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The Story Behind That Picture: "Being a Photographer"

By: Thorsten Overgaard. February 12, 2014

 

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When are you a photographer? That seems to be a question many ask themselves, and in my opinion they generally ask too much and for too long.

A photographer is one that takes pictures.

I do something I call Artists Nights whenever I can, whereever I am in the world. It is usually a couple of hours where Joy Villa and I entertain other artists about our life, making a life and a living being an artist. We ancourage artists of all kinds to stop 'hoping to be' and start acting as. Don't say you want to be a writer if you already started writing.

Say, "I am a writer" and be one.

Surprisingly enough that is a big barrier, to grab an identity as. Perhaps I am not as surprised as I sound like. We are almost all grown up having to wait for someone to tell us when we are ready to go to school and learn (even we started learning from the minute we were born), when we can get a licence to drive a car, we are waiting for others to tell us that we can assume that job we had applied for.

Waiting for approval.

In the case of photography, the approval never comes. I regret that I didn't take a photo of it, but when I visited the Helmut Newton Foundation in Berlin some months ago and saw his photos and legacy and the bookstore with all his books, there was also a guest book. Someone had written in it, "Newton sucks!".

In the documentary Let's Get Lost about Chet Baker, William Claxton (1927 – 2008) tells how he met Chet Baker in the record studio and photographed him: "I was very young, trying to be a photographer. I wasn't a photographer yet", as he said.

Interestingly, whilst he didn't see him self as a photographer, he actually did manage to take some iconic and historic pictures, and may have beeen the one that discovered Chet Baker, photographically. As it turned out, those photos are sold for $6,000 - $12,000 from Fahey/Klein Gallery today.

 


William Claxton took many grat photos of jazz musician Chet Baker when he was a rising star. William Claxton said about them, "I wasn't really a photographer yet. I was just trying to take some photos." As it turned out, those photos became iconic and are sold for $6,000 - $12,000 from Fahey/Klein Gallery today.

 

  Vivian Maier
  Vivian Maier was a nanny that became an acclaimed photographer.
   

Vivian Maier (1926-2009) was a nanny and spent her spare time photographing, and apparantly didn't think much of her photography. At least she never shared it with anyone, and only by chance were her negatives found after her death and it is now a big business for those who own the negatives doing books, iBooks and exhibtions. Her prints are in the price range of $3,900 and she left more than 100,000 negatives.

She probably never regarded herself as a photographer and certainly not a professional one. Yet she is celebrated worldwide after her death.

The main problem with being an artist and a photographer is that there is no office that issues licenses to do art. It is something you do, and even when you do it very successfully and for a lifetime, the license or certificate never comes in the door.

Hence you would hear Katy Perry, the only other person than Michael Jackson to have had five number one hit singles from one album on the Billboard list, say in an interview just recently that she couldn't believe that so many people liked her music. You look at her sitting at the first row at the Grammy Awards, and performing for her famous collegaues and millions of television viewers at the same Grammy Award Show ... how could she be in doubt?

 

     
 

"Thanks to Thorsten for teaching me about finding the light, how to do a portrait shoot with great soft light, how to engage the model, and how to inspire confidence even when your camera or you have a problem."

 
  - K. S. (San Francisco)  

 

Never need praise, approval or sympathy

The first one that has to recognize and like your own photography, is your self. It should be worthwhile to follow and realize your own goals first and foremost.

Ansel Adams (1902-1984), best known for his writings about photography and his landscape photography, also showed himself as a very unselfish person in a project that is not widely known.

In 1943, Ansel Adams, documented the Manzanar War Relocation Center in California and the Japanese-Americans interned there during World War II.

When Ansel Adams offered the collection to the Library of Congress in 1965, he wrote in a letter, "The purpose of my work was to show how these people, suffering under a great injustice, and loss of property, businesses and professions, had overcome the sense of defeat and dispair by building for themselves a vital community in an arid (but magnificent) environment. All in all, I think this Manzanar Collection is an important historical document, and I trust it can be put to good use."

Ansel Adams simply donated his work to the library, free to use for anyone. Hence one can actaully download high resolution scans of the pictures and make ones own Ansel Adams prints.

I mention this because it is a good example of how the first and foremost thing you must do is produce photographs (or other art) and share them. Commercial success, fame and all may follow, but the basic urge should be to make it.

Ansel Adams reportage from the relocation center may be overshadowed by his famous landscape photography, but in itself it is a worthwhile work, made with the heart, shared and available.

Don't wait for approval, praise or sympathy. Just get on with what it is that you feel you are meant to do. The more you do, the more there will be to love and discover for others the day they start noticing your work.

