Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Persistence

I often get the question on why I keep doing the same thing over, and over again. It started when I was shooting macro, I would shoot the same insects again and again, week after week, of course with different techniques and approaches. Same thing happened when I picked up street photography, I must have walked the same streets a hundred times now. I was persistent, and I would not stop until I get the results I sought out in the first place. Sometimes I think I will never accomplish the goals but each time I try, each time I shoot out there, I get better, though not noticeable, but it is evident. Only through perseverance, much practice  and tonnes of patience, I started to improve my artistic sense and knowing what works. 

The honest truth is, there is no shortcut. You cannot bypass the steps of going through all the failures, or shooting all the ordinary photographs, until you finally be able to achieve something beyond the normal photographs. I still find most of my photographs looking rather similar to what anyone else can find on the web when you just google street photography. I think it is the ultimate desire for any photographer to be known for his distinctive style in whatever he shoots, and it surely takes a lot of time for that to develop. No matter how many workshops you attend, no matter how much books you have read, you will not go much further, unless you put in more time shooting and actually making photographs happen. I know, because I have shot so much crap, and you can still find my digital junk photos all published here (proudly) over the course of many years in my archives. Some photographers would cringe when they think of their earlier work, but I do not care. I admitted I was not that great as a photographer, there still is a lot to learn and explore, and my progress throughout the years was well documented. Only through all those crap shots, failures after failures I began to evolve and grow. Into what? Well I am not too sure myself, lets hope we all have the chance to find out. 

All images were taken with Sony A350 and DT Lenses 50mm F1.8 and 35mm F1.8

Across the river



Islamic Structure

Multiple heads

Collection of the day

Friendly smiles

Oh crap he was shooting me !!

The main problem I noticed in many young photographers or new-comers to photography, is the inability to accept that whatever you make in your first few attempts, that can even last to the first few years of your photography adventures, are all ordinary photographs. Many people wanted to be able to label themselves "pro" or shoot like a pro, even months after they have bought their first DSLR. Well, some people are more talented and more gifted than others, and can pick up the pace very quickly. I was not one, it took me so many years to learn things the hard way. The point is, it is crucial to understand that art in any form, including photography takes time to develop. Being impatient, and trying to force yourself to do something extra-ordinary won't make you a star over-night. Most of the famous photographers, successful ones, it took them decades and decades of experience under their belt. The wealth of knowledge is not the only key, but their breadth of experience and what they have learned through failures after failures, and unlimited number of experimentation  those are the significant factors contributing to their success. They were all persistent. 

Then there were those who completely had no idea what they are doing, and just kept clicking the shutter button like nobody's business. It does not take a genius to figure out some people are just simply lost in photography, with no sense of purpose of direction. Then they would argue that they shoot just simply for the fun of it, and would not care less about what people think about them, or say about them. Funny, if you truly shoot just for the fun of it, why react so defensively when people started to question the crap out of your photographs? It shows, whether you know what you were doing, or you were just bluffing. All the evidence is in your photography work. That is the wonderful thing about photographs. They are transparent. You cannot hide anything. Especially from those who know what they are doing. 

I have met only one friend who made tremendous improvement in photography in just the span of two years after he picked up the hobby and his first DSLR, and so I got to know that friend better. I wanted to find his secret. I wanted to know what inspired him, what made him improve so much in such a short span of time. I wanted to find out what made him tick. 

I guess, I already knew the answer. It was persistence. He put in more effort and time than anyone else, even far more than myself into his craft. He was one of the most active photographer I have met, he was so passionate, his passion surpassed anything I have seen before. His hunger for photography was insatiable. When he executed his work, he would plan carefully, and do whatever it takes to make the shot work. There really is no secret, or shortcut. You just have to shoot, and shoot and shoot. The more you shoot, the more you learn, the more you improve, and the faster you grow. That friend was a huge inspiration, he made my photography look like kindergarten's drawings !!

Hard at work. 
Oh dear, I forgot to turn off the Image Stabilizer for this panning shot, hence the jaggedness of the background. 

Free ride

Family Crossing

Flag poles

Another friendly smile

The three towers

Recently I have met some very interesting people, some who have sacrificed themselves to create a positive impact for the betterment of the community. I think getting involved and connected to the society can open up one's mind to see things in a more perceptive manner. We tend to just live in our own island, and with our limited vision and understanding of reality. That itself is a limitation to the photography growth in general. Hence, breaking that limitation, getting out of the island and seeing what other people see, can be inspiring and motivational at the same time. 

