If only I was a Lawyer

We are in a situation where it’s all becoming the same, no one can think for themselves and everyone wants an easy answer. Fortunately for them, easy answers are easy to come by……..

I get frequent emails asking about lenses, camera settings, business (I have no fucking clue about business), all kinds of photography related stuff, and recently had someone ask if I could send them a processed RAW file because they wanted their photographs to look like mine. Seriously, no liesies, “…but your look is the look that I want so if you could send me a processed RAW file, that’d be great”

Although my response is usually helpful, it’s starting to become a little less so, it’s starting to wear me down. Especially when all you get back is, “thanks for that”

I feel like it has become acceptable to freely give your ideas, your techniques, your process and your soul to anyone that asks, and it’s frowned up on, even offensive, to not be helpful. Everyone wants to be liked, everyone wants to be part of the cool gang, and everyone is obliging. Everyone is obliging to the point that there is no mystery as an artist, the popular style wins through, everything looks the same, and everything is just a watered down version of everything else.

Kool Herc wouldn’t tell people what records he played, stating that if everyone was playing his records then what would make him stand out, why would anyone go to his party over anyone else.

Likewise, if everyones photographs look the same, what makes you stand out, why would someone choose you over someone else……

When questioned about a specific technique, Bill Brandt replied, “a magician never reveals his secrets”

Why then do we think it’s ok to spill our guts to everyone that asks?  Why do we have a situation where we think that we are “All in it together” because that’s not the case at all.

Everyone is in it for themselves, and if they can shortcut to success they will step all over you to get there…..Ok maybe it’s not that extreme, but it’s not far off. False alliances and friendships built on the fact that we are all photographers and we should all be helping each other out are wearing a little thin for me. Just because you have the word, photography, after your name, does not make us the same. Neither does it make us friends, that shit takes time. I’ll gladly help anyone that is helping themselves, but free information because you can’t be bothered to find out for yourself is something that we should all start think about.

Try asking a lawyer for free advice.

Like I’ve got time for this shit…..

I don’t enter photography competitions, and I don’t submit my photographs/weddings to blogs or wedding industry websites. It’s not why I make photographs, it’s not why I’m a photographer. For some, it seems to be their whole purpose…….

I see the ‘photographer’ that needs to be validated, that needs to be part of the gang, the photographer that falls into line and shoots for the all powerful blog that drives popular trends, the photographer that is only shooting to be recognised, and to me, the photographer that is lost.

“the constant repetition of falsehood is more convincing than the demonstration of truth.” ― Mark Rothko

I do however, if asked (nicely) offer my opinion, my viewpoint and photographs. But all too often I find myself in this scenario……..

Hey Ian!

We’ve come across your wedding work as you were mentioned by another photographer and wondered if you would be interested in submitting a real wedding to the site, we’d love to feature you. We are (Blah blah wedding nonsense) and we showcase the very best wedding photographers around the world.

If you’re interested please get in touch, we just need you to answer a few questions and that’s about it, there is no cost to your business.

Thanks

The Team!

Hello The Team,

That’s great, I’d be happy to do so. If you send over the information I’ll get on it as soon as I can.

Cheers,

Ian

That’s awesome,

Please find attached a list of questions, and details about images and other info that we need!!

Can’t wait!!!!

Hi,

Please find attached your answered questionnaire, and link to photographs. Let me know if you need to make any amendments to the text (I can bang on a bit), I’d be happy to cut it down if needed.

Thanks,

Ian

Super!!! We’ll get back to you in a couple of days!

Two weeks later I while re-writing (endlessly) a to do list I realise that I had spent some time answering some questions, selecting images and forwarding it all to, Blah blah wedding nonsense. That shit takes time, a lot of time.

Hi there,

I was wondering if you guys had gotten around to the feature that I sent you a couple a weeks ago?

Ian

Hi Ian,

Thank you for submitting your wedding to be reviewed for a feature on, Blah blah wedding nonsense. Unfortunately, at this time, your work is not fitting with our vision, and style of wedding photography. Please feel free to submit in the future as we are always looking for unique weddings to feature.

Thank you,

The Team!

Hello The Team (Inappropriate exclamation mark)

You do realise that it was you that asked me to submit? I spent time answering your questions – to which I’m sure the answers were far from your expectations – selecting and formatting images and sending them off to you on your request, for you not to bother featuring them.

You are driving an industry with your own distorted view of what wedding photography should be, and so scared of losing followers that you are afraid to deviate from what is deemed acceptable. If you’d have done your homework to start with, you would have realised that what I do is not fitting with your ‘vision’, which in truth, is not your vision –  its a homogenised view that is so steeped in aesthetics it’s impossible to separate one blog from another.

