As a photographer, when I am looking at other photographers’ pictures, I am more critical than the average viewer. Anyone else next to me is content with enjoying the image for whatever reason while I judge the light, concept, and composition. Anyone else may say, “That’s cool,” while I say, “Those are great catch-lights,” or, “It isn’t very sharp.” Anyone else is impressed with a photograph which employs selective color while I bash it for being cliché.

Who do you shoot for? The average person who makes up 99% of your clientele? My advice (which probably does not count for much) is to shoot for yourself. Not that you should stop sharing your images with the public, but when taking the pictures, do so for yourself. For your passion, inspiration, or comical relief.

Why? Say you shoot portraits and your clientele consists of people with little or no photographic experience. If you shoot for them it will be doing the bare minimum. You will slack off and your pictures will never improve. A good deal of customers have what I would consider low expectations and may not push you to be more creative or ground-breaking. Most parents will buy prints of their children’s school picture; even if they are crap. A good photographer knows that this does not mean it is acceptable to take mediocre pictures of children just because they can. Can and should are very different concepts.

Last week I attended a friend’s band practice. I was sitting there listening, bobbing my head like an idiot, and loving the music. They stopped. The beat of the vocals and drums did not match up. They could have fooled me- or anyone who attended a show. Yet the beat was continuously pounded until it was felt to be right. The band, No Excuses, knows how to create. They do it for themselves.

Inspiration comes from your heart. Places you go and experiences you have will cause inspiration but without you to comprehend the inspiration, it is all useless. So shoot for yourself, shoot out of passion. Personalize your images. Become in touch with yourself and your photography will improve.

take a picture,

jack pope

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