Letters to Young Artists
December 5, 2008 3:17 PM   Subscribe

Wear Good Shoes : Advice for Young Photographers. [via]


Letter to a Young Collage Artist by Winston Smith

The original: Letters to A Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke
posted by grapefruitmoon (15 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
"Wear good shoes" is also great advice for aspiring chefs.
posted by fixedgear at 4:20 PM on December 5, 2008

Also: do not take close-up photos of explosive detonations.
posted by blue_beetle at 5:15 PM on December 5, 2008

Who, when obliged to wear shoes, should not wear good shoes?
posted by everichon at 5:30 PM on December 5, 2008 [1 favorite]

I wish less of that advice was just "Hey, take a lot of pictures. Who knows how anything happens! Be true to yourself!" It reads as trite and as not at all practical.
posted by klangklangston at 5:46 PM on December 5, 2008

posted by sebastienbailard at 5:47 PM on December 5, 2008

They're trying to distract aspiring photogs from the formula for success in their photographic career: 10% perspiration (take at least 50k shots before you go looking for a job) and 90% knowing somebody.
posted by mullingitover at 5:49 PM on December 5, 2008 [3 favorites]

> take at least 50k shots before you go looking for a job

I've no aspirations beyond my own amusement, but how did photographers gain this experience before digital cameras? I don't doubt the efficacy of practise; since I got a digital SLR I take 50 times more pictures than before and the difference in quality between my shots now and my shots a year ago is marked. But that sort of experience on film seems a bit... well, impractical. Hmmm... then again, the film students I hung out with lived like paupers and spent minor fortunes on stock for their efforts, so maybe I'm just underestimating what it takes. Took.
posted by adamt at 7:58 PM on December 5, 2008

50,000 shots is 1388 rolls of film. When I was a student, I could easily shoot 10 rolls a day, if I could afford them. 138 days like that can be comfortably shot in a year, if you can afford the £5000-odd the stock will cost and assuming you can develop yourself or at college. It's not at all outlandish.
posted by bonaldi at 8:38 PM on December 5, 2008

Well, ok, not comfortably. But over a two or three year period? If you've not shot that many pictures you're kidding yourself.
posted by bonaldi at 8:39 PM on December 5, 2008

Really good stuff, grapefruitmoon. Thanks.
posted by wherever, whatever at 10:24 PM on December 5, 2008

I used to think that Winston Smith was awesome.

Now I think he's god.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:01 PM on December 5, 2008

Who, when obliged to wear shoes, should not wear good shoes?

Clowns. A clown would look really crap in a pair of Church's Brogues or Prada Loafers.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:13 AM on December 6, 2008

Last time I was in a novelty shop the clown shoes had a 300eu price tag. Don't diss the clown shoes.
posted by ersatz at 6:28 AM on December 6, 2008

I think, at some point, being able to know when not to shoot becomes more valuable than just taking pictures scattergun and hoping some are good. I'm trying to actually cut down the number of photos I take.

As for the advice, there's some good stuff in there, but different things work for different people, and I'll bet a lot of real photographers don't quite know how to describe how they do what they do. I know I don't.

Then again, just about everyone is a photographer these days; it doesn't mean what it used to, even by Magnum standards.
posted by Poagao at 6:29 AM on December 6, 2008

I think it's interesting how many of these pieces of advice are contradictory - don't look at other photographers' work/look at as many other photographs as you can - try copying works you like/don't ever try and copy someone else's style, etc - so much so that it's hard to see where consensus lies.

It's also worth noting, I think, that this is good advice for people who aspire to technical proficiency in the craft of photography in the service of the kinds of photography Magnum (and its ilk) are known for. These aren't necessarily the same rules that apply to, say, the kind of art photography recently seen here on the Blue (eg many but not all of the shots here), where, from a purely technical standpoint, the photographs are of very poor quality - full of lens flare, poorly composed (by conventional standards), shaky, grossly under- or over-exposed, of low contrast, or otherwise utterly mundane - but are nonetheless, by some artistic standard, judged to be meritorious.

Diff'rent strokes.
posted by kcds at 6:11 AM on December 7, 2008

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