10 Things Photographers and Artists Should Consider

I don’t usually do lists, but as I was working on a project and reading at the same time, this popped into my head. I’ve left off explanations for some and used minimal explanation for others. You should fill in your own blanks (that could be #11 or #12).

1. Explore: internally (introspection) and externally (exteroception)
2. Experiment: Don’t follow convention (for too long). Blaze your own trail
3. Challenge yourself mentally and physically: Don’t bite off more than you can chew – work in increments you can accomplish yet have a need to push yourself beyond current limits
4. Challenge your skills
5. Share your progress in a way that is informative and interesting but not self-serving or bragging
6. Don’t care what others think about what you do or how you do it. They are not you and you are not them. You are you. Do what you love, create what you love
7. Set goals (see #3 & #4) but be flexible in how, when, and if you reach them. Don’t be afraid to coast, regain your bearings or your balance or to reassess and change course. They’re your goals, they don’t belong to anyone else
8. Don’t be afraid
9. Seek knowledge and experience wherever it can be found, in all areas. You never know when one thing will connect with another in an amazing way
10. Have fun

Ok, here’s an 11

11. Be a friend to other artists

Don’t Be A Dilettante

There has been and continues to be talk about how the professional photography industry has been “overrun” with amateurs, flooding the market with photographs and driving down photographer income. This is only one part of the phenomenon. Three main elements are 1) technology which allows nearly anyone to make a well-exposed and, if they are competent, a well-composed photograph, 2) the capability to distribute photographs worldwide for almost no cost, and 3) buyers who enjoy increased profits from lower fees paid to individuals who have very little or no knowledge of the photography industry or how to price their work accordingly to make a reasonable profit.

You could distinguish amateur from professional based on a wide range of criteria. Some amateurs are very competent and in many ways operate similar to a professional while others have really no clue or care what they are doing.

One critical factor that separates amateur from pro is commitment. Commitment to stick it through the tough times, to understand the industry, to build relationships with clients, to maintain a certain level of technical and creative skill, to use ethical and moral business practices, to help others become better professionals.

Another term for an amateur who isn’t committed is dilettante, an Italian word which in its first usage referred to a person who loved art. But today, the term is more negative, describing a person who engages in non-serious dabbling within a presumably serious field and is ill-equipped (or actually has no intention or desire) to meet the minimum standards of that field, study, or practice. One of my pet peeves is hearing someone tell me “I don’t want to be a professional” when we’re talking about pricing work. That’s the sign of a dilettante. They’re happy to make a little money from their efforts, but not committed enough to take it further – to learn about the business side of things, to help themselves make more money, for one thing. You don’t have to be a “professional” to act like one and just because you don’t intend photography to be your career doesn’t mean you must give away your work for free (or nearly so) or not understand copyright or how contracts work. Meeting the minimum standards (and in photography, the minimums are fairly reasonable to meet) would help boost the industry, help raise the “standard of living” of photographers across the board.

I wouldn’t presume to call myself an auto mechanic because I have a complete set of tools and know how to replace an alternator belt, and if I did I’m sure auto mechanics across the nation would scoff. I might make a decent pizza dough or cornbread, but I’m no baker. I painted landscapes and abstracts a lot when I was younger, but I don’t claim to be a painter.

I’ve been making photographs since I was young. I don’t have an art degree, but I’ve been a full-time photographer for 15 years and part-time for 6 years before that. I study copyright law and business methods even though it’s not my favorite thing. I’d much rather be out photographing. I’m a member of professional organizations and become involved in their operation, though I’d much rather be out photographing. I spend hours on the computer processing photographs, keywording, uploading to galleries, creating marketing materials, creating invoices, chasing invoices, calling and emailing clients, even though I would really much rather be out photographing. I attend professional education programs and continue to learn online and from others so I can maintain and improve my skill level (this I enjoy, even though I would still rather be out photographing).

I have a college degree and graduate education in wildlife biology and ecology. I worked in that field for over 10 years. I still mention that in my bio and casual conversation because it helps inform others about my background, but I don’t call myself a wildlife biologist anymore because my commitment to that field is much less than it was when I was actively conducting research, working in that field and getting paid for it according to the standards in that industry.

When I was working as a wildlife biologist, people would be envious of my job when I mentioned what I did. They had a romantic ideal of what it was like to be a biologist, imagining how beautiful it was to be “in Nature”, sitting beside gurgling streams or contemplating existence on a mountain top, handling cuddly animals, or having the pick of hunting and fishing spots. Sure, those times happened and it was incredible when it did. But, that was in between days of fighting off mosquito attacks, avoiding sunstroke or hypothermia, getting drenched in freezing downpours, digging a stuck vehicle out of the mud, dealing with the politics of government and private agencies and organizations, egos of co-workers and supervisors, writing reports, writing grants, filling out job applications, packing and unpacking.

