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If You Gonna Play, Then Be Prepared to Blow: Got Game?

We spend our lives waiting for the moment to shine. Sadly, we most often “rust unburnish’d” from a lack of use, because people wait for the right moment when the universe aligns and calls them to the stage. Have you ever seen anyone called to the stage who has not been on stage before, who has not tossed caution to the wind and risked everything? Neither have I.

Photography is like that for me. I practice and practice. Nothing comes easily and I pay my own ride. But that is not the hard part; the hard part is being ready for the first real opportunity you find to get on the stage and blow. If you go too early, then you may not be able to handle the changes, but if you hold back for an invite, then you may end up going home in regret.

For the past four months I have been at home rethinking the craft of photography and reflecting on how to up my game for the big show. For the previous three years I had been killing myself trying to work a demanding day job while working as a commercial photographer at night. Then…I decided to walk away from the stage and practice the skills that I felt would make my work stand out from the million other professionals who got game. The last thing I wanted to do was to turn my work into a repetitive job that might make money, but was mechanical and served no other purpose. Dexter Gordon did this, and he survived jazz.

So what does it take to be a pro photographer? One look at National Geographic‘s Photo of the Day page shows you who can play and what the level of commitment needs to be when you are trying to get the attention of an audience who has been overwhelmed with brilliant [and terrible] photography. For my own part, I have been considering analogue as a way forward; I have also been considering the best of the best digital formats. I have thought a lot about what my style is, and what I want it to be; do I want style or a voice/vision? I have practiced using the Canon 50mm f.1.2 lens exclusively for the past two months to try to master shallow depth of fields, and I bought V. a lens kit of Mamiya M645 manual lenses [55mm, 80mm and 150mm]for Christmas to enable her to find her own voice and to become a force in her own right. A change is coming fast; I can feel it.

On a side note…I have been reading my send Dickens novel, Great Expectations, this week and I have to admit that I am really enjoying it. On a Kobo eReader I find the pace of Dickens changes and he is perfect for morning commutes when the person next to you is listening to Techno at 7am. I have started this novel four times before and this is the first time I have made it past the first chapter. So for all of its downfalls, the digital revolution does have some benefits. Still, I have hard copies for when the format becomes obsolete…and it will.

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