 

 

 

 

         
 

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leica.overgaard.dk
Thorsten Overgaard's Leica Article Index
Leica M cameras:   Small Leica cameras:
Leica M10   Leica Q full-frame mirrorless
Leica M10-P   Leica CL
Leica M Type 240 and M-P Typ240   Leica TL2
Leica M-D Typ 262 and Leica M60   Leica Digilux 2 vintage digital rangefinder
Leica M Monochrom Typ246 digital rangefinder   Leica Digilux 1
Leica M Monochrom MM digital rangefinder   Leica Sofort instant camera
Leica M9 and Leica M-E digital rangefinder   Leica Minilux 35mm film camera
Leica M9-Professional digital rangefinder   Leica CM 35mm film camera
Leica M4 35mm film rangefinder    
     
Leica M lenses:   Leica SLR cameras:
Leica 21mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4   Leica SL 2015 Type 601 mirrorless fullframe
Leica 21mm Leica Super-Elmar-M ASPH f/3.4   Leica R8/R9/DMR film & digital 35mm dSLR cameras
Leica 21mm Super-Angulon-M f/3.4   Leica R10 [cancelled]
Leica 28mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4   Leica R4 35mm film SLR
Leica 35mm Summilux-M ASPH FLE f/1.4 and f/1.4 AA   Leica R3 electronic 35mm film SLR
Leica 35mm Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0   Leicaflex SL/SL mot 35mm film SLR
Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95    
Leica 50mm Noctilux-M f/1.0 and f/1.2   Leica SL and TL lenses:
Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f//1.4    
Leica 50mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0    
Leitz 50mm Summicron-M f/2.0 "rigid" Series II   Leica R lenses:
Leica 75mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/1.25   Leica 19mm Elmarit-R f/2.8
Leica 75mm Summilux-M f/1.4   Leica 35mm Elmarit-R f/2.8
Leica 75mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0   Leica 50mm Summicron-R f/2.0
Leica 90mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0   Leica 60mm Macro-Elmarit f/2.8
Leica 90mm Summarit-M f/2.5   Leica 80mm Summilux-F f/1.4
Leica 90mm Elmarit f/2.8   Leica 90mm Summicron-R f/2.0
Leitz 90mm Thambar f/2.2   Leica 180mm R lenses
    Leica 400mm Telyt-R f/6.8
Leica Cine Lenses:   Leica 35-70mm Vario-Elmarit-R f/2.8
Leica Cine lenses from CW Sonderoptic   Leica 35-70mm Vario-Elmarit-R f/4.0
     
     
History and overview:   Leica S:
Leica History   Leica S1 digital scan camera
Leica Definitions   Leica S2 digital medium format
Leica Lens Compendium   Leica S digital medium format
Leica Camera Compendium    
The Solms factory and Leica Wetzlar Campus   "Magic of Light" Television Channel
    Thorsten von Overgaard YouTube Channel
     
Photography Knowledge   Thorsten Overgaard books and education:
Calibrating computer screen for photographers   Thorsten Overgaard Masterclasses & Workshops
Which Computer for Photographers?   Lightroom Survival Kit (Classic)
What is Copyright? Advice for Photogarphers   Lightroom Presets
Synchronizing Large Photo Archive with iPhone   Capture One Survival Kit
Quality of Light   "Finding the Magic of Light" eBook (English)
Lightmeters   "Die Magie des Lichts Finden" eBook (German)
Color meters for accurate colors (White Balance)   "The Moment of Impact in Photography" eBook
White Balance & WhiBal   "Freedom of Photographic Expression" eBook
Film in Digital Age   "Composition in Photography" eBook
Dodge and Burn   "A Little Book on Photography" eBook
All You Need is Love   "After the Tsunami" Free eBook
How to shoot Rock'n'Roll   The Overgaard New Inspiration Extension Course I
X-Rite   The Overgaard Photography Extension Course
The Origin of Photography    
Hasselblad/Imacon Flextight 35mm and 6x6 scanner   Leica M9 Masterclass (video course)
Leica OSX folder icons   Leica M10 Masterclass (video course)
    Leica M240 Masterclass (video course)
    Leica Q Masterclass (video course)
Bespoke Camera Bags by Thorsten Overgaard:   Leica TL2 Quick Start (video course)
"The Von" travel camera bag   Street Photography Masterclass (video course)
"Messenger" walkabout bag    
"24hr Bag" travel bag   Thorsten von Overgaard oin Amazon:
"The Von Backup" camera backpack   "Finding the Magic of Light"
     
     
Leica Photographers:    
Jan Grarup   Riccis Valladares
Henri Cartier-Bresson   Christopher Tribble
Birgit Krippner   Martin Munkácsi
John Botte   Jose Galhoz
 
