If you want to take your photography to the next level then you’re going to have to commit more time to taking photos than just about everyone you currently know.  That is a hard thing to do, but it becomes a lot easier if you have passion for what you do. So how do you get passion?  That’s a question I can confidently answer with one sentence, “Fall in love.”

“When you’re in love it’s the most glorious two-and-a-half days of your life.” Richard Lewis

Love is such a complex term that it means a thousand different things to a thousand different people.  Even the same person can have different definitions of love depending on the context. For instance I love my wife, I love my son, I love my mom, I love my sisters, I love my pets, I love to play Call of Duty and I love photography – and each one of those is in a completely different way. Yet they all have the same beginnings. The beginning of love is always a willingness to get to know and appreciate… in other words, the time you invest into something can convert into love.  It’s easy to become infatuated with something, that only takes a day or two… but to truly fall in love?  Well, sometimes that takes a lifetime, rightfully so.

“You can’t explain love … Actually, you can’t even talk about it.” Charlie Brown, Charles Schulz

Love is not a unilaterally positive emotion, love is difficult.  Almost all the pain, heartache, stress and inadequacies you’ll ever feel in life are because you love.  That pain is absolutely necessary to keep you grounded though, there needs to be something that pulls you back into reality.  The hard times are simply the growing pains of happiness… learn to embrace them as much as the good times, after all the bad times are the best evidence you have that life is important to you.

“Love sought is good, but giv’n unsought is better” William Shakespeare

You can’t choose to fall in love with something.  It doesn’t work that way. Yet the more you understand something the easier it becomes to love.  In order to love something you need to know it, on a level deeper than most.  This concept applies to people, to animals, to objects, to art, to hobbies to music and anything else you can think of.

“I love Mickey Mouse more than any woman I’ve ever known.” Walt Disney

Really loving any pursuit, whether it be photography, video games, snowboarding, rock climbing or whatever, is not easy.  Getting to know something well enough to love it takes can easily take 10,000 plus hours. This time you invest usually cannot be invested elsewhere.  When I’m shooting I’m not spending time with my family, I’m not playing video games, I’m not reading my favorite books or watching great movies – I’m shooting.  If you’re not careful a unilaterally focused obsession can develop, and that’s not good.  Make sure there is a balance in the things you love. Make time for family and friends and other things in life, but if you want to be great at something you’re going to have to be border-line obsessed.  Genius is a thin grey line away from madness…

“The greater the man’s soul, the deeper he loves.” Leonardo DaVinci

Great artists throughout history have struggled managing the thin line between a healthy love of their craft and a manic obsession that drives them mad.  If you want to create something that people can’t help but look at then consign yourself to this life struggle. As a visual artist you need to be in love, but as a person you need to not be obsessive.  Inspiration is found in the deepest recesses of human emotion. That doesn’t mean the art needs to be emotionally charged, or poignant or loaded with metaphorical observations of life.  It simply means you need to experience feelings beyond the ordinary, that is if you want inspiration beyond the mundane.  When I refer to art I simply mean something that people want to look at, not necessarily something that has to change the world.

“Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.” Lao-Tzu

Photography is only part of what a photographer does. To be a great photographer you need to learn to love the subject you shoot and the tools you use. You need love learning about controlling and manipulating light, expressions, moods, styling, ideas, post-processing and probably most importantly you need to love all the people involved that help make everything happen.  Having a very loving and understanding wife sure doesn’t hurt either!

“How bold one gets when sure of being loved!” Sigmund Freud

The more comfortable you are with your camera, your lights, or your models the more mental energy is available to focus on your imagination!  Original, unique, and bold ideas will get you noticed, they also require imagination above and beyond the ordinary.  It’s only after you’ve invested the time falling in love with your craft and your tools that you are able to focus nearly completely on the idea and have the confidence to pull it off!

“The best way to know God is to love many things.” Vincent Van Gogh

I’m nothing but a fledgling photographer that takes images of beautiful people, I know this.  I want to be something more though.  I want to make images that get noticed by more and more people… Sometimes people see me as something more, just recently someone sent me a message asking how I got to where I am as a photographer… well, the advice I have for them is the same advice I have for myself, the only way to get to the next level is simple… just fall in love.

“I am sick of love.” King Solomon

Recently I reviewed an Elinchrom Octa, I was supposed to send it back a couple weeks ago but I decided that I wanted to fall in love… well, my time is up and I’m sending it back tomorrow but here is a smattering of results from the last couple weeks.  Evidence of a fledgling love affair with a great light shaping tool!  The separation will be short though, I’m ordering one from B&H this week.  🙂


Equipment used to achieve these images

Most of these images were three light setups with two rectangle softboxes providing the key and the Elinchrom Octa as the main light, a couple of them were a classic over-under light setup.