When was the last time you went out to make photographs just for you? When was the last time you actually experimented with something new and different? As professional photographers, our work-a-day lives are consumed with photography and the business of taking pictures. We can become so consumed that it’s easy to lose track of the love of photography that brought us to this profession in the first place.
Last year, I attended a conference for professional photographers. There were panel discussions that sought to address the needs of professionals amidst rapidly evolving and changing technology and in an environment with rapidly evolving means of image display. As the day wore on, each panel seemed to deviate from its topic in favor of a single mantra: “We should be getting more money.” Digital Photo Pro is a magazine dedicated to the needs of professional photography as a business and an art, so we’re active in the realm of helping photographers build successful businesses, but there at the conference, what struck me was the loss of passion for imagery.
I’m not suggesting that professionals aren’t enthusiastic about what they do, of course, nor am I suggesting that trying to build a business and get paid more for what we do is somehow a sellout and antithetical to being an artist. On the contrary, I believe that it’s our professional duty to bring not just a technical ability, but also our unique artistic capabilities to every job we get. Being a successful photographer means being a successful artist.
The danger for all professionals lies in the slippery slope of losing sight of that artistic side. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the business and money side of photography that we lose our passion. To avoid this, I’ve adopted a new acronym, GOYA—Get Off Your Ass. A professional in New York City recently told me about an informal group that meets periodically in the city to share images with one another and experiment with photography. GOYA is their way of telling each other that from time to time you have to drop everything, pick up a camera and go out and shoot.
So, as I write this from an airport where I’m about to embark on a trip to a workshop held in the Grand Canyon, I’m about to put this laptop away and make a last call to the office. For the next few days, I’ll be thinking about photography and getting back in touch with the love of making pictures that brought me to this career path. I might not return with any spectacular photographs, but I hope to return with a renewed vigor and a fresh perspective on photography as a business and as an art. Maybe this is a good time for you to do the same thing.
—Christopher Robinson, Editor