Monday, January 18, 2010

Shoot Lots and Shoot Often

For the longest time I was afraid of my camera.  Six years ago, (man how time flies!) I achieved a fair bit of attention for my OCAD thesis project.  I was published in the Applied Arts Photography and Illustration Annual and was asked to join the roster of a prominent commercial gallery in the city (with the assumption that I would be producing more work).  After that I developed a block.  A fear of never being able to top my best and most successful work to date.  Maybe this was a little too early in my career to mentally crap out but I'm glad it happened then and not now.  I spent those six years working closely with and learning from other photographers as an assistant and a producer.  In the six years I only picked up my camera a handful of times despite all the support and encouragement I was given by family, friends, photographers I was working/meeting with and even the odd photo editor/art director.  I was constantly getting in my own way, finding reasons why I wasn't able to shoot and never bringing my camera with me.  I even managed to "forget" my point and shoot when I went to any event that may require me to fire off a few happy snaps.  It sounds crazy but I was a photographer who was terrified of shooting.  The biggest thing for me was that I was afraid of taking a bad photo and especially afraid that someone might see it and I would 'never work in this town again'.

Fast forward to about three months ago:
As wacky as it sounds my iphone is what has resurrected the prospect of and my drive to have a career as a photographer.  The little crappy camera in my iphone has jump started the inspiration center in my brain.  By having an iphone I was instantly forced to carry a camera with me at all times.  When I started following Chase Jarvis and using his Best Camera app (which I mentioned briefly in a previous post and I'm sure will mention again) I began shooting A LOT.  Taking crappy photos (or decent ones that looked like crap) on my phone lessened the stress of having to produce the perfect image every time.  After all, how good could a camera phone pic be anyway?  The piles of camera phone photos were fun but sometimes I would shoot something that really had potential to be great and the resolution/quality was obviously not enough.  This led me to begin carrying my real camera around with me (not every day but a lot).  All thanks to my iphone, my passion has been reignited and I am proud to report that I am snap happy again.  I've got a notebook filling with ideas faster than I can shoot them.

Even now the fear still lingers but I'm learning to say 'fuck it' and pick up my camera.  I'm still not completely comfortable with the prospect of taking shitty photos but I know the more I shoot the better I will become.  Not everything I put onto film (well, mostly pixels) is going to be portfolio worthy and I'm learning to be ok with that.

This has become something that is constantly on my mind and it seems as though it's on the mind of others as well.  Heather Morton's recent post has generated a great little discussion on her blog.  I absolutely agree with her when she says that photographers need to:

Shoot everyday.
Shoot everything.
Shoot all the time.'

With that I'll leave you with a couple iphone shots of a delicious middle eastern meal my mom and I shared last week.

Happy Shooting!


  1. You've diagnosed what's going on in my creative world. Thank you for your words.

  2. Awesome post.
    I've lived a happy life full of failed attempts at things, and I'm still keeping on.
    Glad you've found your muse again.

  3. In Hebrew we say "הפחד משתק" [fear disables you]

    Happy to see more iPhone produced hummus shots...

  4. Someone once told me that to be a great writer one must read a lot. You must be influenced by others and your writing will improve by simply picking up the writing tools they use. I feel that concept transfers over to art as well. You may not be producing right now but it seems you have done a lot of absorbing. Keep looking at art when you get down about making it….and don’t be afraid to take a bad photo….it happens.