Eat Your Crow and Be Done With It

| November 4, 2009

The Internet seemingly never forgets. Out of curiosity, I pulled up some of my older postings on various photography forums. Some of them made me cringe. I said some pretty foolish things over the years. At times I was inexplicably loyal to one brand or another, I’ve been a Large Format snob, an ignorant film aficionado, and other immature phases and things I’m not altogether proud of.

More than just wrong, these convictions limited my creativity, focused my attention and energy on the wrong things, and pulled me away from the things that made me fall in love with photography to begin with.

The first camera I ever took into the field was an old Minolta rangefinder which belonged to my father. I’m not sure if I even knew of other brands at the time. The lens was a fixed 35mm, which was also a pretty meaningless fact to me then. The film I used was the cheapest I could find at the local grocery store. Most of the images I made were barely worth printing. But the excitement of framing and photographing the things that fascinated me since childhood was intoxicating.

It took me some years of futile pursuit of gear and pretending to be an expert to realize that the feeling was no longer there and how meaningless it all was compared to the experience, the beauty, the creative energy, the desire to share, to explore, to experiment, to inspire.

I admitted it many times since – I was wrong. I can’t tell you how liberating and energizing it was to let go and just walk away from the quagmires I got myself into by stubbornly holding on to silly notions even after I realized their futility.

Give it a try. Photograph simply for the sake of expressing yourself creatively and to hell with the rest of it. Don’t worry about what other people on some random web site might think. Forget about the critics and bigots and opinionated pundits. Do it for yourself. Find your own voice and your own following. Don’t be afraid to admit you may have been wrong or had your priorities mixed. It may sting a little but you will be surprised by the liberating energy and creative soaring that will follow. Photograph for the right reasons.

Erosion Abstracts

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About the Author ()

Guy Tal is an author and photographic artist. He resides in a remote part of Utah, in a high desert region known as the Colorado Plateau—a place that inspired him deeply for much of his life and that continues to feature in his images and writing. In his photographic work, Guy seeks to articulate a reverence for the wild. He writes about, and teaches, the values of living a creative life and finding fulfillment through one’s art.

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  1. Who Am I « Dan Baumbach Photography | November 6, 2009
  1. Chris R says:

    don’t be too hard on yourself. We are all asses at one time or another… Embrace it.

    Oh, and your work is very good.

  2. I’m not always quite perfect at it – to say the least – but on the occasions when I’ve simply owned up to my wrongness and apologized I’ve virtually always felt that the experience freed me in the end.


  3. Carl D says:

    Hey Guy,

    I remember when I was first starting to think about moving into the realm of professional photography, and read a bunch of stuff, and talked to Pro’s, and even went to a seminar or two. All of them said ”do this, do that, ya gotta do this” .. etc, etc, etc .. I was talking about it with one of my friends in Atlanta, whether maybe I should shoot some sports, or real estate, or whatever, to make some coin .. and Andy says “Carl, shoot what ya love man, that’s all”.

    Your post made me think of his words – they probably had more of a long-term influence on my photography than anything else.

    Great post,



  4. Great post again Guy – it seems we all get influenced by the wrong reasons sometimes, but seeing the light is the ultimate goal, both literally and mentally. Just this morning I was wondering if my work would stand up in the future, and now I realize it doesn’t matter – I’ve enjoyed the experience and I’m better for it…thanks for the inspiration.

  5. Roberta says:

    I so enjoy your posts…..your thoughts and attitudes towards photography are as beautiful as the images that result.

    “Photograph simply for the sake of expressing yourself creatively and to hell with the rest of it.” Here, here!

  6. Every new piece from you reaches a higher plane of profundity, Guy. Keep this good stuff coming!

  7. ” It may sting a little but you will be surprised by the liberating energy and creative soaring that will follow.” – well said Guy. I love those words!! The post was really refreshing after a hard day’s work!

  8. Jack Johnson says:

    Thanks, Guy – This is a very timely post for me, and a good reminder of why I bother! :^D

    – Jack

  9. Daniel Ruf says:

    Boy, did that strike home. Very well put and thank you for the reminder!

  10. Mark says:

    So true Guy. If there is one good thing about the digital stone tablets of the internet, it allows us to realize how much we have changed as you have done here. Many people have been posting various things for 10 years or more. Who can say they haven’t changed in 10 years?

  11. Mary Kay says:

    oh, yes, that sounds exactly like the voice in my head talking about feelings and emotional impact and reminding me that you can’t possibly touch someone with a photo if the scene hasn’t touched you first. “Breath and enjoy the view”.
    My biggest mistake for a short (thankfully short) period was that every time I went shooting I felt like I was taking a test, that there was something I needed to prove. Absurd, since I have nothing to gain, it’s not my job, no one is going to hire or fire me based on what I bring back. And although when it comes to places you visit once and you know you are not going to visit again you really want to capture an image that does justice to their beauty, I’ve come to love all those images that I haven’t been able to capture just as much as the onces I have, those pictures in my memories are as real as those in my hard drive. If only I could share them 🙂

    Thanks Guy, that was a basic and fundamental lesson, should be obvious but it isn’t, seems that sometimes feeling secure in all the technical knowledge one forgets all about emotions.

  12. John Wall says:

    Good words. Just came over from Dan Baumbach’s site. Looks like some useful introspection flowering in a lot of folks at about the same time.

  13. Adam Barker says:

    Great post Guy. Love the honesty.

  14. Great post Guy. I think many people discover themselves through art. Before they even know the “right reasons to do art” the art becomes the medium to find those right reasons. Whats necessary is to keep ourselves engaged in it and rest will follow.

  15. prashant says:

    hi Guy,
    visited after a long time. Only you can write such stuff…I’m so very looking forward to meet you personally one day.

  16. Amen Brother, Preach it!