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Sunday, 02 January 2011

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I guess Adams could, if not exactly guarantee taking 12 great pictures a year, at least strongly suspect that if he wasn't, it was because he wasn't working at it hard enough.

I like Ctein's phrase "portfolio-quality"; that's less grandiose than "great" (when I say it, anyway), and makes it relative to me. Anybody who hasn't had a major loss of physical or mental ability recently should be able to aim for adding three more images that are good enough to go in their own portfolio.

Over the last half year, shooting to a theme, a series, has helped me go out and take photos. I'd recommend anyone to just pick a subject you're interested in and try to take, say, 20 good pictures.

Shooting to a series helps in so many ways. Inspiration comes easier, you're forced to be more creative because you can't approach the same subject the same way 20 times over. Pictures are improved by the very fact they're in a series (thus, shooting a 'good' photo essentially becomes easier). It's more fun, it's more rewarding and the end result is more coherent and interesting.

Excellent post! *Part* of my own photographic resolution is exactly that...to shoot at least 12 frames a day and post one frame from that set to the web. I tested this out back in the fall and it worked to a degree...I tend to be the sort of person that loses inspiration exponentially...I get really, really UNinspired and don't/can't shoot for days or even weeks if its bad. I can shoot and produce good weddings but can't shoot a nice shot of my cat to save my life. ...so the resolution won't work itself out easily.
One of my favorite "rut breakers" is to put some sort of limitation, or multiple limitations on my personal work...for example all day on a Saturday I can only shoot with a 135mm, at ISO 100 and f4. That's it...still have to hit at least 12 frames...its fun to find creative work-arounds especially if conditions aren't ideal.

"Anybody who hasn't had a major loss of physical or mental ability recently..."

As Mike knows, I have. The last six years have been expensive mentally, financially and very much so emotionally, and the ride is far from completed.

However maybe in 2011 the medicine ship will either change direction or slow down or stop. None of which I can predict.

However as to your weight loss program Mike; given the number of theories and solutions or resolutions available in print or electronically, it is a fair
chance somebody somewhere, somehow will attempt to make a profit out of the problems somebody else has acquired regardless of the source or solution.

Best wishes then to you and your extended family for 2011

My photographic resolution for 2011 is to buy a Canon 5D Mark III. That will solve all my problems.

Taubes is a good writer. I enjoyed his Good Fat, Bad Fat book, so I also ordered this one (through your link even). No photographic resolutions for me, other than trying to take more photos even in bad weather (I can always hike under the trees in nearby woods). Ok, one thing I'm bad at is framing, so I should make a resolution to try matting and framing. I love printing, but my prints tend to end up in a big plastic tub. I bought an inexpensive mat cutter, so need to give it a shot. Seems difficult.

Grant gave you a great recommendation. I pre-ordered it months ago, received it on the first day of availability, and finished it the next day. It's an amazing tour de force of clear explanation backed by extraordinarily rigorous research. Read this book carefully and critically, and your life (and health) will never be the same.

I read his previous book, Good Calories Bad Calories, and changed my eating in response to what he wrote in that book. GCBC is a much more technical, difficult to digest (hah!) book that takes real dedication to work through. This new book is targeted for the general public; I think Mr. Taubes was incredibly successful in presenting the material in accessible language while still maintaining enough rigor in his explanations. Enjoy!

Hey there!

Now, was that with or without a Leica M camera ? Just askin' ;-)

I've got mine. :)

Here are my photographic goals for 2011 -

1. Post at least 50 internet comments about cameras that haven't been introduced yet.

2. Post at least 50 snarky internet comments about cameras that other photographers own and I know nothing about. Like, Pentax, who buys those? Do they even still make lenses? Or Ricoh? Isn't that some kind of federal law that's used to arrest gangsters?

3. Make sure to focus on minutae in my internet posts. For instance, a f/1.8 lens is much faster than a f/2.8 lens. I mean, it's "one" faster, innit it? (Sorry - obscure reference to "Spinal Tap.")

4.-10.(I'm off track now, but you get the idea ... I'm so busy with photography that I don't have time to take photographs!)

Bill

The quality-control engineers have a saying: "What gets measured, gets done."

Challenge taken, Mike. I think I'll resolve to print at least 12 of my photos this year in large sizes (larger than 8x10). A modest goal, perhaps, but I've not printed *any* of my photos above 4x6 in quite some time, and only have 8x10s in my history, despite having many that I'd like to see larger, and that would easily withstand the larger size. I'm inspired because this Christmas I published/printed a book for my parents of photos taken during our Alaskan vacation this summer. The gift was extremely well-received, but more than that, the 8x20 2-page spreads in the book were really jaw-dropping, and I was left wondering why I hadn't printed anything that large before.