Rest assured, I will not be submitting to you in the future because you are not, ‘….always looking for unique weddings’ You are only looking to promote yourself and further your reach by featuring what ever is most popular at the moment, and exploiting photographers that know no better for your own gain.

I don’t have time for that shit.

Lots of Love,

Ian

P.S. Add inappropriate exclamation marks wherever you see fit.

POWWOW!

ˈpaʊwaʊ/

“A conference or meeting for discussion, especially among friends or colleagues”
A Powwow!, and we’re having one. A Photography Powwow to be exact. Myself and my main man, Facundo Santana, from Argentina.
facusantana02
We think that there is a problem, and that problem is, “workshops”

We mean workshops that are delivered by ill educated, misinformed individuals that have no experience, giving advice to (paying) people that don’t know any better. The workshop giver that has no portfolio to speak of, no business apart from workshops, and is offering a quick fix to success……. The workshop giver that is fooling people into thinking that there is a substitute for hard work, determination, and failure, as is doing nothing more than praying on the weaknesses of other human beings for their own gain. That’s what really gets me. We have to find our own way, and if we start off in the wrong place then you may never find it. Ever. The industry, and systems in place are designed to keep you coming back, to keep spending your money – a bit like Weight Watchers – in a never ending loop of trends and popular techniques. As a lecturer on Photography History it pains me to see so many people being led up the garden path, to be fooled into thinking that there is an easy answer.  The whole,”Shoot to get Published” or “You’re a Rockstar” or “Smoke Bomb Prism Super Awesomeness” (Ok I made that last one up…I think) is wearing a little thin, and we think there needs to be a change. So we decided to put a plan into action.

www.ianweldon.com
www.ianweldon.com

Both myself, and Facundo are working, successful photographers, and although we photograph weddings we couldn’t be any further away from what you’d expect a wedding photographer to be.

facusantana06

www.facundosantana.com

Fundamentally we are photographers, with a love and a passion for the moment, and a love of photography itself. Our photography is not formulaic, it’s an extension of who we are, as artists.

www.ianweldon.com
www.ianweldon.com

Wedding photography workshops will show you how to photograph a wedding, we aim to teach you how to be a photographer.

Information on Ian & Facu’s, Photography Powwow!, will be coming soon……..

You can contact us @ photographyatweddings@gmail.com

Just a thought

I get into way too many conversations about photography, unfortunately these conversations are instigated by me. You’d think I’d have learned my lesson by now.

When I have these conversations, it quickly becomes apparent – in a lot of cases – that photography is being reduced to mere aesthetics. An opinion on how it should be, how it should look. An opinion that is derived from what the industry tells us is right. An opinion that is taken from who ever is a rockstar at the moment, because if they’re popular, then that’s the way to do it…right?

Mindlessly following trends and perpetually attending the same kind of workshop, or seminar might keep you in favour with the cool kids, and everyone might think you’re super awesome, but it’s nothing more than aesthetics, all style and no real substance. I think of it as like being a domesticated dog, eternal puppies. They never need to mature and fend for themselves, they don’t have to, someone is looking out for them. But for them it’s free, albeit the incessant paw giving, sitting and being a good boy. 

I know, blah blah blah, Evil Photography Industry, blah blah blah Photography History, blah blah blah…..But I’ve been reading some books recently on some of my favourite painters – Abstract Expressionism to be exact. An ideology that intrigued me from the beginning, that has weaved it’s way into my consciousness over the years.

Process by proxy?

So, the point is to express feeling through the act of painting itself, the process, without fixating on the actual product of that act, the artwork.

I think that’s the issue with most [Wedding] photography, is people fixate on the final product. People want to achieve that ‘popular’ final product, as easily as possible, that will ‘WOW” others. But really it falls short, even on the level it’s meant to work. It has no substance, and will eventually be cast aside for the next style or trend and photographers will get lost in the next vast landscape, or smoke bomb, and the latest trick seems to be the only guiding light. They latch onto it with all they have and flog that dead horse for all it’s worth.

I believe that the study of your craft, and art in general, will bring about a new direction for (all) photographers, a direction devoid of trends and fads, and set you on a path to understanding, not just yourselves, but the world around you. Sensitivity will bring you closer to your craft, and closer to yourself. You will never again be caught in the trap of the latest trend, where you feel safe and warm.

