Hey You! Yes You. Want to be a great photographer? Get a philosophy. / by Zack Smith

Do you like to look at photographs? Do you have a photographer whose work you look up to?

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Take a minute and think of your favorite photographer. It doesn't matter who this person is or what style of photography they do, their work only has to inspire you. I guarantee that when you find articles, interviews, or bio's about your favorite photographer the reason they got into photographer wasn't for the money. What was it for? When I first became attached to my first camera I was obsessed with Henri Cartier-Bresson. I couldn't get enough of his work. I would stare at his works like "Héyres France 1932" and read books on him until I could see like him or so I thought. I loved his mastery of exploring space and setting his compositions up in a way that begged for the interaction of life. I read veraciously - any book I could get on Robert Capa I would read it. His photographs were great, but his story interested me more. 

Why do photographers pick up the camera?

Why is it that a camera became the tool of your favorite photographer's mode of expression? Why not a paint brush or a computer or even a pencil? I am asking you to find this out because it will be these words and inspirations of your favorite photographers that will help guide you to yours.

In my 10 years of teaching photography to beginners, amateurs, and professionals I find that the photographer that shows the most drive and determination to learn are the ones guided by a force and fire that can't be taught. They have a reason to create. They have a purpose for their vision and they have a story to tell. You can say they found religion. You can say they found a meaning behind their reasons to pickup the camera. Whatever they found...you should too.

Why do you photograph? Is it the rush of "nailing the shot"? Is it the experiences before and after the 1/125 of a second shutter opening? If the camera is your tool, if photography is your canvas then it's time to figure out your WHY...

Spend some time in a new Environment

I often wish I had one purpose with the camera, but it was about 14 years ago I realized I wanted to share my knowledge instead of keeping it inside. When I was first learning photography I relied on the kindness of other photographers who let me into their busy lives to answer all of my really dumb questions. I realized fast that photography can be an all inclusive adventure, and the more we share about what we know can only propel us further on our path. I wanted to create a place where photographers go to learn how to tell their story and make great photographs. 

Photo tip's and tricks are fads, and fads fade like your uncle's washed out family photo. My goal has always been to help people learn their cameras, but I also want to help forge a photographic philosophy and help people understand the "why" of what you photograph and the "where" that photograph will go. 

I am very exited to get my Fall 2016 Photography Workshop Series underway. It's my most ambitious photography workshop calendar yet: 12 workshops in a unique collaborative partnership with Crescent Park, French Market Corporation, and 5 Press Gallery to bring the New Orleans photo community it's most comprehensive photography workshop offering ever. 

I hope you can check it out and take a course - CLICK HERE to find out more