I was looking through a well known photographers portfolio recently.
I felt bad.
I wanted to respect the persons experience, and investment. I mean I do, but the more I looked at the images
the more I was feeling that the only factor that set the images apart from others was economic.
Not amazing emotional connection, or vision, or anything based in creativity.
I really dont want to sound like a dick here. Especially when you are talking about people that have been shooting for much longer.
Im not sure if I just have a tendency to distill things down to black and white, but I believe that what makes a photograph valuable is scarcity. Something that you dont see every day. Something that makes you feel or think about something that normally does not find its way into your consciousness on a day to day basis. Im also starting to believe that there are two primary things that make a photograph rare which are not always symbiotic in nature. Artistic scarcity, and economic scarcity.
What struck me about the featured image in this photographers portfolio was that what set it apart was entirely based in how expensive the equipment being used was. There is nothing wrong with using expensive equipment. Its awesome.
But what I am discovering is that it can often be used as a substitute for actual artistic vision and innovative thinking.
What is also interesting to me is that the expensive equipment being used in the shot exists because some photographer somewhere decided to do something totally different that the norm, and used weird materials to achieve a result that had never been seen before, and it became popular, and businesses popped up around the innovation saying "You MUST use this over priced equipment or your not a "serious" photographer."
But then historically, that is how it has been. The innovators create, then their innovations become the norm, an the very mindset that created the innovation is replaced by something else.
Ill make it more practical, and invite some inevitable criticism.
I am going to shoot some action sequences next month. The current expert advice for this kind of shooting says I will need the following:
One or two high powered flash units with grids for focusing the light in a 60 degree beam.
A power pack. Not the cheap ones mind you, but something that can recycle at a super fast rate so you can catch the action sequence at a high enough shutter speed to not get motion blur. And you dont want to use cheap flash units because the color of the light can change from shot to shot. You need something that can throw out enough light etc etc etc.
If I just followed the economic scarcity model without questioning it, I would probably just give up and shoot senior portraits.
But what if you question the economic scarcity barrier? How do you do that? Is that ok? what if they laugh at you and tell you youre stupid?
Really??? You arent even going to try it???
Try to break it down into questions that aren't influenced by what you "shouldnt" do, and instead ask how you can accomplish it using all available resources....no matter if they aren't "traditional" or not.
If i need a 5500k light source, that is bright enough to keep the background from getting blown out, and can be used at a distance without losing to much intensity, do I have to use a $5000 dollar light set-up, or could I use two super high intensity LED bicycle lights with sanded glass hemispheres stuck to the front to diffuse the light into an amazingly smooth and even quality? Wait, Im not supposed to ask that question? It makes me not a "real" photographer?
Huh. Well see if that is true in a month.
What I am saying is, dont be afraid of trying something different. And dont be afraid of being excited about it. And if people discourage you from trying things that "cant be done", listen to the reasons politely, thank them, then reasearch and test whether or not what they said is true. I mean its all worth testing. IF you think you can do it, then TRY it. And if and when you succeed, you will have gained confidence in your ability to risk.