It seems like it was just yesterday when Nasim called and asked me to join the Photography Life team. Here we are some two and a half years later, with this being my 100th posting. A celebration of sorts.
It has been a wonderful experience being a part of the Photography Life community and I’ve certainly learned a lot from the readers here since my first article was published back in October 2013. I’d like to share a few insights I’ve gained over the past little while. I’ve added a few of my favourite images to this article to provide some visual breaks…my apologies if they include photographs that you may have already seen.
The power of inquisitiveness.
I have always had a notion that people were inquisitive and wanted to learn new things. I had underestimated how powerful this need was until I started writing at Photography Life. Over the past few years you folks have responded to articles with many questions, some of which had me initially stumped. Doing some additional research and experimentation in order to answer as many reader questions as I could has added to my knowledge base significantly.
The importance of human connection.
Even though the vast majority of Photography Life contributors and readers have never met each other face-to-face there is a human connection that happens when articles and related comments are posted. The magic of dialogue ensues.
I’ve lost count of the number of readers that have reached out to me via email or have called me at the office. Each one has shared important traits with the others. They are genuine, caring folks and passionate about what they do…and about their love of photography.
These experiences have reinforced the understanding that each of our lives is enriched by the folks we touch, and those that touch us in return.
After he and I spoke in June of 2015, Nasim let readers know that I would be taking a sabbatical from Photography Life. At the time I honestly didn’t think I could continue with any further editorial contributions given a host of competing priorities.
Regardless of how hectic my life had become human connections here at Photography Life kept drawing me back on a periodic basis to write another article…and I’m glad they did.
Loyalty can be a double-edged sword.
At times discussing photography-related subjects is akin to politics and religion. Beliefs and loyalties run deep…sometimes bringing out the worst in people…and sometimes tapping into the best of them.
I’ve enjoyed observing how helpful Photography Life readers can be with each other as they share their experiences, different approaches and options. Supportive behavior that transcends personal loyalties to brands of cameras, lenses and software…and our own beliefs… is a gift we can give each other.
On occasion personal loyalties and opinions can be carved in stone and defended with a vengeance – at times with some venom thrown in. In these situations the actual importance of the subject matter is dwarfed by the amount of aggression expressed.
It is always perplexing for me to observe such behavior, and even more so when subjected personally to the vitriol. Fortunately I’ve had very rare experiences of this nature here at Photography Life…a testament to the overall quality and professionalism of the vast majority of readers that frequent this site.
Tigers are at their best when they accept their stripes.
Each of us has a unique bucket of talents and abilities. We are individually at our best when we come to learn and appreciate our strengths, and leverage them as best we can.
I knew from years of working with clients and doing executive coaching with them, that pouring untold effort into trying to mitigate weaknesses will never help a person reach their potential. Leveraging strengths is always a more fruitful path. Being a part of the Photography Life team, and especially interacting with readers, has helped me more fully appreciate my stripes.
I’m just not a technically-oriented guy when it comes to photography and I never will be. Nasim and many of the other team members are simply outstanding when it comes to the technical aspects of photography – and all of them create wonderful photographs too!
When I read their reviews on cameras, lenses, post processing approaches or photographic techniques I was, and still am, left amazed by the extent of their knowledge.
I soon realized that I could never provide value for readers by trying to take a highly technical approach to my articles the way other team members are able to do with such amazing fluidity of thought on these complex subjects. By comparison I’ve just bumbled along and experimented with gear, sharing the results of those crude experiments with readers.
If nothing else I think the experimentation process has allowed me to push my gear further than I would have normally tried to do in the past, and helped make me a better photographer.
Invest in knowing your gear, not new gear.
Like many photographers I have gotten bitten by the GAS (gear acquisition syndrome) bug a few times, usually with the erroneous thought that ‘better’ gear would make me a better photographer. It never did. Over the past few years many readers have shared their experiences with GAS and their thoughts about the importance of learning how to use the gear they currently own fully, before buying something new. My brain is old and porous but eventually that key concept sunk in and I’m now happily shooting with far less gear than I used to own and enjoying it exponentially more.
Goals always drive behaviour.
After officially joining the team in February 2014 I immediately set a personal goal to write 100 postings on Photography Life. Along the way I’ve had a wheelbarrow full of doubts that I would ever reach this milestone. At times when I thought I was completely tapped out that goal would pop back into my head again and spark some energy. Then, the human connections here at Photography Life would successfully draw me back to pen another piece.
None of us ever knows what the future will bring. We all face twists and turns yet unseen. What we all can do is look back from where we have ventured forth, and take satisfaction in our respective journeys. To every one of you who has been following my Photography Life articles over the past few years please accept my sincere thank you for all of your comments, questions and support! Reaching 100 would not have been possible without you.
Article and images are Copyright 2016 Thomas Stirr. All rights reserved. No use, duplication or adaptation is allowed without written consent. Photography Life is the only approved user of this article. If you see this article reproduced anywhere else it is an unauthorized and illegal use.