Inspiring your Perspective

Why photography education is so important for everyone
Inspiring your Perspective

Notice: Geek-Zone Ahead!

You may know of my involvement in the photography educational industry – I have taught hundreds of photographers, I regularly host private one-on-one mentoring and I have co-authored a book for photographers. As such, in addition to the current, past and future clients who read my blog, I do have a large part of my audience consisting of photographers.

I try to keep everyone happy and so this particular blog post is geared towards photographers. It may be highly technical and so if you’re not overly interested in the creative or tech side of photography, you may wish to skip through to the next or previous blog post. Otherwise, enjoy and read on!

I feel very fortunate to have received the success that I have in my business up until now. It certainly hasn’t come easy; I have worked very hard, and have definitely put in the time to better myself as a photographer, as a person and as a business owner. I have been honoured with many awards and designations – accreditations, national image salon acceptance, international awards of excellence and last year I even received my Craftsman of Photographic Arts.

I also enjoy teaching, speaking and mentoring photographers regularly. I am the chair of our local branch of PPOC, give private one-on-ones often, teach workshops several times each year and have even co-written a book for photographers.

I don’t say all of this because I want to brag, I say it because I want to establish a foundation for what I’m about to talk about. At this point in my career as a photographer, I have enjoyed success – creative and artistic success, business success and personal success. Many would say that I should just keep doing what I’m doing and follow the same path. Many would say that I’m doing something right and not to change a thing. Some may even say that I have learned all that I need to know at this point.

I would say that that’s all wrong.

I run into photographers all the time that feel as if they “know it all” and that they don’t have anything to learn. I honestly think that that is such a poor place to be. If you stop learning, stop moving and stop improving, you’ll become stagnant and just fizzle away. When you approach the idea of education with the perspective of “I have nothing to learn”, then you therefore not learn anything. There is a quote from Dale Carnegie that says “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right”, and this is so true. Mindset has everything to do with how we sub-conciously feel, think or react to a situation or opportunity, and having the right mindset is paramount.

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.”

– Dale Carnegie

I truly believe that I can learn something from everyone I come in contact with, and so I approach the idea of education with a completely open mindset. In doing so, I always walk away from a meeting, a photo-shoot, a workshop or a convention having learned something.

Nothing has inspired me more, though, than a recent workshop I attended with world-renown photographer David Beckstead. The PPOC-Ontario had arranged to fly David in to speak at our provincial convention in October of 2013. He gave a full-day seminar about learning to see creatively, composition and seeing light. It was a great program and I thoroughly enjoyed his perspective. The day after the convention, David hosted a private, more intimate shooting-style workshop, and this is where the magic happened for me.

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David’s style is dynamic, energized, highly stylized and very dramatic. He creates “wow” images out of very bland or otherwise ordinary situations. He’s known in the industry for his ability to see light and his unique control of composition. David’s teaching style is  casual, hands-on and down-to-earth.

What inspired me the most though was his thought process. He is very analytical when looking at a scene and he creates an image because he wants to create an image. He is intentional – he comes up with the concept, the composition and the mood in his head before the camera even comes up to his eye. Watching his process and hearing this perspective was refreshing and inspiring.

David photographs B&W portraits with a Fuji X-E1, and to his own admission, this camera  has made him slow down and think things through much more effectively. It’s almost a throw-back to the film days when you would choose to make a picture on a camera loaded with B&W film because you wanted to create a B&W image, as opposed to arbitrarily converting an image to B&W afterwards. It makes you slow down, think, and be intentional.

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This is what impacted me the most. Be purposeful, be intentional and slow down. Since the workshop, I have partially converted to shooting with Fuji. I am photographing 35% of my client work with my Fuji X-E2, and 100% of my personal work with it. I love everything about it from the image quality, the feel, and the mechanics of it to how it makes me think as a photographer. I wrote a blog post last week about my experience shooting with my Fuji, and if you haven’t had a chance to read through it, I defintely encourage you to do so. I still have full intention of writing a full review on this camera, but I thought I would give some insight into the “why” first.

So there you have it. To come full-circle … I would consider myself a successful photographer who has a definite style and vision. I have been awarded and recognized internationally for my work, and even teach others how to see more creatively. All that being said, I am still humble enough to open my mind and accept that there is always something that I can learn. In taking this approach, I feel like I have entered a whole new world of creativity with a completely new artistic approach to my photography. That’s pretty profound!

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I’d like to send out a huge thank-you to David Beckstead (check out some of his workshops here) for changing the way I see and think as a photographer, as well as a thank you to Fuji for allowing me to communicate my newly found vision into a reality with your beautifully simple and organic camera philosophy.

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