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Food For digital Thought: The Road Less Traveled

Coloring outside the lines

I Invariably have the same conversation in both my online class I teach with the BPSOP, and I now have it down to occasionally in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around our planet…why so you ask?

Because in my workshops a lot of my fellow photographers have taken either my online classes, several past workshops, or both and they know by now that I always encourage photographers not to take the road well traveled; take the one with fewer footprints.

After a fifty year career in advertising, editorial, and corporate photography, while also teaching for thirty-four of those years, I’ve talked to a wide variety of photographers that are content with listening to others tell them (in so many words) to follow the rules, aka the Yellow Brick Road and at the end of said road will be a great and powerful wizard that will show them the road to photographic Nirvana; the ultimate happiness and spiritual liberation.

But perhaps they won’t find a great and powerful wizard, maybe they’ll find an old circus magician from Kansas (that would be Oz) that will instead take them straight down the one way road to mediocrity…and a state of non-creative purgatory


Without sounding like someone that always assumes the worst, it seems to me based on years of experience, most photographers out there are afraid to step out and color outside the lines; better safe that sorry is their motto. They have their close friends and family to tell them that their pictures are wonderful, and that can be just good enough; enough to get you through the day.

I’ve found that the majority of the students that come to me are not sure of themselves, and without some level of confidence they trust others to guide them; when in fact they just might know more that those offering advice.

What’s the worst that can happen? They’ll laugh at your art, call you names behind your back, make you cry in front of strangers, and maybe even kick you out of their camera club!!!

There’s worse things in life; however, I can’t think of any as I write this post.


In my opinion you should venture out, get some dirt on your shirt while looking at things from a different perspective. Forget about encountering the ubiquitous negative viewer that may not like what you’ve created in the form of a photograph. Your first attempt may or may not be a “wall hanger”, but that’s to be expected. One has to learn how to balance themselves while trying to stand up, and stand before they can walk, and walk before they can run.

Open your eyes to new ways of thinking. Try to remember you’re an artist with a camera as your medium. Work on making not just taking pictures. Bob Marley conveyed it best when he said, “Some people feel the rain while others just get wet”.

Take some chances and follow the road less traveled…even if it means getting wet.


Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my workshop schedule at the top of this blog. Come shoot with me some time. This coming January Along with William Yu, I’ll be taking a group to China to photograph the flooded rice terraces and also the tribal villages. Next February in conjunction with the Santa Fe Workshops, I’ll be returning to Cuba for the fourth time. My next springtime workshop will Berlin next May; an incredibly beautiful city.

If you’ll send me a photo and question to AskJoeB@gmail.com, I’ll create a video critique for you.


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