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Learn From Your Mistakes – The Story Behind The Photograph

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Out of the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of two icebergs passing by outside the window of our ship. I seized my camera and ran to the back of the ship. The pair glistened and glinted in a glowing haze of diffuse fog. I check the first few frames. Perfect exposures. And I continued shooting until they disappeared.
Thrilled, I returned to my cabin to download these beautiful new images. I opened the camera and found there was no card in it. To fix a recently developed quirk, I had reset all the settings on my camera to their defaults, which was to fire without a card, a behavior I disliked before and loathed now.
Yet again, I was forced to learn from my mistakes. The pain and frustration of what was lost drove this lesson home deeply. I redoubled my efforts to keep my systems streamlined and my habits well maintained – plus periodically check them.
It’s only a small comfort that Thomas Edison, one of the most innovative men in history, set a monthly quota for making mistakes; he felt that if he wasn’t making a certain number of mistakes, he wasn’t pushing the envelope enough. Easier said than done, the trick is not to make the same mistake twice. I had made this mistake before. It was already on my checklist – Mistakes I’ve Made.
A black cat mysteriously failed to appear in exposures I made as a small child with my mother. No one had a camera the day we released a magnificent rehabilitated golden eagle. On close inspection, exposures from the Scottish highlands were found to be out of focus. A dozen sheets of film used inside Chartes Cathedral were re-exposed to light before being processed. A roll of film shot in Death Valley’s Golden Canyon was improperly processed. A camera shutter failed to open despite making its customary noise at Point Lobos, California. Files made in Chile’s altiplano were deleted from a hard drive. A camera fell to the bottom of the ocean in a Maine harbor. The list goes on. I keep looking for the book people refer to when they use the phrase “every mistake in the book” – but until I find it, I’ll continue writing my own.
To this day, I can see these images in my mind as clearly as if they were made yesterday. But you can’t. They’re the ones that got away. In their place, I have lessons learned.
Questions
What can you learn from your mistakes?
How many lessons can you learn from a single mistake?
What can you do to try not to make the same mistake twice?
How can you learn from other’s mistakes?
What can others learn from your mistakes?
Read more The Stories Behind The Images here.

22 Quotes By Photographer Robert Mapplethorpe

 
Here’s a selection of quotes by photographer Robert Mapplethorpe.
“If a day goes by without my doing something related to photography, it’s as though I’ve neglected something essential to my existence, as though I had forgotten to wake up.” – Robert Mapplethorpe
“I never liked photography. Not for the sake of photography. I like the object. I like the photographs when you hold them in your hand.” – Robert Mapplethorpe
“To make pictures big is to make them more powerful.” – Robert Mapplethorpe
“I like to look at pictures, all kinds. And all those things you absorb come out subconsciously one way or another. You’ll be taking photographs and suddenly know that you have resources from having looked at a lot of them before. There is no way you can avoid this. But this kind of subconscious influence is good, and it certainly can work for one. In fact, the more pictures you see, the better you are as a photographer.” – Robert Mapplethorpe
“With photography, you zero in; you put a lot of energy into short moments, and then you go on to the next thing.” – Robert Mapplethorpe
“…My whole point is to transcend the subject. …Go beyond the subject somehow, so that the composition, the lighting, all around, reaches a certain point of perfection. That’s what I’m doing. Whether it’s a cock or a flower, I’m looking at it in the same way. …in my own way, with my own eyes.” – Robert Mapplethorpe
“When I have sex with someone I forget who I am. For a minute I even forget I’m human. It’s the same thing when I’m behind a camera. I forget I exist.” – Robert Mapplethorpe
“I am obsessed with beauty. I want everything to be perfect, and of course it isn’t. And that’s a tough place to be because you’re never satisfied.” – Robert Mapplethorpe
“Beauty and the devil are the same thing.” – Robert Mapplethorpe
“When I work, and in my art, I hold hands with God.” – Robert Mapplethorpe
“I don’t know why my pictures come out looking so good. I just don’t get it.” – Robert Mapplethorpe
“I always thought I was good. That’s why it was so frustrating when other people didn’t agree.” – Robert Mapplethorpe
“One must ease the public into it – that’s an art in itself.”- Robert Mapplethorpe
“Sell the public flowers… things that they can hang on their walls without being uptight.”- Robert Mapplethorpe
“I recorded that because it happened to me. I wasn’t making a point.” – Robert Mapplethorpe
“My lifestyle is bizarre, but the only thing you need to know is where the darkroom is.” – Robert Mapplethorpe
“I went into photography because it seemed like the perfect vehicle for commenting on the madness of today’s existence.” – Robert Mapplethorpe
“People don’t have time to wait for somebody to paint their portraits anymore. The money is in photography.”- Robert Mapplethorpe
“My theory about creativity is that the more money one has, the more creative one can be.” – Robert Mapplethorpe
“The photographs that are art have to be separated from the rest – then preserved.” – Robert Mapplethorpe
“I don’t think any collector knows his true motivation.” – Robert Mapplethorpe
“I’m looking for the unexpected. I’m looking for things I’ve never seen before”. – Robert Mapplethorpe
Read more Photographer’s Quotes here.

