Advice to an emerging photographer.

As I develop as a photographer, I discover things I wish I had known years before when I was starting out.  One of the most important lessons I wish I learned at the beginning of my career was...

"Always shoot for yourself."

It forces me to practice my composition and technical skills.  I strongly believe anyone can be a photographer.  (Side note: I do not believe everyone  can be a professional photographer.  That's a whole other animal and blog post waiting to happen. )  To me, photography is a language.  I speak through my photographs.  I show my emotions, my perspective of the world, my ideas of love....etc.  So when I say anyone can be a photographer, I mean everyone speaks through their photographs.  (Some will speak more clearly and distinctly... i.e. the professional.)  And the way to hone photographs as your language is by practicing, practicing, practicing.  Look at your personal work and evaluate it.  Is the photograph look how you want it to look?  How can it convey your distinct point of view more clearly?  And personal work is the perfect time to explore those aspects of photography.

It keeps photography from being just my job. I've been a professional photographer for some years now.  In my early years you would absolutely never see me with my camera unless I was working.  People were constantly asking me to take pictures of them, and I quickly became burnt out and burdened by photography.  I just wanted to enjoy the moments and events.  I did not know how to rationalize photography as a job and a hobby.  When I started to take time to shoot only for myself with personal projects, I regained that balance.  I realized I had allowed my photography to be solely dictated by other people and was no longer doing it as a creative outlet.  Shooting for myself reminded me of why I love photographing friends and family and clients.  Photography brings me joy.

And, most importantly it keeps me true to myself.  I look back on my own images at the start of my career, and I am disappointed by how much I let my respect for other photographers influence my style.  I admired these photographers so much that I adjusted my style to theirs.  So often I see new photographers comparing themselves with other photographers and not investing enough time in finding themselves.  I struggled with that.  Back then my personal and commissioned projects looked as if they were shot by two different photographers.  My personal projects were wholly me, but my other projects were trying to hard to be something I wasn't.  The more personal projects I do, the more consistent I am in my style and to myself.

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By the way, the pictures above are of public transportation.  I love public transportation. <3

a long, lovely journey.

I walked and rode muni for three hours because of a few "accidents".  But surprisingly, the whole adventure was humorous and soothing.

1. I lost my transit card when I was sailing in the Bay 2. I went to get lunch at a nearby restaurant.  Left my phone on the bar. 3. Went to a restroom and exited the back way to see the water (I probably wouldn't have left my phone if I left the restaurant the way I entered) 4. Walked a quarter mile (because I lost my transit card) towards 4th and Market before I realized I had left my phone. 5. Went to a hotel where I called the restaurant. They had my phone! 6. Took Muni from Powell to Brannan and knew the T would take me to the restaurant and suspected the N would also, but I wasn't sure.  Three N trains passed before a T came.  And sure enough, the N went to the restaurant as well. 7. Ran into the restaurant and they couldn't find my phone. They finally gave me my phone 8. Ran after the train and missed it, then realized there were two more right behind it. 9. Got off at Powell and walked to get onto the 38 which I nearly missed. 10. According to my directions, all I had to do was get off at 11th 11. Too bad I typed in 11th street instead of 11th avenue.  I went all the way to the Sunset when I should have been in SOMA.  I walked up to somebody's home and realized I was in the wrong place. 12. Waited at the bus stop and knew the 38 would take me where I needed to go and suspect I should take the 38 express, but wasn't sure.  So I let two express buses pass me. 13. Rode 38 back to downtown and missed my stop. I was enjoying the scenery. 14.  Got on the right bus and finally made it to my destination an hour late!

It was a GREAT day.  And I really mean that.

Obsession.

If you've ever read my blog or talked to me, it's obvious that I have an obsession with travel, but what many would not realize is that my obsession with travel exists with my other obsessions of public transportation and coffee shops. On this particular day, public transportation consisted of a combination of walking + ac transit (bus) + bart (subway/train) + muni (bus).  In order to meet my friend, I took a wonderfully glorious 1.5 hour public transportation adventure to her house in the Richmond District in San Francisco.  With my Canon 30D and 50mm in hand, I kept an eye out for the little nuances of riding public transit... like the bright red emergency lever I'm always tempted to pull or the asian who always finds me and sits next to me even though there's an abundance of empty seats  or the number of strangers headed to the same destination or the overlooked, cute signs/graphics.  Public transportation relaxes me and reminds me to enjoy life.

After meeting up at a cute cafe with my friend, she went to class, and I went in search of a coffee shop.  I found a charming shop with free wifi and a plethora of people to stare at. I was in heaven.