What I’ve Learned from my Photo Heroes

It has been my pleasure to meet and interact with some of my favorite photographers over the last few weeks. The Photoshop World conference brought guys like Joe McNally and […]

Written By Rob Knight

On May 9, 2014

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It has been my pleasure to meet and interact with some of my favorite photographers over the last few weeks. The Photoshop World conference brought guys like Joe McNally and Jay Maisel to my home town, and I have been lucky enough to present at the same conferences as George Lepp and Bill Fortney.
At first it is a bit intimidating to be around photographers who’s work you’ve seen in magazines for years, but there are a few things that most of my favorite photographers have in common. They have a love for their craft and they enjoy sharing it with others. The photographers I admire the most are also pretty nice. I think you’ll find that in most photography circles, from beginners to big names, folks are usually happy to talk photography or (especially) make pictures. Of course there are exceptions to this rule. There are great shooters who have reputations for not being nice, and even nice guys have bad days sometimes and don’t feel like chatting.
Today the internet and social media can make super-stars out of photographers seemingly overnight. It is important for photographers to realize that even if you’re “famous” on Google+ or Face Book, chances are most people in the real world don’t know you from a hole in the ground. Don’t let “likes” go to your head. The guys I most admire seem unaware that anyone has ever heard of them.
Bill Fortney told a story last week about going to his local grocery store after being featured in a newspaper article. He was feeling like a big-shot photographer, and he assumed that the clerk recognized him from the article. He mentioned how many days he was going to be on the road in the coming months, and she asked him which trucking company he drove for!
There are more exceptional photographers today than there have ever been. If you think you’re doing good work, just remember that there are 1000’s of shooters out there that are blowing you away. I’m not saying that to discourage you. It is more important than ever to make photos, videos, or whatever you do that turn you on. Make images that YOU like and that you have fun making. If you are shooting for clients you need to make them happy too, but they will like your work better if you are doing something you enjoy.
If you are a teacher or presenter you’re not alone either. Don’t get too proud of yourself because you get to stand at the front of the room. The best instructors avoid the temptation to demonstrate their own awesomeness. Use your classes as an opportunity to inspire people, help them make better photos and share your enthusiasm.
I am totally inspired by the photographers I have met lately. They have shared knowledge, advice, encouragement and kindness with me. They have taught me that the first tenant of being a good teacher is being a good person.
If you don’t know these guys, you should check out:
George Lepp
Bill Fortney
Joe McNally
Jay Maisel
Roman Kurywczak
Chas Glatzer
Kevin Loughlin


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