pictures by Jim Mortram
More Dos and Don'ts, this time from Jim Mortram. If you are at all unsure of where Jim is coming from, go and have a look at Small Town Inertia.
Don't underestimate anything. Ever. Be it yourself, the community around you or your peers. It’s easy to fall back on sayings like ‘From small acorns’… but there’s always a seed of truth in such gestures. If you have a need to find a truth, no matter what obstacles there are, you will find a path to uncover them, to report them and ultimately to be able to share them. To communicate them.
Everyone has a story. You spend 10 minutes, ask the right questions and listen more than you talk. Everyone’s had an amazing life. Do not underestimate anyone. Ever. You can be in a room of strangers and in an hour have the making of a community. This may sound idealistic but ask questions, listen, listen harder and through the exchange trust flourishes, bonds knit and fuse together, common ground is discovered. These are the very building blocks of a community. At least, that’s the community I want to be a part of!.
These actions of enquiring, asking, listening, not judging, showing and sharing empathy and a genuine interest in those around you will always be the greatest tools any photographer can have. Without communicating, without asking questions & without listening you may as well leave your lens cap on.
Don't be scared to reach out and ask questions, there is an ever expanding community of people, willing and ready to share information, advice, support.
Don't keep that which you have learned for yourself. If you teach 100 people to use a chisel, you'll find a hundred different sculptures will be made as a result of learing to use that tool, it's the same with photography, you can share techniques, ways of shooting, unravel and de-mystify processes, it's good to share, to pass it on, we're talking photography, not being a member of the 'skull and bones', let all you know flow through like a river, those waters will irrigate future minds, their ideas will blossom, you'll have played a vital, sustaining part in that growth.
Don't seek an aesthetic by merely observing other photographers, all the arts are there for you, literature, cinema, theatre, painting, be a sponge and soak it all up and allow other elements over the visual affect you, be it admiring anothers morality, approach. An Aesthetic will evolve naturally, don't ever be scared to make a mistake, there are no mistakes, merely learning something that you can, for now, discount.
Don't ever think photography is dead, or does not count, every image you make (Not take) will out live us all, shoot for the now, and shoot for those that will come after us, share for us all, and for those of us yet to be.
Learn to surf.
Obviously, I can't surf but what I'm suggesting is riding the waves that will come crashing towards you in life as life is never a mill pond, it's always going to be up's and downs, the trick is to find a balance through it all. So, learn to surf!.
Make your interest in the person you are photographing more visible than your camera, this will render your camera invisible. If you render your camera invisible, you can take all the images, in any circumstance you require to best communicate them and their story.
Be genuine to yourselves. Go for stories that you care for. No matter what confronts you, you’ll find a way past it.
Lastly and the most important part of the equation is always whom you’re pointing your camera at. Those whom you ask questions of, those whom you photograph for without those people in front of you and their trust and selflessness you’re forever all alone with nothing to photograph and nothing to communicate.