2.28.2011

More stuff from the ancient Texas town.


"If only I had a __________ I could take photos like ___________ and my career would explode like an aerosol can in a campfire!!!"  I hear it all the time.  Photographers seem so convinced that the big block between them and the holy grail of photography is that lousy camera they're stuck with.  I like the image above.  I took it in a dusty room with some light coming thru a dirty little window right behind me.  But I forgot to bring my treasure chest full of Nikon Speedlights, ala Joe McNally.  I forgot my 8x10 view camera, ala Dan Winter.  Most painful,  I neglected to bring my busload of assistants and groupies, ala Chase Jarvis.  Nope.  I managed to pull this off with a six year old, eight megapixel camera and a 50mm lens.  To make matters worst,  I shot it in the Jpeg mode.


Am I saying that these fun, casual images are in the same league as the "amazing" images my better known colleagues are shooting?  That's hard to say.  Because lately everything I see leaves me a little ho-hum-ish.  I think I've seen Joe and David rim light just about enough stuff with little flashes and sponsor reflectors.  I've never been able to pick Chase's stuff out of a line up of other quasi sport/quasi catalog shooters' stuff and I haven't seen as much from Dan Winters as I used to.  Not sure about his adaptation to digital yet.......time will tell.

But I will say that for the past few months the gear seems so secondary to me.  Yes, I still love the lenses and yes,  I'm still "academically" interested in the latest cameras from everybody but.....when it comes to actually loading up some spicy Lexar or Sandisk and heading out to freeze some photons it really doesn't matter what I grab.  I like shooting all of it.


I know this will seem like an odd confession; afterall, I've been shooting photos for nearly thirty years but I have to say that this year is the first time I can remember thoroughly liking all of my photographic work.  I like the way it looks and I like the way it feels and I like the process of creating it.  I could never look at a portfolio before without cringing a little on the inside, but now?  I see fun stuff in the finished images.  I see little details and little tones that make me feel happy when I rediscover them.  




Does this mean I've lost my critical faculties?  Does this mean I've ruptured my humility gland and replaced it with pompous self love?  Hardly.  I know that my work could be better done.  Better seen, better post processed and better cultivated.  But I've come to the gut level realization that it's just not about perfection and there are no absolutes in art.  There's no grading scale, as much as the inhabitants of DPReview crave one.  There's no hierarchy of good, better, best in the creation of a personal vision....as much as the Flickerati would love one.  I've just become comfortable with the idea that I look at things the way I like to look at them and everyone else looks at stuff and shoots it in a different way than me.  And that's okay.


In the end it's all about making yourself happy.  If you shoot for a different audience,  if you shoot for your mom's approval, or to impress the guys in the camera club, or because you think you should shoot in a style that the silly-ass consultants say is most popular with the art buyers then.....you've already lost.  Because you'll be chasing the same things as the hundred thousand other photographers in your sphere.  It's only by doing it your way that you really win.  Because in the end you can't know what's in anyone else's head.  You might as well fill yours with fun.  Viva old cameras and 50mm lenses.  And 35mm lenses and 85mm lenses.  Viva the process of shooting for fun.

23 comments:

Nikhil Ramkarran said...

Reading your blog for a few months now I've come to know and appreciate your outspoken style. But I have to say, rarely have you hit a chord with me as you've done today.

I am the greenest of green, the newest of newbies and don't dare say (or even think too hard) the things you've expressed here. But I do hope, in 20 years or so, I will be able to. A comfort with myself and my photography to aim for. Thanks.

Greg Roberts said...

I am just a photo hobbyist, but I keep running into people who say I should be trying to somehow monetize my photography. That is not why I take pictures, I take pictures, because as you just said, "In the end it's all about making yourself happy."

Kirk, both of your posts today have been excellent!

nick said...

Here here!

Anonymous said...

If I only had a__ model as beautiful as yours, I could....

;-)

Bill Millios said...

Can we get a chorus of "amen"s?

:^)

kirk tuck said...

Anonymous, I've traveled all over the place and there are beautiful people running rampant in every corner of the globe. You need only ask or provide a compelling exchange to enlist the owners of this transient beauty. It's there. It's here. It's everywhere.

Anonymous said...

AMEN! *breaks out the Tennessee southern accent for that one*

- Elizabeth Councill

John Taylor said...

