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Wear Good Shoes

Advice from Magnum Photographers
Trent Parke: From his Dream/Life Series.

This short book filled with inspiring images and advice from renowned photographers couldn’t have come to me at a better time. I have struggled, and I often still do, with keeping the momentum while engaged with photography.

The subjects I used to love to shoot no longer have the same effect on me. I find it hard to find a subject worth my time, and the longer I leave my camera untouched, the less I want to use it.

This book contains snippets of advice across five sections. In each section, there is at least one quote that speaks to me on a personal level.


LEARN

“My advice to photographers is to get out there in the field and take photographs.”

Martine Franck

This is a smaller snippet from a longer quote, but it was this part that spoke to me the most. It seems like such obvious advice but getting my camera out and taking photographs is something I’ve been struggling with. Although my time is limited, I need to find time and prioritise my camera.

“Try everything. Photojournalism, fashion, portraiture,
nudes, whatever. You won’t know what kind of
photographer you are until you try it.”

Alec Soth

This piece of advice hits home with me. I had been shooting in the same style and the same subjects for so long, it bothered me when I found that I’d lost interest. A few times, I tried to force myself to keep trying with them but I just grew increasingly apathetic. Rather than trying to find a new area of photography, I took a step back from the camera and it’s been hard to go back to it since.


VISION AND VOICE

“Photography can give a person a voice, but it says
nothing without intent and meaning. When you begin,
the emphasis can be too much on trying to make
pretty pictures. My advice is to first focus on having
something to say.”

Matt Black

This is a particularly powerful quote for me. I spend too much time thinking (and overthinking) of how to get the perfect image, and not enough time finding something I want or need to say.


PASSION

“Forget about the profession of being a photographer.
First be a photographer and maybe the profession will
come after.”

Christopher Anderson

I stopped enjoying the process when I tried to monetise it. I stopped focusing on everything I enjoyed about photography, and started to focus on how to make a career from it. This included taking on work that I otherwise had no interest in.


CONSISTENCY

“If you want to be a photographer,
you have to photograph.”

Steve McCurry

This quote is similar to the Martine Franck quote I listed earlier. This time, though, the key isn’t just to go out and take pictures, but it’s to do it consistently. It reminds me that I need to make time in my schedule for my camera, and keep persisting with it.


RISK

“Make your own mistakes. You need
to have your own experience and nobody
else can really tell you what to do.”

Sohrab Hura

I chose this quote because at the end of the day, no amount of advice is going to get me to take the photographs I want to take. That has to come from me. I need to want to take the camera out and shoot with it.