So the idea that we can study our art, and study the technical aspect of our equipment, and work on understanding what we do and why we do it, and understanding the world around us, and understanding others, is to create without consideration of the end product. Because that end product will be an extension of you, and no one will be able to copy it, and you will have a voice. Your art will be uniquely yours, an extension of you.

“They value expression over perfection, vitality over finish, fluctuation over repose, the unknown over the known, the veiled over the clear, the individual over society, and the inner over the outer” – William Seitz

Just a thought.

What’s the secret?

www.ianweldon.com
http://www.ianweldon.com

We all get it, and I’m sure that in the beginning most of us have done it.

In the search of an easy answer, in the search for the magic settings and in the search for that one piece of gear that will make you great.

What were your settings for that shot?

The problem is, is that most people looking for answers don’t really understand the questions that they’re asking. I receive a pretty constant flow of emails asking how I made the switch, the transition to shooting in my own way.

I get asked how – after shooting in a certain style and in a certain way, with such a healthy business and expectant clients – can I shoot more of what I want, in a way that I want, and like you?

The answer my friends is simple. You need to start again. From the beginning, and build your pyramid the right way up.  I don’t know of any other way to do it. I didn’t make a transition, I didn’t switch to my way of shooting, it’s pretty much how I started.  I’ve given this answer to people and have had responses such as –

That’s easy for you to say, I have a house and children to support.

But I’ll lose a hefty part of my business, I’ll alienate my audience.

I haven’t got the balls to do what you do, etc…..

Up until 3 years ago I was working 3 jobs to support my photography. Taking on commercial jobs to pay the bills, driving wagons on a weekend and teaching on an evening during the week. 70 – 80 hrs, easily. And when I wasn’t working I was studying. I did this so I didn’t have to shoot weddings in the way that it’s supposed to be done. I did it so I could document, truly document, and not have to pretend to be all gaga crazy over wedding dresses and pretend to be wrapped up in the charade. Because really, weddings don’t interest me, people do, and weddings are a great place to photograph people. I don’t have to pretend to be something that I’m not and I don’t have to follow what’s popular or trendy. I’m not thinking like a wedding photographer, I’m thinking like a photographer, and to me there’s a whole world of difference.

I find it difficult to give advice to people because they think it will come from the perspective of a business owner, a wedding photographer, but I’m at the other end of the scale, completely. In fact I’m not even on your scale, and I don’t say that as an, I’m better thank you, I say it as an, I’m completely different.

I see photographers, and I use that term loosely, who put in no effort, who look like a poor copy of everyone else, who steal jargon from the industry and pass it off as their own personality. I don’t admire your work ethic and I don’t think that your bag of smoke bombs is rad.

When the “How did you get where you are today?” question comes up I promote the understanding of the craft, learn the history, at least some of it, and study the philosophy of photography. Again, this is usually met with resistance. In fact, a surprising amount of resistance.

I recently had one response that suggested I was making a “Profound” mistake in believing that the history of photography was important…..

*Note – improper use of the word profound.

…..and that because I’ve studied the history of photography my work is more valid than that of a teenager who’s just picked up his first camera.  Stating that – ‘It’s probably going to be technically better, it’ll follow the rules of composition etc.,’

I think people are missing the point somewhat, or are afraid to admit to themselves that it takes more than just owning a fancy camera to be a photographer.

There is a general consensus, too, that because we are all photographers we should all agree on everything, all of the time. It’s simply not the case. I think that a lot of the issues I talk about – boring photography, copy cats, a lack of individualism, etc…. are born from this idea that we should all be supporting each other, no matter what. It’s as nonsensical as, ‘blood is thicker than water’.

When I talk of studying the history of photography, it has nothing to do with composition, or technical ability. People get so hung on the fact that photography is a visual endeavour that they can dismiss, easily so, the ideology that surrounds the craft. The same as any art form, the medium/technique is somewhat inconsequential. Photography in itself isn’t art, the artist makes it so.

I come to the act of photography through ideas, ideas of what, and why photography is. Not as a technical or aesthetic endeavour. We will all become proficient given time, and technical proficiency and composition can be learned by anyone. A philosophy is developed through understanding, not just photography, but also ourselves. So when I talk about studying early photographers I’m not talking about their pictures, I’m talking about their philosophy, and what they did to craft this relatively new medium.

I don’t expect everyone to agree with me, and certainly don’t expect everyone to be a meticulous historian. But please, have an interest in your craft if you call yourself a photographer. The idea of being a photographer, for most, is far more important than actually being a photographer.

