.
While I spoke to the class I told them to take the pictures they want to take. You know, if you want to get closer, get closer, if you want to be directly in front of your subject with perfect angles, then do it. Don’t fear it. Take risks, they pay off. Think and do it. And that’s advice I truly need to follow myself. The pictures are there to be made, but you have to have the guts to take them.
I’ve been trying to think about what would the very best possible picture be if the planets aligned in any given situation or if I saw this same event shot by photographers I look up to, how would the final product look? I think the answer to this problem is to force yourself out of the car, have confidence in your job and duty as a story teller and to think before shooting.
Last week I started at the Jackson Citizen Patriot in Jackson, MI. with my best friend Sam Gause. I know it’s a bit backwards as far as internships go to work at a large daily and a wire before going to small town paper, but I think it is an extremely valuable experience. I would never want to hop into my career without fully knowing and experiencing what it’s like to be a community journalist.
I also think this is going to be a perfect time to force myself into making the pictures I want to make. The pace is slowed down, the assignments are closer and I have more time to play. I’ve noticed I’ve gotten too comfortable with covering my ass for an assignment and not trying hard enough to make a truly spectacular image out of a situation. The pictures are there to be made, and stories are there to be told, I’ll just have to practice getting out of my own way and making them.
Maybe this is all misguided, but just stuff I’ve been mulling over.
Here are a few pictures from my first high school football game at Jackson where I’ve started trying to fight for the pictures I want to make. Thanks for looking.