Advice I wish I had gotten when I was starting out.

August 09, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

This is a re-print from a post I did on LinkedIn this past April and thought it should have been posted here as well.  What is the advice you got and wish you had listen too or did not get and wished you had earlier in your career.

That title may not be correct. I may have gotten the advice and not been ready to hear it. What has me philosophical today you ask? I had a conversation with a photography student who is studying in London last week. She (Jazz) is the sister of the young woman I was photographing in the Leake Street Tunnel and agreed to act as my lighting assistant. We started chatting and I expected it to be the normal conversation I have with photographers i.e. what camera do you shoot, what lenses yadda, yadda. but instead it turned into a conversation I wish I had back when I was that age. Maybe it would not have taken me 30 years to get where I am if this message had sunk in. She does get all A's (I believe her sister called it top marks when she bragging on her during the shoot), but is frustrated by people and teachers trying to get her to change what she photographs. It is with the best of intentions that people try to help you get, what they think is better at what you are doing. It can do unintended damage. I always found myself trying to smooth myself out and to be more acceptable as a result I think I took boring photos. It took me thirty years to realize I was not being selfish when I shot what I wanted in the way I wanted. The creative spark is like a candle that can easily be blown out. The advice I gave that I wish I had heard was pretty straight forward. Do it your own way listen to your voice. I believe firmly art made from the place of pure creativity and inspiration will always find an audience. Anyone can learn the technical skills inspiration and having a voice is a whole different ballgame and will get you noticed. I also told her to be open to feedback at portfolio reviews. You can not grow from a defensive place. Art is SOOOO subjective listen to the advice and criticism. Take from it the bits that help you reach your vision, shed the rest and don't let them linger and turn into doubts. I think Jazz will be fine and I am looking forward to following her career. I think with her blue hair and sassy attitude she already knew what I was telling her or it was just the blathering of a middle-aged photographer and she discarded it and moved on. We owe it to the next generation who are figuring out how to make a career in a changing new landscape of photography to give them our best advice and then watch them do their own thing their own way.

What advice do you wish you could give to your 25 year old self?

Carl Stoveland

Artistic Balance Photography


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