- Top 10 Lists from "Pros." Oh, who among us has never heard the expression, "All of the pros...." followed by some useless drivel. All of the pros shoot Nikon. All of the pros vacation in Bimini. All of the pros take speedlights and shove them up...you get the idea. There is no such thing as "All of the pros" because "all" of the pros don't do the same thing. These "Top 10" lists going around the Internet? You know, like "Top 10 Ways You Can Become a Professional," or some such things. Most of that is hogwash. Pure, unadulterated hogwash, I tell you. Don't believe the hype and don't believe anything that says, "All of the Pros" because there is no "All." It's not like they have some sort of secret cabal that voted and left you out, OK? They just do what works and leave the rest.
- Prints. PRINT YOUR WORK! There I shouted it. Are you listening yet? Do I need to do it again? Ugh! Get a printer. Find a printer. Use a printer. Just print. You listened when Nike said "Just Do It!" so why not "Just Print!" Trust me, it's a good idea and it works.
- Technology. I'm so over it, it's not even funny anymore. You can get hogtied in all sorts of crap and never get anywhere. Trust me, your USB is fine. You don't need version x.x of whatever. It's a necessary evil, I'll give you that, and who doesn't like shiny new things but, honestly, technology doesn't make great pictures. Great photographers make great pictures. Great images come from the heart. Technology helps at best but can sometimes actually get in the way so be warned.
- Business cards. What is it about photographers who spend $3000 on a camera but who are too cheap to drop a dime on a nicely designed business card? Are you really that dense? Do I have to spell it out for you? You can get cheap cards at someplace like Moo.com or Vistaprint. They don't cost that much and direct tons of traffic to your website. Really, they work. There's a reason people still use them, even after all these years. Get some already! Part of being a photographer is hustling, getting out there, putting yourself out there, always pushing, always striving, and having some common sense in the business side of things. Really, you need to just do that already.
- Calling yourself a "photographer" or, gasp, an "artist." Newsflash: photographers ARE artists. If you're walking around with a camera taking pictures, you are a photographer and, by golly, that makes you an artist too. If you were a doctor, a lawyer, an Indian chief, would you hesitate to call yourself one of those things? Why is this so complicated? You're a photographer, you're an artist. Get over yourself. Just because you call yourself an artist because, oh I'm don't know, you spend some time making art, doesn't mean you have some giant ego. It doesn't make you Michelangelo either, although, horror of horrors, he was an artist too. It works like that, there's more than one. Who knew? Cut the nonsense and call yourself an artist already. What a big, grown person like you all afraid of a little word like "artist?" Really now?
- Thinking you need a better camera, lens, flash, strobe, light stand, cable release, tripod, or whatever other crap you might be coveting at this given moment in time. Use what you got. Sing with heart. Once more with feeling. You don't *need* better equipment, you just want it and are using this as some kind of excuse. Maybe you were abused by expensive gear as a child. I don't know about that, but I do know you need to get over gear envy and get on with your life. You can always envy more gear, newer gear tomorrow, for now, why, there are pictures to take. And, come on now, really, who doesn't like taking pictures?
- Thinking you need to travel. I'm sure Outer Mongolia is really very lovely this time of year and, yes, some photographers really do get paid to travel to the far reaches of the globe but you can take wonderful, stirring images right where you are. Right where you are sitting, in fact. You probably don't even need to move. Play in your own sandbox and make something worth keeping already.
- Sharing work on social media. Believe it or not, there are still some photographers out there who think that, if they were to put something up on Facebook, the world is going to steal it from them. I got news for you, the world is not wanting to steal your work. OK, maybe some far corners of it have bad intentions but, for the most part, the greater positive response far outweighs the negatives here. Really. Stop being Amish and just get with the programs already. Sharing is caring.
- Thinking you need a model or a more "interesting" subject matter. Tell your story. Tell a story. Tell any story. You don't need the best looking person in the world. You don't have to have a bevy of naked women lined up. Talk to a stranger. Share. Converse. There's something interesting about everybody. Find that and show it to us. The world will be a better place. No, we don't all have to look like the latest Victoria's Secret model to take a great image.
- Shoes. This might sound like it came from left field and, why, maybe it did, but you really need to get over shoes. I'm so sick of seeing photographers try to wear flip flops, heels, or something that just isn't right. You need to walk, all day long. You will go over rocks and through rivers and you're going to get cold and wet and stray down some Godforsaken paths where you'll wish you had some serious hiking boots. Might as well just go there already. Invest in a good pair and break them in so you can walk comfortably. Shoes, man, you need them and your feet will thank you for it too.
- Asking somebody, "Can I take your picture?" What is it about people who don't want to ask this simple question? How hard is this really? When I was in China, why, I went off without knowing the language. I had to just smile and sort of point at the camera. No Chinese for me but I still managed. If I can travel halfway around the freaking globe and walk up to some strange dude, smile, point at my camera, and wait for a response, what is so freaking hard about walking up to somebody who speaks your language and asking this simple question? Honestly, if you are struggling with this, here is an easy way to get over it. Force yourself to go up to a complete stranger and ask. Do it once, do it again, do it ten times. I promise you, by the tenth time, you will be over this phobia already. That's really all it is. I mean, come on now. What do you think is going to happen? What's the worst that can happen? The person says, "No!" and hurts your feelings? GREAT. Go onto the next person and ask again. This is not rocket science, people. It's simple. The easy way to get over asking somebody, "Can I take your picture?" is to, why ask somebody, "Can I take your picture?"
Until next time...
PS This one from New England. Crooked lamp, peeling paint, so typical of those seacoast towns.