Sara’s entry found its way to my inbox in early January, reading it made me laugh, reflect, and nod in agreement. It also convinced me that she was one of the coolest photographers that I’ve yet to meet. Here’s her wittily truthful post, I hope you’ll enjoy and be inspired by it.
Photography is a language.
To most of us it’s a foreign language we are learning how to speak, but even if you are fluent in shutter speed and aperture, even if you know everything about bouncing flash and own the best camera on the market, the thing is if you don’t have something to say, then you’re pretty screwed.
I have been taking pictures for the last 10 years and I think the single most important advice I could give is that at some point you’ll have to invest some time in finding your voice, in making sure you’re not actually wasting time narrating someone else’s story.
I wrote this manifesto back in 2005 and I guess it is the most honest thing I could actually share with you. Every time something went wrong for me I can track it back to ignoring one of these points.
I’m not saying you should actually subscribe to it, you don’t even have to agree with anything I say. But if there is one thing I’ve learnt so far it’s that you need to find a set of rules that is true to you and stick to them. Even when every cool kid on the Internet is doing something entirely different.
Here it goes:
1. You don’t need to tell the truth in a picture, but you need to be true to yourself when you shoot it.
4. Never publish a picture you’d be ashamed to show your family.
5. Don’t let bad critiques take you down, but be lucid enough to see the truth in them.
7. No bullshit. Dig deeper.
8. Take your time. Rome wasn’t built in a day and all that stuff. This doesn’t mean you’re allowed to stop when things get difficult.
11. Don’t sell your work to someone you have no respect for.
12. Stay independent. What you do is meant to keep you sane, not to make you rich.
13. Learn from other people’s work.
15. Remember to laugh.
16. Help those who are starting out. Nothing you do is precious enough to be kept hidden: the real value is in the way you do it.
17. Don’t kill yourself. Might look good in a biography, but it’s not very clever.