I Couldn't Agree More

The following is from a monthly newsletter I receive from an Australian photographer I stumbled upon during the food photography phase I went through last year. She’s a portrait photographer, and her site was mentioned on a food blog I was reading at the time. I clicked on the link, read a few of her posts and found myself nodding in agreement at what I read. And I have been keeping up with her ever since.

Valuable photography lessons from a basic point-and-shoot camera and Leonardo da Vinci
. . . The reason for this is that DSLR shooting was comfortable for me. I was getting lazy. It was too easy. I’ve been shooting with the same type of system for nearly 30 years. Switching to a small point-and-shoot mirrorless for personal projects taught me the following lessons...

The best camera is the one that you will actually use

I’m almost ashamed to admit how many photo opportunities I missed because I didn’t have my camera or couldn’t be bothered taking out my DSLR, attaching a lens etc. I carry my compact mirrorless everywhere, and this means I shoot more “just because”.

This had led me to change the way I see and shoot, and some of this has extended to my commercial style.

Easier and faster doesn’t necessarily mean better

Shooting with fixed frame (35mm equivalent) mirrorless has forced me to slow down and frame my images more carefully. I’m closer to the action which changes the energy of an image and the energy of the actual shoot. I’m also shooting fewer frames and trusting my intuition more.

Downgrading my gear and focusing on technique has been a gamechanger for me

This year I’ve invested hundreds of hours working on my personal project shooting technique and forcing myself to work with minimal gear. This has been the most important lesson for me. I’m trying to create better images with a single light and cheap modifier and basic camera system.

Slow Down. Do the work. Review. Rinse. Repeat.

Next year, I plan on working harder, more focused on technique and whenever I feel uninspired or lazy I’ll ask myself WWLD. (What would Leonardo do?)

If Leonardo was alive today, I’m convinced he would have a paint and paintbrush sponsor, gallery reps, agents and maybe his own line of brushes and paints.

In today’s world, it’s all about the tools. Everyone is looking for a shortcut or easy option “paint by numbers” way to success.
If Leonardo was alive today I’m convinced he would have a paint and paintbrush sponsor, gallery reps, agents and maybe his own line of brushes and paints. The tools make your work easier, hard work and repetition make your work better.

Leonardo da Vinci was a successful artist in his lifetime and could afford the best brushes and paints, but that’s not the reason he was such a phenomenal artist. The secret behind Leo’s success was the fact that he did the work.

Da Vinci was not only a great painter, but he was also a master drawer, studied the human anatomy, mechanics, architecture, drafting, and chemistry. It was his work ethic and curiosity that made him great, not the tools he relied on.

As photographers, it’s easy to get caught up in the hype surrounding all the new gadgets that promise to make us better photographers, but gear alone is not what will set you apart from the pack.

As 2018 draws to a close, I urge you to forget about gear and focus on the work. You don’t need to go to the extremes that da Vinci did to create great art. By committing to 10 minutes a day to improve one skill, take one photo or study the work of one artist you admire, will do more to enhance your work than investing thousands in new gear ever will.

The tools make your work easier, but it’s hard work and repetition that make your work better.
— Gina Milicia

shakespeare & roses

'Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What's Montague? It is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other word would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call'd,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
And for that name which is no part of thee
Take all myself.

- - - William Shakespeare

Amateur Hour

Amateur. You say that as if it was a dirty word or something, but “amateur” comes from the Latin word ‘amare,’ which means love, love. To do things for the love of it.
— "Mozart in the Jungle"

I visited the teeny tiny town of Prairie Grove Wednesday afternoon to do some thrifting and try my hand at street photography. All these photos were taken within a one block radius of where I had parked my car. A funny little story about the image with all the bright chairs lined up in front of the Ace Hardware store: as I was lining up my shot, an SUV stopped in the street to the left of me. I waved him on, letting him know that I could wait, that I was just wanting to get a picture of the colorful chairs. I saw him laughing as he pulled into the parking lot where I was standing and got out of his pick up truck, holding a camera, and told me that he wanted the same photo, too.

We both laughed and took our pictures, standing side by side. 

And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good
— John Steinbeck

A Bag of Beans

Without my morning coffee I’m just like a dried up piece of roast goat
— Johann Sebastian Bach
As soon as coffee is in your stomach, there is a general commotion. Ideas begin to move... similes arise, the paper is covered. Coffee is your ally and writing ceases to be a struggle.
— Honore de Balzac
I believe humans get a lot done, not because we’re smart, but because we have thumbs so we can make coffee
— Flash Rosenberg
I never laugh until I’ve had my coffee.
— Clark Gable

It was pouring down rain this morning, Joe woke up feeling achy, and with his AP exams coming up next week, I decided to keep him home today, feeding him Tylenol. I had an old paper bag, a bag of Starbucks coffee beans and a coffee grinder that I found at the flea market last weekend that has seen better days. I couldn't think of a cozier way to spend a rainy morning than playing with my camera and that bag of beans.

Goodness, those coffee beans smelled good!

And Joe is feeling better. Sometimes it's good to have a mental health day every so often.