It’s been raining all evening here in DC. I love rain, and discovered that I really like to capture water at various speeds. Here are a few shots I took of a fountain near the Smithsonian Castle last year.
My very close friend, Dotch, has been an Apple/Mac aficionado since college. I still get a hearty chuckle reflecting on him clearing space and polishing the corner of the dorm desk for his first Mac. Over the years, he’s stayed true to the brand, and I’ve never once heard him cursing at his computer.
Fast forward to the last few weeks with my (knock on wood) trusty Toshiba 17″ wide screen Satellite laptop. The machine itself has been humming along for nearly two years. What’s been giving me increasingly giving me fits, though, is the buggy Windows architecture. (I’m running on Windows Vista Home Premium.) It begin with an occasional hiccup here and there with program compatibility. I bought a few Windows Vista magazines and the tips provide in them seemed to tweak out the goofy stuff. Recently, though, I’ve been nagging little problems. I could see if this was a one off thing. Maybe something happened that my system didn’t like. However, the system alerts has been showing up with some frequency. It seems like nearly every time I point my cursor down to my system tray, I get the hour glass. A couple double clicks later…this stupid alert.
What the…? COME ON!!!!!
Notwithstanding Dotch’s testimonials for the last 20 years about Apple products, I’ve been relatively neutral on the platform issue. I’m not really one for peer pressure or so easily enamored with Apple products. Sure, they’re pretty, but, heretofore, had not discerned a difference in utility between the two platforms . So when I’ve receive a distinct, almost incredulous, “WHAT? You don’t have a Mac?” from follow photographers, I brushed it off. I enjoyed a quiet chortle, observing that all these Mac owners are running programs–Photoshop or Lightroom–that run on PCs in lieu of Apple’s Aperture. What’s the big deal?
At the sake of being redundant, this…
…is becoming a BIG deal!
Starting out in this business is costly enough with the expense of “photography equipment.” However, as I acknowledged in a previous post, in the age of digital photography, a computer is just as much photography equipment as are the camera bodies, lenses, lights and filters. I’m a very patient person, but I have a low threshold for equipment that doesn’t perform as designed. I can’t blame Toshiba, really. It’s the unstable Windows OS that I’m learning deserves all the criticism heaped upon it by Apple and countless numbers of technology writers. After all these years, I think I’ve reached the end of my rope with PCs. A MacBook Pro just may find a home on my lap in the near future.
At times, I find that pursuing the road to making photography my “day job” is akin to being a contestant on the CBS reality show Amazing Race. Contestants expend considerable energy–physical, emotional, intellectual–performing challenges and piecing clues together so they may reach a given destination; only to discover that the reward for all that effort is an envelope revealing the next challenge. I am convinced that I am on the right path, because not once have I been discouraged by the challenges presented. I have a tendency to become bored, particularly once I’ve solved the challenge. Pursuing a career as a photographer, especially in the digital age, is anything but boring because the challenges are new and numerous.
One of the legs on this journey has proven to be quite befuddling. That issue is a question of focus. I don’t mean focus, as in the ability to concentrate. My dilemma is determining or defining the focus of my photography.
I look at many photographers with some measure of envy because they are so clearly focused. Whether their focus is weddings, portraiture, nature, food, etc., I play this “Man, they’ve got it all figured out” tape in my head. If only I could find one theme, subject matter, or genre to concentrate my photographic energy on, perhaps my path forward would be more clear.
This tug over whether to have a narrow or wide focus is what has, effectively, ground my website to a standstill. I am pretty settled on the layout, color scheme, and division of pages on the site. Where I can’t seem to get the site in gear is the galleries. What I’ve come to realize is that my subject matter is all over the place. As I move from one image folder to the next, looking to build galleries, I become increasingly frustrated. Just what is my focus? How do I winnow all these images down into cogent, discernible galleries? How do I capture the attention, and make sense of my images to those visiting my site for the first time? I do suspect that my photographic style would become apparent, irrespective of the subject matter, but is that enough to bind the images into a cohesive, palatable galleries?
Beyond, and more important than, my concern about the content of my web galleries is the thought of attracting clients. I envision most people having an idea of the type of subject that want in image, and/or will tend to gravitate toward photographers, or other artists, that clearly present work that fits what’s in their mind’s eye. It’s probably an age-old question. Do you adapt your art to fit the appetite of the buyer, or does the buyer adapt to the artist’s work? I would like to think it’s the latter. (Or at least that’s my hope.)
As with many things, I’m inspired by Carla. In this instance, I think about Carla frequently being asked about her catering company. People often ask her, “What’s your culinary specialty?” Her answer, some what tongue-in-cheek, is “Good food.” Her point is that she doesn’t have a singular focus, per se. She adapts and tailors each menu to the clients needs. Carla’s focus and talent is her breadth.
Clearly there’s a place and a role for specialists. Just as there are executive chefs, bakers, pastry chefs, sauciers, garde mangers, etc.…there are photographic specialists. I have to believe there is also a place, or space, for a photographer who covers many fronts. The key for a generalist, if you will, is to be incredibly competent in many different areas, so as to deliver the desire product to a diverse clientele. Of course, this is the musing of a photographer at the nascent stage of his career. The beauty of journaling these thoughts will be that I can revisit them years from now to see where I’ve been and what path traveled. It’s my hope that a focus will be revealed, or, in the alternative, I display the aptitude and gain acceptance for doing many things well.