The same applies when I tell people I’m a photographer. They imagine the romantic National Geographic travel photographer roaming the world seeing beautiful places, meeting new people, having an ongoing vacation. Yes, that happens, and when it does it’s magical (I’m not a National Geographic photographer – but for an ideao f what it’s like check out this short video about NatGeo photographer Joel Sartore, and his full length video called “At Close Range”). Most of the time, it’s simply work, background stuff. Especially these days when I’m doing all my own marketing, image processing, accounting, doing shows, in addition to being in the field shooting.

Being a professional is not about how much you spent on equipment. It’s not about your level of education, how much you charge, whether you are full time or part time, if you have a studio or work out of your house, although these things can contribute to the appearance of professionalism. It’s the level of commitment you choose which meets or exceeds the minimum standards for whatever industry/career you’re in.

If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, go out and sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures. Sweep streets like Handel and Beethoven composed music. Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say, here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

Scotland : Senses & Perception, Round 2

My Kickstarter campaign is coming to a close on Monday morning. I’m about 1/3 funded, but if it’s not 100% at 11:00am Monday, unless there’s a furious and exciting rally this weekend, it won’t matter. I’ve set it up as an all-or-nothing campaign.

But, here’s round 2:

A day ago I launched a campaign on Indiegogo.com so it will be available once this campaign ends. I set it up using their flexible funding option which means I will receive whatever funds are submitted. It’s not all-or-nothing. I’ve reduced the funding goal and the number of reward levels to reflect the popularity of reward levels for this campaign. The items in each reward have not changed. If you’ve contributed to Kickstarter at a certain level, that level and reward (perk) is also on Indiegogo and you can choose it again.

When the kickstarter campaign ends on Monday, if you would like to continue to support this project, you can go to the Indiegogo campaign and renew your pledge at the level you would like and it will take effect. It’s also set up to be able to go over the $3000 goal. If that happens, the same upgrades apply – better paper, more pages, larger format book, depending on the amount over the goal. The deadline for that project is April 28. I’d like to point out that you will need to click on the perk level to “officially” contribute at that level and so I know which perks to create for you. There is a “Contribute Now” field at the top where you can contribute any amount, but that contribution is not associated with any perk items.

When you contribute to the campaign on Indiegogo, you can use a credit card through the gateway, Apple Pay (US card holders only) or PayPal (you can use the Guest checkout to avoid needing a PayPal account), or your PayPal balance. Your credit card or PayPal account will be charged immediately after you complete the checkout process, not at the end of the campaign.
I don’t want you to go there now if you’ve already pledged on Kickstarter, just in case there is a rally. I really don’t want you to be charged twice. So, wait until Monday after 12:00 to make any contributions at Indiegogo. Though I think you can cancel your pledge on Kickstarter prior to the end of the campaign if you want to make the leap earlier.

A second option is to directly contribute to the project through PayPal. This avoids the processing fee Indiegogo charges so your contribution is maximized. My PayPal account name is man@blueplanetphoto.com. If you choose that option, please indicate your contribution is for Scotland and what reward level when you check out. I also recommend waiting for this direct contribution until after noon on Monday. Just in case.

Whichever option you choose, I thank you for your continued support.

Scotland : Senses & Perception Kickstarter Project

Today I launched a Kickstarter project to create a photo book (and other rewards) about how our senses & perceptions influence our photography and art (not just for photographers), showcasing the stunning and mysterious landscape of Scotland, which I’ll be visiting this summer.

Rewards for backing this project range from postcards mailed from Scotland, photographic prints, one-on-one photography instruction time with me, an 80+ page signed and numbered limited edition hardcover book, to a 4-day Idaho photo trip.

Please have a look at the project and support it if you can, at whatever level. If you can pass it on to your friends and any others who would be interested, I would appreciate it. Thank you!

Project Backers to date

A thank you to the supporters of this project. Unfortunately, it did not get fully funded. I initiated a second round at Indiegogo.com, and set it up to receive all funds contributed. I’ve detailed that effort in another post.