Shutter therapy, anyone?

18 comments:

  1. Persistence is good and i definitely see that in you and your blog, I think you are like only the blog i follow that do not complain much about camera, sensor size (even worst is who make the sensor) and seem really satisfied with what you have and update everyday with new photo and your work and that is persistence as a lot of blog i see is all about the latest most expensive gear.

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    1. Hey MY,
      Thanks for the kind words. the reason I blog everyday is because I have a lot of things to say !! Just gotta let them out somewhere, hence the blog.

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  3. Amen to that, Robin. The "multiple heads" photo kept me looking and looking....!

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    1. Suddenly that photo looks a bit creepy !

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  4. Good morning, Robin.
    Before I start to cramp my brain with sales financial figures, it's nice to view your ever alive street images. It's relaxing and tension relieving. Yet I believe the real walk in the street doing shutter therapy is more rewarding. I will do that tomorrow before our priest ordination event at St John Cathedral which start at 5.00pm.
    Thank you for the beautiful thought on photography. I am also one of the NEW photographers but a bit passionate one. I am lucky though as I always have opportunity to shoot weekly either in the Church(SIC) Event or the DKSH event. Beside I have to utilize what I spend my hard earned $$ on that is camera & lens.
    Frankly I would say, I am glad to know a passionate and full inovative thought photographer like you.
    May you have a great day.
    John Ragai.

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    1. Hello John,
      Always a pleasure to share !! Do shoot more photos tomorrow !!

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  5. The Multiple Heads! So funny in a way, yet such a strong social statement during today's times Women strive to be heard in some cultures, the man turns away.

    On the Hard at work, I thing the jagged lines work - they compliment they the openings in the plastic baskets. I think it would have a different as a fine print. Digital viewing sucks sometimes.

    I still shoot my own allotment of garbage. It's part of learning.

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    1. Agreed Libby !! It is part of learning !! Something we have to accept. I just hope some people can see it that way.

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  6. *Hadi nik *
    Hi robin..really like ur statement ..this morning when i open my tab , 1st thing that i do is to read ur blog ..then i see ur new story ..really agreed about ur statement ..just like u say "there is no shortcut "..
    Practise make perfect ..just open d mind ..accept watever people say ..
    For now i always do whatever i like ..just shoot wherever i go ..all my reference is from ur blog ..did u know robin ..when i look at ur pic , i remember when i do a street photo at that place along jln t.a.r. till masjid india ..its really fun ..now i addict with this session ..really need do a shutter theraphy with u...want to know d tips n knowledge from d expert like u ..really hunger about photopraphy ...

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    1. Hello Hadi Nik,
      Thanks for the kind words. You are always welcome to join me !! See you this Sunday.

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    2. See u to..really need to hear ur story n experience on street photography..it must be lot of knowledege on that ..specially from u..hehe
      *hadi nik*

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    3. No worries, I will do my best. But don't expect too much ya... I am still learning like everyone else also.

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  7. Always enjoy your pics Robin and agree that practice makes perfect. I also shoot the same item repeatedly to see what can be extracted from a scene.

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    1. Hello Jan,
      Thanks for the kind words, and yes practice makes perfect !

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  8. You are right: persistence is very important, and comes easy if you love your hobby or work. As you remarked: practice makes perfect. And there are certainly a couple of perfect shots here! You also have a knack for strong abstract compositions, I find. Some excellent examples of that here as well. Great work!

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  9. I hope one day when I returned to malaysia for good..i have the honours of shooting alongside you and find out what make you the photographer tick

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  10. Hi Robin,

    Persistence is easier when it won't break the bank -- we should all count ourselves lucky to live in the age of digital photography (thank you Willard Boyle and George Smith!). In the days of film, 36 exposures would cost ~$10 USD to buy the film and develop it. It's much easier to figure what works and what doesn't these days when releasing the shutter is practically free (< 1cent/exposure, if you figure your shutter will last 100k cycles).

    The instant feedback helps as well, although Polaroid could do that back in the day!

    Everyone else says this, but it's true -- you have a great blog, and you present great photos in it.

    thanks,

    Peter

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