Just kidding. Sports can be fun. Not my favorite, but they sure can be exciting. Most of these images from Feb. are sports. Definitely hasn't been as wild as a month assignment wise as my first month, but these things come and go. The life of a newspaper photographer!
This month I also bought a bed and a motorcycle, that I broke, and had lots of rad times with the people out here. Utah is killer you guys.
We got some state swimming, a dude signing a pipe, a little wrestler, state basketball, a sports brawl which was kinda neat, a kid practicing horse moves on a barrel, a photo of spenser and a few other knick knacks. Not in that order. Take a look!
This girl sank a buzzer beater.
This one didn't.
Here are a couple photos from the past week/end with some new friends in the foothills and a long day journey to the hot springs in Spanish Fork.
Utah ain't bad so far.
So, I think a lot about what makes a good photograph, and what makes a good photographer. I mull over the long conversations I had in school with my best friends about ethics, our ethics, rules, framing, interacting with subjects and everything there is to talk about. It's magical to me. It's a game of yes's and no's and a million decision you break down in your head as you casually walk around an assignment or squat in the corner waiting for a moment. I rarely have an outlet to let much of this out, and it feels a bit strange to have these opinions and put them out there as a young photographer, I'm still learning, but here is one that lies close to my heart.
I recently was lucky enough to go to the Eddie Adams workshop, and was asked again and again, what made me different? What were my projects? What am I trying to do? I was intimidated, didn't have an answer, and was really, really shy about meeting editors there.
I didn't know what editors to meet with, or what to ask of them.
"So, uh, excuse me, so and so, want to look at my work?"
This happened in school too, and I never had an answer. What lights my hair on fire? What am i truly passionate about. "Shoot that" they said.
I've struggled with that a lot. I don't know what subject I find super important as a photographer. I have some things I'm more interested in than others, but I just don't know what I want to devote a life long project to at this point.
It really stressed me out. I felt like I was failing as a photographer. I didn't have an end goal. I don't know what I wanted to say, or what I wanted my 'impact' on the world to be as a photographer.
But a little experience I had at the workshop helped clear that up for me.
I showed my singles to several people and got a lot of "meh's" or "this is nice, keep doing what you're doing." I felt like I wasn't getting anywhere. No "wow's" or "this is terrible, delete it forever." I didn't even know why I was a shooter. My mouth locked up, i presented terribly, and i was just so discouraged. I arranged them sloppily, didn't show them with confidence, and didn't know what or why. But then I met with John White. I waited for ages to meet with him. His speech earlier in the workshop opened up a lot of thoughts for me, and I just wanted to talk to the living legend, but meeting with him helped me realize what I care most about in a picture.
John helped point out lots of things to me, some I can't verbalize, but they all are with me everyday. He helped me focus on feelings. Emotions. Happy, sad, and most of all laughter. And we changed the order of everything.
It just kind of clicked with me. I left talking to him, a few more beers deep, and had a new bounce to my step. We had rearranged everything, and I felt good about it. We front loaded with funny pictures, and hopefully brought the reader through a series of feelings, life and death, laughter, sadness, etc.. It felt good.
THEN. The coolest thing happened, and has stuck with me since.
I showed another editor my work, and I got a laugh. A PHYSICAL LAUGH. I was elated. Beyond elated. I know how easy it is to type some haha's or lol's, but to look at an electronic device (I was showing with an ipad) and to elicit a laugh that transcended from a digital device, in this day and age, made my heart jump. I wanted more of that. I'll forever want more of that.
But I've spent the last four or five months mulling around with what that meant for me as a photographer. Saying "I want to make people laugh" is close, but not a career goal. It's more than that to me. So i squashed it and tore that idea a part and mushed it back together and tossed it around in the back of my brain until I could get to the basics. What about laughter is important and makes a good picture? What about when a viewer is struck as they look through other pictures that were sad or heavy hearted?
I think it comes down to relatability. A photograph needs to be relatable, to be effective.
It's small, maybe insignificant, but I think that is what I find most important in a photograph, of any subject. I want my photos to be relatable to as many people of as many backgrounds as I can. I think it is the one word that encompasses the goal of breaking down stereotypes, fostering small waves of change, maybe one person, one mind at a time. I want people to look at a photo of someone totally different than them, and not think about the differences, because I just want them to see themselves in that photo. I want them to see their own laughter, family, friends, successes and failures in others.
I believe a lot of our problems, as people, stem from not realizing we all think the same and have the same feelings and emotions. We see through different eyes, believe in different gods and religions and have vastly different lives. However, we all break bread, feel comfort in a good hug, and have our things that bring tears to our eyes. And I think even the small amount of viewers a newspaper photographer may have, still can open others' hearts and minds through a good, honest, relatable picture.
A laugh is just a physical expression of understanding the humor of someone else's position. A tear is the same.
So be relatable. Be a real human while you shoot. Don't get caught up in the details, but try and truly understand where the subjects in your photographs hearts are, and own it, feel it. Shoot for your subjects, not your viewers, align your tick with theirs, and try to understand and shoot that way. I hope to. I think everything else will fall in place.
(To see the edit that I changed around with John, head to my singles.)