I resolve to take more real photos (excluding test/practice shots) than I spend in dollars this year. I'm already 460 photos behind, and it's only the second day of the year. Ouch.

Oh man! Coke is not it. Sigh. Along with that, I have no clue what portfolio-quality looks like. Any science behind it?

CHEERS...Mathew

"I resolve to take more real photos (excluding test/practice shots) than I spend in dollars this year."

Hey, that's a good one. I knew people would come up with inventive things I wouldn't even be able to think of.

Mike

"attack your weakness"
as humans we tend to move towards the average, if most people are speeding in traffic then we will tend to do the same, if most people take 2 sweets from a bowl then we may tend to do likewise.
And if we attack our weak skills they will tend to rise but our strengths, which are not being honed as often due to our new direction, will tend to drop. And all of our skills end up middle ground. Jack of all trades, master of none.
Why not concentrate and make our strengths shine like no other, find someone to take care of the weaknesses.
Peter Turnley takes pictures, Voja Mitrovic prints them.

I've decided to do a 365 project where I must shoot a different person every day. So far, so good: http://brentfranke.com/2011/01/02/365-project/

My photographic resolution for 2011 is not buying more cameras... really.

One of my three photographic goals for the year was to shoot 50 rolls of film. A very measurable goal, either you make it or you don't

I filled my 50th roll with firework pictures, which I think still counts as 2010 :-)

A major problem I have is that the older I become the less interested I am to leave the comfort of my home. Photography, with exception of course, is an outdoors-get-yourself-out-into-the-world type of activity, an extroverted art form. The creativity comes from within, but the expression is existential. I believe that this is why I have gravitated to music and writing songs. I can create worlds through song without leaving my office chair, but I still always have this strong urge to take pictures even though I rarely act on it.

In a roundabout way I'm trying to say that the resolution for me is adopt the Nike slogan and "Just Do It." When I feel a strong urge to get out and take pictures I need to just do it. I might even discover that actively practicing both art forms will sort of act like cross-pollination enriching both music and photography. If I could put photography out of mind I would probably do it, but I can't and the urge to photograph never goes away. So starting today it's Just Do It.

My Pentax K-5 and 43mm got stolen a week before christmas :(. So I'm taking it as an opportunity to get my year with a 'Leica as a teacher' going this year. Ordered a plain jane black m6 from KEH and awaiting delivery. :)
Thanks Mike, Your blog has been an inspiration in so many ways.
Happy New Year.

Your younger than your tripod avid reader,

Avi

I did that last year.....at least 600 pictures a month......most month I sucseeded.......but why.......this year I just want to take as many pictures I like and if I feel like it. But I want to do more with the pictures I already have made.......thats more important.......to share.......with others.......not to work for myself.

Some thoughts on diet books:
1) They all have scientific studies to back up what they say. Some are even written by scientists who did the studies.
2) According to the Amazon comments he advocates eating lots of fats, up to 78% of calorie intake. That is exactly opposite Covert Bailey's "fat makes you fat" (Bailey was a PhD scientist). I guess even scientists can come to opposite conclusions.
3) Calories in vs calories out does work and exercise does matter. I'm proof. I lost over 80 pounds that way. It was the only diet that ever worked for me and I don't need any more proof than that.

My resolution for 2011 is 300 dpi (at the printed size). I think I can keep it.

I am going to stop wasting my time reading about the details of cameras that I will never buy.

Perhaps I'm not the only odd one here, but I see walking around harvesting images as a form of therapy. Yet, at times, it's the furthest thing from being therapeutic. I guess I just need to relax, talk less, and shoot more. :O

@John Camp "If you have detected in yourself a certain talent, and if you spend two hours a day intelligently exercising that talent, you'll become very good at it."

I might add - if you work 2 hours a day at something you do not have talent for you will develop a talent for it.

Other than things which can be attributed to physical traits, I'm not sure that I believe in talent. Rather, I believe that all abilities are derived from practise. "Talent" arises when one is exposed to an activity from a very young age. This allows one a longer time to practise.

Furthermore, it is likely that those things that are learned when we are younger become more engrained in our psyche than those we learn when we are older, thus "Talent".

"Photography is a game of doing, and things get done only when you get going and do them."

That's the most valuable bit of reminder you could have made, Mike. Far, far too many enthusiasts these days spend most of their photo time at keyboards and computer screens. That's not photography; that's typing. People who want to become better typists don't resolve to spend more time with cameras.

John Camp's remarks are dead on. Paraphrased and adapted in the wake of my observation above, if you want to become a better photographer photograph.

After a Featured Comment on TOP, I can now coast through the rest of the year, Resolutions be damned!

Excellent advice.

