Losing your training wheels… cutting the apron strings

I really had nothing to post this morning. The weather has been gray and uninteresting. It’s 7:30 in the morning. Blowing. Raining. Blech.

And then the inspiration for today’s blog came to me like a parting of the clouds after a week of rain and the sun poured in. I was visiting one of a half a dozen photo forums/photo website¬† that I’ve got bookmarked. This one was a forum where for every one or two dozen photos that are posted there is a gem. The forum is fairly small made up of a mix of amateurs, semi-professionals and photo tour givers, ie, they earn the bulk of their income by offering workshops and tours.

I expect to see poor photos on this forum. When you’re first learning how to take pictures, learning how to edit and see your work objectively can be difficult for some. Then a photo caught my eye not because it was good but because I recognized the name of the photographer. It was I thought, awful. Poorly composed with no center of interest. This wouldn’t be unusual except that it was taken by someone who earned their living taking photos. The stunner was one of the sentences that read something like, taken during a photo workshop. Huh? Oh and helpful comments and suggestions?

I know that many people sign up for workshops and tours more because of the camaraderie than anything else. What I didn’t get is why a professional photographer would be paying a few hundred dollars to visit a place that is only an hours drive from where they live. Exploration and discovery are two of the greatest things about shooting landscapes. A great part of the joy that I get from photography is discovering new places. Even when you revisit the same place it often times looks completely different than when the light was right. Ocassionally I get an email asking me EXACTLY where I took a photo and every single time I reply that I won’t give directions. First it’s not right to give directions to someones private property and second visit that place and it won’t look the same as when I shot it. I revisit the same places over and over again over the years. One day a corner might look like it’s from a movie set and the next twenty times, blech.

Back to the photo forum. A big part of learning photography is by doing it on your own. You can’t have someone holding your hand throughout the whole process from composing to processing. If you never had your training wheels removed from your bicycle when you were learning to ride, you’d never get beyond that. There’s a risk that you incur when those wheels come off. You’re no longer reliant on mom or dad to hold you up. That’s what I felt when I saw this professional photographers pic. Time to lose those wheels buddy. It’s time to cut those apron strings. You’re not going to improve when mom or dad is taking you out in the country and holding your camera for you.

Enjoy the rest of the long weekend safely. Monday morning looks like it might be great here. Fingers crossed.

Happy shooting,


ps. about the photo, it was taken about fifteen minutes after sunset. The colors are natural. Sometimes after the sun sets, the colors will be dull and boring going heavily to the blues and cyans. On this particular evening there was lots and lots of magenta in the sky. Looking towards the sun wasn’t nearly as interesting as looking away from it. It’s usually the other way around.

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~ by Dan Jurak on September 2, 2012.

6 Responses to “Losing your training wheels… cutting the apron strings”

  1. I think you give enough clues on locations…..that you take the back roads during sunrise and sunset hours. That was be more than enough for me to explore.

  2. @ Ravi, the whole idea of giving directions to a place that I photographed is pointless. Most people miss that. If it was all about location, I would only be taking photos when I visited the national parks. There are those like want to be spoon fed and have their hands held. That might be okay for toddlers but for adults? Naaah. I don’t think so.

  3. I agree Dan. I have a place near me, a river and a bridge with a large marshy area that looks west. everyday that scene is different, it is never the same twice. I have many shots from there, all looking different.

  4. Geez, hoping to go to a specific location and have some expectation to get the same-like shot? Sure, find a spot and shoot it year around. Nothing will be the same when it comes to lighting, etc.

  5. @ David, that’s it exactly. It’s never the same twice. It’s all about when and not where.

  6. @ Rick, yup, no two days are exactly alike.

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