2013.12.07 On Adversity


The photographers that I follow all seem overwhelmingly positive. Maybe that should be a lesson to me: I follow them because they are successful, and they are successful because they are positive. What stands out to me is how different their experience feels from mine.

Usually working with models is like working with anyone else: you kind of get along, but both of you would rather be hanging out with other people. Occasionally you meet a model who you really click with, and it shows in the quality of the work.

Other times, you get a model who shows up late with an unannounced boyfriend and dog. You tell her the dog can't come into the studio and she seems confused. How could that be confusing. The boyfriend is more of a bouncer than an escort, standing 10 feet away from you, watching you, waiting for you to make a mistake. Later, after finishing the homework from his anger management class, he casually mentions that he has a taser in his bag.

You end the shoot early and consider switching to shooting landscapes for a few months, or forever.


I frequently wonder, who is the better photographer - one who can create great photos from a great model with a great location and great lighting, or the one who can create moderately interesting photos from a detached, unmotivated model in a mediocre location with bad lighting?

With photography, constraints in lighting, time, skill, equipment, and communication can cause your skills to develop in new and unpredictable ways. Adversity is just another word for the manifestation of one or more constraints. Some of my shoots are adverse as fuck, but I pray that they are shaping me into a better photographer.


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