Amen! lol! i love your rants and Flickerati is just delicious… by the way nice portraits for "old and musty" work

Wolfgang Lonien said...

Hallelujah - and thanks for sharing this again Kirk. I love these back-to-the-roots stories and thoughts and photos, and you're absolutely right:

Tho Selena is gorgeous, you could take the same with Belinda. Or with Ben. Or any other person you'd like. It's also the ability of the photographer to connect with the person in front of the camera. Or with any subject matter maybe.

Maybe it's a full circle, and we come back to what we really love to do. Today, I'd be happy with just a 35 and an 85mm. And maybe a 50mm.

Oh, and by the way: I've met and talked to Joe, and he's a great guy. Did and does a great job for his NatGeo and Time and whatever clientel. But when it comes to portraits, I'd ask and hire you in an instant, without thinking twice.

Waiting for your new book...

cheers,
Wolfgang

Anonymous said...

What I hate about genius photographers who make it look so easy (and with such basic gear!) is how bad they make the rest of us look.

SS Buchanan said...

Jeez you whinge a lot, Kirk :)

kirk tuck said...

Maybe people don't whinge enough..... Seriously, why do we put up with so much dumb crap?

Bold Photography said...

Kirk,

while I can still have the occasional urge to do something really, really bad to my wallet (like buy a 500mm Canon prime), posts like this really met me come back from the cliff, and drive home what really matters...

This post also drives home other thoughts, including 'the photo can represent the state of mind of the photographer' ... I've been told that my own state of mind can be made visible throughout my own photography, and when I think about it - that's true! I look forward to doing more study into the world of 'calm' portraiture (both in the world of humans and bugs).

Box of Frogs said...

Kirk, I may not always agree with what you write but I read everything you write. Why? You express 'stuff' differently> What I particularly like about anything you write is that you come across as honest. A writer, a sharer of thoughts that is about that, sharing a thought - your take on the world rather than much of what gets published elsewhere.

The elsewhere stuff seems filled with the 'look at me I'm great' type of sentences. I am of course brushing most everyone with that tar and I apologise for that, for it's bound to be wide of the mark.

Anywhoooo...glad to see you're still posting often even though you stated the posts were going to slow down.

And finally, looking forward to your next book.

My best wishes to you and yours.

Paul

Danny Chatham said...

Kirk,I have no doubt that you just expressed what many,even most photographers know but dont
have the guts to admit,the vast majority of even
seasoned professionals could not tell the difference between a Leica(and yes ive owned several and know how to use them)and Olympus pen photograph
if you held a gun on them!Keep telling it like it is!

Rick Dickinson said...

Ok, Kirk, now what we need to do is get you to show up at the Flash Bus stops, and teach David and Joe how to get that connection with their subjects (while they're busy lighting them eight ways to Sunday).

Ken Norton - Image 66 Media said...

Hey, wait a second! Those were taken with a Crop-sensor camera?

:)

Ken
zone-10

kirk tuck said...

All but the last two. An old, 8 meg, cropped sensor....

Anonymous said...

Dang. I wanted to say that about the guys on the bus. All hat/no horse. They know how to "take" the photo but do they know how to connect????

Dave Jenkins said...

They do seem to know how to connect with the money...

Anonymous said...

Kirk uses old irrelevant camera shock! :)

Really enjoyed these last 2 blogs Kirk, straight from the hip (as always of course!) and common sense reality. We could all shoot wild colour + HDR of boring subjects to please the Flickerati but what's the point as you say? Gotta make yourself happy and that is the key.

Recently I've trodden off that track and all it did was make me frustrated and angry. Going out on a photo walk today and (unlike Monday!) all I'm taking is the trusty M6 & 50mm and if I don't see what I want to see I'll just enjoy the walk for what it is and refuse to beat myself up for not having any "great" shots in the can.

Yours - "Unchained". :)

Jessica said...

She is gorgeous. I'd shoot her with any lens that happened to be close by. (Although I'd hope it wasn't a fisheye.)

And as usual I completely agree. Can't say much more than that.

Skip Hunt said...

Excellent posting! I recently returned from backpacking in Mexico and wanted to see what I could do with only an iPhone 4 for shooting, editing, and uploading. It won't replace my dSLR, etc. but I was pleasantly surprised: http://www.kaleidoscopeofcolor.com/galleria/mexico-2011-winter/

I hear ya on the better know togg work sort of all blending together.