I think it might be serious critique time. I have been doing this now for just over three months which is generally the amount of time I can give new things before I need to either step it up or drop it. I can feel that dilemma tugging at me now so it is time for some input.
Goals: This is tough because I am generally a hard person to satisfy. Certain things, however, would give me some pleasure.
One would be making some money at this. I've made some money off of my animal photography and off of photography related to web design clients. Not a living but I do have a day job. The problem is that I don't see myself being able to open a portrait studio. I don't deal that well with people .. certainly not lots of random people. I'd much rather a situation where a client pays me to put together a project and then I do that. I don't sell prints of my photography but I have licensed my images to shirt printers, websites, publications etc. It means dealing with one contact person who is professional. I like that.
Next up would be finding an audience. So much of life is just yelling into a black hole. I'm not sure I have anything to say, but not being able to say it can be frustrating. Or rather having it fall on deaf ears. If I could find some method of actual expression through this I would keep it as a hobby. I'm realizing, though, that this could be an expensive hobby. If I stray from taking pretty pictures into more conceptual works I imagine my TF options will dry up pretty instantly. Not to mention that some ideas I have in my list require multiple players ... that gets almost impossible unless money is going out.
Keeping this as a casual hobby is not an option. I don't do casual. I can't. My wife often accuses me of not having any enjoyable hobbies because I have plenty but I take them all too seriously and treat them like jobs. Dropping the whole thing is an option, of course.
In terms of life parameters, I live in a small town. This isn't likely to change since I own the property and have gutted and am rebuilding the house. In other words, I have roots here. So moving to New York isn't an option. I do live close to a larger city (300k, I think) and close enough that I can go into Toronto for a day if necessary. I have a home office that is perfect for me to work in but is useless for entertaining clients. I like being closed in so the entire space fits one chair and one chair only. I'm 32 years old, married, no children. Too old to be taking the huge risks that people out of high school can but young enough to be taking some risks. I have a job that has me regularly scheduled at 3 10-hour days a week and pays above minimum but is a bit back-breaking at times. My wife also works similar hours. We are incredibly self-sufficient and so are actually doing pretty well in terms of lifestyle and are banking some money. I've never lived paycheque-to-paycheque because I've always been frugal and decent at budgeting.
In terms of genre, I like "neat." Fashion doesn't speak to me per se but the weird/wacky can sometimes be cool. Glamour, pin-up etc. are fun images to see but not ones I get excited about producing. I have a list of images I like on here for one reason or another. None of the images I've produced have proved immensely satisfying but I have liked several.
Anyone still reading? If so, I would love some input. Do I have any talents I haven't spotted? Is there a unified style popping out of my portfolio that I haven't noticed? Are there career paths I haven't considered? Does anyone out there like anything in my propaganda gallery? Are there pertinent details I've left out of my blurb? I promise that I won't take your criticisms well but that I will force myself to take them. I need to if I'm going to figure this out.
Oct 13 12 06:58 am Link
Denver, Colorado, US
It sounds to me like you've made up your mind already. You live in a small town. You're not going to move. You aren't good with the general public and won't be opening a portrait studio. You don't seem too confident in your abilities. You say that quitting is an option. You don't want to just have it as a 'hobby' either. You are not satisfied with what you're creating and don't seemed moved by other genres of work either. It all sounds pretty defeated.
Nowhere in there was anything mentioned about improving your craft. Nowhere was there any indication that you even enjoy photography.
Getting any good at photography is a process. It takes alot of time and effort over a long period of time and experimentation. Everyone wants results but are you willing to put in the work?
There was not any hint above that you have any passion for this at all. If you're not passionate about what you do, no one else will be.
So I would suggest finding whatever it is that you are passionate about and doing that. Find something that you believe in. Everything doesn't have to be a money maker to be worth doing. But to get paid doing something you enjoy or to find any audience or purpose in anything whether it's a hobby or not, you're going to have to have a more positive attitude about yourself and your capabilities to learn and grow. Something that you're willing to work hard at. So it might help you to find something that you don't feel so indifferent about.
To make it anywhere with this you have to put out there what you want to receive back from others. That goes for most things in life. Maybe you'd be better with people if you were better to yourself? Don't beat yourself up so much. That's what makes most people want to quit anything. Just find something you love and stick to it. Whether that's photography or not. Surround yourself with people who will encourage your efforts and eliminate or ignore the folks in your life that discourage you. Because thoughts are things so get the ones rattling around in your own head and the ones you're hearing around you to be more positive. Best of luck on your journey.
