A few weeks ago now I received a message from a photographer that had worked with my muse several years ago. Dan and experienced something that scares us all to death, hard drive failure. He wrote me asking if I still had a copy of the photos he had taken and if I could send them to him. I did have a copy and transferred them his way. In our discussion I asked him how things had been going knowing that our experience level and situation was very similar. He stated that he needed more experience and was not satisfied with the results he was achieving. I would like to share my response to him with you in hopes you might gain something from my message to him. I know this is not my regular type of post but I hope you will indulge me.
Response to Dan:
All I can say is that we are very hard on ourselves as artists. Just keep on plugging away. If you look at and study many of the greats it took decades to prefect their style. I still am at the phase of watching and reading daily about photography. I shoot everyday which really helps. Books, articles and videos only go so far in your learning. I have taken a photo per day for almost two straight years now. I work more now than any other time in the past 5 years but I make myself shoot daily. Our new daily nude photo was started for this purpose. I shot daily the year before but they were not well thought out photos. I really wasn't trying if you know what I mean. I wanted to make myself work harder and be more accountable so I started the site jwpurdy.com back up and invited people to join in on the project. Go give Ted Forbes and his show "The Art of Photography" a look. It gives you a good look at many of the greats and their process of growth and the struggle they had to overcome. Everyone has to pay their dues. I am still just an amateur but am paying my dues now.
I have a wonderful mentor that has been helping me since I got started back in 08'. RJ Warren is awesome and gives me suggestions on what I should be doing next at each step of my journey. Every few years or a couple of times a year we will get together and he always gives me advise on my shooting development. He is such a great teacher and inspiration. He is a very well know fine art/figure study photographer in the Houston area and very generous with his time. I am still a long way off I feel but I am growing. All we can do as photographers is grow. I have, based on his advice, just started the next step in my growth. I can see the following step ahead but I'm not in a rush to get there. Go slow and allow time and experience to train you. Wisdom is earned and not attained in any other way. I know this message is long winded but I really want to encourage you. I think you have great potential. I also think you need to really focus on the task at hand and put in some more effort at improving you skills. Once we master the technical then we can move into showing our own voice. Find the artists that speak to you and copy them, I mean really copy them. Get everything perfect from the lighting, pose, emotion and feel of the photo. Don't worry about the set/background, since they can be very elaborate and out of our means, but get everything else exact. Once you master camera settings, pose, lighting and feel/emotion you will be ready to have people really look at your work. I know we show people our work all the time on social media groups but I mean show people with experience our work and get their feelings and input about it. They have been tested by time and reached levels we dream of reaching.
Once we master this part then we move onto attaining our own voice. We start showing people who we are with our images then we can start trying for putting our work in front of curators. I'm guessing at some of these last steps and may be leaving some out; I'm not there yet. I have had a few gallery showings, won some awards but I think they were right time right place types of events. Identify someone you truly admire in your area and reach out to them. Most people into photography are the most generous people you will ever meet and love helping someone looking to grow. If I remember correctly you are somewhat like me and make a part of you living behind the lens. If this is the case don't let that lull you into thinking you are a master. The ability to deliver a good product to a client doesn't mean you are at the level of getting your work on a gallery wall. Being a pro-am means you have learned the business of photography and have technical skills but not necessarily a voice. In my last meeting with Mr. Warren he told me to stop taking pretty pictures and start telling stories. As pro-am's we tend to take pretty pictures but not tell stories. I am still working on the technical side while working on my story telling abilities. Again I realize I have used myself as an example a lot in this long reply but please don't take that as I'm a master but just trying to convey where I am in the journey. Keep putting in the hard work and it will pay off in the long run. Let me know when you want to get together and we can get something worked out.