Why and How: Making Photography Last in 9 Key Steps - Part 1
If you are a nature photographer, then taking photographs is your passion. You spend a lot of effort and energy to make interesting photos.
One of your wishes may be to make your photographs last over time, so that your passion for this art remains intact.
But how do you get there?
This is what I will explain in this article.
The Little Story of this Article
I had an interesting experience that opened my eyes to what I should not do during my career as a professional photographer artist.
I am passionate about an American photographer specializing in black and white. I will not mention his name because that is not the purpose of this article. I had already bought three of his beautiful books because they are a strong source of inspiration for me. During one weekend, having no more recent coffee books, I decide to go to a specialized bookstore with Isabelle, my wife. In the photography department, I discovered something new. A book by this photographer published two months before.
I threw myself upon it and decided to purchase it without even leafing through it once. Isabelle said to me, "You already have three books of him. At least look if he has evolved in his shots".
I opened the book and discovered that the photos and the texts were nearly like his previous books, the ones which I already owned.
Ultimately, I put the book down and decided not to buy it.
It was this event, however insignificant, that made me realize that a photographer artist must know how to regenerate himself to make his works last. It was on this day that I understood the difference between photographic styles and the photographic signature.
Many photographers, some of international renown, create collections of photographs with the same signature look. Over time, they become boring because their works are the same type of photographs.
The Definition of “Lasting Over Time”
To last over time is to occupy a defined space of time. It means that you will continue to exist, occur, persist, or maintain yourself.
It also means resisting the effects of time. It is a question of preserving all your qualities intact.
Its Application to a Photographer
For a photographer, lasting over time means continuing to take creative, meaningful, and interesting photographs for a given audience.
As far as I am concerned, this is one of my obsessions. My photographic activity is partly motivated by this need or desire to last over time.
It is for this reason that I often question myself by exploring new creative paths.
Why Would You Want to Last in Photography?
You may be like me. When you undertake an activity like photography, you fully invest yourself.
You invest all the necessary means for success into the process of making creative, interesting photographs. You may already have a loyal following of individuals who admire your work. If so, I would say that you have managed to gather a circle of people who not only follow you but encourage and motivate you to push on in your field. This audience can be physical, but it can also be virtual, which is the purpose of social networks.
It is for this audience that you realize your projects.
You want to please them.
For me, lasting over time means continuing to please those who share my moral and ethical values as well as those who trust me.
This desire of wanting to last helps me to preserve my work, so that all my efforts will not be in vain. One day, I might add a small brick to this gigantic building that is called "humanity".
I believe that this is an important and sufficient reason to justify this desire to please.
How do you last over time? The answer cannot be summarized in one sentence. It is a little more complicated.
In the rest of this article, I will give you some keys to help your work last.
Key 1: Specialize in One or Two Themes
I believe that one of the essential points for lasting in photography, is to specialize in one or two fields. This is true for all artists, not just photographers.
In fact, the more you choose different areas to invest time in, the more you will be able to capitalize on your efforts.
Photography is a complex artistic field that can be difficult to grasp. Each chosen theme requires different skills and know-how. It takes time to acquire them.
The more you disperse, the less you will venture deeper into these themes. You will fly over them. You will only glimpse the possibilities of each of them.
By specializing, you will learn to master the techniques of a theme. You will excel in your shots. You will certainly meet people who appreciate what you are doing. You will be encouraged and motivated. You will continue to progress further into your expertise.
If you choose to specialize in more than one area, try to be consistent. For me, choosing portraits and architecture would be inappropriate because the fields are so different.
If you want to last, choose one or two consistent photographic themes that complement each other. This will help you to fully express yourself.
Key 2: Have a Well-Defined Photographic Artistry
Your photographic approach, whether it is artistic or not, is a guarantee for you to not become lost when you wander down different paths of photography.
When it is well defined, your approach serves as a beacon throughout your photographic life.
You will refer to it when you doubt yourself or when you diverge down a strange path. Your photographic approach ensures that you will follow the right path to reach your goals.
Without a clear and precise photographic approach, you risk taking paths that will leave you feeling disoriented. You will lose your photographic soul. You will end up forgetting your creative goals. You will not be able to last because you will demotivate yourself.
I want to remind you that a photographic approach consists of two very distinct components:
- Your photographic vision: the way you see the world around you through the scenes you photograph.
- Your signature: how you present the scenes you are photographing.
When you know how you are going to show your universe, you will develop techniques that will help people to recognize your photographs, making you last in time.
Key 3: Know Why You Are Taking Photos
Do you know why you take photos? If you have not found your purpose for taking photos, it is time to begin searching.
If you do not know why you are taking photos, I guarantee that you will never manage to create interesting photos. It is as if you have not yet found meaning in your life.
Knowing why you are taking photos will allow you to set precise, simple, and clear objectives.
All your photographic activity will consist in defining and following paths to reach them.
During my photo workshops, when I meet new participants for the first time, I am always surprised by the lack of answers to this question. Sometimes the answers are elusive and general. However, this question is essential and fundamental.
If you want to last, try to find an answer to this question today. You will save a lot of time during your photo sessions. Your photographic activity will become outlined more clearly. You will also avoid taking paths in which you may lose yourself.