Actually my resolution is to shoot less and plan more, to make each shot count. I am now location scouting and sketching out some planned shoots, contacting friends for assistance and talking to potential models. My goal is to complete at least 12 shoots in 2011 and exhibit at least 4 prints.

Mike,

That’s excellent advice. I’d like to expand the thought a bit. A friend of mine, a well-known and acclaimed fine-art photographer, once pointed out to me that even practical goals, such as those you and many readers suggest, can seem ineffectual if viewed only in the short term. For example, suppose one’s goal/resolution is to shoot something (anything) three to five days a week for an hour or so each day, and at the end of the week make just one or two prints from that week’s shooting. This should be fairly easy for most people and probably everyone will be able to find at least one or two images worth printing. So far, so good.

However, one can quickly become frustrated, saying: “After all that shooting and effort (really not so much), here I am at week’s end with just one or two measly prints. That’s only four to eight prints for a month’s work. What’s the use!” But if you realize that at the modest rate of only two prints a week, in a year’s time you’ll have a ONE HUNDRED print portfolio, and if you keep shooting/printing at the same plodding pace, but with patience and discipline, in ten years you’ll have ONE THOUSAND prints that you can be proud of! Cut the printing down to only one each week, and you’ll still end up with FIVE HUNDRED in ten short years. Expand this to a lifetime of shooting/printing and your accomplishment will be mind-boggling!

And don’t forget that by embracing this simple and doable ritual, you will inevitably grow and develop as photographer. Its not really about the numbers, of course, but you have to do the work to advance.

Joe Cameron

Some people with old or new severe physical or mental disabilities can, of course, create great art (it seems unlikely that all human beings can create great art; at least, most of us never do). But my argument was going for "you've created portfolio-quality work before, so of course you can do it again", and of course nasty enough medical events might actually change that. I don't think anybody has misunderstood me badly enough to think I'm saying disabled people can't be artists; it's the change I was focusing on, not the end status however defined.

And in response to another comment, yes, I'm not defining "portfolio-quality", and I do not think it's an objectively precise term. The idea is picking works that you're willing to put out in public to represent you (but of course some people have self-image issues and find that terribly hard).

Mike I downloaded "Why We Get Fat" to my pc kindle and spent most of the day trying to read it,I've never read anything so difficult and repetitious.
We have a saying this side of the pond "over egging the pudding" which describes Mr Taubes approach to the subject
A few brief well written chapters would have been sufficient and to my mind far more effective and readable.
Michael.

Well Mike, another excellent post. My resolution is to go back to what I once did rather often- shoot in the pouring rain. I wrapped my Nikons in plastic wrap, these days it will be the D60, and wander around in the rain because I happen to like doing so. I started on New Year's Day...posting on my Flickr site(if anyone cares...)

Believe it or not, but my resolution for 2011 is to photograph less, not more, so I have more time available to make prints. I have been on a two or three outings per week kick for the past 18 months and have generated more raw material than I can effectively process, so I'm going to reallocate time away from the front end and put it toward the back end...

I've ordered the Why We Get Fat book. The left foot isn't too good, so if I can take some of the load off of it I won't get so tired and make so many photographic mistakes.

Bryce Lee, I understand what you are saying. it's been nearly six years since my foot got crushed, and there's been a heavy mental and emotional cost. I don't know what happened to you but it sounds as though it's pretty bad. My best wishes, and good luck.

I've been taking the pix but often not showing anyone, and I've realised that I've been talking about street photography without having done any for years. So I've started contributing to this: http://streetphotographynowproject.wordpress.com/
You get a different theme every week, and the photos go on flickr. There's about nine months to go.

Michael,
Yes, I know what you mean. It's a simplified, shorter version of a much longer book. Sometimes that's actually very difficult to do (speaking as one who has had to do it as an editor, albeit never at book length). It misses something organic in its organization and presentation. I remember once reading a book (actually also a diet book, although I really don't read diet books very much) called "Potatoes Not Prozac." It was quite lively and well presented. But evidently the author came under fire from a lot of people who had benefited from Prozac, who complained about her premise, so she tried to rewrite the book in a more straightahead form as "Are You Suger Sensitive?" The rewrite was plodding and lacked life, not nearly as well done as the original.

Personally I have a terrible time rewriting things I've already written once--occasionally to the point of paralysis.

Mike

Just a quick note, the proposed approach reminded me of "SMART" goal setting: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely.

My resolution for 2011 is simple - concentrate on and get better at vertical compositions.

"My photographic resolution for 2011 is not buying more cameras... really."

I'm with Salva.

Though I did order a new pinhole camera on December 31st ...

My resolution for 2011 is to let my photographic instinct speak. Not overthink shots, not try to get to a style that is not mine, not change my nature.
Does not mean one must not investigate new areas, but don't force myself in something that does not come naturally.

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