2009 – The Last Word

I am writing this during the afternoon of December 31st. 2009 is drawing to a close and I am not sorry to see it go.

As this blog is mostly about photography, that’s what I will concentrate on. There have been some highs this past year. The chance to spend 2 weeks in Venice, to be able to walk virtually the entire city and take time to photograph it; is an enduring memory. Out of this experience I have a beautiful book, produced by Momento, and an exhibition at Breizoz Cafe. I have sold two of the ten prints so far.

My small exhibition at Seddon Deadly Sins cafe was supposed to end in February. Several images sold and the owner asked me for some more. I seem to be a part of the permanent collection now.

I have spent a lot of the year, on and off, trying to learn more about portrait photography. As I don’t have access to, and can’t afford a studio; this has meant going down the Strobist path. For the uninitiated, this involves using ordinary flash units off-camera to stand in for studio lighting. It isn’t as easy as it looks.

And, it brings me to one of the bad parts of the photography year. Since switching to digital in 2002, I have relied heavily on a number of internet sources for sensible, sound, accurate advice. This might come as a surprise to some of you, but not everyone on the internet knows what they are talking about.

I have no illusions, not everyone is making this information available out of sheer altruism. Most use it to attract traffic to their sites so that they can advertise goods and services. And a lot of these are very worthwhile. However, having said that, many of them go above and beyond the call of duty to explain what they are doing, or to answer questions and give advice in forums.

This year seems to have been a very bad year for a number of these people. Several have given up in anger and/or frustration. There are many reasons for this. Two of the main ones complained about are:

Sense of Entitlement – some people in the forums seem to think they have a God-given right to demand information or answers to questions and get a little agitated if they don’t get what they want.

Criticism – some very experienced, talented photographers have been criticised heavily for producing work that isn’t up to a supposed standard, or doesn’t meet the accepted formula. Attempts to explain that there is a difference between work that you can sell to corporate clients and, well, crap get met with abuse.

I suppose I am surprised that any of them bother at all.

I have noticed a tendency for people to want to be told a formula that works, rather than learn anything. There were two posts within minutes of each other in one forum from people who got expensive flash units for Christmas and wanted to be told how to use them, because the manual was just way too hard to understand.

I am getting fed up with these seemingly endless discussions too. Maybe folks should read something, learn something, try something, practice.

The people who are being criticised are working photographers who spent years learning this stuff. It is embarrassing that they should be subjected to abuse for trying to share it.

So, in an attempt to redress this somewhat, I give you my 2009 Photography Roll of Honour (in no particular order):

David Hobby

Kirk Tuck

David Tejada

Michael Reichmann

Don Gianatti

Mike Johnston

Happy 2010

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