EMERGING PHOTOGRAPHERS

Take Your Time

David J. Carol


Black and white new mexico

DAVID J. CAROL


The other day I was looking at the "beginnings" of a new photo book. This may sound condescending, but a lot of people that want to make books are just not ready yet. A book should not be just a group of random photos. For me, a good photo book has to be a group of photos that tell us about something. There are a lot of possible "somethings." It can be as simple as, "Here are my photos of how and what i think think about the world I live in."

My friend Ernesto Bazan and I were having lunch a couple of weeks ago and he asked me what my last book was about. I said, me of course. He laughed, knowing exactly what I meant.

Back to the story...The rough layout I was looking at was a series of "street photos." Some were OK, most were relatively boring, nothing compelling. The biggest problem besides being boring (the worst photo crime) was that they looked like they were taken by ten different photographers. It looked like a bad group show of third year art school students. This photographer had not developed a style or a point of view photographically yet. This book had no reason to be made. Nobody would gain or learn from it and the photographer would totally regret it in 5 years. Even worse, the photographer may NOT regret it!

Here's my point. You don't need a book yet. There is no shame in waiting ten or 15 years to make your first book. Walker Evans' first book was published around his 15th year as a photographer. Everyone wants a show or a book. Slow down, learn your craft and develop your style. Before all this social media and content-less self perpetuating hype, there was just photography. It was photographers taking pictures to show themselves what they were looking at. The good ones got better and developed a style and had an evolved opinion. Don't rush into your first book. It will have your name on it and represent you forever.

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© Charlie Engman
PDN April 2014

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