Commentary # 2: March 2007
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Photography Blogs - They Aren't Always About Making Great Photographs

March 2007

- by Craig Wassel

Just starting out in photography or starting to get serious? Mind what you read, for it is not always about makng great photographs.

Technology is making so many elements in our lives that used to be common just plain ubiquitous. Photographs are among them, and it is certainly due to the digital camera. I ride a train to work every day, and I was again reminded of this as I watched students on spring break looking at their digital pics from their fun day in the city. The three common things in a teen's backpacks must be: cell phone, iPod, digicam.

"A butterfly flaps its wings . . . ", and an entire chain of events ensues. In other words, technology takes a giant leap forward, digicams become affordable and omnipresent, and more people take a greater interest in photography. Concurrently, the internet goes high speed and high tech, and sites about photography multiply exponentially.

It's all good.


You may be bracing yourself for a blog about how digital is bad. Nope. This is a photography blog about photography blogs. With the surge of interest in photography there are more and more websites offering discussions about technique, equipment, other photography sites, and even other photographers. It isn't always pretty.

Heated discussion about anything isn't anything new. The difference now is that the internet is also omnipresent, and it offers access to a global volume of discussion. And alas, the greater anonymity of the internet seems to make it easier and more tempting to comment on a much more personal and ugly level. If you are getting more serious about your photography, it won't take long to find blogs about cameras or lenses, or anything related. But it doesn't stop there. I read a few this week that were started by questions like "what do you think of so-and-so's website or so-and-so's photography advice". Often the responses were more in the form of personal attacks than discussions of value.

So what advice do I offer that will be more helpful? First - expanding on what I said above: Be ever mindful of what you read. Good photography takes alot of creative energy, attention to detail, and diligence. Negativity is a distraction and is unhealthy for your photographic spirit.

The the mottos I have for myself are:

  1. I never criticize another photographer: I can’t say I know even one well enough to question his/her character, knowledge, skill, or anything else.

  2. I never criticize another photographer’s work: I have never seen a portfolio, gallery, or website from which I did not learn something.

  3. I do not offer expert technical advice online: Who am I? I am not famous, and there are many far more accomplished photographers online who offer much more experience and wisdom than I can. For me to reach my goals, my time is best spent learning from the best and shooting.
Last, the only thing I will do online is to note the best bit of advice I have ever read, and it is from a very accomplished photographer - Harry Callahan:

“To be a photographer, one must photograph. No amount of book learning, no checklist of seminars attended, can substitute for the simple act of making pictures. Experience is the best teacher of all. And for that, there are no guarantees that one will become an artist. Only the journey matters.”

Can anyone offer any better advice than that?

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Luminous Lily

" . . Good photography takes alot of creative energy, attention to detail, and diligence. Negativity is a distraction and is unhealthy for your
photographic spirit . . "

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