Women Who Changed The Face of Professional Photography – Part 2

As a lover of the history of photography, I greatly appreciated Rachel LaCour Niesen’s post profiling Women Who Changed the Face of Professional Photography. As women and as photographers, we stand on the shoulders of these trailblazing photographers. Here are a few who most inspire me and my work.

Frances Benjamin Johnston

Frances Benjamin Johnston wrote the manual for women photographers, literally. In 1897, the Ladies Home Journal published her article “What a Woman Can Do with a Camera.” From art to business, so much of her advice is as relevant today as it was 115 years ago. On the art of photography, Johnston wrote:

To those ambitious to do studio portraiture I should say, study art first and photography afterward, if you aim at distinction and originality…Any person of average intelligence can produce photographs by the thousand, but to give art value to the fixed image of the camera-obscura requires imagination, discriminating taste, …

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What Wedding Photographers Can Learn from Documentarians – Part 2

Dorothea Lange and Jack Delano

Do you remember a time when photography was your way of experiencing and explaining the world?

This week’s series was inspired by Annie Leibovitz and the FSA Photographers of the Great Depression. The articled asked some challenging questions.

Is it possible to do the work that we are moved to create while we are doing commissioned work? What if we started looking at lists and schedules and the routine of shooting wedding after wedding as an opportunity rather than a hindrance to creativity? What if the shooting script expanded our creative options rather than limiting them?

The FSA required its photographers “to be more than an artist, more than an adequate mechanic. He must be something of a sociologist, something of an economist; he must be a good deal of wangler, equally at home with a hostess or a farmer’s wife; he must have a healthy nose for news coupled with a thorough skepticism of biased …

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What Wedding Photographers Can Learn from the Farm Security Administration – Part 1

Dorothea Lange and Gordon Parks

I recently attended the Graduate Symposium on Creativity at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. Annie Leibovitz was the Keynote Speaker, followed by a panel discussion with creative professionals in the fields of art education, interior design, book arts, exhibition design and photojournalism.

During her keynote, Leibovitz talked about pushing the creative envelope even when you are doing commissioned work. Largely, Leibovitz’s work is commissioned, although her most recent project, Pilgrimage, is a personal project and as she says in the book, “For me, it meant going back to taking pictures when I was moved to take a picture. When there wasn’t an agenda…To be in a situation where I took a picture just because I saw it.” Leibovitz commented that this personal project directly fed into her portraiture work that followed.

Are personal work and side projects the only ways to fulfill your creative needs? Or is there balance we can find …

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Running Your Photography Business & Having a Day Job

Running my own photography business is a dream job.  But it’s not the only one I have.  I have a regular, 40+ hour/week job in a completely unrelated field.  Sound familiar?  At some point, many photographers find themselves working 2 jobs – either they are building up their photography business (and bank account) for the day when they can leave the day job behind or they’ve chosen to do both simultaneously for a variety of reasons.  The trick is not being able to do both – the trick is being able to do both, stay sane, get a normal amount of sleep each night, and enjoy yourself (that includes having a personal life!).

I started out like a lot of photographers – working my day job while building my photography business on evenings and weekends.  For me, when my photography business grew to the point where financially I could leave my …

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