I was recently asked to do a guest blog post on Scott Kelby’s site. I had free reign to talk about anything I wanted to talk about. I took it as an opportunity to get off my arse and make something that was new and fresh for me. I decided I would do a video. I decided to do this for my wife, Meg, because she is always inspiring me to go beyond the normal stuff I create. She’s always pushing me. Sometimes it sucks because she knows just what buttons to push in me to make me think about things a bit deeper. So I took all of her button pushing and went out and made something of it.
I've watched this short film (15-minutes) probably three times now.
Zack Arias is my favorite artist in the photography industry right now. His tweets and his Q&A are so insightful and challenging and profound. But why Zack inspires me is because he's a true artist, in my opinion.
Set aside 15-minutes, and you'll understand what I mean.
Here are a couple of things that stood out to me from the short film:
Visual Pollution. This phrase is genius, because it describes exactly my gripe with social media like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, etc: there's too much visual noise out there. Yes, it's great that so many people have iPhones and are taking lots of photos—but let's face it: there's a lot of terrible photos being taken out there (mine included). And even if you do show a great photo on Facebook, its life-span is probably 10 seconds at the most. Then people move on to the next big thing. Even a favorite iPhone app developer of mine (an industry not commonly associated with the arts) is starting to see this.
Marco Arment, developer of Instapaper, was struck at how terrible his iPhone photos looked on a larger screen, especially since Apple is moving toward the direction of Retina displays. I'm guessing the following excerpt also came about from his experiences as a new dad, taking photos of his newborn a lot from his iPhone.
For me, this is a wake-up call. I’m going to try carrying the 5D with me a lot more often (the pancake I ordered should make it more bag-friendly), and when I’m in the house, I’m going to reach for it instead of my iPhone much more often than the current rate of “almost never”.
Because as fun as it is to share iPhone photos conveniently on Instagram, that can’t be my only photography: I also need some photos that won’t look like sh*t when I look back on them in the future. (censor added by me)
I remember very clearly watching ESPN last year, the first weeks of the 2011-2012 NFL season, watching some talking heads voice their opinions about the season so far; and I remember someone said something that stood out to me. It really made a lot of sense when he said it. It's like when you're thinking of the word for something, it's right there in your head, but you just can't grasp the exact word for it. That's what it felt like. He said something along the lines of this: "Let's be honest, there's a lot of terrible football being played right now."
And I believe that's the same with photography: there's a lot of terrible photography out there right now. And I'll be the first to raise my hand to say I'm one of them.
Peserverance is the way of the artist. This is the second word that stood out to me from the short film. And this is why I like Zack Arias. He preaches and lives this out: that there are no shortcuts to photography, no magic sauce or formula to make you a true artist. "There's no Richard Avedon button" on your camera. The only way out is through.
And finally, the last word is transformation. It takes a lot of time, but it's worth the wait.
It'll be the worth the wait.