It's completely fine if you don't agree. We express opinions and cite what works for us, but it doesn't necessarily mean it works for everybody else. I share my opinions simply hoping that somebody else might benefit from it.
Originally Posted by jakeblues
Now, practice, and being out of our comfort zone are not mutually exclusive the way I see things. In fact, by practicing you get better at handling the camera, understanding light of all kinds, , instantaneously compose an unknown scene, reacting to the subject matter, and 'feel' the whole workflow, from exposure to finished print. And that makes you prepared to react to something that's completely out of your comfort zone.
So, to me, the more you practice and the more you shoot and print, the more able you will be to simply react to what's in front of you, focusing only on the subject matter, without having to think too much about work flow.
I have noticed this lately, where I basically have no time to print and shoot, so I find it a lot more difficult to be in tune with my work flow as something good comes my way; I basically feel out of practice, like a runner who hasn't run for a long time, and is trying to get back into shape.
That's what I think practice does.
John makes a great point here.
Knowing my tools/systems well is important to me so that I don't have to think about them when I'm shooting important stuff.
I think you already know the answer here. Looking at your flickr, your work looks just about like every other "aesthetically pleasing" photographer on flickr. Meaning, it's not really about anything, just stuff that happens to be in front of you. A little color, a little black and white. Try that flare thing that all the portrait photographers are doing. You use the word "obligatory" and it really feels that way, like formalist gangsta rap (money, rims, hoes). Going through the motions, inspiration zero.
Originally Posted by jakeblues
Great photographs are the result of hard work and an idea, even if a vague one, that can unite many images created over time. One sure way to undercut the unity is to use many different lenses, cameras and films. (How would Avedon's work look if he had shot some 35mm color neg with a fish eye, just for giggles?) It's hard enough to do great work with one camera and one or two lenses and no more than two films (one slow and one fast). Seriously, that's plenty challenging.
If you go that route, suddenly everything starts to have a uniform optical space. (Compare that to your average landscape photographer, with the super wides and the macros jumping back and forth. It's all very unsettling. Very few people can pull it off.) Now, you can choose different lenses for different projects, but try to keep each project so that the same film/camera/lens combos are used for all of the pictures in that project.
Also, shoot more MF. You'll get 15 frames on your Mamiya, so you can finish the roll faster. You'll find that you see better. The bigger negs are so much easier to proof and edit, too.
Hope that helps. Photography is incredibly rewarding but it is not easy.
When you write lots of posts on forums like these, you get good at... writing. Makes it worth reading sometimes.
When you take lots of photos, you get good at... you guessed where I was going with this... photography. Makes it worth seeing.
I like ParkerSmithPhoto's advice. Pick one camera and a couple lenses and a couple films. Start with MF, you might never go back.
You can get great yield from a few rolls of film if you put your mind to it. How many of us have put together a couple 80-slide trays' worth of entertainment from half a dozen rolls of film. And our friends really, thoroughly enjoyed it.
Take a lot of pictures of your friends. You know them more than anyone else. Reveal what you know about them. Get close, literally and figuratively-speaking.
As Sally Mann said (in a documentary about her I saw), "Take pictures of the things and people you love, that will be the best pictures you take".
Thanks for the thoughtful replies.