Hey all, here’s what’s shakin’ for this Thursday. Another “Thursday Thoughts” edition is ready, but me and the guestk, Robert Weiher, took a little bit of a different tack on thi go around, primarily because of how I came across Robert, and what he’s doing for a current project. See, Robert is a fellow NAPP member, and has started a 365 blog as a project for 2009. After seeing a few of his comments appear here, my logs pointed me back to him (it always pays to watch your comment links as you never know where the next gem may come from). Robert’s space is definitely a gem, and I thought it might be fun to take the Thursday Thoughts on a different tack this week. So, without further ado, here’s the latest edition with Robert Weiher!!!
Q: Hi Robert, and thanks for taking the time to sit down with me to share your thoughts and insights here. First off, since we’re doing things a little differently, let’s start with your 365 project. Could you explain what a 365 blog is, and what was your motivation for starting this project?
A: Hi Jason, thanks for having me. A 365 blog or project is basically just taking at least one photo a day and in my case posting and writing a little about it. My motivation to start one was to get me using my camera again. I was in a rut and had hardly used my camera in four months after coming home from a long vacation and finding very few good photos out of several hundred taken on the trip. I was finding myself spending more time in Photoshop trying to fix photos and was getting frustrated with the taking the photo part. To help get motivated I signed up for a weekend seminar on lighting and photographing artwork. The instructor happened to be a national portfolio reviewer and he did a short review of some of my work and gave me some great feedback and some tips to get going again. One was to sketch with my camera, which meant to just go out and take photos. He said to not worry about subject or lighting…just take a photo of anything of interest and then use these to refer back to for more creative ideas. This got me started down the road towards the project.
Q: Do you look for particular themes or have specific ideas in mind for each day that you have mapped out, or do you approach each day from a “whatever comes my way” mentality?
A: I originally started out thinking I was going to take around an old pair of my army boots and use them as a prop around the old Army base I live on. This lasted about three days when I realized if I wanted to continue on with the project I was going to need to be more flexible and that lead to a much more free form mentality.
Q: And what kind of gear do you shoot with (Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sony, Olympus, etc.)?
A: Canon 30D
Q: What about post-processing gear (Mac, PC, Linux, etc.)?
A: PC and when I post process Photoshop CS3 and Adobe Bridge.
Q: And of course, the Chocolate/Vanilla/Strawberry question?
A: As a kid I loved the chocolate/vanilla swirl cones but if I had to choose it would be chocolate.
Q: Oooh, I’d forgotten about the swirl! I loved that too. Anyway, back to photography – how long have you been shooting?
A: Since October 2007 after my wife, parents and sister chipped in to buy me my first digital camera for my 40th birthday.
Q: So, about a year and a half now – well, you’ve got a great eye, and your knack for composition is really evident! One shot in particular that I liked was done recently, on day 83 where you not only did your daily post, but also the setup with your homemade light box. Are there any shots in particular from the project that stand out thus far for you? (I know the bronze leaf was a popular one…)
A: Day 66 or Red Tulips. Pretty much the first photo that made me pause and go “wow” that turned out nicely.
I also like Day 73 or The Day I Retired My Baseball Glove. I was a huge baseball fan as a kid and played nearly year round. As an adult I played in different softball leagues over the years but hadn’t played for about 12 years before last year. My body took a beating so decided to retire the ball and glove and even though I didn’t mention that in my blog several comments were made about the emotion of the photo and that made me feel good that I was able to get that across in my photo.
Q: Very nice. Both are excellent and powerful images! So, you’re about a quarter of the way through this project – any ideas for new projects that have come up you’re going to be pursuing?
A: Right now my focus is to finish this project but start expanding into areas I haven’t touched on yet, like portrait. Part of the project was to also find out what style interests me so I want to explore all the styles I can. Not that I feel I need to limit myself to a specific style after my project is done but would like to figure out if there’s something that interests me the most. At the moment still life has caught most of my attention.
Q: I’ve not seen a “for sale” sign on your blog…have you considered hanging out a shingle and actually putting some prints up for sale? If someone wanted to purchase any prints from you, would you be open to that?
A: Sure I’d be open to selling some of my prints. It’s been on the back of my mind and have explored opening a SmugMug account to host a portfolio of my best work. I hadn’t touched on it yet but all the photos on my blog are unedited, straight from the camera so I may need a little post work.
Q: Any final thoughts on the project, photography in general, that you’d like to share?
A: I think in the 3 months I’ve been doing this project I’ve come to realize one thing. No matter how many books and magazines I read, podcasts I listened too or websites I visited prior to January 1, 2009 I was not going to learn to be a better photographer until I put my hands on my camera and took as many photos I could a day. Not that having all those resources available is a bad thing…I just felt like I was approaching information overload. I decided to approach my project using Shoshin, or the Beginner’s Mind, which is having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject.
I put away the books and picked up the camera and made it my goal to make the best possible photograph in camera as I could. No post work so all my photos posted to my blog are straight from the camera and if I have issues with the photo I write about what I would do differently and highlight mistakes I made, such as forgetting to check my white balance setting or to make sure the horizon line is straight. Things that could easily be fixed in Photoshop but also just as easy to fix in camera. I also stepped outside my comfort zone and put myself out there for critique and feedback. This has helped immensely and I’ve made some great contacts via Flickr, Twitter and the blog. I still struggle with the putting myself out there more part but I think everyone wanting to become a better photographer should search out a community they feel comfortable in and ask for some feedback. The photography and Photoshop community are about the nicest and most helpful people you’ll ever find. I just hope to be able to be as helpful one day as everyone else has been for me.
Once again thank you Jason and thank you for being part of this great community.
The pleasure is all mine Robert. Thank you so much for agreeing to take part in the “Thursday Thoughts” series, and I’ll be keeping an eye on the project as you go forward with the rest of it from here. It’s been quite the enjoyable approach, and I’d like to wish you all the best going forward (us Canonite’s have to stick together! 🙂 )
Please take a moment to stop over to Robert’s 365 project at Unqualified to Blog as well as his Flickr Photostream and share your thoughts with his work over there. Then, as Robert said, reading blogs and listening to podcasts isn’t going to do it all, so don’t forget to get out there and keep on practicing for real! Happy shooting and we’ll see you back here tomorrow.