Photographing Organically

I remember the days before computers (though I was pretty young when we got our first computer – a TRS-80 as it happens) and the internet, but I’ve quickly adapted to my new life with technology. I may not have been born into the technical age, but I’m quite happy to be living here.

My recent exhibit at the Soulard Coffee Gardens in St. Louis.

It seems that technology is all around us and it’s easy to forget – like fish forget about water. I’m even a bit of an expert on integrating technology into our lives. I’ve co-authored the book iPractice: Technology in the 21st Century Music Practice Room.

A photo I took for the cover of my book iPractice: Music in the 21st Century Music Practice Room. I tried to mix the old with the new.

We met a couple recently on our travels who laughingly said that they “met organically.” In other words, not digitally through social media or a dating service.

Doing things “organically” or “in-person” is now a thing and maybe an increasingly rare thing.

Because I’m a digital photographer through and through (my parents had a dark room when I was a child, but I was never very interested in the chemical side of photography), I’ve mainly done things online.

I create the photos digitally so it makes sense that I share my photographs primarily online. I have a website where I sell my photo, I share on Instagram, Flickr, and Facebook, I’ve written e-books (and here) and quite a lot of my communications with other photographers and clients is done online. Almost everything I do with photography involves a computer.

But recently, I’ve been trying a few new things with my photography. I’ve been trying to do things more organically.

Out of Chicago Spring Photography Conference. It’s taking place in Grayslake, Illinois from April 27-28, 2019 . Use the discount code SPRING when you register to get $50 off. Spaces are filling fast. For more information, visit www.outofchicago.com/spring.

Doing things organically means doing things in person. I’m not talking about showing up in person to take photos – of course I have to do that – but interacting with people more and sharing my photos physically.

There are some outgoing photographers, maybe those who do portraits or wedding photography, but a lot of us aren’t natural extroverts. I personally like taking long photo walks all by myself. I’m fairly social as a photographer, but to do my best work I really need to be on my own to create. Doing things organically means breaking out of my shell a bit.

I’ve done quite a lot of work perfecting what my husband calls my “street banter” – interacting with strangers on the street in order to get good photographs. For some photographers, approaching strangers on the street is terrifying – I was like that at one point as well. I’m now pretty comfortable putting myself into situations that require a lot of interactions. For instance, I attended our local Holi festival and had no problem positioning myself actually on the front stage in order to get good photos of the crowd.

Holi is an Indian festival where powder is thrown around, making everything very colorful indeed!

But it’s not just about getting the photographs, I’ve started to change the way I distribute or share my photographs. I’ve started printing my photos and offering them for sale as a physical object. People like to see the real photo, have it in their hands matted and framed. I’m participating in more exhibits where people can see my work in an art-space rather than just online. This gives my photography some weight as art, not just an online consumable.

My photography ebook, 32 Photo Etudes: Exercises in Composition, Lighting, Focus, Motion is now available as a real, physical book.

In addition to this blog, I’m doing photo education through in-person workshops, coaching sessions and conferences where I’m interacting with fellow photographers face-to-face.

I see a lot more work of other photographers because of the web, but when I meet a Facebook photog-friend in person, we always greet each other as if it’s the first time. “It’s so nice to finally meet you in person!” Virtual friendships simply aren’t the same as a physical meeting.

Those of you who have been around for a while may be chuckling or shaking your head. The world has come full circle. This is the way we used to do things all the time. We didn’t have a choice.

It makes sense that digital photography resides in the world of technology, but there seems to be no substitute for personal interaction. Walking into a gallery and pitching my photographs – with a physical portfolio in my hands – has opened many doors for me. There’s a balance to be struck.

My photos get more world-wide attention through social media, but there’s something to be said for doing things organically.

Showing up is half the battle. I attended the funeral of a local firefighter and was moved by the experience. The other half is sharing online. My photos were seen and used by the Illinois State Senate in this tribute to the fallen first responder after they found my photos on social media.
I have new cards from Moo – Love the square cards! They get so much attention when I hand them out.
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For more photos, follow me on social media: Facebook, Instagram, Website, FlickrE

1 Comment

  1. What a beautiful colour festival shot.. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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