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I decided to explain a bit more of why I doing what I do with photography. Like photography, writing also makes you think and after I actually had all my thoughts down on paper, I realised it is quite a long story but important to explain the why about my photography.
To start with the most important point: I do not take photos to make a living and to make money. Now this important as I only can assign a limited time to photography and I will only take pictures and or work on anything photography related such as updating the blog, editing, tweeting, uploading pictures when I want to do this, not because I have to this.
Do I sell photos? (I mean, do I charge when people ask me for prints or commercial license?) Yes. Although I don’t set out to make money when I take a photograph, I have learned that when you have created an image, you have created something of value. So when a company wants to use this in an advertising campaign, why shouldn’t I charge for it? Yes I produced this in the pursuit of happiness as part of my hobby but the result still has monetary value. I will give you another example: say you enjoy gardening and you work in your garden which gives you a lot of pleasure. Maybe you will help a friend or a neighbour with their gardening. But would you mow the lawn and deadhead the flowers in the borders around your local Shell garage? I guess not. People who do this job will get paid! It will be done by a professional garden maintenance company.
St Petersburg – Close to midnight and still some daylight. One of my most interesting and adventures evenings. Also a bestseller picture!
My goal with photography is to capture a memory but also to kind of document the trip and to see if you can ‘bottle’ the emotion of the place and try to transfer the experience of being in a place to the one that views the picture. If I succeed that must make the picture very valuable for the travel industry, for the city that wants to attract visitors, for the airline that wants to lure passengers to fly to that destination; but as I said, that should be a bi-product of the journey I take, it is not my main objective.
If you travel with a purpose, and you create an aim (an assignment to yourself) you tend to get more out of the process. You might as well aim to collect things, I mean I know somebody who’s mission it was to find little elephant statutes from everywhere in the world. I know people who bring back honey from all their travels and try to find anything special, or wine, or art, well you get the drift. If you have a mission, you will experience the place you visit in a different and a more meaningful way. Photography is great for me; you research places, the timing of the day that will give you the best position of the sun; the excitement starts at home. I make lists of things I may want to visit to take a picture and suddenly you look forward to the business trip you may not be so keen on to undertake.
In the process of the taking the shot, you create your own adventure. You see things, you experience the environment in a different way as you look for light, shadows you think about angles, you notice details on buildings, plants, people etc. Things happen around you when you are on your way to the place you like to shoot. You slow down, look at things, you wait for the light and in the time you are at this place waiting for the sun goes down, life in the place goes on around you. It makes you interact with the environment, with people, with nature and it can be a real intense experience.
Will the stray dog attack me when he wakes up?
Like the night I was at Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires. I tried to find an angle to photograph the office of the President of Argentina, the building being known as Casa Rosada. This is not the official name is Casa de Gobierno, which means “House of Government” or “Government House” in English language. There was this fence. Obviously the fence was there for a reason. Was it because of riots that happened here? Is it safe to be here at night with my expensive camera? There is a security guard in front of me, a stray dog lies in the grass to the right. I can set up the tripod in a gap of the fence. Will to dog wake up and attack me? Will the security guard send me away?
Here is the picture taken that night.
Casa Rosada – Plaza de Maya Buenos Aires
The behind the scenes video of what happend:
I travel a lot for my work and get to go to very interesting places. Or I should say, I go to places where, if you go outside and explore you may find very interesting things. Because before photography I wouldn’t know about what went on outside the hotel where I had my meetings. A trip to the other side could be travelling half way the World, arriving at an airport, go to the hotel (in the dark), be in the hotel for 2 days meetings and go back home. Photography changed that. You started to plan to find something of interest in the few moments you have available outside your work assignments. This is usually late at night or early in the morning which isn’t too bad as these are the times for the best photography opportunities and the best light. Sunset, sunrise, the blue hour and the dark are my favourite times for photography.
Sometimes I think that if your life depended on taking photos, you will push yourself more and you will progress quicker and get better results. If your pay-check depends on the quality of your photos, the outlook on life is probably very different.
If you work professionally you probably also can afford or justify the purchase of (better!?) equipment. This is actually a complete different story: The equipment is not important. It is a tool and it can help to make your product better, but you can take exceptionally good photos with a relatively cheap camera. 10 years ago a professional photographer worked with a 5000 Euro camera body that had the same number of mega pixel capacity as your phone today. You know people say to you: Hey you have a nice camera; you must be taking very good photos! Yes, like: You are holding a very nice fountain pen there, you must be writing incredible interesting stories. Or, you have very nice Nike trainers, you must be a very fast runner; you have a very expensive hammer here, you must be a skilled carpenter, and so on…
If you are not shooting for money you can take more time or concentrate on something that may not ‘sell’. You can spend a ridiculous amount of time on one subject or picture. You can shoot what you like and you can shoot when you like.
Axelborg Building in Copenhagen – Taken just before going to the airport after a conference. I did the research and knew this was there. It took me only a couple of minutes as the place happened to be next to my hotel. The picture is is now my most viewed image on Flickr!
In my case; you get to places because of your day job, where you wouldn’t possibly be able to afford to go as a photographer and make money sense, so that is a great opportunity. But you still need to approach the ‘assignment’ as a professional job, otherwise you may compromise on quality. You would think; it is not for money so this will do, let’s get back. NO, the aim should be to pushed to the best job. Work through your ‘checklists’ you have developed. Aperture, shutter speed, ISO, composition, level, point of view, bracket images: constantly think why for each of these values you have to set your camera. You need to learn how to operate your camera like playing a musical instrument. Without thinking, you know how to change settings, even in the pitch dark.
Thank you for viewing my work and any help, ideas and feedback is welcome.