Stay Alert -The Story Behind The Photograph

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Antarctica III, The Southern Ocean, Antarctica, 2005 

I’d been scanning the iceberg struck horizon for hours when suddenly the clouds grew thin enough to let the sun through for a brief moment. The sun and the light it cast on the surface of the water completed the picture. It was there only for a moment. And then it was gone.
There are so many moments like this in life. In these times, there’s a narrow window of opportunity and only those who stay alert recognize them and are able to take full advantage of them. Of course it helps to have the right tools for the job and solid training, good instincts, and fast reflexes. But none of these will do you any good if you aren’t aware enough to recognize the many opportunities before you.
Photography (and its extension in motion pictures), relies on the power of the moment more than any other medium. Sure music, dance, and theater also require precise timing, but the moments they present can be created and recreated. You can practice until you get the moment right. But with the historical photographic moment, you get one chance and then it’s gone.
To be sure, not all moments are equally fleeting. Some moments last longer than others. And certain events do reoccur more than once and even recur repeatedly. Sometimes you do get more than one chance. Sometimes you don’t. It helps to know how long a window of opportunity you have and if you’ll get another chance. When you do have more than one chance, depending on how much time you have between each recurring event, you may find it time well spent to observe carefully on your first opportunity before acting on your next opportunity. This is perhaps the best preparation of all. When you won’t have another opportunity, you need to think fast and when you don’t have time for that you need to trust your instincts. No matter how many opportunities you have, to succeed you need to stay alert.
Maintenance is key. It’s harder to stay alert if you don’t take care of yourself. Sleep, diet, and exercise all contribute to your being. (And never underestimate the power of motivation.) Start with the basics, but don’t stop there.
Just as you can practice to hone your reflexes, there are things you can do to develop your awareness, such as studies and meditations – and there are many ways to do both (too many to mention here). You can learn to bring yourself into heightened states awareness more consistently, quickly and intensely. This too requires practice. It’s time well spent. Like anything, the more you do it, the better you get at it – especially if you stay alert while you do it.
Questions
What can you do to increase your sensitivity?
What can you do to increase your understanding?
What can you do to increase your emotional responses?
What can you do to increase your ability to sustain your awareness for longer periods of time?
Find out more about this image here. 
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Read more The Stories Behind The Images here.

