Process 044 ☼ Who Are You Taking Pictures For?
Also: The future of Process & Give Away: Framelines Quarterly Magazine
In this first issue of 2022 I will talk about the future of Process and dig into the question: Who are we taking pictures for?
Before we dig in a big hello and welcome to the new readers who joined in the last month. This issue is a great overview of what to expect, including links to past issues.
For this week’s GIVEAWAY we have the first issue of Framelines, a new quarterly street photography magazine by Josh Edgoose and Shane Taylor.
Since this issue is uncharacteristically text-heavy I’ll end this issue by sharing a few images from a one-roll photo walk in my neighborhood park. Here’s the contact sheet as a preview, shot on a Hasselblad 500cm.
WHO ARE YOU TAKING PICTURES FOR?
Writing Process and connecting with you was one of my major highlights in 2021. It has influenced how and why I take photos and inspired a lot of thinking around the question:
Who am I taking pictures for?
Wesley: Measuring your worth, whether it’s as a person or as a photographer, based on social media is quite a dangerous life to live. The way it works on social networks is that we’re encouraged to develop a certain sameness in our work.
We start off trying out a variety of styles to try find our visual voice and then at some point one style hits a little harder with people on the internet. It’s easy to get caught up in a cycle where that style is now all you’re doing in an effort to chase that approval. It’s easy to get caught up in a cycle of sameness where your work all starts looking the same compared to your other work and the work of others online.
Stu: Its like who are you shooting for, right?
W: Exactly. You should shoot for yourself, unless it’s a client job then you’re shooting for your client. We shouldn’t measure the quality of our work in likes, which is why I turned those off. I don’t think our audience should determine what we create. We’re supposed to share what we create with our audience.
Each of us has our own perspective and we can’t possible develop this perspective if we let too many other people get involved in our decision making process.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot and it’s only made me extra grateful for Process as place to share work and lessons learned with you. I love the slower pace and how it allows me to include behind-the-scenes context and lessons learned. All without having to consider algorithms or any particular trends and favored content formats.
The latest algorithmically led shift in content formats on Instagram is the Reels video format. In conversations with other photographers I sense palatable anxiety about the inevitable loss of engagement if they don’t join in and make Reels to feed the algorithm monster. This kind of anxiety doesn’t seem like the healthiest motivation to make great work and grow as a photographer.
Experimenting with new formats and ways to present work can be a lot of fun and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with dipping your toe in the Reels world. Especially if you consider our main question when deciding what to do:
Who are you taking pictures for?
When you’re making a Reel, or taking photos for that matter, is it because it inspires you to express yourself as a photographer, or because you hope the algorithm will pick it up and you’ll gain imaginary internet cool points from strangers? Or worst yet, because you feel you will fall behind if you don’t join in with this new temporary trend.
Answering this question is quite personal and I would never hold it against anyone if the reason is a conscious choice to keep up with the algorithm. Or to get praise.
We all love being praised for our work. A genuine compliment will make any photographer's day, but if we give external feedback too much weight we might start taking pictures specifically to chase approval of others. The danger here is that it’s a losing game that will inevitably burn us out on photography and distract us from becoming better photographers.
Having Process as an outlet has given me the opportunity to follow my curiosity more and think about social media less. This shift has allowed more creativity, more experiments, and a deeper connection to both my work and the people who enjoy it.
These days when I answer the question “Who am I taking photos for?” my answer has shifted away from the amorphous and opaque “my audience and clients” to the more specific and personal “my Process community and clients”. And it feels great!
Every few months I will revisit this question to make sure I keep my eye on the ball so I can continue to grow as a photographer and help as many people as possible to feel empowered and inspired to grow as well. Speaking of…
THE FUTURE OF PROCESS
The first year of Process was a free-wheeling journey through various photography themes without much of a road map. It was an extra thing I did in addition to client work and personal projects because I wanted to create a different place to share work.
Looking back I noticed that the issues I enjoyed writing the most were also the ones that got the best response. In light of what I wrote above it’s really such a blessing to have those be so aligned. Here is what you can expect from Process in 2022, broken into eight categories and including links to past issues that fall into each category.
1. Behind The Scenes
I will take you along along on client shoots, pitch meetings, and pivotal moments in the process of creating new work, including books and prints.
Example Past Issues:
001 - A Portrait Shoot with Bruce Davidson
027 - Showing your client what they need
040 - What I Learned From Launching a Book Preorder Campaign
2. How To…
There are lots of important things every photographer needs to learn. I’ll break them down into simple steps supported by insights from my personal experience.
3. Testing, Testing
Whenever I test out new or vintage gear, film stocks, lenses, etc. I’ll share my findings.
4. Conversations With…
Inspiring and informative chats with photographers, agents, gallery owners, etc. Sometimes a bit more philosophical, other times more practical.
5. From The Archives
A new category that I’m really excited about. The perfect place for me to dig up old projects and talk about what I learned, what could have been done better, and how it impacted my photography and business.
Here I reflect on the more philosophical and emotional sides of being an independent photographer. Kind of like this very issue.
Where I share my biggest inspirations, mostly focused on photographers and filmmakers but sometimes we may visit other worlds too.
8. New Work
I am working on a few new projects and will be keeping you up to date as they take shape. I’ll also start sharing some more client work so we can talk about the commercial and editorial side of the photography business a bit more.
Example Past Issues:
003 - Starting A New Project During Lockdown
033 - Processing Life Through Photography
042 - Editorial Studio Portraits with the Mamiya 645 Pro
That’s it! Eight categories of Process issues coming your way in 2022. And as a secret bonus category I can’t wait to share more work by you, the Process community.
A ONE-ROLL PHOTO WALK
If the weather permits I try to get one photo walk in per day. On this particular day I loaded up my father’s Hasselblad 500cm with a roll of Cinestill BwXX and popped on the Planar 80mm f2.8 lens for a walk around beautiful Vondelpark.
Earlier you saw the contact sheet for the full roll, below are some of my favorite shots.
Experimenting with some lens flare as a framing device by shooting into the sun.
I spotted this lovely elderly couple and had take a quick snap. Unfortunately I was a bit too far away so I ended up cropping in to better frame our love birds. The image on the left is the original and on right we have my crop to emphasize our subjects.
I love how versatile this lens is. It allows for lovely show showing scale, like above, but also beautiful closeups of small details like below. Fun fact, this is the lens NASA took to the moon to take many of those famous pictures of Earth from afar.
This roll was expertly developed and scanned by my friends at Carmencita Film Lab. Use code “PROCESS” at check out to get a free size upgrade for your scans. Carmencita accepts film from anywhere in the world and I love working with them. Thank you CFL team!
That’s it for this week! Next week I’m back with a short video beautifully shot and edited by Luc Satter from when we froze our toes off testing the Peak Travel tripod.
Keep shooting and take good care of yourselves and others.
My pals and fantastic street photographers and YouTubers Josh Edgoose and Shane Taylor have launched Framelines, a beautiful quarterly photo magazine, which they have made available as part of this giveaway.
The magazine is 80 pages of street photography by Nico Froehlich, Gisele Duprez, Eric Kogan, Brunel Johnson, Ioana Marinca and Josh and Shane themselves.
To enter email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line Process 044 Give Away, before 11pm EST on January 18th and answer the following question:
Who are YOU taking pictures for? (In other words, who do you have in mind when you make and share photos?)
The winner will be randomly drawn and notified. This giveaway is for Process subscribers only. Subscribe by clicking the button below:
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