Where do we want be? I’m not a proponent of pop, but neither am I saying that we shouldn’t look at Instagram or Facebook. What I’m saying is, to stand out, we must transcend the commonplace garbage that’s forced in front of out eyes every minute of every day, and make up our own minds. To be a product of what photography is rather than a product of a diluted, and shallow aesthetic based culture. Ideas are paramount.

We need to promote the idea that photography, just like any other art form, requires dedication and time. Not all of us were destined to be artists, like not everyone who buys a guitar will become a musician. Unfortunately for photography, there is a make it look good setting. You don’t get that on a paint brush, and people can easily be fooled into thinking that they’re good. It’s bullshit. A well composed and sharp image isn’t necessarily good, and a blurred image with seemingly no composition isn’t necessarily bad.

A much longer and more detailed conversation about what makes a good photograph could be added here.

Study, and practice have been the driving force in my learning as a photographer, and understanding (at least some of) the history of your craft will better help you to contextualise the now, and the future of your own work.

I see a lot of copy cat photography, and as art, it holds no weight.

Individuality, purpose, and intent born from an understanding is much deeper. Fuck middle of the road. I like passion, and art, and that can really only be created from a deeper understanding of what we do and why we do it. When I look at a lot of photography there isn’t anything that really separates one photographer from another, it’s all style based.

My photography looks the way that it does not because of a trend of a fad, it’s looks the way it does through the implementation of my ideology, and the form, as they say, must follow the function.

So when I get asked how I made the switch, the transition, and how you can shoot like me, you can’t. I’d be impossible. I can’t explain it really, everything down to the way I hold my camera and how I push the shutter effects it. I just can’t be taught. A formula can be taught, but not what I do.

What you need to do is shoot like you, and I believe the only way to get there is to study the history of your craft and form your own understanding of what photography is.

“The mystery isn’t in the technique, it’s in each of us” – Harry Callahan

Peace, out 🙂

A Very Peculiar Situation

Sooooooooo, I’ve been asked be part of a collaborative group that share information, tips, images etc… for a popular photography blog.  The most recent is as follows –

“Next Collaborative Article!”

Top Wedding Photographers Share Their Best Piece of Advice for Beginners

I’m looking for:
1. An awesome image to show off your work

2. Your ONE piece of advice to someone just starting out in the industry (1-3 sentences)

SUBMITTING – Once your tip/comment has been selected, please

1. Send email to me hanssie@slrlounge.com including:

2. Business name/website

3. Images sized to 1000-2000px wide (landscape is ideal)

4. Your piece of advice

This article will be designed for keywords and SEO, so a link to your website coming from “Insert popular photography blog here” is a great content marketing piece. Be sure to take advantage and submit!

My Advice, and Photograph

“Only make photographs that you’d like to look at”

www.ianweldon.com
http://www.ianweldon.com

The response – 

Haha. This is funny, but do you have a more wedding centric one? Since the article is wedding photography tips 🙂

Errrrrrr….

This is one of my favourite wedding photographs of 2015, and epitomises the advice it supports. I’m not sure that I’d be happy to give this advice and attach a photograph that I think someone else might like to see. To me, this is wedding photography. Feel free to use it, or not.

Have you seen my wedding photography?

What were you thinking?

A lot of people I talk to about photography seem to see it as a purely visual thing. The aesthetic is all dominant and how you get there is unimportant. Well, it fucking is important, because without careful consideration your art is empty, boring and only geared toward the person that you are shooting for. That’s serving a customer base, not being an artist. I am specifically talking about wedding photography here, where everyone wants to be a rock star and everyone seems to want fame and fortune.

That’s all fair and well, but there are some of us who don’t really understand that, and are not motivated by numbers, popularity and giving people an “experience”. I’d like to think that the people who hire me are intelligent enough to create their own, experience.  The more numbers motivated you are, the more likely you are to adjust your sights to make up for any deficit, and the more “customer” orientated you are the more you will become a slave to them, and the industry.

I have a responsibility to the people that hire me, a responsibility to be the best I can be. Not to be the most popular, not to pander to every whim, not to be booking 2 weddings every weekend and be worn out, and most of all, to be honest in my approach and my photography.  After all, that’s what they hire me for.

There are years of refinement in my approach and understanding of photography and I will shout my belief  from the roof tops, I will stand by it, and I will happily be called out for it. After all, I’m putting it out there, it’s expected. I don’t want everyone to like it, and if others are willing to put it out there then they should be prepared to be called out too. Don’t get angry about it, and don’t try to win an argument when you are questioned in your methods.

Customer focused photographers create pictures, photographers create photographs that they would like to look at themselves. After all, an artist is making selections based on their understanding of themselves.