19 Quotes By Photographer William Eggleston

 
Here’s a selection of quotes by phot0grapher William Eggleston.
“I am at war with the obvious.” – William Eggelston
“You can take a good picture of anything. A bad one, too.” – William Eggelston
“I had this notion of what I called a democratic way of looking around, that nothing was more or less important.” – William Eggelston
“It quickly came to be that I grew interested in photographing whatever was there wherever I happened to be. For any reason.” – William Eggelston
” Whatever it is about pictures, photographs, it’s just about impossible to follow up with words. They don’t have anything to do with each other.” – William Eggelston
“I want to make a picture that could stand on its own, regardless of what it was a picture of. I’ve never been a bit interested in the fact that this was a picture of a blues musician or a street corner or something. ” – William Eggelston
“I only ever take one picture of one thing. Literally. Never two. So then that picture is taken and then the next one is waiting somewhere else.” – William Eggelston
“I don’t have a burning desire to go out and document anything. It just happens when it happens. It’s not a conscious effort, nor is it a struggle. Wouldn’t do it if it was. The idea of the suffering artist has never appealed to me. Being here is suffering enough.” – William Eggelston
“There is no particular reason to search for meaning.” – William Eggelston
“A picture is what it is and I’ve never noticed that it helps to talk about them, or answer specific questions about them, much less volunteer information in words. It wouldn’t make any sense to explain them. Kind of diminishes them. People always want to know when something was taken, where it was taken, and, God knows, why it was taken. It gets really ridiculous. I mean, they’re right there, whatever they are.” – William Eggelston
“I never know beforehand. Until I see it. It just happens all at once. I take a picture very quickly and instantly forget about it.” – William Eggelston
” I don’t really look at other people’s photographs at all. It takes enough time to look at my own.” – William Eggelston
” I don’t have favorites. I look at pictures democratically. To me they are all equal. ” – William Eggelston
” I just wait until [my subject] appears, which is often where I happen to be. Might be something right across the street. Might be something on down the road. And I’m usually very pleased when I get the image back. It’s usually exactly what I saw. I don’t have any favorites. Every picture is equal but different.” – William Eggelston
“I am afraid that there are more people than I can imagine who can go no further than appreciating a picture that is a rectangle with an object in the middle of it, which they can identify. ” – William Eggelston
“I’ve always assumed that the abstract qualities of [my] photographs are obvious. For instance, I can turn them upside down and they’re still interesting to me as pictures. If you turn a picture that’s not well organized upside down, it won’t work.” – William Eggelston
“Whether a photo or music, or a drawing or anything else I might do—it’s ultimately all an abstraction of my peculiar experience.” – William Eggelston
“You become technically proficient whether you want to or not, the more you take pictures.” – William Eggelston
“Photography just gets us out of the house.” – William Eggelston
Read more Photographer’s Quotes here.

Return To The Same Well

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Suffusion XV, Skogafoss, Iceland, 2012

To find what I was looking for, it took three visits to this waterfall.
On the first visit, I made conventional postcards surveying the site with a curious eye; cliffs, grass, moss, waterfall, pool, river, rock, vapor, rainbow, sun, clouds, rain, tourists, horses. The images I made were competent – and nothing more.
On the second visit, I identified my primary focus – the fast-moving complex patterns the water made as it fell in waves through the air. Images that isolated these patterns contained a number of qualities that I was excited about, both something related to what I had been developing in other images and something new. I had found what I was looking for. But, when I evaluated the images I made and developed the material further (enhancing the patterns by combining them and adding new elements) it became clear that I needed more material to make a complete statement. During development, I made notes and sketches to chart my progress and refine my ideas.
On the third visit, I walked up to the waterfall and stood in front of it silently watching for new patterns and making exposures for the better part of an hour. I was thrilled to be immersed in a magical moment, completely focused, and undisturbed. At the end of this session my good friend and colleague Arthur Meyerson asked, “Did you get anything?” “Yes,” I responded, “I got a body of work.”
With so many wonderful possibilities out there, why would you return to the same well more than once? Let me count the reasons.
1       You’ll get to spend more time with your favorite people, places or things.
Passion energizes.
2       You’ll have an opportunity to make the images that almost worked or that you missed.
Make a list to learn from your mistakes and create a working plan.
3       You’ll have an opportunity to improve your images.
Practice makes perfect.
4       You’ll learn more about a place.
By increasing your understanding of the places you photograph your photographs will become more interesting.
5       You’ll see changes in the place.
Time reveals new things, changing subjects and changing us.
6       You’ll see new things.
Having first found the images that come to you naturally, you’ll later find yourself challenged to look for other kinds of images, which will stimulate your creativity and increase your visual versatility.
7       You’ll learn more about yourself.
You’ll be called to identify your habits, changes, strengths and weaknesses, hopes and purpose.
Just because we see new things doesn’t mean we will see in new ways. In fact, it’s often during times when we are engaged by a great deal of new information that we fall back on our habits. When we see the same things again we are challenged to see in new ways and/or deepen the ways we see them.
Questions 
What things would be most valuable for you to revisit?
How many new ways can you imagine approaching a subject?
What do you hope to accomplish when you revisit them?
What can you learn about yourself when you return – preferences, tendencies, habits, core strengths, areas for improvement, etc?
Find out more about this image here.
View more related images here.
Read more The Stories Behind The Images here.