Although this article is not the easiest one to write, I just need to get this off my chest. In case you haven’t noticed, street photography means the world to me. I pour all my heart and soul into it and to be honest, just like you I couldn’t imagine living without it anymore. If something or someone has a special place in your heart, you are willing to go out of your way and speak out inconvenient truths that may or may not offend certain people. Whether you may fully agree with what I’m saying or can’t believe that I have the audacity to do so, I’m only saying this, because I deeply care.
Dear Groupon Man,
I was surprised when you called this morning. And on my cell phone, no less. I was in the middle of a really hectic morning but I had a few minutes so I decided to take the call.
And before we go any further, I just want to say thank you for being super friendly. I could hear all the other Groupon people in the back on their phones and I have no doubt that my name was but one in a long list of names you had to call today, but still, you were upbeat and nice. And it did not go unnoticed, so thank you. Really.
You said that you were looking to feature a photographer in my area and wanted to offer me that opportunity. Yowzers! I got real excited, like I had won something, and then I remembered this was Groupon and you wanted me to advertise with you. So, I allowed you a little of your spiel because nobody likes to be cut off mid-sentence. And then when you paused, I said, in my sweetest voice:
First things first. My name is Marius Vieth and I’m a 26 year old fine art photographer from Amsterdam who loves nothing more than street photography.
After shooting all sorts of things from 2011 to 2012 without ever finding myself and feeling my photography, I discovered my deep passion for street photography in the first month of my 365 project in 2013.
Since then, I’ve not only spent almost every single day on the streets of the world to capture wonderful moments, but I’ve also built my life around it.
Within these two years, I’ve won 20 awards so far, but if there’s one thing that makes me happier than that, it’s sharing my experiences and maybe inspire fellow photographers to fall in love with street photography as well.
So, here are three incredibly important lessons about street photography I’ve learned so far!
The first one I ever saw was “Chicks Who Click.” It was years ago and the photography industry was predominately male. I didn’t think too much of it, but wondered (aloud at times) the wisdom of, not only creating a gender biased photography group, but giving it a cutesy name like “Chicks Who Click.” By naming it that, they downplayed the seriousness and professionalism of their chosen profession. They demoted themselves from “professional photographers” to “middle school sleep-over photography club.” I envisioned a bedroom of giggling girls, braiding each other’s hair, talking about boys, and occasionally using some derivative of the word “passion” and “photography” in the same sentence.
A few years later, I was at a national convention and met a woman who handed me her business card. On it, was the name of a photography group she’d founded – “Women Only Workshops, She’fari Photographers.” Whaaaa? Yep, she was very proud of the group and said business couldn’t be better. Of course, I, possessing the wrong genitalia, was not allowed to attend any of her workshops or go on any “She’faris” so I’m not quite sure WHY she even bothered to give me her business card unless it was just to rub it in. She seemed very nice, so I doubt she meant it as an insult though, but still. Helloooo? Common Sense???
[Editor’s note: When I asked Don Giannatti of Lighting Essentials to be a guest blogger, I knew that the piece would be good and honest (he tells it straight). I did not anticipate how honest he would tell it this time. If you are a long time photographer, I am sure you can relate to the writing below, if you are struggling now, it would be a great inspiration and if you are considering if a professional photography business is the thing for you, know that it is not always a rosy road, you may wanna wait with this post till you are further down the path. All Don from here…]
One day I simply stopped doing what I was doing and began to be a photographer. I had been around photographers, but I didn’t have any clue what being a “professional” really meant. I simply started out as a photographer, then learned that I needed to assist first, then hit it again as a photographer. I made a lot of mistakes. I went to the School of Hard Knocks for undergraduate and “Mean Streets, U” for upper grad work. I learned from the seat of my pants, and took a lot of risks… some paid off kinda good, some didn’t work out at all, and a few hit big time for me.
But when I talk to a lot of photographers who are starting out, they have a false idea of the business. They don’t understand the focus needed, or that it may be kinda damn tough for a while. Sacrifice means they may cut back on cable channels, or get a 15″ MacBookPro instead of a 17″.
I have ten principals that will keep you going when you start out. I wish I had known about them when I started out. I know they work for me now as I start yet another company in a down economy… heh.
Here we go…
With winters lasting for 6 months in Toronto, I find that outdoor shoots are put on hold for pretty much the entire time. Because of that, I try improving my studio work during the indoor hermitting season as much as possible. That way once spring kicks in I can go back to shooting outdoors at full power.
All of my previous studio work (which is limited) involved either a blank wall in my house or a blank wall in my house with a grey paper backdrop that I purchased at Henry’s for $40 CAD. This year, when I was asked to shoot an album cover, I knew it was time to figure out something a little more sophisticated. Cue in NEW BACKDROPS!
What if I told you it was not the industry, the bad economy, where you live, what camera you shoot with, how many lights you have or how small your Facebook following is that is holding you back. None of those are truly capable of stopping you, they are only challenges for you to meet.
The same challenges everyone who creates art or starts a business has to meet and beat.
The things that are truly holding you back are your own beliefs. Belief that it IS one of those reasons above. Believing that it is a geography thing that keeps you from excelling, or what gear you use or how many lights you take with you is more damaging than any REAL challenge you will ever have to meet.
Because they have no substance, these limiting beliefs can grow to fit any size needed to keep you from moving forward.
If it was simply a wall in front of you, there would be many different ways to move on. Scale it, go around it, blow it up… all sorts of ways to get it done.
But if the wall is a creation inside your mind, there is no way around it, it will grow higher than any ladder you have and it becomes impervious to any and all attempts to blow it up. It does this insidiousness because we want it to. We control its size and power.
So lets look at ten beliefs and maybe offer a suggestion on how they may be more in our heads than in our reality.
By routinely reading Photo-News and blogs from around the world, I came across homemade photo booths again and again. I saved images and ideas for my own project to be executed “somewhere in the future”. Future was supposed to be 2012, when I moved to Hamburg and a housewarming party was planned. Unfortunately, that did not work out with the schedule, the project has been somewhat forgotten and thus lay for a while semi-finished in the basement. 2015, a colleague celebrated his birthday on a larger scale and they have established a selfie-booth. The result was great and reminded me of the photo booth in the basement, which was finally pushed to completion.
Like always I joint all the best ideas from other projects that I had found in the meantime.
Support is a funny thing.
As an artist, 96% of our career is spent dealing with rejection. Rejection from friends, family, other artists and even the art world itself. Making a living from art can be a very long and lonely, misunderstood journey, especially in the beginning, and having a decent support system can help make that early journey a little more bearable.
But just as we’re often learning the ropes of how to be an artist, we also know that you’re learning the ropes of how to best support us. We need you, and here are the best ways you can help us out.