It’s been way too long since my last blog post. I have been somewhat neglecting my blog, but not for any other reason than that there is just so much to do. On my very first post, back in January, I said that I wanted to “shoot more, start a blog & shoot more”. I have made sure to follow through on those, but I just haven’t had as much time to devote to my blog as I’d like.

As of right now photography isn’t my full time job. I work full time at a local camera store & I do retouching for a local photographer part-time. While I sometimes have quite the juggling act on my hands, trying to find the time to shoot & edit, I love every minute of it. And while I may not be doing photography full time as of yet, I am constantly immersed in photography.

As I write this I have 4 full shoots waiting to be edited, 2 test shoots & to top it all off I decided now would be a good time to completely over-haul my website (wow, what a process that has become). Now I am in no way saying “look at me, look how busy I am”, I am not one of those photographers who needs to spread their feathers to feel better about their work. To be quite honest the majority of the portrait work I have been doing is purely for portfolio building, as I am doing all this in an attempt to grow my portfolio to where it needs to be to submit to magazines, advertising agencies & various other avenues that I am planning on taking my work to. I have also been trying to shoot a fair amount of personal work as I believe you need to widen your focus and be able to be creative in multiple ways.

I always marveled at how photographers had time to update their websites & blogs, post on Facebook & Twitter, watch seminars, give seminars, read up on gear & industry trends, all the while doing all their photography work. I wondered how they could possibly find the time to do all the things that set them apart and pushed them to constantly grow their craft. I now know that doing all these things is a full time job in itself, and results in very long days & somewhat sleepless nights. I am constantly reading blogs, watching videos on fstoppers, creativelive, & thegridlive. Listening to podcasts from Chase Jarvis live or the ever entertaining & informative portfolio critiques done by Zack Arias. I also go through lighting tutorials, gear tutorials, & keep up with the show framed on youtube. When I take a break from editing I am perusing photographers websites looking at images & techniques or I’ll go pick up the latest issue of Vogue, Elle or Nylon to see what kind of images these magazines like to run. I just try to soak up as much of this limitless photography world as I can. I have been doing photography for 10 years now and am constantly learning new things every day & will still be learning 50 years down the road. I believe that when you think you know everything you need to, you’ve hit the creative wall.

I am telling you all this because I feel that way too many photographers don’t try to push themselves enough. They are quite happy posting an album to Facebook and bathing in the joy of the 50-75 comments they get about how great their work is. Sites like Facebook, Flicker & Photobucket should not be a barometer for how good your work is. Who are the people leaving the “nice photo” comment? Are they your target audience? If so, great… And dont get me wrong these sites are a great way to get your work out to a vast amount of people. But you will never improve your work if you don’t receive critiques from the proper people, and are always pushing yourself to improve. I saw a great tweet that said “don’t judge your photos by how many Facebook comments they get”.

Want to know what needs to improve in your photography? Submit your website or blog to someone like Zack who, if he chooses your site, will give you a no holds barred critique (check out some of his previous critiques). Ask a photographer you respect to review your work honestly & be prepared for the fact that they may strongly dislike some or the majority of your work, but hopefully if nothing else they will be honest. Don’t ask someone for their opinion and then tell them it’s stupid when you don’t like their answer, you’re wasting both your time & theirs. Also remember that there a bijillion opinions in this world, something that excites one person may do nothing for another, you need to seek out information from people whose opinion & work you respect.

I remember in University my professor totally ripping apart my work from time to time during portfolio reviews, and I thought that was great. Here I was, able to get criticism from someone who was established in the industry, and I could take what he said and learn from it. While I may not have agreed with him all the time, I would come out of those reviews with a new hunger to create better photographs. I remember some of the students crying due to what he had said. Remember this is a very cut-throat industry, totally littered with photographers, and you need to be able to take that criticism for what it is and learn from it.

Because if your work looks the same as it did 2-3 years ago, then you’re doing something wrong. You should be improving and honing your craft every time you click the shutter. Every image should be better than the last.

a few images from recent shoots