Amateur talk

It is always refreshing to know that I have friends to talked to about our personal experiences in photography. That was what happened 2 days ago. I simply asked "Where are you now in your journey?" The answers were… stagnant, plateau, slumping, uninspired. One answered… law of diminishing marginal utility (I am not familiar with this law. Whatever it is... please don't obey it.). But my favorite answer of them all was… nabaon na sa lupa (6 feet under).

Now this is a small group of photo enthusiasts. But I believe that even working photographers experience some level of low in their journey. After all we all are human. We may vary in intellect but we are all subject to the same emotions and (in the case of photography) we all have eyes.

Some would say that I think too much and should just let go, have fun and not complicate things for myself. But I know there are also others out there who take photography seriously with much passion. Not the gearheads. They are better off as salesmen. Not the ones who talk at length about technicalities. They are better off as engineers. People who take art to heart. Be it expressed in photography, music, painting, sculpture, theater or writing.    

Going back to what we were talking about. If you were to ask me what my thoughts are about their answers. I would say they were depressing. Good thing was a week ago they were able to meet and went for a photowalk in Yokohama. They were thankful for that because their enthusiasm was rekindled. One concluded that "it's fun to shoot with friends." 

Then I asked again "When was the last time you think you were in a photographic high of sort? What was/were your inspiration/s?" One answered "2008" and pointed me to his blog saying more answer lie in there. He said that "anything, anywhere, anyone" inspires him. I agree with him. And I hope it encourages anyone who is starting with photography. Indeed inspiration is around us. It surrounds us. But before we go a little deeper into that. He also said that "I am not looking forward to any improvement in my photography. I'm fine with what I know and possess." Ouch! I told him "that has got to be the saddest comment I've read today". It does sound familiar, right? The settling down in our comfort zones.  

Another friend (whose interest lies in the fashion/glamour/portraits category) answered that he measures himself "based on the ideas he can come up with and not on the shots he produced". Furthermore he said that in the past he could "think of dozens of concepts in one setting" but "now it seems zero." And the good thing is that he still has some ideas up his sleeve that he hasn't pulled yet. His closing was "probably I'm a perfectionist and I don't get contented with my shots that easily. I could feel  that most of the time I can still squeeze more out of the concept." Now we're talking. 

This is where I wanted our conversation to go. Knowing where we are in our photographic journey and how we can move on to the next level. I do not have the answers. I am not pretending to know the answers. I am even learning from their answers. And I know we all can. Even if this is a conversation among amateurs. It even generated more questions in me. Like… am I an artist who expresses my art through photography? Or am I just faking it. A jester shouting, "Photography is awesome! It makes me cool." Or just an actor with an expensive black box pushing its button capturing moments in time? Why is it that it seems I am heading nowhere? Why are my shots now still look like my shots 2 years ago? Does my background and culture affect my attitude towards my photography? Allowing it to be mediocre?

Let's read on to one of the answers. "These days we heavily rely on post processing. Killing the drive to perfection and excitement in photography." He also pointed out our short attention span. "Another reason why we don't give much dedication in improving our skills is that everything is eye candy for us. Whenever there is something new (a technique, a camera, a post processing workflow) we jump right into it. Leaving the skill that we started incomplete. And this vicious cycle goes on and on and on. Unchecked." The conversation ended with us admiring the Japanese way of perfecting their chosen art.      

I leave it up to you to sum things up and hope that we all learned a thing or two about our small conversation. Also I leave it up to my friends to answer for themselves. I could come up with a lot of questions. But for now, we have planned a small gathering (a night streets and fish market photowalk) just to see if we are ready to move on to the next level. And I am sure there is a karaoke session in between. Shoot us a comment if you want to. Then I will ask them to answer if ever you have more questions to clear out of your head.  


  1. i think it was pretty obvious there that you and your group of friends need and outlet to express their photography-related issues. it was a good random question you act. can't say it's an amateur talk. it was an honest talk. good luck on your scheduled photo walk.

    LOL! lekat blind items haha

  2. I'd love to be there and hear the answers/inter-act with your friends. I'm sure I know some of them :-)

    I'f you'd ask me the same questions, I'd probably have more questions than answers :-(

    Where I am now?
    I can give you a precise answer if I have the complete map clear in my head. The problem is my map is changing.. Where do I want to go? by when? how? Leisure pace? Am I competing? with whom? Is it a level playing field? is it (the playing field) even worthy assuming I'll know how to compete to win (what ever that means? how is it measured? ... it's endless
    And I'm talking photographically only. I still have other priorities to balance with my time ...
    so to sum up: I need to hurry up and identify my goal (something I can leave as a legacy hehehe) and hurry up too in mapping out how to get there with the best efficiency (time, effort) and quality. I'm sure it will be an iterative process so lots of time will be needed not just in working the mapped plan, but we also need to include in the planning to continually educate ourselves (how to better know how we're doing).

    It's an endless process if we keep the passion burning.

    And to keep it burning, relax and enjoy it sometime. Focus on what makes it enjoyable and defocus on why you're not going forward.

    Sabi nga: "how to attack/plan/better improve the game" thinking is better than "why I am not moving forward (unnecessary pressure on self)" thinking. Channel to positively use your energy :-)

    Have fun bro!

  3. Yes, it's been a while since we had one of those serious talks. Hope everything will go well with the photowalk as planned.

  4. John. Sometimes we just have to let go of those questions swirling inside our heads and just go naturally.

    I agree with you of the importance of keeping the passion burning. I like it when you said "focus on what makes it enjoyable and defocus on why you"re not going forward."

    Thank you and hope to shoot with you sometime in Kamakura.


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