Having a Life First

It is always a pleasure to be reading along and suddenly just stop on a line that hits home. Over at Rob Haggart’s site, A Photo Editor, I stumbled upon this:

“You need to have a life first so you have something to draw from and you need to consistently produce work.”

It is immediately apparent to me that this sums it all up, many things. Running a blog, two in fact, I have realized that when I am in the office working long hours, inspiration for new content is slim. Other than a few Re-Tweets of things I see, I come up blank. Sure I keep a list of “To be Blogged”, but even that stuff seems dishonest when all I have been doing is tapping and mousing. I want fresh.

The same can be said for creative content in photos. Do the photos we produce match our life? Yes, absolutely. We live in an amazingly beautiful place. Our photos put people in the landscape. It is what we see, it is what we find beautiful, it is what we do. Having lived in the Dolomites for just over two years, we are still taking it all in, especially in our images.


The second half of the quote is something I have long understood and believed in. We must produce something that is a result of our work, our skills, and our intelligence. It makes us happy to create.

To bring these two ideas together is something we must all strive for – balance.

Janine and I are feeling the desire to try something new, to challenge ourselves with some new way of seeing and thus producing. We vow to look at our surroundings in a new way, and especially our friends and what & how they do things.

Just in writing this I have come to realize that when I shoot in a place like India, I study the people, I study their actions, and especially their eyes. With this I become determined to make an image I find interesting. To produce great work from the life I enjoy living and am seeking to understand.


We’d love to hear from you, your thoughts on what makes an image interesting. Please Comment here for everyone to read.


Comments 14

  1. I completely agree with you Dan. A lot of photographers out there, including myself, feel one time or another as if they have lost inspiration or hit that creative wall. Photography and passion I feel walk such a close line together. If we ever lose that passion for our work we have to find a way to re-ignite it, or find it somewhere else. Good luck in finding that new challenge!

  2. Dan- Nice post and hits close to home.

    Over the last couple years Lisa and I have really made an effort to find a balance between family, play, growth and work. It’s tough when you want to be 100% at something because it throws the balance off in other areas. When you get there or close its apparent because flow/ideas are easy when this “balance” is achieved.

    You and Janine have been an inspiration to Lisa and I. We have used you as an example of what balance looks like. You have an awesome business and one that blends with your life. They blend so well they are hard to separate.

    Keep up the balance and hopefully we can get you back to the USA to help us with another photo shoot.


  3. I love faces…I love everything what’s behind a face!
    Actually I love almost all your pictures and your way of seeng the world (both in your pictures and in your words), but I noticed I spend more time on pictures where the focus is a living thing (human…animal…whatever ;-).
    A “living thing” doing sport (=athlet 😉 gives me more if I can see his face..and try to get what he/she feels…the landscape is for me the frame.
    Ah, by the way…”your” landscape is gonna be “our” landscape again… 🙂 We are coming back!

  4. I love scenes with people in them. Light, dark, expressions…photographs help inspire stories for me. I love seeing people’s expressions and trying to ascertain what kind of life they are living.

  5. I think the gaze is the most interesting thing for me when I look at a photograph. Who is looking where, the relationship between the things in the photo, whether it’s a person’s relationship with a landscape, their positioning as opposed to the terrain or the relationship between two people in an image.
    I do tend to spend more time looking at a photo with animals or humans in it, just studying the relationships and gazes present in it.

  6. Sometimes I find that having a blog forces me to get out and do things. Because I want to have adventures to talk about. Your article hits close to home.

    As for pictures, I love pictures that catch the environment and the people who love to live in that environment.

    Great blog post.

  7. actually I’m not a photographer, but the title of this post hit me. I think I don’t have a life. I spend almost all my time working, or connected to the internet, reading and finding stuff. I sometimes feel like something (a lot) is missing…and that affects my work and my creativity…I need a life 🙂

  8. Ah – a word in season – I too run two blogs from completely different worlds – one in coaching and faciltitation and the other in watercolour painting. I sometimes feel torn and sometimes excited about finding a synthesis between these two worlds. Right now would be happy with a balance. But it feels a bit like serving two masters.
    And the question of creative, meaningful content is great. Having a life and producing work are both essential. AND they should be aligned so that we don’t come home from a tough day in our “life” and sit down to try to “produce”. Maybe that seems obvious but I come across many people trying to sit comfortably on these two chairs.

    I was attracted to your photo of the runner on this posting which I found evocative.

  9. Nice article, really interesting.

    The appealing elements I usually look for in a picture are the angle, the sharpness and the colour balance. Also, I am totally bent on composition

    Great article, would recommend it to anyone!

  10. I like the picture of the camel.Some years ago now I was glad to be in the Cairo camel market and took some photos there on a little instant. 1991, during the first gulf war when Iraq invaded Kuwait, it was a tense time in the Arab world. I saw a lot in peoples eyes then and I guess they saw what were in mine.

  11. As far as what makes a great photo, I’d say it is the feeling a person gets from it. What they bring to it and what they take from it. I don’t think there is an objective quality to what makes for great photography, but if there was, maybe it’d be practice.

    Related On Lives post: On Exploration

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