On being a photographer… 2


Joseph Koudelka at Look3 2013 Festival of the Photograph by Martin Herrera Soler.  Part of my new ongoing photographic education. 


During 2011 I gave professional photography a serious and committed try.  For a full year I did not work on anything corporate and approached my work life fully from the perspective of creating projects and generating income in the world of photography.  The results were mixed.

On one hand, the single focus for such a long period of time drastically moved my photography forward many folds.  Diego and I created Dokumental, a multimedia collective.  I created what I consider to be my most significant documentary project, 364plus1, and collectively authored Journal of a Portrait, which was the opening exhibit for the CDF Fotograma Uruguay Photography Biennial.  As if that was not enough, images from the Peñarol project we did with Diego Vidart got published in LFI – Leica Fotographie International.  By all accounts and measures, it was a very successful year.

On the other hand, I invested a lot of money and time.  Most of my savings were gone from a year of spending and not producing.  We approached and pursued many great ideas, which all took much longer than expected to manifest, and were far from providing the kind of income I needed to make a living.  In 2012 I was fortunate to land a significant consulting project, and although I toyed with the idea of continuing to make a living in the photography world, without much thought I ended a year where most of my focus was in the corporate world.  This, which would be seen as a ‘bad thing’, was actually a blessing, not only for my personal finances, but for my photography as well.

When 2013 came around, and as I approached my regular yearly planning cycle (I know… there are some ‘habits’ that no photography in the world will take away from me) I made a conscious choice to let go of the idea of being a ‘pro’ photographer, and to relate to it purely as an amateur – for the love for it.  Six months into the year, I can report that I am very happy with the choice I made.  Liberating myself from having to ‘make money’ through photography has allowed me to re-connect and re-energyze my relationship with the craft.  Many good things have sprung from this decision that I doubt would otherwise had happened.

First of all, I continue to produce.  Through Dokumental and working with the Brazilian collective Garapa, we started to produce a short documentary on the border of Brazil and Uruguay.  We drove for 21 days straight the 1018 Kms that make up the limit between these two countries.  We are starting to edit the movie and soon enough we’ll focus on the book and exhibit.  Perhaps the most important change that came about from my decision to relax my expectations as a photographer, was the understanding that my greatest growth opportunity as a creative was not through shooting more, but rather going back to basics.  To view, study and connect with classic and up and coming photographic work.  I started my photographic book collection, attended photographic festivals and researched more projects than I can count.  I’m reading about the history of the medium and thoroughly enjoying the craft of printing, digital as well as some old, very traditional analogue techniques.

So as I move forward in this journey, you might find me taking a slightly different approach with the blog.  I might be sharing more on this growth journey as a photographer.  And as a by product, I’ll share some of the photographic jewels I find along the way.  I find tremendous inspiration in viewing, studying and collecting some of the documentary work I find along the way.  And I intend to share some of that with you.  Until the next time… m.