Finding My Niche

When I decided to leave New York and move to LA, I had a pretty concrete idea of what I wanted to do here and a vague idea of how I wanted to do it. In the four plus months it took me to get from NY to LA, everything has changed. My understanding of the way things work is part of that change but also my outlook on what I want to do.

With the next generation of digital movie cameras able to generate high-quality stills, the job of stills photographer on movie and TV sets will go away. Which is not a dream-killer because that was just a means to an end. I'd like to shoot promo images for movie posters and TV shows. So portraiture is more in line with what I want to do.

But, for a while, I have been very anti-marketing. I'm getting tired of being incessantly bombarded by advertising telling me I need this gadget or that outfit to be complete. As a photographer and graphic designer, I am part of this marketing machine driving people to consume beyond need and reason. But, right now, I don't see a way out of it without giving both up as a career path. I guess I'm not as sick of marketing as I sometimes think because I don't spend much thinking about giving it up.

The next two posts scheduled for next week deal with fashion photography and personal work. The fashion post is inspired by my recent discovery of the Annenberg Space for Photography and the Beauty CULTure exhibit they have going on. The personal work post was partially inspired by a talk at the Annenberg Space by photographer Mark Laita about his book Created Equal. It just drove home some ideas I've had lately.

I haven't really done any shooting since I've been here and I know I need to change that. If I don't find subjects I need to get out and shoot whatever I see. I have gotten out of the habit of carrying my camera everywhere I go. My iPhone is not a substitute for my camera. I know I won't just start getting jobs shooting movie posters so I have to figure out what I want to shoot as I work towards that and get on it. I think a personal project will get me on the track. I haven't figured out what I want to shoot, exactly, or how I want to shoot it. It's probably going to take some trial and error.

I do know that I want to express love in what I shoot. I have a couple of ideas of how to do this but I need to work it out. One thing I do know is I want my photos be be an interaction between my subjects and me. I thought of doing stealth street photography of couples but that's creepy and there is no interaction. I want to connect with the people I photograph.

Mark Laita said he barely talked to the people he shot before he shot them because he wanted them to be uncomfortable in front of the camera. He wanted to get the shots while they still didn't know what to do with themselves because afterr they got comfortable they started posing. Looking at his pictures, it clearly worked. But, I think that there is a third stage after the posing when many people drop their guard and then you can get a very real connection and a portrait that reflects it.

Obviously, I working a lot of stuff out. I will probably be working things out for a while so stay tuned as I express my ideas and work it all out.

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