After a lot of thinking and philosophizing, this is what I have gathered:
I think the ultimate privilege is simply to strive to make great photos, become a great photographer, and become an ever greater photographer.
The first thought to think and consider is this:
What does it mean to become a great photographer, and is it even a possible thing to become the “greatest“ photographer?
Being inspired to make photos until you die at the age of 120
OK so let us assume that I could predict with you with 100% certainty that you will live to be 120 years old, in phenomenal health. If that were the case, how can you structure your life in such a way which allows you to stay inspired and motivated to make photos until you die at 122?
First things first, don’t own a home. At worst, just own a condo. A lot of my successful friends, like my friends Don Dillon and Tim Flangan have done this; the upside of owning a condo is that you can just travel, and travel the world, and ultimately you will still have somewhere to keep your stuff, and go back home to. And at least when you’re on the road, you don’t have to worry about maintaining your home or the outside of your house.
Second, structuring your life which allows maximum movement and independence. This means a life in which you spend a good amount of time on the road, traveling, in other foreign places. It could be as simple as wing road trips in America, or more complex like traveling internationally. The world is a big ass place. And this is what gives me great hope.
For example, there are still 1 trillion places that have not yet been to, which I am interested in. I’m interested in going to Lagos Nigeria, Morocco, South America, Eastern Europe, Hungary, etc. And before all of this Ukraine Putin stuff, I was very interested in going to Russia Moscow.
Making great photos
I hate to say it, but certainly there is a hierarchy in terms of great photos compared to not as great photos. What is the differentiating factor?
For myself, when I study the work of Henri Cartier Bresson, and look at his more advanced works, he is really good at the arabesque composition. The squiggly line composition, which adds elegance to his photos.
Also, a Dionysian aesthetic. This means a dark, hard aesthetic. Extremely high contrast black and white, extremely high grain. For example, lately I’ve been shooting on my Lumix G9 camera, after my Ricoh GR 3X broke. I was able to use the in camera JPEG setting of dynamic monochrome, adjusting the contrast to the max, the grain to the max, and I think I have discovered a new aesthetic which I might even prefer over the Ricoh GR 3X in camera high contrast black and white.
In terms of longevity, I believe black and white is more durable than color. Why is this?
First and foremost, we don’t see the world in black-and-white. This alone is the massive differentiating factor between black-and-white photography and color photography.
Secondly, color, color science, digital cameras, sensors, sensor technology is always changing in terms of color. Also JPEG, RAW settings. CMOS vs CCD sensors for color, etc. this alone is a massive headache; and there is also a quadrillion different types of ways to print color, display color, and also view monitors with different color profiles etc. Black and white makes your life 1 trillion times easier.
The path to become a great photographer
How does one become a great photographer?
I think first of all, I think having an over stated ego, over inflated ego, over inflated self-confidence is a virtue and a good thing. First, I think you must have the desire, the audacity, and also the chutzpah to desire to become a great photographer.
I believe the 99.99% issue with modern day life is that it is considered immoral to desire to become great. That somehow, greatness, and striving to become great, is actually considered a vice.
Modern day life says one must be quiet, low-key, and ashamed of oneself. It is considered a vice to self promote, have self confidence in oneself etc.
I say, perhaps the best thing you could teach yourself, and also teach our kids is in fact to gain more self-confidence, to gain more audacity.
In terms of making great photos, my simple thought is that making great photos is all about making photos which are strong, simple, and hard.
For example, some aesthetic thoughts:
- Extremely high contrast black-and-white
- Simple backgrounds
- Some sort of strong character, subject, or happening or mood behind the photo
Making “objectively” great photos?
Something which I believe which is very unorthodox:
Personally speaking, I do believe that it is actually possible to make an objectively great photo.
But the question is, who decides?
First of all, you decide. Then maybe EK or arsbeta.com can decide.
Whose opinion matters?
In terms of photography, and your photos, whose opinion truly matters?
For example, do you want everyone to universally call you a great photographer, and bow down before you?
This is what I have discovered after having attended a magnum workshop, meeting Magnum Photographers, etc:
Nobody is happy.
Becoming a happy photographer?
I had a funny idea, if I want to start a gym, I want to call it “happy gym”.
Why? Isn’t the point of going to the gym just be happy, become happier?
Even Joe Gold, the guy who started golds gym said “the point of going to the gym is to have fun!”
I think the same as in photography. Isn’t and shouldn’t the purpose of photography to be happy?
Resources to become a great photographer
- CONQUER PHOTOGRAPHY AND LIFE IN DOWNTOWN LA June 17th
- July 15-16th: SAIGON WORKSHOP (details to be announced)
- OCT 14th— PHILLY WORKSHOP DETAILS TBA
- iPad is a brick? I insanely love the iPad Pro, but I’m starting to realize it is a brick. Why? I keep hitting the 2 TB family limit, and irregardless of how many times I go back and delete all of my old photos and videos etc., I still keep hitting the max. Perhaps it is a good time to just transition back into Adobe Lightroom or Lightroom classic, and just do it on my laptop, off the cloud.
- Testosterone in photography? It is my personal theory that there is a connection between testosterone and photography. Perhaps when we see a beautiful woman, or we want to shoot a street photo, or we want to shoot a street portrait, this boosts and affects and influences our testosterone? As a consequence, perhaps the best thing you could do for your street photography and your photography and life in general is striving to naturally boost your testosterone, consuming more beef, organ meats, and hitting one rep maxes at the gym. 885 pounds atlas lift.
- I’m over Tesla? Me and Seneca just checked out the new Tesla model S in ultra red, and it looks great. I think Tesla and Elon really nailed it here; the previous red colors were not vibrant nor bold enough. Now, I think the Tesla model S plaid in ultra red is probably a perfect car. Especially with the all black interior and the new yoke steering wheel; there is literally no flaws I see. Yet once I have discovered perfect, I no longer feel a strong desire or need to own it anymore? Therefore, maybe the most intelligent strategy then is to just buy Tesla stock, or invest in anything Elon Musk does. Maybe I’ll be the first person to own $1 million worth of Tesla stock, yet not actually own a Tesla car myself.
- How can you gain critical feedback and constructive feedback to improve your photography? Upload your photos to arsbeta.com
- I still think there is a very good opportunity to be had when it comes to websites and blogs for your photography. What I am personally curious about is how to design a website which is very conducive to this.