Don’t Read This

I’ve been making photographs for something like 50 years. I sometimes think I know a lot. My wife, who does excellent photos of dogs and other animals, has been seriously taking photographs for five years and she thinks she has a lot to learn. She is always watching some video about someone’s technique to do something. When I see this, I usually roll my eyes and explain how she doesn’t need that technique and sometimes how totally wrong both artistically and technically the person in the video is.

My wife, being at least my equal, politely ignores me most of the time. And, most of the time she is right to do so. As an artist, she knows instinctively her most important teacher is herself and her experience producing her art.

Being an artist, making art, is a life that very few aspire to. I tried to avoid it for years. There’s very little promise of money or worldly renown and the more we are concerned with those outer indicators of our success, the less free we are to create.

Basically, being an artist is doing it our way. There’s a lot we can learn in mastering the craft of of photography. All that will take us to the top of the mountain. Then we have to jump.

We’ll land poorly many times and have many hurts and disappointments, but there will also be times we fly, and the more we fly, the more we want to take those jumps.

When we jump, we leave the worlds of “rule of thirds”, “expose to the right of the histogram”, “depth of field tables”, “magic hour’, “zone system” and other rules that are supposed to produce good art and we’re alone with ourselves. What kind of image are we trying to produce; what moves us; what gives us joy; what are we trying to say and how best to say it.

What do we do? We try and try again. We experiment continually. Some things come easily and some things don’t. We need to believe in ourselves but at the same time be critical of what we do. We have to accept when we do something good, but also accept when we make a piece of crap. If we work at it, eventually we’ll develop a style that is unique to ourselves.

For me, the hardest part is probably self doubt, but I’m getting better at not paying the doubt much attention.

If you’ve gotten to here, you like my wife have chosen to ignore my counseling. Then take this advice. Listen to yourself!

My wife, Emily’s, web page is

I was always attracted to photographing the grasses here in the foothills but most of the time the photos were either boring or too busy. One day things just clicked and now it just gets easier and more fun.

~ by danbaumbach on August 20, 2017.

One Response to “Don’t Read This”

  1. I am photographing for 40 years know (I am a lot younger than you. rsrsrsr) But I see younger people has a different way of seeing, and is difficult to than, more then us, to explain what make then to do what they do. and I thing it not important to explain it. Many times we try to explain what is not important to explain.

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