Ryu: Be creative or die trying

Dear Chris,

What’s obvious is that people in this Talkboringphotography.co.uk have really bad taste in photos. Sorry, let me rephrase that. MOST people have bad taste in photos, period. I do blame myself and the other media types for this because we just like to feed you garbage day in and day out. We do this because you guys have bad taste in photos. I don’t think cameras on phones help either. Instagram and flickr and other photo sharing sites subtract rather than add to this woe. But they are all here to stay, so what we can do is that we try to discover great photography from present and the past. All you need to do is to have impeccable high brow taste in photography.

BLFS is a response to the appalling state of sports photography. Cookie cutter shots are everywhere and there is no end in sight. The editors want safe pictures because they don’t want to risk it. So, no candy to people who thought BLFS is a place where we can project our daily frustrations on to your poorly composed photos. :) We also advocate a no-nonsense, no-excuse, no-bull shit attitude to sports photos (all 3 are the same, but I wanted to have 3 of them, so there). My dear Jewish friend and I could give two f*cks about why you couldn’t get a shot. Nor do we give a f*ck about “It’s my first time shooting this sport”. We don’t like excuses and neither does your mother. The only thing we care about is the end result and nothing else.

All this “Great photo!”, “Awesome shot!”, “Wow, you should be a pro!”, and “Get out of here Girlfriend! Your shots are soooo amazing! Kisses! We should do lunch soon!” pisses me off and I also hate exclamation points. If the photo is deserving of the accolades, then it deserves all the “girlfriend” included superlatives. But in most cases, it’s a “Let’s jerk each other off! Hooray!” attitude rampant with these type of forums and photography sites. I do blame our society who decided that we should all get participatory medals and it’s not good to hurt someone’s feeling. If your objective is to become a sports photographer, be honest with your critiques, given or taken. Tell them in a constructive manner how that person can improve their shots. Basically, be more like Matt and less like me. :) When someone criticises your photo, say thank you. You don’t have to follow their criticism word for word, but that person has taken the time to comment on your photo and for that you should be grateful.

I do understand that everyone needs some lovin’. I do. I need it so much that I post my pictures on flickr. I LOVE when people tell me positive things about my photos. My heart skips a beat when I see that someone had commented / favourited my photos. Here’s the doom. I kill myself critiquing my photos. I think you already know this, but I cannot stand my photos at times. So much so that I ask my wife and friends to critique them instead because my subjective view just won’t allow me any space to breathe. Therefore although I do love the the love, I only do it because I get no love from myself. My shrink said, I’m fine as long as I have other hobbies that require less self-loathing. I’m still trying to find this “hobby” thing.

Do I enjoy it? Hell no. I would rather tell myself that I’m the best in the world, wash my hands and forget that negativity ever existed. I do it because I want to be the best. I do it because I don’t want to stop innovating. I do it because I know I can get better.

I’m sure my wife will be very happy if I took that kind of approach to keeping the house clean, but that’s not going to happen anytime soon.

To answer your question, there is no definitive divide between the two. I have clients who like my photos and will give me a carte blanche to do what I want to do. These tend to be big guys like Nike and Adidas. This also is very comforting because they are really buying into my style. So for those who say creativity doesn’t sell, they could shove couple up there. But I have clients, mainly magazines, who prefer more conservative approach. So, I give them my conservative sharp well composed photos that we all love. But I have made a career out of shooting differently from others. I mean, why would anyone buy my pictures if they were exactly the same as the ones you can get from Getty, AFP, Reuters, etc…?

But if you are an amateur (semi-pro is an amateur, just so you know) who occasionally sell photos, but you have a day job making billions, then why not go creative every chance you get? Are you that fragile that you need to comfort yourself by taking shots of cars like everyone else? I’m sure your forum mates at Talkcrapphotography.co.uk will poo poo your photos, but we won’t. We will be more impressed that you took some risks to get a once in a lifetime photo than to present us with photos we will all yawn at.

IF you want to become a better photographer, you have come to the right place here in BLFS. We will make you a better photographer even though you will be crying yourself to sleep every night. IF you just want some kumbaya and fake love and ultimately laziness, stay at Talkischeaphotography.co.uk.

Choice is yours.


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5 thoughts on “Ryu: Be creative or die trying

  1. Couldn’t agree more with what you (and Matt) write.
    On a more serious note: from a certain point onward everybody has his own approach to shooting creative stuff and pushing it to media; it’s not easy – there’s no instant recipe and that’s why these posts are so interesting. Probably this has very much to do with finding one’s own road-solution: that’s where true interest in both your contributions on this theme is rooted. BTW this same theme is widely discussed among many of us covering sports and news in Mexico also.
    Keep it up
    Ciao from Mexico!

  2. I’m pleased I contacted you guys! I’ve always wanted to try to create something different and that stood out rather than all the other photos every one else was taking, but I was starting to doubt if I was doing the right thing listening to people on that forum! You guys have definitely helped me see the light again and reassure me. Keep up the good work and thank you again for both taking the time out to respond to my query.

  3. I get the points and also agree. However, I don’t think all sports photographers can be creative. The reason being is supply & demand. If only a small % of customers want to buy creative photos then it is a pretty small market. One that I would imagine is getting harder by the day to make a living from as well. Especially for a new guy on the block.

    I think the advice is fantastic though for an amateur and who knows, maybe that one cool creative shot will get him/her a break. If not, then at least they have some cool and interesting pictures they can be proud of.

  4. I think this is really good advice for those that want to set themselves apart from others and add value to themselves in the marketplace or even for those that just want to be more creative in their work. If you want to see some other really great examples of a professional sports photographer that has taken creativity to another level check out the work of Dave Black. It is easy to get complacent when shooting action sometimes so this is a good reminder to try different things when you can. I think you should get your money shots first then experiment like crazy when you have the time. Good article.

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