Breathing Mountains

Be a Creator Not a Collector of Photographs (Podcast 571)

Some people arrive at a location with preconceptions and their sole intent is to make their copy of other peoples' photographs that they've already seen. Today I'm going to discuss how and why I believe we should avoid being a collector, and shoot from our own appreciation of any given...

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Martin Bailey
Martin Bailey is a nature and wildlife photographer and educator based in Tokyo. He's a pioneering Podcaster and blogger, and an X-Rite Coloratti member.
8 Comments
  • Steve
    Posted at 01:11h, 03 May Reply

    Great post Martin, I really enjoyed it. I recently returned from a trip to Jordan, highlights of which can be seen here – http://www.stevenjamesmartin.com/Travel/Jordan. I have to admit that because I’d spent some time reading about Ken Kaminesky’s experience of Jordan here – http://blog.kenkaminesky.com/2011/06/20/petra-jordan-historic-world-wonder/ – I was heavily influenced by his photographs. This led me to want to get the same shots as he did, which is particularly true of the close up image of the Monastery in Petra looking upwards (image 29 counting downwards on my gallery) and the domed building in the Roman ruins in Amman (image 4 on gallery). Trying to recreate – or capture my own versions – of Ken’s shots became a preoccupation, which I realised afterwards was a waste of time and energy. On the other hand, my favourite images from the trip – particularly images 35, 38 and 42 counting down on my gallery – came from engaging my own creative brain and not trying merely to mimic or replicate the iconic images of another photography.

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 09:44h, 04 May Reply

      That’s great that you have a recent experience where you noticed this at work. And that you were able to override it for some of your photos.

      Thanks for posting Steve!

  • Gloria Joanne Roldan
    Posted at 10:50h, 07 May Reply

    I agree with you in being a creator. The first time I took an online mentorship, I learned real quick to not look at what others had done for the assignment. I felt less qualified and confused. It was not a good feeling. I decided to complete the task first and then checked out others creation. I was able to appreciate what I had accomplished as well as theirs. Thank you for your dedication in sharing with others your art.

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 11:28h, 07 May Reply

      I can certainly see how that situation is very similar Gloria. I imagine that there are also moments of self-doubt when you look at what others did, but you know that your own creation is yours, and there is a lot of satisfaction in that.

      Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts!

  • squawking7000
    Posted at 14:59h, 11 May Reply

    Interesting and thought provoking podcast Martin.
    There are far too many times when the “professional photographer” gets confused with the ordinary photographer and this may be one of them.
    Sure, if you take photos for a living, then yes you do want to do research, to get the best of your time and money but for the ordinary photographer, researching a location, I think, spoils the experience of actually being there in a foreign place and experiencing the sights for the first time and if one misses a shot or location then there is always the option to go back and do some more exploring.
    I really don’t think Ansell Adams researched the Hell out of Yosemite before he went, he found the locations for himself, experienced the location and reacted to the location for himself and that’s what the ordinary photographer should be doing..
    And in this age of a billion photos of everything, then there really is nothing new under the sun, there is no real originality, so just go with the flow and take photos for yourself and not for some other person.

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 15:28h, 11 May Reply

      Hi Squawking7000,

      Thanks for the comment. If by ‘professional photographer’ getting confused, you mean me, then you have probably misunderstood a good part of the post, unless I’ve misunderstood your comment. What you say is pretty much what I’m saying. Don’t research the hell out of the locations you plan to visit. Leave yourself open to it and your own creativity.

      If you have a different view, maybe you could take another stab at explaining it.

      Cheers,
      Martin.

  • Mauricio Duque Arrubla
    Posted at 23:36h, 01 August Reply

    Usually I take a lot of “standard” pictures. I call them my “documentary” photos as their purpose is only document my travel with no other intention. But I try to make some other ones, although it is difficult sometimes. It depends on how much time do I have, if it is my first travel to that place, how crowded is the place, etc. But now I am trying to involve people in many of my photos so it is easier to get something unique even if the take looks similar to other ones.

  • Martin Bailey
    Posted at 10:06h, 02 August Reply

    Hi Mauricio,

    Thanks for the comment.

    If the photography you are doing makes you happy, that’s fine. Originally is relative to what we know of the world. It’s also good that you have found a way to make your images unique.

    Regards,
    Martin.

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