Ralph Waldo Emerson was a writer and poet who led the Transcendentalist movement in the mid 19th century. I’m not by any means a big lover and follower of quality literature and poetry, and not a follower of Transcendentalism, but what I remember reading about him was that he was a big supporter of individualism…and so am I. Only recently did I find a quote he said somewhere in the late 1800’s. It immediately stuck to me as it fits perfectly into the way I present my way of thinking to both my online classes with the BPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet.
He once said, ” Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail”. This really hit home to me a few weeks ago when I was asked to give a talk and show my work to a local camera club at their yearly Christmas dinner.
First, let me say that being a member of a local camera club has a lot of advantages. If you’re into the social aspects as in: meetings where you get together with people that share your love of photography, drink diet cokes and unsweetened ice tea while exchanging current trends, or enter into club competitions where the best photo is not always picked, then a camera club is the way to go….and can be a lot of fun. You can also take workshops given by other members…if you’re so inclined.
Having said that I’ve spoken at many camera clubs over the years and have judged several of their yearly competitions. At some point during my visit several of the members have pulled me aside and said that although they love my presentation, if they were to submit photo composed the way I compose, they would be made to stand in the corner and subsequently ridiculed in front of the entire membership.
Ok, maybe they didn’t say it exactly that way, but as far as the way I seen things, the truth is that my photos would never be accepted into their show; certainly not win any ribbons.
Here’s my standing reply to these few souls that have evidently lost their way, “Start your own camera club”.
These are the photographers that were given coloring books when they were young and were told to color inside of the lines. As a result, now, as grown-ups, they strictly adhere to all the rules of photography and woe be to those that deviate in any way.
I’m talking about the staunch supporters of the Rule of Thirds, never clipping the highlights, and the Leading in Rule, to name a few. They will never give up their life long beliefs nor have any of them ever been interested in my online classes or workshops…which is absolutely OK with me!!
Live by the rule, die by the rule seems to be their hidden agenda and mantra.
The few of my fellow photographers that want to venture out into the creative world where coloring outside the lines is the best way I know to taking photos “up a level”, and that stand out among others…then as Nike would say, “just do it”.
To be sure, I’m not saying to never follow the rules, or not join your local camera club. I’m saying to not live and die by those rules If you don’t believe in always following the rules, and following the same path as your camera club members, then don’t. Go your own way and blaze your own trail then maybe you can help others that feel the same as you (or more importantly don’t) get together and follow the path you’ve blazed.
Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my 2105 workshop schedule at the top of this blog. come shoot with me sometime. July 26th will be my 27th year at the Maine Media Workshop…the granddaddy of them all. I’ve always picked this week as it’s the week of the Lobster Festival down the road in Rockland. It offers a completely different set of photo ops: color, motion, people, energy, light, and design. A great way to break up photos of the beautiful coastline, fishing villages and lighthouses that Maine is known for.
Keep those photos and question coming into: AskJoeB@gmail.com, and I’ll create a video critique for you.