Douglas Herr   Milan Swolf
Vivian Maier  
Morten Albek    
Byron Prukston   Richard Avedon
     
The Story Behind That Picture:   Thorsten Overgaard on Instagram
More than 200 articles by Thorsten Overgaard   Join the Thorsten Overgaard Mailing List
Thorsten Overgaard Workshop Schedule   Thorsten Overgaard on Twitter
    Thorsten Overgaard on Facebook
Leica Forums and Blogs:    
Leica M10 / M240 / M246 User Forum on Facebook   Heinz Richter's Leica Barnack Berek Blog
Jono Slack   Leica Camera AG
Steve Huff Photos (reviews)   Leica Fotopark
Erwin Puts (reviews)   The Leica Pool on Flickr
LeicaRumors.com (blog)   Eric Kim (blog)
Luminous Landscape (reviews)   Adam Marelli (blog)
Sean Reid Review (reviews)   The Leica User Forum
Ken Rockwell (reviews)   Shoot Tokyo (blog)
John Thawley (blog)   I-Shot-It photo competition
     
 
 
The Von Overgaard Gallery Store:    
Hardware for Photography   Von Overgaard Ventilated lens shades:
Bespoke Camera Bags and Luxury Travel Bags   Ventilated Shade for Current 35mm Summilux FLE
Software for Photography   Ventilated Shade E46 for old Leica 35mm/1.4 lens
Signed Prints   Ventilated Shade for Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH
Mega Size Signed Prints   Ventilated Shade E43 for older 50mm Summilux
Mega Size Signed Limited Prints   Ventilated Shade for 35mm Summicron-M ASPH
Medium Size Signed Limited Prints   Ventilated Shade for older 35mm/f2 lenses
Small Size Signed Limited Prints   Ventilated Shade E39 for 50mm Summicron lenses
Commisioning Thorsten Overgaard Worldwide   Ventilated Shade for Leica 28mm Summilux
Thorsten Overgaard Archive Licencing   Ventilated Shade for current 28mm Elmarit-M
Video Masterclasses   Ventilated Shade for older 28mm Elmarti-M
Photography Books by Thorsten Overgaard   Ventilated Shade E49 for 75mm Summicron
Home School Photography Extension Courses   ventilated Shade E55 for 90mm Summicron
Overgaard Workshops & Masterclasses   Ventilated Shade for 28mm Summaron
Artists Nights   Ventilated Shade for 24mm Elmarit
Gallery Store Specials   Ventilated Shade E60 for 50mm Noctilux and 75/1.4
 

 

   
   
   

Above: "Roy Takeno reading paper in front of the office", 1943. Photograph by Ansel Adams.


 


Also visit:

Overgaard Photography Workshops
Von Overgaard Gallery Store
Ventilated Shades by Overgaaard
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Leica Definitions
Leica History
Leica Lens Compendium
Leica Camera Compendium
Leica 21mm Super-Elmar-M ASPH f/3.4
Leica 21mm Super-Angulon f/3.4
Leica 21mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4

Leica 28mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4
Leica 35mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4
Leica 35mm Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0
Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95
Leica 50mm APO-Summicron-M f/2.0
Leica 50mm Summicron-M f/2.0
Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4
Leica 75mm Summilux-M f/1.4
Leica 75mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/1.25
Leica 90mm Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0
Leica 35-70mm Vario-Elmarit-R f/2.8
Leitz Cine lenses
7artisans 50mm f/1.1
Leica Digilux 2

Leica M10
Leica M10-P
Leica M10-D
Leica M9, M9-P and Leica ME
Leica M 240
Leica M 240 for video
Leica M 262
Leica M-D 262
Leica M Monochrom
Leica M 246 Monochrom

Leica SL
Leica SL2
Panasonic Lumix S1R
Leica R9 dSLR
Leica Q
Leica Q2
Leica CL
Leica TL2
Leica Sofort
Leica S digital medium format
Leica X
Light metering
White Balance for More Beauty
Color Meters

Screen Calibration
Which computer to get
Sync'ing photo archive to iPhone
Lightroom Survival Kit
Lightroom Presets by Overgaard
Capture One Survival Kit

Capture One Styles by Overgaard
Signed Original Prints by von Overgaard
The Story Behind That Picture
"On The Road With von Overgaard"

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Thorsten Overgaard
Thorsten von Overgaard is a Danish writer and photographer, specializing in portrait photography and documentary photography, known for writings about photography and as an educator. Some photos are available as signed editions via galleries or online. For specific photography needs, contact Thorsten Overgaard via e-mail.

Feel free to e-mail to thorsten@overgaard.dk for
advice, ideas or improvements.

 

 

     
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