Paying Your Dues

Photography is just like anything else in life, when new people join the group, they want  the same things that the best in the vocation have, and they want it now. That’s actually pretty normal, but hopefully it will never work that way.

In photography as in life, every time you pay a due, you get to learn something.  There is a lesson with every new step.  Those lessons accumulate and eventually, they make you a veteran.  Hopefully a smart one.

When I began photography, I wanted it all right away, and I was pretty cocky about it.  Photography is not rocket science or brain surgery, so I figured it was mine for the taking.  Within two months after purchasing my first pro level camera, I had a black and white darkroom.  I was indeed developing film and printing pictures in my spare bedroom.   I quickly got my first images published. Soon after that I got my first paying job photographing a wedding.  I was getting somewhere fast, and I was skipping many of my dues along the way.

It took me a couple of months after our move to Colorado to secure my first commercial job. It was through an ad agency and two months is a phenomenally short time for that.  A short time after that I made my first commercial studio images.  Three years after arriving in the west I was featured in a new magazine out of Colorado Springs, as an emerging artist. I in fact, had my own hand printed black & white pictures hanging in a gallery.  I was doing great, and I was bypassing every payment I could.

I know this all sounds like I am tooting my own horn, but really I am not.

The one thing about having never taken a college business course ( a due?) , and having only studied for two weeks with a pro photographer, is that you forget that if you don’t make sufficient money, it is a hobby not a business. I never paid my dues in one of the most important aspects of any vocation in this or any other free country, how to make more money than you spend. It was many years before photography would once again become a full-time endeavor.

Of course photography is not entirely about dollars and cents.

Today I see a lot of amazing photographers.  The ones who paid their (in the field) dues, do prosper more than the rest.  Those other photographers have the best equipment, and they own and know how to use the best editing software.  Unfortunately, composition and good “natural” photos come from studying the photos of others, and most of all, from paying your dues in the field.  You make pictures.  Maybe for years. Polish and glitter make images look good at first glance, but leave viewers flat in the end. Joseph Rossbach made an observation on Facebook a while back that pretty much summed this opinion up, although I’ll avoid his unique language and just say that his point was the same.  A great point of view (composition) in an image will create a lasting piece of art, while software manipulation will create a brief curiosity.   The two can be used successfully together, but an image needs a true point of view from its infancy.


Now let’s take a look at some images from five very talented photographers.  They all either have already, or are in the process of paying their dues.  They also have a “pont of view”.

I keep going back to the well that’s named Charles Glatzer, to show you superb wildlife images.  I am getting closer to devoting an entire post to Charles.

I love the soft gentle light falling on and around these Pelicans.  Too often photographers think they need sunshine for their wildlife photos.  Today’s cameras make soft light pictures easier than ever before.King Penguins on sand beach.





I have shown images from Suzanne Mathia before, and she deserves another look. I enjoyed this shot of the Santa Barbara, CA courthouse.  It pays to always have a camera with you.  It is true that you can make some superb images with your cell phone and when in doubt always use it.  Just the same there is something about having a good DSLR in your bag.  It just adds a seriousness to your image making.923500_10202710389776240_73305086_n

Ian Plant is certainly a top-tier landscape artist. While I call him a landscape artist I am seeing some great wildlife and architecture coming from Ian as well.  This shot was made in Patagonia when he was teaching a workshop.1979473_841170622576564_963512969_n

The next two images come from Justin Kelefas. Lighthouse/seashore pictures will never go out of style. My last paying credit was a lighthouse image published by a calendar company. I know there are a lot of landscape photographers who think lighthouse images are cliché, and somewhat lowbrow, but those opinions are for the arrogant.  Photographers make pictures. I love the underwater shot as well.1184783_637363126321294_1432809189_n


Thank you for stopping and may God Bless,                                                                                Wayne

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