Photography Vision

Nine Things Rupert Murdoch can Teach Photographers

Bodie sitting room sofa and tourists copyright Aloha Lavina

Everyone’s a-twitter about Murdoch’s massive mess today.

I’m sure 60-year old Rupert Murdoch has got a lot of lessons he will learn.

Whatever age photographer you are, here are nine things you can learn from Murdoch’s fiasco.

1. Eavesdrop on other photos.

Murdoch’s company hacked into phones and eavesdropped on them, to learn something they could use as ‘news.’ This sort of desperation can teach us a lot about how we can learn from others. Eavesdropping on other people’s photos—studying them, especially if they have EXIF information—can show you a lot of things you might try to improve your photography. Browsing through magazines, photo sharing sites like the super 500px, and the countless other resources for photos online can give you ideas of what to shoot next, just to see what it’s like and figure out the story of how an image is made.

2. Take responsibility for your actions.

There’s a lot of things to remember when you’re out shooting. One common mistake is to change ISO settings when you come across an indoor shot, then meandering outside and forgetting to change settings back for outdoor images. We’ve all been guilty of this at some point or another. A lesson we can learn from Murdoch is to take responsibility for the moments when we mess up our own photos, and then instead of throwing tantrums, just move on.

3. Remember lessons you’ve learned.

If you’ve been guilty of situations like in #2, you can make it a habit to always return to your default settings after you shoot in a different setting. For example, the ISO error mentioned above doesn’t have to happen to you ever again, if you remember to reset your camera default ISO setting as soon as you finish making shots in the unusual conditions.Bodie old truck copyright Aloha Lavina.

4. Learn lessons you have not learned from others who have.

Perhaps Murdoch hasn’t learned from history, like what happens to a President when he secretly wiretaps phones. But you can do Murdoch one better by actually learning from other photographers who have learned lessons before you, and have shared their experiences. One valuable lesson I learned vicariously is how not to be a gearhead, from Zack Arias. If you paid attention to what other photographers have experienced, in the situation you are currently shooting, you could learn invaluable lessons without having to go through the pain of experiencing the problems yourself.

5. Respect other people’s privacy.

There’s a host of reasons why privacy laws exist, not the least of which are freedom from harassment and freedom of expression, for examples. Murdoch’s News International has harassed the actor Hugh Grant in print, so Grant has fought back by being another voice against Murdoch’s brand of media enterprise.

As a photographer, you have the freedom to express your artistry. But at what lengths would you go to create an image? Would you exploit people who are suffering to get an image that could earn you a thousand wows on some forum? And what are the costs of such a breach of someone else’s privacy? Reflecting on these questions and more like them can define your own vision as a photographer.Bodie sitting room sofa and tourists copyright Aloha Lavina

6. Don’t ask permission, just apologize after you get the shot.

On the other hand, if you are looking for authenticity, you can always follow this sneaky way of capturing a portrait. Take the shot, then if the subject objects, just say sorry, then move away. (Warning: in certain cases, you may feel like a Big Jerk.)

7. Face your fears instead of avoiding them.

When you are learning how to photograph, you will meet some subjects or genres that challenge you. For instance, I overheard one photographer say he won’t ‘get into strobe lighting’ because in his words, “You have to be really good to make good photos with strobes.”

The implications are clear. If you’re afraid, and you stay afraid, nothing will change in your photography. If nothing changes in your photography, your image making will stagnate and never get that push to a higher, different level.

Facing that new technical aspect, or a genre you’ve never tried, can help you reach new skill levels and make even more awesome images.

you can go your own way copyright Aloha Lavina8. Eschew instant gratification.

A lazy journalist is too lazy to do the ‘legwork’—the running around, the actual work, of getting a story. So perhaps the lazy journalist resorts to desperate measures to scoop a story: tap a phone here, eavesdrop on people’s lives there, all from the comfort of a room with an illegal audio receiver.

Instant gratification is the enemy of excellence and a goldmine of mediocrity. Entertaining needs of instant gratification in photography is detrimental to growth. Without patience in learning how to use a camera setting, or getting to know what a lens is capable of, or even practicing a technique like panning, over and over, a photographer is in danger of achieving mediocre work.

Being patient, and being open to the learning that comes with time and practice brings maturity to an image maker. You don’t have to get everything now; you can instead enjoy every step of the journey to making creative, compelling images.

 9. Nurture a legacy you can be proud of.

If Murdoch died from all the stress tomorrow, what would he leave behind? What would people say about his life’s work?

Every day is an opportunity for you to find light and make images that touch others, that make them think, that bring them some message.

What will your legacy be?

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