Validation

I'm often asking all you people out there what it is you'd like me to blog about, and every time I get asked about the same types of subjects, workflow, equipment, techniques. So I tried to work out why... As photographers, we're often trying to find a benchmark as to how good we are. Sure, we can ask friends, but they give us biased opinions. It's hard to get constructive critiques from peers, so we're often left with self evaluation... which is usually the worst kind! So how does this relate to people asking me how I do what I do? It's simple... Validation.

Although I do this for a living, I still see myself as an aspiring photographer. Sure I've done some cool stuff, but I'm very much at the beginning of a career I hope will span many decades, so I often look at the photographers I aspire to for my own form of validation. When I first decided I wanted to do this for a living, I would spend hours watching behind the scenes videos, reading blogs and books to find out who did what, how, and using what equipment. In my mind, I thought that if I had that equipment and worked in that way, I'd be half way to being where they are. As with any creative medium, there are loads of different ways of getting to the same outcome. It's whatever works best for you. Buying the best camera might make you feel "proper", but it won't necessarily make your images the best. The same goes for any form of equipment, technique, workflow. What I do, may not be the best thing for you to do.

Of course, with all that said, there's loads of things I learn from people on a daily basis, and learning from and watching people is a great way to become better at what you do. But just because David Bailey does something one way, and you do it another, it doesn't mean that your way is any less valid. The beauty of what we do is that there is no right and wrong. It's what works for you. Ultimately, it's the images you create that people are looking at, not how you created them.

When people ask me what I use, or how I do something, I'm often reluctant to tell them. Not because I like secrets, but because I want to encourage people to find their own way. I would rather give people the skills to decide for themselves. I have a simple process of creating an image. I have an image in my head, which I reverse engineer into real life, before capturing it in the camera. I don't have any magic techniques, or secrets. It's just about knowing what I want and being confident in my own technical knowledge to be able to create it.

So in the interest of giving some validation, I'm going to start posting up blogs where I give a thorough explanation of the thoughts, equipment and techniques.

I'll be posting the first one up later today, but until then, here's a list of things I use at the moment. I'm not sponsored by any of them, but if anyone out there wants to give me some free stuff, I wouldn't complain!

Hasselblad H3DII-31 Elinchrom BXRi 500W Studio Heads Pocket Wizard Plus II Transceivers Nescafé Suraya Coffee Coke Zero Silver Spoon "Half Spoon" Sugar Seagate Barracuda Hard Drives Apple MacPro Apple LED Cinema Display Apple iPhone Apple iMac Apple iPad Apple iPod 3rd Generation Apple iPod Shuffle (I like Apple, can you tell?) Drobo Yankee Candles Ikea Olympus EPL-1 Moo.com Peli Cases Wacom Bamboo Tablet Sekonic L-358 Lightmeter Hasselblad Phocus Manfrotto 190XPROB Tripod Adobe Lightroom Adobe Photoshop Twitter Facebook Canon EOS 1D Mark III Smart Fortwo Haribo Blurb.com Fashion Gone Rogue Vogue Harpers Bazaar I-D Dazed & Confused PG Tips Lacto Free Milk Burberry Pringle SanDisk Extreme III Compact Flash Cards Chiltern Railways O2

Obviously, there's a whole load of stuff on there that's completely irrelevant, but I know that someone out there feels a little better in themselves purely because they drink the same coffee! It's how our minds work! I know I've been watching things on TV and felt satisfaction because I've seen a photographer using the same camera as me, even though I know the images we create with them are worlds apart. I was at a seminar last year as part of the Hasselblad Masters exhibition, and one of the 2010 Masters, Joao Carlos, said something that gave me some validation. He shoots on small compact flash cards, because it's similar to shooting on rolls of film. I do the same thing, and have done for a while. Partly because it encourages me to try and get each of the shots I'm looking for within a single card, rather than just shoot and hope. It also means that if a card corrupts... and they do... I don't lose a whole shoot. Hearing someone who's being paid to travel the world giving these talks tell me something I already know, helps to build my own confidence in that the things I do are "right". I really enjoy trying to help people, answering peoples questions, and giving them the validation they need... although I don't get paid to travel the world doing it! Haha.

Anyway, I'm hoping this post will inspire some of you to be more confident in what you're doing. Don't be too hung up on what others are doing. If it works for you, it's right.