It’s photography. Where is everyone running to?
Everyone is a photographer these days. The internet, our phones, the world – we are inundated with photos. Who needs more? Why worry about being an expert, when good is good enough? Click, share, done.
But like anything, if you take a peek behind the curtain of photography there’s a whole world of experts and passionate artists who are diving deep into nooks and crannies that you didn’t even know existed. That’s how I feel every October when I walk onto the exhibition floor of PhotoPlus Expo in New York City. It’s a dazzling football-field-sized floor crammed with both the expected and the unexpected in the world of photography. Big names like Nikon and Epson share the floor with smaller guys, all of them hocking the latest gear and ideas.
Why run? Because it’s fun. Just as importantly, in the hyper-changing world of photography, you need to keep up or you will be left behind.
Running to Stand Still
These days a lot of effort goes into understanding, purchasing, and getting confused by technology. (Maybe the confused part is just me.) In fact, it’s been said that photography has changed more in the past five years than it changed in the previous fifty years. That’s a lot of change. And it doesn’t look like it’s slowing down.
So, what does that mean? It means that it’s a good idea to keep up. Even if you don’t plan to lead the race, it’s a good idea to decide where you want to be. Maybe you’re happy being a middle-packer, or maybe you like to be out in front. Either way, it’s good to be aware because in this time of fast change, even standing still requires effort.
Follow the Leaders
One of my favourite things is the speaker series — two and three hour seminars on a wide variety of topics. Unfortunately, there were no celebrity floral photographers this year (what?), so I had to settle for technology and music. This year, these were my picks:
John Paul Caponigro – Fine Art Digital Printing
I saw John Paul Caponigro‘s seminar last year and signed up for it again this year. While ‘Fine Art Digital Printing’ sounds like it would be artsy, it’s not. It’s all about technology, mostly the frustrating world of color mangement, soft proofing, printer drivers. If you’re yawning, spend some time trying to figure all this out on your own. It’s worth the price of admission to gain a couple of tips and to know that you’re not the only one struggling to get the image on your computer screen to look like the one that comes out of your printer.
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Mark Seliger – Keynote Presentation
Photography and music go arm in arm, and Mark Seliger’s presentation wound them even tighter together. There’s something about a master photographer presenting incredible photography videos while his band Rusty Truck plays the live soundtrack to the video. A vivid visual and audio performance.
Lynn Goldsmith – Rock and Roll Photography
Lynn Goldsmith is a fantastic speaker whose career spans several decades of rock and roll. While showing us great images, she told us her vision for the artist and how she helped that come alive in a time before stylists and entourages. Two hours flew by. Wish we had more time.
Stephen Johnson – 12 Steps to Better Photography
Knowing that the morning session would cover a lot of technology, I still wanted more. Not really, but it’s kind of like spinach. It’s not your favourite, but it’s good for you. Every time I go to these seminars I learn something new, sometimes big, sometimes small that makes my photography better. This seminar was no exception. Great tips and reinforcement of other things I’d learned. More great information at his website.
Mary Virginia Swanson
I didn’t go to this seminar this year, but it’s definitely worth a mention because I’ve seen her speak in previous years. Always an interesting presentation on the moving target that is the photography market. It’s amazing how much it changes from year to year. I’m sorry I missed it this year … a scheduling issue. It’s worth checking out her web site.
Run Your Own Race
When you’re doing what you love, the majority of your time is spent on your craft and doing the work that needs doing. Sometimes that means that your nose is pretty close to the grind stone. That’s not a bad thing, but it’s also important to get away from that, gain some perspective, learn from some experts, see what’s new, stay current, find new things, let older things go, gain confirmation of some conclusions you came to on your own, gain new insights.
Every fall for the past 30 years, Photoplus Expo, in some form or other, has provided the opportunity to do just that. Throw in a trip to New York City and it’s a wonderful, informative, way to spend a day. Or two. Or three.