Photographer/Writer Ben Long joins the show this week to explain his ideas on how to grow as a photographer, as outlined in his new book, The Practicing Photographer. In the interview, I ask him how practice can be fun. He tells me I have it all wrong. And off we go! I’m pretty sure this is a half hour that you’re going to enjoy.
We’ve been friends with Derrick for decades; he’s a great photographer, podcaster and educator in his own right, and his questions about the book are insightful and fun.
Our good friends Jeff and Kirk recently had Ben on their bimonthly PhotoActive podcast to chat about Ben’s new book:
What does it mean to really practice your craft? In this episode we welcome back photographer and educator Ben Long to PhotoActive to talk about his wonderful new book The Practicing Photographer: Essays on Developing Your Photographic Practice. We talk about why practice involves more than grabbing your camera every once in a while, about getting out of creative ruts, and the value of studying other photographers’ works.
It’s a lively and entertaining discussion on the topic; we’ve always enjoyed speaking with the guys at PhotoActive — their podcast is one of the few good ones that cover photography. You can listen to the episode directly from the PhotoActive website, or through all of the major podcast apps.
Here’s the official blurb on the book, from the back cover:
In The Practicing Photographer, Ben Long’s message is clear: if you want to become a better photographer, you have to think about practice. Musicians, dancers, actors and other artists incorporate practice into their work, yet most photographers want to talk more about camera settings and gear than they do about their practice.
The short essays contained within this slim volume are designed to help you develop your own photography practice. It lacks a single photograph between its covers, and there is no mention of a camera company, a camera type, or any other type of gear. The goal of The Practicing Photographer is to help you think about practicing your photography in a more holistic way, from field to print, and in between. The result is quite different from the standard “how to” photography book, but one that can be as important to enriching your craft.
At 124 pages, The Practicing Photographer is a small book, consisting of 53 short essays (1 to 2 pages each) that, when taken as a whole, are aimed at helping you build your own photographic practice. The book is divided into six primary sections: Practicing, Before Shooting, Shooting, Mind Games, Post-Production, Presentation. A final section includes specific ideas for practicing, as well as an essay on how to gauge the success of your practice. (See the Table of Contents for a complete list of the essays.)
The first essay in the book, “Why Practice?” can be read here on the CDP website.
Which formats will you offer, and how much will it cost?
The print version is $13.95 is now available from the CDP store; the ebook version is $9.95, and is available in ePub, PDF, and Kindle formats.
Amazon has both print and Kindle versions available for sale worldwide (Amazon link).
The Practicing Photographer, CDP Press. ISBN 978-1-7326369-4-1 (print); 978-1-7326369-5-8 (ebook).
I’m excited to announce that Ben’s next book, The Practicing Photographer, is currently in the final stages of production, and will be on sale here and on Amazon by mid-summer this year.
This book grew out of discussions that Ben and I had about his primary teaching message through the years: if you want to become a better photographer, you have to think about practice. Musicians, dancers, actors and other artists incorporate practice into their work, yet photographers talk more about camera settings and gear than they do about their practice. But when we talk about the concept of practice with workshop students, a light bulb often goes off, and it felt to us that a book about the topic just made sense.
The Practicing Photographer is a slim book (roughly 120 pages), comprised of more than 50 short essays designed to help you develop your own photography practice. While some of the essays are directly derived from Ben’s longtime video series of the same name on LinkedIn Learning (née Lynda.com), the majority have been specifically written for this book.
We’re excited about the result. It is quite different from the standard ‘how to’ photography book. It lacks a single photograph between its covers, and there is no mention of a camera company, a camera type, or any other type of gear. It really has been written to help you think about practicing your photography in a more holistic way, from field to print, and in between.
While we’re still finalizing the book’s content, we do know that it will be priced under $15 for the print version, and around $10 for the ebook. We’ll send out a note once we’ve ordered our first run, but if you’d like a sneak peek, we have posted the first essay in the book, “Why Practice?” for you to read. (The table of contents for the book is also available here on the site as well.)
If you’d like to be notified when the book is available for ordering, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Your email will only be used once, to let you know that the book has been released. (If you’re already on our mailing list, we’ll send a note to you via our email newsletter.)
Since writing about Epson’s new photo inkjet line back in April, I’ve gotten a lot of email, mostly from readers curious about the SureColor P900, the 17-inch version (and its 13-inch sibling, the P700). I’m happy to say that the first shipments of the P900 appear to be dribbling into the States. Both models were supposed to be available by early summer, but it does seem that the pandemic wreaked havoc on manufacturing and shipping channels.
All that said, I’m not sure about how full the channel actually is at the moment. I have a P900 arriving today, but it was ordered five months ago. I also know of a few other folks who’ve received P700s in the past 60 days, but Adorama and B&H have both the printers back-ordered. My advice to anyone looking for these units would be to order one from your preferred source, to get into the queue. I believe that a big part of the reason they’re back-ordered is that most arriving units are being sent right back out to folks who preordered theirs.
When speaking with students, Ben and I will often talk about the importance of projects as an element in one’s photographic growth. While we tend to talk about this in the context of practicing, projects can take on a life of their own, and can help motivate you, either when you’re out in the field, or simply to get you out shooting. It can also be the type of thing that can fine tune your ultimate photographic vision.
A project can be anything thematic, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be of tangible ‘things,’ although it can be, like Ben’s tree project, which he mentioned in Chapter 9 of Complete Digital Photography (that chapter is available as a free download from the book support page):
One way to make yourself practice, and to breathe new life into familiar locations, is to give yourself an assignment. You can choose a subject—old cars, doorways, local flowers—or maybe a phrase or a word—contentment; no pain, no gain; a penny saved. The subject matter or word doesn’t have to mean anything to anyone else, and you can interpret it any way you want. The idea is simply to give yourself some way to frame your view of your location. Having a specific point of view or photographic goal will often make you see familiar ground in a new way. I like shooting trees, so I keep an ongoing tree project. Often, going out with the idea of shooting trees takes the pressure off; I don’t have to worry about finding subject matter. The world is a big place, and limiting it can make shooting much simpler.
In a world where photographs are everywhere, displayed largely via web pages and small screens, the traditional career tracks for professional photographers have fallen by the wayside. So what do you have to do to make photography your livelihood in today’s world? I recently moderated a lively discussion on this topic with two professional photographers based in Portland, Oregon: Hudson Henry and Dan Hawk. In this short, thirty-minute video, we talk about how each photographer turned their passion for photography into a career, how to keep your outlook fresh, and the role of diversification in building a successful business. Click the link below to watch.