Thursday, August 11, 2011

The LookOut



This week while I looking through my Lightroom catalog, I came across this cool picture that was taken a couple of years ago.  I’m glad I did, because this sign is now gone and all that is left is a sad pile of lumber.
This was a sign painted on the side of what used to be a popular, local hangout at Surfside, Beach in the 19 Eighties.  I was a teenager in the crazy eighties, but unlike other teenagers from my town, I wasn’t allowed to go to THE LOOKOUT.

 I wished I had checked out the happening place when I was younger because of all the wild and funny stories which I had heard from the older, cool kids.  Unfortanetly I didn’t get the chance until I reached my early 30s and all I can say is I was disappointed because it was dark, silent and there were only two people inside, the bartender and a patron.  Before while in its prime, I heard that partiers would dance the night away to songs like Wipeout, but now the only person who was wiped out was the guy sitting at the bar.

Several years later I ran across this place again while out on a picture adventure with my photographer buddies.  The building with the cool sign were still there but no one was home.  The erosion had torn down the pier that reached out to the water and the building was decorated with graffiti. Then, last week after enjoying an evening of boogie boarding at Surfside Beach, we drove by this place and I almost missed it because there was nothing left but a sad pile of lumber

Today, as I reflect back by looking at this picture of a place that was and is no more, I realize some important things and want to share especially with those of you who are just starting out and learning the craft of photography. 

Determine to become the best you can be but don’t let it consume you to the point where you burn out.  Take it slow and master one thing at a time.  Start with the basics like camera controls, focus and settings.  Master one technique before going to the next technique.  After you have the basics mastered,
GET OUT of your comfort zone. Explore the unfamiliar with camera in hand and practice your mastered technique on something new and interesting.  You’ll find that firsthand experience hammers the nail of your technique into your being not just brain. 
Turn Out  only your best work for the world to see and keep your mess ups for your own eyes only.  Yes, I know it feels good when all the things you’ve learned start to click so naturally you want to share what you’ve captured.  But you must resist to
put out
every shot that you take.  Remember this-you’ll get even better with more time and in time those pictures that were blurry and out of focus will be ones that you’ll wish were for only your eyes to see.
Check Out other photographers work and learn from the best.  In the process don’t check out and then quit. 
When I first started in photography, I didn’t know the work of a single famous photographer. Just like an amateur would be, I had a passion to capture the beauty around me and the loved the challenge of learning which actually turned out to be a good thing because when I compared my work to others, I became overwhelmed with inadequacies and then felt like hiding in a cave.
I thought to myself ‘why would anyone want to see a picture that I took of a flower or bird when hundreds of other photographers had already taken pictures of the same subject and did a technically better job than I could’.

Thankfully, the passion for learning and curiosity kept me from hiding and I continued on by reading tutorials, practicing, and shared and received Shout Outs in the form of feedback on SmugMug . Click Link to try SumMug

After several months of posting pictures, receiving and giving feedback,
I decided to
Break Out
by entering a contest with my best picture.  I struggled with putting myself out there at first, but finally decided what could it hurt-it was free to enter and if I didn’t win, then no harm done.  Well, to my surprise, my picture won.  Sadly though, before I knew I won, I received two terrible emails sent through my Smugmug site written in capitals of HOW bad I was, how horrible my photography was and how I should just throw my camera in a lake. I didn’t understand until later that these guys were called trolls, which showed just how new I was to the online world of photography.
Let's Spend It Together by Happenings Photography 8x10 Version
BREAK OUT but don’t
Wipe out your wallet.  With all the excitement of winning, I almost broke the bank by going out and buying all the equipment I thought I needed to impress and shoot with Rick Sammon, and Scott Bourne then only to find out that I brought more than was actually needed. 
It’s okay to invest money in basic equipment, but wait until you’re further down the track to buy more.  Believe me, your sanity and pocket book will thank you later.

Take TIME OUT to be thankful and share what you’ve learned with others along the way. 

I’m thankful that I won the trip to Washington not only because I had the opportunity to learn from the best but because I also learned several valuable lessons. 

One of them is-
Don't Hide Out and keep on shooting because
It’s not about how big your camera bag or wallet is that matters most-
but it’s what is in your heart, and the willingness to share it.   

I would love to hear from you...What kind of experiences have you had in life when you wanted to quit but didn't and what was it that cheered you on?


  1. All great comments Rhonda. You and I started down this road at about the same time. Not too long ago I had the experience of looking back on work that I thought was pretty good and realizing it was not good at all. That depressed me a bit because I thought that maybe what I thought was good today would be horrible in time to come. I believe you have to keep pushing on through those times. Looking back, you'll see your growth. It is when you can look back at your growth and still be proud of what came before that is a moment of realizing self-worth in photography.

  2. Hi Michael! Yes, we did and you've be a great encouragement to me.
    I love your response, it's insightful and thought provoking.
    It's definitely a balancing act when we are growing and learning. It's like when our children are learning something new; it doesn't matter if they fall down or don't succeed because they are just wonderful for trying. :-)