Tuesday, May 4, 2010

50% Pain

[Meadowlark Gardens, VA - infrared shot at F11]

Recently, I have been intrigued by infrared photography. I love how infrared forces me to think and visualize differently from what my eye can see. I have grown to love the color green and clouds, which infrared turns into a dreamy white on the canvas of a photograph. In order to start shooting infrared more regularly, I need to buy another Canon body and have the sensor irreversibly adjusted. Photography continues to be an expensive hobby. What's a few more toys? My bank account is in serious pain.

"10% luck. 
20% skill.
15% concentrated power of will. 
5% pleasure.
50% pain.
And 100% reason to remember the name."

- Fort Minor, "Remember the Name"

I find these lines particularly applicable to photography. Anything that goes beyond the comfortable confines of a hobby and starts to teeter into the territory of a job is filled with pain. Photography as a hobby is all fun. Photography as a job requires much more discipline and engaging in tedious but necessary activities. As I've grown older, I have come to realize that every single job in the world is like that. For a while, photography and poker seemed like too good to be true professions. In the past year, through my tangential pursuit of each arena, I have come to realize that the grass in fact just looks better from the other side. So keep mowing your lawn.

Baby Momma photographers and Uncle Bob photographers are surely scratching their heads. They take pictures all the time and enjoy doing so. "Spray and pray" (in auto to boot) is their preferred operating mode, an approach that doesn't fare too well in the field. The hours that go into improving as a photographer are far greater than I anticipated before I started my training. It sounds like an adapted cliche, but photography is yet another area where there is no gain without pain. And photography does not discriminate. No matter who you are, you're only going to get back what you painfully put in.

I was in Chicago for a bachelor party this weekend. Good friends. Good food. Great city. Awesome time. As is the case with all bachelor parties, I didn't get much sleep. When I got off the plane at 1:30 PM on Sunday, I knew I didn't have much time before the wedding at 3 PM. Being so tired, I kind of thought about skipping the gig, but having committed, I did not want to go back on my word. That was the first time the thought of working an event felt like a job to me. It was a great example and reminder of the pain principle. In a quiet and unceremonious way, I felt like I crossed some kind of photography rite of passage. Ironically, I think I got some of my best images to this point at this past weekend's wedding. And it almost didn't happen. I will keep that in mind the next time I am debating calling out and taking a nap.

And despite the 50% pain, I still find that I am eager to get out there again in pursuit of that 5% pleasure. Because to be totally honest, that 5% sometimes feels like 1000%. During those moments, the time and sacrifice are all worth it.

Since this is a photography blog, I will share a few photographs. As much as I would like to, I cannot share my best photographs from recent gigs. When I get my own gigs, I will, but for now, I have to respect the subjects' privacy and want to avoid anything that might complicate my mentor's business. One day, some of those images will show up in my portfolio I am sure. For now, I suppose there is no real proof that I am a photographer nor evidence that I am improving. = )

Here are a few of my favorite photographs of Japan:

[Mount Fuji from a Bullet Train]

[Geisha Meets West - Kyoto]

[Begging Monk - Kyoto]

I took these photos before I started getting really serious about photography. These images don't make me cringe like most of my earlier shots, but I would be the first to admit they are over-processed. I see plenty of room for improvement in the images, but it kind of amuses me to remember how I used to approach photography.

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