I came across a website which set out advice from Magnum photographers for young photographers. see http://erickimphotography.com/blog/2011/09/35-magnum-photographers-give-their-advice-to-aspiring-photographers/
I was particularly struck by David Alan Harvey’s thoughts. He is so strong on the overriding need to have something to say with your photography. This was the central point I gained from my workshop with him in the Mississippi Delta earlier this year. It is also the very issue I am grappling with and why I am taking time out from the level 3 courses for the moment. I thought I would set down his comments as a future reference point.
You must have something to “say”. You must be brutally honest with yourself about this. Think about history , politics, science, literature, music, film, and anthropology. What affects does one discipline have over another? What makes “man” tick? Today , with everyone being able to easily make technically perfect photographs with a cell phone, you need to be an “author”. It is all about authorship, authorship and authorship. Many young photographers come to me and tell me their motivation for being a photographer is to “travel the world” or to “make a name” for themselves. Wrong answers in my opinion. Those are collateral incidentals or perhaps even the disadvantages of being a photographer. Without having tangible ideas , thoughts, feelings, and something almost “literary” to contribute to “the discussion”, today’s photographer will become lost in the sea of mediocrity. Photography is now clearly a language. As with any language, knowing how to spell and write a gramatically correct “sentence” is , of course, necessary. But, more importantly, today’s emerging photographers now must be “visual wordsmiths” with either a clear didactic or an esoteric imperitive. Be a poet, not a technical “writer”. Perhaps more simply put, find a heartfelt personal project. Give yourself the “assignment” you might dream someone would give you. Please remember, you and only you will control your destiny. Believe it, know it, say it.