Monday, July 13, 2009

My $.02


I crossed paths with someone last week that resurrected some unsettling thoughts I buried a while back. I've been a working photographer for a long time and if nothing else, I've seen a lot. What I saw, yet again, was one of my least favorite characteristics of "creatives" in general and photographers in particular -- an attitude of entitlement.

In my opinion, the most treasured asset of the photographer is his or her ACCESS; their ability to be at the location they want to be at, when they want (or need) to be there. Photos won't happen for you if you're not there...or allowed to be part of the action. Period.

And nothing entitles you (or me) to be there.

Not your portfolio, your good looks, your experience, your connections, your availability, your equipment, your possessions or your money. None of that.

I've worked my rear off over the years to get access to certain opportunities. Or to be allowed on an assignment that I've longed to be involved with for the sheer love of the mission. Ya know what it has boiled down to more often than not? The client came to the realization that I wasn't trying to line my pocketbook or bolster my portfolio - that it wasn't about ME. It was about THEM.

Good photographers are a dime a dozen. In my opinion, MOST great photographers are good photographers that have the following attributes:

  • a purpose
  • something meaningful to say
  • passion
  • compassion
  • a need to be useful

And if you want my $.02 about purpose, make it a purpose that is not about YOU. It will take you far.

Now that I think about it - we can substitute just about any other career choice in place of the word "photographer".

Maybe I need a nap.



Shutterbug said...

Nicely put :O)

chemist said...


In response, let me first say "AMEN"!! Excellent post! You made several points that should be considered by everyone - not just photographers. This is one reason why I consider myself so lucky to be in a job that takes me to many far-away places and thus able to capture photos of so many unusual places, people, events, odd sights and even some just plain scenery.

Traveling Chemist

Jay said...

Very well said, Dan.

I, too, have encountered many people like the ones that you speak of here. I have to tell ya, they wouldn't be first on my Christmas Card list. :)

--- and I don't think that you needed a nap, I think that there should be more people willing to speak up.

Oh, and Great penny shot... I e-mailed it to a friend of mine named Penny. She loved it too.

Dan Denardo said...

Jay, that penny shot is an example of how the blog pushes me to create. And I love that about it. I knew I wanted to say something, but I didn't have a photo to go with my rant. So I shot one. When I set out to create a blog, I made the decision that it was going to be a PHOTO journal, so I always have a photo. Maybe it's weird the way I create these self-imposed rules...

By the way, I shot that with a Lens Baby. I don't use it often, but it's FUN.

Shutterbug said...

A purpose
Something meaningful to say
A need to be useful

When you think about it, I think every person should have these attributes as well :O)

Ron said...

Dan, this is an excellent post! And thank you for pointing out all the facts! As you know from our long conversations, I totally agree with you!

Most photographers think that just because they've made it up to a certain level that they deserve the world--they think there's only them that can do what they've done. Well, they're wrong! My philosophy is that you're only as good as your last shot! Period! And after you've recieved all your pats on the back, you're back to square one and start all over again--the pursuit! That's the joy of shooting!

Sometimes, people make me feel guilty for being allowed to go to places I've been, they say that they too can take the pics I take had they been there too....and you know what, I say to them "Yeah, you're right...but do you deserve it? What have you done as a photographer to make you worthy of capturing those moments?"

Opportunities don't come to photographers, atleast not the one's who do it for the love. Opportunities are hunted for and worked for after years of hard work.

Man, now I need a nap too!

Dan Denardo said...

Good point, Carol! Thanks for YOUR $.02!

Dan Denardo said...

Ron, thanks for putting the exclamation point on my post! Confirmation from you says a lot. Nobody knows better...

Sarah said...

Hi Dan:
I just wanted to say that since I've stumbled across the fact that you're a photographer, that I've been really impressed by your work...(which is neither here nor there to you) but I haven't been able to put my finger on what made your work stand out so much more to me than other photographer's.

What the Lord recently showed me is that what captivated me was that it is not just your amazing eye - and ability to capture and see things just beautifully - but it is the Spirit of the Lord that draws my eye to your work. It's His annointing on your work, You are the first photographer who's work I've looked closely at, in which I can actually sense the presence of God in.

When I shoot, I always feel more dependant on God than my own confidence in my work, maybe that confidence comes with experience, but in the mean time, it is some of the most intimate time I have with the Lord.

I just wanted you to know that when I view your work...I feel that same connection with we're having a conversation about His Glory, over Your work...I know that sounds nuts...but I mean to compliment your spirit...because that is what my spirit identifies with within your work...
Thank you for sharing with us.

Sarah Reimer