The Games We Play; Find the Shot Before Moving On

The Games We Play; Find the Shot Before Moving On

One of the things I like to do is to play visual games. I have several to share with you, but this one is one that anyone can do. Anywhere, any time.

First; I believe that if we are to call ourselves photographers, we must photograph. Make pictures. Make images. SHOOT. I have written about this belief before; here, here, and here. If you are new here, you may find those entries interesting.

This game forces vision, and it makes it very imperative for you to find an image no matter where you are. It doesn’t have to be a world-class image, it has to be a good image. Your image.

(Note: I got the idea from this game from a story that Jay Maisel tells about shooting an image in a place where his assistant insisted there was nothing to shoot. The challenge was for Jay to shoot an image while the assistant ran inside and dropped off some film at the lab. Duration: one minute. The resulting image ended up being one of Maisel’s signature image. Image: New York skyline reflected in a parking meter.)

GAME ONE: “Moving On”


What Is A “Photographer” Anyway?


Photograph of me making a photograph on my iPhone in Rocky Mountain National Park by Grey Gibbs

Recently, my friend and fellow artist Jerry OConnor and I took a drive/ride to Superior, AZ to do a little video of me blabbing about being a “photographer”. I wanted to use it for some promos I was planning.

An interesting thing happened when I introduced myself on camera as a “photographer”… I felt a little strange about the designation. Don’t get me wrong, I AM INDEED a photographer. I live it breathe it sleep it. Being a photographer is one of the things that define so much of what I do.

I have been a photographer for over 45 years.

I knew what it meant back then. It meant that I captured images using tools, light, chemistry, production equipment, and a huge amount of education – learning. It meant I had followed a process, one clearly defined, clearly measured, clearly quantified.

Knowing how to expose different films, using different formats, and then to take all of that time-consuming effort into a chemical lab and begin to manage the development of the film knowing that any small deviation or mistake could ruin an entire day/week of irreplaceable images. It was not for the feint of heart.

It was a lot of work, and it paid off in something tangible. I could hold that print and see the fruit of my labors. It meant something to me. It proved my ability, validated my work, and said something to the world.

The images that were created told a sort of narrative. I took them by finding meaning in the visual in front of me. I saw metaphor and music, poetry and story. Each image crafted ‘by hand’ to make something special, or at least special to me.


PLEASE Make This Guy Famous

Ramona, California.

This guy needs to be sued into oblivion. Full on sued into poverty.


“Police were quick to take action and have now identified and arrested 52 year old Mark Gordon as the driver of the vehicle. As well as being charged with misdemeanour battery and vandalism, Gordon is facing a felony charge of Assault with a Deadly Weapon.

More at DIY Photography.

Let’s Uncheck Boxes That Kill Our Creativity

Let's Uncheck The Boxes That Kill Our Creativity

Sooner Rather Than Later

Let’s Uncheck Boxes That Kill Our Creativity

I recently listened to a speaker talk about unchecking the boxes he had that put an artificial hold on his career, and how that had helped him in his pursuit of sports excellence.

I realized how many boxes we photographers have checked that keep us from reaching our peak creativity as well. Perhaps it is human habit that makes us take inventory of all the things that we don’t have, or can’t possibly get, or “need” in order to succeed.

I wonder why we don’t take the same type of assessment on what we have, what we can accomplish, and why we should create more? Lots more.

But that assessment is for another time, for now I want to focus on the boxes we already have checked in our minds – and uncheck a bunch of them.

The “I Am Too Old” checkbox.
No, you’re not. You have checked that box because so many others in society have checked it and we are all expected to follow suit. Starting a business is not age related, nor is being creative, ethical, or smart with money. In fact, a bit of age gives you advantages over being youthful.

For one, you recognize the value of time. You know it goes by quickly, and you take advantage of every moment. Young people have their own advantages to starting a business, and one is they have not checked this box.

Time is an asset and a motivator. I will turn 67 somewhere near Lake Louise in British Columbia on a motorcycle heading to Alaska. I am also starting another business. I know how time works, and I know how precious it is, and I know I am not going to waste any of it with pre-conceived notions of failure. Far too many people have told me that they think I am crazy to do this at “my age”. I think I am crazy not to do it. Asset. Motivator.

Gary Vaynerchuk on “Age” – Watch.
Gary Vaynerchuk on “Turning 50” – Watch.

The “I Don’t Have the Right Gear” checkbox.
This affects photographers more than some other businesses, but I hear it all the time as well.

The “photographic community” has decided that there is a level of gear you MUST have in order to take a professional photograph. But in the world of clients, that simply isn’t so. (Yes, we have heard of the NY AD’s insisting on Hasselblad and Broncolor… but that is an anomaly, not a rule.) I don’t think it is possible to buy a camera that cannot make professional level images for most, and I mean MOST clients.

I shot for major clients with a Rebel and a 5D. I know a photographer selling fine art prints and he shot for years on a 40D. Photographer Jens Lennartsson travels super light, with only one small camera, and great assignments. An entry level camera and “kit lens” can make extraordinary photographs with a good photographer at the controls. The key is knowing what you can do, and focusing on clients who are more interested in the work than the gear. And that is MOST of them.

Petapixel: My Camera Gear Sucks
Petapixle: Which Pro Camera Do You Really Need to Shoot Like a Pro?

The “It’s The Economy” checkbox.
You see – here’s the thing. It’s always the economy. It is either hot or cold, heating up or cooling down. And businesses keep opening no matter what. We are led to believe that there is a ‘right time’ to start a business, and we better wait for it.

And we will wait and wait and wait. There is never going to be a ‘right time’ to start a business in photography. I can save you that waiting.

But there are strategies, models, and systems that make it easier, more accessible, and definitely within reach. We are not victims of the world, we are participants in it – and participants can aggressively create their own paths.

We start by making sure we know all about the business we are starting, pay attention to finances, create multiple channels of income, and forge new and exciting alliances as often as we can.

We participate. We engage. We follow through with actions designed to keep us participating.

A Photo Editor: The Personal Project. (Keep scrolling…)
Forbes: Why Now is a Good Time to Start a Business
Entrepreneur: 7 Myths About Starting a Business That I Used to Believe

Recommended Reading:
Choose Yourself by James Altucher
The Hundred Dollar Startup by Chris Guillebeau
Crush It by Gary Vaynerchuk
What to Do When it’s Your Turn (and it’s Always Your Turn) by Seth Godin

There are more checkboxes for sure, but these are the most common three I see being checked before they are thought through. Let’s uncheck them, and get moving on the creative life we deserve.


We started the next session of Find Photo Clients Now on Saturday, June 11. I still have a few openings if you are interested. The summer is a great time to focus on getting your system up, and building your list. This is the enrollment page for more information. Join us for a great class, and get your photography business moving.

Header image courtesy Unsplash