I can see what you were thinking, and a lot of the time it was nothing at all.

www.ianweldon.com
http://www.ianweldon.com

 

 

 

Still Boring as Fuck

You know, most of what I say is tongue in cheek. It’s just a retort on what I find ridiculous about the photography industry.

We all remember the, ‘Wedding Photography Boring as Fuck‘ post right? I still think it is by the way, I’m not retracting my statement or anything.

Well, there was a lot of feed back from that;  mostly good, some bad, and some constructive. I had one lengthy response from a photography friend that covered some valid points which made me think a bit more about what I wrote and prompted me to explain myself a little more.It was all in good faith, though, and all discussion (intelligent) is welcome.

So, a reasoning of sorts, a jump off point so you can see where I’m coming from perhaps, or maybe just a load of mumbo jumbo?

______________________________________________________

 

Most of what I write is just what I think, observation on a topic that has become a huge part of who I am and I certainly don’t expect everyone to agree with me. My life is consumed – in the best possible way – by photography. It’s not just a ‘passion’, it’s a way of life, it’s a philosophy. At times it’s the most difficult thing I’ve ever encountered and has made me question, and adjust, my own perspective on life, who I am, what I do and why I do it. It has unexpectedly given me confidence beyond any expectation and has clarified my relationships with others.

All of which, has been nothing but good.

From that stand point is where my thoughts come from, and I’ll stand by the post title because for me most wedding photography is, boring as fuck. I think for the reasons stated and because photography is ‘cool’ and you can be a ‘rockstar’ and everything is ‘rad’ and you can just do a couple of workshops and get some fancy branding and look like what’s popular and everyone will love you.

To be honest though, I don’t really care what people do. If that’s what they want then great, there is a huge market for that kind of thing, for the same reasons MacDonalds is packed out every weekend and the Get Me Out The Jungle thing is so popular, it’s easy to like and it’s convenient. Middle of the road.

Starting out, I was swept away by the industry, an industry that I now understand doesn’t care about photography. It only cares about taking your money. I bought, on recommendation from youtube and photography groups, thousands of pounds worth of gear that I just didn’t need. Unfortunately I didn’t know any better. I made photographs in the way I was told to make them and was criticised for odd composition, or having grain or using a flash on top of my camera and I tried, for a while, to step into line and be a ‘real’ photographer. If there is any bitterness, it’s toward my own stupidity for believing it for so long.

The pressure to conform, still, for me can be overwhelming. A constant barrage of what’s right, top tips, gear that will revolutionise your photography and the wedding blogs (that couples who know nothing about photography read) telling everyone what’s hot.

This has created a multitude of photographers that are blindly following and not standing with their own opinion, and creativity and individuality have suffered, greatly.

Surely it’s ok to rock the boat a little. I don’t expect what I write to make sense to experienced photographers that have a voice, that have vision, but if I can help change the way someone approaches photography, to help them to cut through the bullshit and do their own thing, without fear of criticism, then I don’t think that’s a bad place to start.

A conversation I have often is the topic of photography history, and the benefit of understanding it. Not to be a meticulous historian, but to understand.

Your point about Murray Walker is a valid one, but I doubt that Michael Schumacher, Valentino Rossi, Tiger Woods, Paula Radcliffe or Pelé do not have a comprehensive understanding of the history of their sport, and every champion that came before them. And, I don’t know of any great (in my eyes) musician or band that doesn’t understand, to varying extent, music history.

My point being that understanding photography history helps us to understand what, and why photography is. In doing so it not only helps us to understand out place within it, but what it is we want to say, as artists. It has nothing to do with the best new lens or a technique that makes your images look ‘rad’ and everything to do with our relationship to photography. The stronger that relationship, I believe, the better the vision and the better the photographer. I’ve learned more about photography by studying the philosophy of photographers than I have by studying their photographs.

Nothing of what I write comes from malicious intent, but that of protection I think. Photography means a great deal to me and when people dismiss it as an easy ride or a quick way to become awesome, and don’t consider their action, and don’t consider the required commitment to be good, not competent anyone can do that, I mean really good, and talk to me with little understanding of not just photography history but camera operation, it pisses me off a bit. Especially when they proudly tell me that they are a photographer too.

If I can help people to care for photography more through my own experiences and observations, I hope that in turn it will help to make the photography industry a bit better. To have newer photographers thinking for themselves and questioning the things they are told, can only be of benefit.

Stop being a consumer of ideas and be a producer of ideas.

There is not one great artist that has achieved anything by going about their business the way that its expected to be done.

And yes, I still think Wedding Photography is Boring as Fuck.