Why So Quiet?



Note: This is a post that can also be seen on my official site, which can be found HERE.


Look, I’m getting older (so are you, shut up).  But, in my experience, the older I get the more I need (WANT) to concentrate on what’s important. With that in mind, I’ve spent the last several months pulling together my sh- act, and my images. I’ve often referred to myself as a “digital hoarder”.  That’s not a lie: Drives and drives of images (the ones I didn’t lose to the Epic Electronic Meltdown of 2011).  Honestly, I don’t even know what I have.  But, I managed to pull together a portfolio and apply for the “pro” designation on a forum that I’ve been a member of for three years.  And?  I did it.  A group of 150 images passed the test, and I am now considered a CMpro.

Why did it take so long?

Man, you are nosy (and a little judgmental, if I do say so).  But, since you asked: It was important to me that my work was genuine. That the standard that I set for myself and my images was nothing short of “authentic”. Figuring out what those things mean takes a lot of time, and it’s likely to mean vastly different things to each individual. After I received my notification (the one that said, “yeah, this’ll do”), I started to put together some thoughts.  I’m going to re-share them here with the hope that, no matter the goal, if you endeavor to achieve it, it IS possible. I’ll refrain from posting the nuances of my score because it’s possible you might not care (gasp). However, my overall ranking was as follows: Experienced: . . . In general the images found in an experienced portfolio demonstrate clear vision, purpose, and style and frequently elicit an emotional response from the viewer. These images are widely regarded, by both layperson and other photographers, as better than average in every way.

And, that’s cool, but I’ve got advice (always), and it is this:

If I had one piece of advice for anyone applying: Your voice matters. Please, make sure you represent your voice in your set — not what you think others want or expect to see. Your voice matters (it bears repeating).

If I had a second piece of advice: Please don’t feel limited.

Not by gear: Of my set, 103 were taken on a crop sensor Of my set, 132 were taken with a lens that was non-L (the overwhelming majority of my images came from kit lenses, third-party manufacturer lenses, hand-me-down lenses; all the lenses deserve consideration) Of my set, 5 were taken with an iPhone (not even the newest model. . . I used a 4s) Equipment is the smallest portion of the puzzle.

Not by subject matter: Of my set, 0 images are of my dog. Of my set, 0 pictures are of my kids (I love them, but they didn’t make the cut for this set — maybe next time, kids! ). Of my set, only 2 pictures are of me or someone I’m related to. Otherwise, if it’s a human, the human is a stranger. I’m not mentioning this because I think you should stop taking pictures of your pets, or your kids, or people you know, or of any single or collective thing. What I AM saying is that your set (and the images that make up your set) should be what YOU do — not what you think is “required” to fit into pro. Don’t have kids? No worries. Don’t have a dog? That makes me sad, but still, it’s not a problem. Do what YOU do. Do it boldly. But, know *why* you’re doing it.

Not by whether you don’t feel fast enough at any of this. This is my first time applying, but I’ve been working on my set for 3 years — sometimes a lot, sometimes a little, but overall? Slow and steady. Sometimes time and distance nurture the best outcomes.

 Not by whether you think your editing is what others are looking for. Does your editing suit the image and subject matter? Does it enhance your message? Those are the things that matter. Chase the story, not the edit.

Not by any who/what/when/where/why/how/thing. Choose what feels right for you and your set. That’s it — that should be your single, self-imposed limitation.

My final piece of advice: Seek truth and candor, not positivity. Honesty doesn’t have to feel bad. It shouldn’t be something we all avoid for fear that it will tear us down and we won’t recover. We are not that fragile. It should be an experience that we build upon; one that motivates us onward and upward — and one that requires an open mind. Invest the time in determining who has the strength to tell you where you can do better. Invest the time to listen to them. But, ultimately, you have to decide what’s right for you. Listen to yourself most and loudest — and, part of that internal voice requires that you make an investment in yourself; ensure that you’ve done your part (with heavy emphasis on truth and candor).

And, for you, dear reader: This is not strictly about this one slice of my (or anyone’s) life – it is bigger than one genre, goal or achievement.

If you want it: Seek it, find it. Do it your way.


Note: For anyone who’s a member of CM, you can find my thread HERE.

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