Steve
Michael Rolig
Barbara McClain
James Bishop
Betty and Ken Rodgers
David Young
Robert Vestal and Jyl Hoyt
Ben and Marcia Cartledge
Michael D. Margulies
Linda Lantzy
Marcia Morris
Bader Alawadhi
Diane Ronayne
Shari Hart
James R Cummins
Connie Gibbons
Kathleen Fitzgerald
Clarence H King III
Leslie & Gary Green

Free tablet case with Think Tank Photo backpack

Great news from our partners at Think Tank Photo. For the month of February, whenever you order one of Think Tank Photo’s rugged, multifunction, and secure backpacks* they will give you for free your choice of one of their popular AppHouse 8 or AppHouse 10 tablet cases. Think Tank Photo backpacks range from the field-oriented StreetWalker backpacks to their transportation-oriented Airport backpacks, as well as the expandable Shape Shifter and “long glass” backpacks. The AppHouse shoulder/belt-mounted tablet bags are a great way to carry a digital portfolio or presentation, transmit images, or access your music, games, apps and more. And don’t forget, as a friend, whenever you order $50 or more of any Think Tank gear using my special link you can add yet one more free item to your order, as well as free shipping! To receive your free AppHouse tablet case, follow the rebate download instructions on the backpacks’ product pages. [*Note: this special offer does not apply to Perception backpacks.]

Go HERE to make your purchase.

Purchase link http://www.thinktankphoto.com/categories/camera-backpacks.aspx?code=WS-743

Purchase link http://www.thinktankphoto.com/categories/camera-backpacks.aspx?code=WS-743

February – May Workshops

This is the year to dive deep into your creative process, to explore and discover what makes you tick and what excites you as a photographer. 2015 is the Year of Why. I’ll be offering a series of what I call Why Workshops where we’ll explore how we use our senses to be more aware of and find meaningful subjects to photograph, how our senses and perception affect what and how we photograph, and what it is about us as individuals that inspires us to create what we do. Join me for one or more of these workshops for February – May. More information and registration on my Workshops page:

Practical Smartphone Photography
January 31
February 9
February 21

Basic Photoshop & Bridge
February 6

Senses & Perception: Portland, OR
March 6 – 8

Central Oregon Coast Workshop
April 14 – 21

Senses & Perception: Oregon Coast
April 22 – 24

Senses & Perception: Columbia River Gorge, OR
April 25 – 27

Senses & Perception: McCall, ID
May 8 – 10

Fall 2015

Scotland: Isle of Skye & Highlands
October 5 – 17

February and March (partial) Photography Class Schedule

Here is my upcoming February class schedule and a partial listing for March. All classes unless otherwise Click on the class title to go to the registration page (will open in a new window).

Basic Camera Operation (2 hrs)
February 4, 6:30 – 8:30 pm
February 13, 2:00 – 4:00 pm
February 21, 9:00 – 11:00 am

Photo 101 (8 hrs)
January 7 – 28, 6:30 – 8:30 pm
February 3 – 24, 6:30 – 8:30 pm
February 4 – 25, 1:00 – 3:00 pm
March 4 – 25, 6:30 – 8:30 pm

Composition 101 (5 hrs)
January 15 – 29, 6:30 – 8:30 pm

Before You Buy (2 hrs)
February 4, 9:00 – 11:00 am

Before You Buy & Equipment and Accessories Combo (4 hours)
February 4, 9:00 – 11:00 am Before You Buy
February 4, 11:00 am – 1:00 pm Equipment and Accessories

Equipment and Accessories (2 hrs)
February 4, 11:00 am – 1:00 pm

The Exposure Equation (2 hrs)
February 11, 9:00 – 11:00 am
February 13, 9:00 – 11:00 am

Light & the Light Meter (2 hrs)
February 11, 6:30 – 8:30 pm

Your Cost of Doing Business (2 hrs)
February 7, 1:00 – 3:00 pm

Copyright (2 hrs)
February 18, 6:30 – 8:30 pm

Personal Digital Workflow (2 hrs)
February 7, 9:00 – 11:00 am
February 21, 1:00 – 3:00 pm

Domain Names for Sale on eBay

I have several photography-related and business-related domains I’m selling on eBay. Here they are. Click on the domain name to go to the auction page.

cowboystockphotography.com
cowboystockimages.com
cowboystockphoto.com

idahoinabottle.com

Four Domain Bundle includes alternates and misspellings (bragging page & braggin page)
braggingpage.com
bragginpage.com
braggingpages.com
braggingpages.com

Two Domain Bundle
flashsolo.com & flash-solo.com

Class Schedule for January/February 2015

Here is the list of schedule classes for January and February, 2015. If class times or dates are not convenient to you, One-on-One sessions are always available. Classes are typically held in Boise, ID, at Brown Mackie College at Overland and Maple Grove. Other classroom locations, such as coffee shops and outdoor venues, are used as appropriate. Locations for One-on-One sessions are determined based on the needs of the instruction.

Before You Buy (2 hrs)
January 12

Basic Camera Operation (2 hrs)
January 10
January 13
January 19

Photo 101 (8 hrs)
Jan 7 – 28
February 3 – 24

Composition 101 (6 hrs)
Jan 15 – 29

Exposure Equation module (2 hrs)
Jan 8
Jan 14

Aperture & Shutter Speed
module (2 hrs)
Jan 20

Light & the Light Meter module (2 hrs)
Feb 10