I enjoy reading photography blogs and related publications, with many serving as excellent sources of inspiration and thought-provoking ideas that I use to help shape and inform my own work. The following six articles have stood out over the last few weeks in their discussion of important topics for landscape photographers. One thread that weaves many of these selections together is the question of motivation and what drives a photographer in their work, business practices, and public persona - something I have been trying to figure out for myself recently. I encourage you to take some time to explore the ideas discussed below.
Art in Times of Click Baiting by Guy Tal
With our decision to buy an Airstream trailer and travel throughout North America on a part-time basis for the foreseeable future, I also made the decision to take building our photography business much more seriously. With this transition, I have been spending a lot of time trying to figure out a business model that is both viable and in line with my personality and values. I keep coming back to this basic question - is is possible to start and grow a photography business today without being a slave to social media, sharing every update about our current adventure, and becoming little more than a shill for sponsors? At this point, I am trying to take a balanced approach by embracing the positives of the Internet (ability to easily connect with others and the joys of self-publishing) while leaving the negatives behind (over-sharing, spending too much time living online, and striving to be popular at the expense of more important things). This post by Guy Tal gets to the heart of this dilemma and I appreciate his encouragement away from the dominant practices in the field of outdoor photography today.
While I occasionally find inspiration on the site, I generally find the 500px model of photography consumption to be problematic. Since the site promotes competition and popularity above anything else, conformity to the prevailing style is rewarded - a model that serves as the antithesis of creativity and personal expression in many ways. This blog post does a good job of discussing these issues, with some thoughtful insights in the comments as well.
Why Your Instagram Nature Shot is Breaking the Law by Grayson Schaffer
I almost always enjoy Grayson Schaffer's writing in Outside Magazine (except for the time he nonsensically encouraged photographers to stop taking vertical images). This article is an interesting and detailed look at some of the legal issues arising from the murky line between personal, commercial, and editorial photographs taken on public lands. Since some of the more popular Instagrammers with large followings seem inclined to flout the rules for access, resource protection, and permitting to get a photograph, land managers are cracking down and their decisions could affect a much wider range of photographers. (Don't let the title fool you, as the article is much more than a discussion about Instagram.)
Environmental Conservation: The World Needs More Nature Photographers with Environmental and Natural History Backgrounds by William Neill
I recently saw a quote saying something like this: the landscape photography community would be a better place if the stories we tell about our photographs focused on the places we photograph instead of on the photographer. This post from William Neill explains some of the reasons why a deeper understanding and commitment to the natural world can translate into more meaningful photography, both on the personal level and in terms of conserving special places.
The Beautiful Gift of Outmoded Non-Art by Royce Howland
In this three-part series on his blog, Royce Howland takes a thoughtful look at one of the loudest and nastiest reactions to Peter Lik's recent $6.5 million sale of a photograph of Antelope Canyon (I talk a little about the sale and the reaction in this post). Royce's posts discuss some of the divergent views on photography as art and the topic of originality in an accessible way (a rarity in discussions about these topics). I recommend this series of posts especially for newer photographers who are working through some of these questions about their own work.
How to Shade Your Lens by Michael Frye
Since all of the above posts are about ideas, I will finish up this list with something practical. As Michael Frye discusses in this helpful tutorial about shading your lens, photographing backlit scenes can be very challenging but rewarding when it works out. He offers some very practical and helpful tips on field techniques for dealing with lens flare when photographing into the sun.
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