I quit photography a very long time ago. I even sold my camera and my beloved F1.8 lens. While I no longer own a camera, it might come to you as a surprise that I consider myself a photographer. I’m still a photographer, because of my eyes, not my gear.
It’s not the gear that makes one a photographer, nor is advertising & marketing or winning a competition. You and I are first and foremost a photographer. We play with light, train our eyes to see and get focking annoyed by people who’re cash loaded but vision poor.
We see everyday life in new perspective. We strive to develop our eyes to see and not just to look. We set new boundaries, together with the engineers who strive to bring us the latest in camera technology. Together with the subjects, we make photographs. We are the beginning and the end of that circle.
When I started, like most of you, a variety of subjects captured my imagination. And then most of them bore us and we keep developing our passion. For me, it is night and portrait photography and more specific, spontaneous street photography. I often think it is one of the most misunderstood genres of the broad term photography. Very few people do it and I must be the most unknown one. For a reason.
I still don’t believe there’s just “one” thing that contributes to a great photograph or skillful photographer. It is truly amazing if one gets known as a photographer, even by a few. While I was quiet for a long time on both Instagram and Facebook, my mind was not so quiet. It’s ready to share everything I experienced when becoming a photographer.
I first started doing a daily photo diary on Facebook, Kijk Op Straat. It was really hard, very few views, even fewer followers. Then I switched to Instagram and it went crazy, kind of. I even connected a shop and sold some postcards. Kijk Op Straat translates to look on the street in Dutch. It really represents the phase I was in, a beginner developing myself and seeking for the one thing that would capture my passion. It reached End Of Life on July 10, 2017.
I split the concept into three, Holland, abstract and portraits. Every one of them has it’s own Instagram and Facebook. After almost a year, after I ended Kijk Op Straat, the portraits are still my passion. And that’s why I have decided to do a new beginning.
What you can expect is perhaps a more open outlook. I’m going to share my experience in general on four subjects: gear, advertising & marketing, competitions and an outlook on my vision and mind.
Earlier I mention that it’s not the gear that matters. Did you know that all the camera’s I used were broken? I cannot afford a new camera, so I bought them secondhand. All camera’s I use were broken in some way, from faulty shutter buttons to broken light meter. My lenses were all standard kit lenses and the one prime lens I owned was the cheapest you can get on the market today with horrible slow autofocus.
I also mention that it’s not advertising & marketing that makes a good photographer. Marketing is as old as people selling and buying. There’s no shortage of online/offline resources on the subject. What is rare is marketing and advertising for photographers. Furthermore, on a tight or perhaps no budget at all!
What doesn’t make you a good photographer is also winning a competition. Don’t get me wrong, it’s healthy to have competitions, but the question is who is judging? Is the jury actually knowledgeable on photographic art? I did take part in a lot of competitions, just to never hear from them again. It is truly a disgusting world. But I think we photographers keep fueling them. Still, there are ways to get eyes and have a great following who share your vision. With this new beginning, I will share my experience and recommendations.
Lastly, I said that very few people do intimate street portraits and I’m one of the most unknown ones. For a reason. That’s because I don’t value bullshit. I never shared my gear, tips & tricks, my vision or the why. Who cares? Who cares about the gear, tricks or the why? In my mind it’s all bullshit, it really doesn’t matter. Does it? I have changed my opinion about it. It does matter afterall. The big reason is that we live in a world of photo manipulation even without knowing it. Unless the photographer tells us about it, we wouldn’t know firsthand. And if you get caught, it’s the end of your career. An apology won’t matter. For that and more reasons, I have choosen to open up and give you an insight into the lonely world of photographic art.
Michael B. Asbury
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