Shoot What You Love / by Zack Smith

"tv in ditch" 1997 baton rouge, one of my first negatives shot, and processed in my bathroom


Shoot What you Love has always been my motto in a sense for so many things. The reason i got into photography is because i started seeing things in my world that i could not write something to accurately capture it - the scene and experience had to be photographed. To be more accurate, i saw a TV in a ditch. Yes a TV, in a ditch. I saw the TV and it really hit home everything i was thinking that Fall of 1997. As the internet was just getting going, my already saturated mind was reeling from ADD medication and over stimuli of school and life, i saw the symbol i was searching for that said to me "ditch what you know, and begin your journey"...so i did....but that's a different story.

Today's story reflects on the best way to become comfortable with learning a camera and having that camera be an extension of your creativity in the way thoughts process words, and mouths scream its command...

"Shoot What You Love" is something i always say to my students when they hit the wall, and are having trouble finding inspiration. As you may know, you will NEVER learn how to use the camera in a creative way if you learn on subject matter you have no emotional connection to. It's the truth! You must find what you know the best in this world, what you treasure most, and SHOOT IT!

I have been following that adage since DAY 1, learning my cameras and myself by following what i love to do - music, people, travel, experience. This journey has brought me to where i am now - and i find that journey now turning to a greater, more important photographic and creative experience. I have been developing projects now that tell stories on such a large level that it's hard to keep up...but i do....

I am happy that i have stuck with what i have been teaching for my own self..because i have to admit i do stray from my own teachings especially when it comes to INTENTION IN COMPOSITION and  PURPOSE IN PRESENTATION...

i find myself sometimes shooting for the JOB...and not the WALL. I have noticed this when i have taken on jobs that i will absolutely NEVER print..and i begin to approach them differently..disregarding high ISO's, putting on too much Clarity...but the Client loves the image. So, is what i am doing wrong? Have i strayed from doing shoots of things i do not love, for the money? In a way yes - but i have justified doing those $ jobs to fun the BIGGER PICTURE that continues me on the journey of Shoot What you Love as i continue to tell my story....