Oct 13 12 10:44 am Link
Thanks for taking the time. I may have been too keen to lay out the confining parameters and not put out the positives as well. I have definitely NOT made up my mind yet. If I made up my mind to quit I would just do so ... well, after completing all the shoots I've currently promised, of course.
You don't seem too confident in your abilities.
I have absolutely no doubt that I can become incredibly technically proficient. If you plot out my progress from June to now it is pretty impressive. My progress from 15-years old to now less drastic but not bad. Every shoot I'm either playing with new things (with mixed results) or at least correcting errors from the previous shoot. My post-processing time has dropped dramatically because I'm getting more right in camera. Aesthetically I'm less sure. I can make images I think are good but am painfully aware of the Dunning-Krugar effect. I've not yet made images I've thought were really great in this genre .. but I have done so with animals. I have several images and a couple video clips that I think are pretty great. Maybe nothing once-in-a-lifetime yet but even with my family history I should live another 30 years or so.
You are not satisfied with what you're creating
Nope. But that is not a problem in my mind. I'm ultimately never going to be satisfied with things .. well sometimes temporarily. My sister is the same way, though, and it has driven her to become a very successful professional cellist.
Nowhere in there was anything mentioned about improving your craft.
Sorry. I take that as a given. I think I did mention stepping up my game in there somewhere near the top. In a first draft I mentioned something about improving skills but it must have gotten edited out on a read-through.
Nowhere was there any indication that you even enjoy photography.
I also sort of take that as a given if I'm here. Photography is an awfully hard thing to be doing if you don't enjoy it. That being said, while I do enjoy photography in general, I am somewhat undecided on this particular genre. If I have a good shoot or if I'm prepping for an interesting shoot it is about the most fun I can imagine. When I hit the lack of meaningful feedback or wade through another round of poor communication on here then that can diminish things slightly. It is, however, about the only thing that has been constant in my adult life. I've gone through several shifts but I've bee shooting something the whole time.
Everyone wants results but are you willing to put in the work?
I have a hard time doing things for their own benefit and quickly get bored with anything constant. If I don't think I can get past where I am now then I'll stop now rather than continuing. But that is also part of why photography/videography is so interesting to me. There IS a corner to round. There IS always something over the horizon. Just not sure if I'm in a position to go there. I'm not going to sacrifice the couple things I've gotten right in life (wife, property) to be able to make a living taking pictures. If I can have both then that is ideal.
If you're not passionate about what you do, no one else will be.
True. But that does not go the other way. My being passionate doesn't guarantee that others will catch on. Many people go into life with passion and end up in the gutter.
Maybe you'd be better with people if you were better to yourself?
It is actually the other way around. I have a disorder that makes it very hard to relate to others. Given the resulting lack of feedback from external sources it makes it very hard for me to form any sort of self-image. This is one of the reasons I've posted on here. I don't have a circle of friends and acquaintances I can trust for honest feedback. My wife is supportive and gives me good feedback (positive and negative) but that is a single point.
Oct 13 12 12:57 pm Link
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
David Desoer wrote:
I must admit I skipped a bunch of your OP to get to the part where you actually pose some questions. Way too verbose for me.
Oct 15 12 10:32 pm Link
Brighton, England, United Kingdom
I think we're in a similar position. I've only been doing model photography for about 6 months and I can say for certain that my "honeymoon" won't be over for years to come.
I agree with the the other posters that there is no unified style to your work yet (same problem here!). And it seems you're not sure where to take it next? I suggest just keep experimenting and keep trying new things and HAVE FUN.
BTW - you mention about conceptual stuff being less popular with models. I've found the opposite to be true. Apparently a lot of models get bored doing the same old glamor/commercial/nude stuff they've done a thousand times before
Oct 16 12 12:05 pm Link
intense puppy wrote:
To be fair, I do generally get met with more enthusiasm when I state that I want to do something out of the ordinary .. just less follow-through. There is proably a bias there because I'm relatively new and thus work mostly with people I haven't worked with before. Or my ideas are just crap. It has been either insinuated or stated outright by a few people on here.
Oct 19 12 07:51 pm Link