Stick to your guns!

Last night I was at a graduation party for a friend's daughter, when a casual conversation with someone turned into an in-depth discussion of the rock band Boston. You know, that little band out of Boston! We had been swapping stories about amazing talent in new musicians when he brought up the famous story of Boston's Tom Scholz and Brad Delp.

What I learned from this well-versed new acquaintance was, Tom Scholz had utilized vintage tube circuits to record the guitar tracks. These particular amps give a unique sound different from any other, even those that were available at that time. As you will read in the story about Tom, he was not satisfied with the results from the fancy and expensive recording studios because they did not satisfy his personal vision. It's what he did next that earned the respect of millions of listeners around the world; he turned his basement into his very own studio, using those tube amplifiers to give birth to his own sound. He was able to build his studio with skills he had learned in a totally different field -- which also just happened to be how he earned his living. His technical knowledge came from his day job at, of all places, Polaroid!

No I don't know for certain what the precise technology was that Tom used, but that is really not my point. What impressed me so much was his persistence to develop his vision. In my mind, that is the definition of an artist. The album which he created, with the help of the other members of the band, was the single most commercially successful debut album from any band -- period.

Do you have a vision? If you read the whole story you will see just how long it took for Boston to succeed. It was not an overnight success. There was rejection, there was a learning curve, but what demanded Tom's attention was his personal vision. I believe if we allow our vision to guide us, we will make it through all the rejection and technological walls, and eventually succeed.

We have all heard how the struggle makes us stronger. I believe this is true.

When we first learn to take photos we are overwhelmed with the technical learning curve. As time goes by, most of us begin to consider more advanced techniques and more advanced equipment. What usually ends up last on the list is more advanced thinking -- more conceptual thinking. It is only when thinking conceptually that the photographer begins to consider the subject more than the technique. Of course, the technology learned along the way must not be forgotten and is, in fact, the foundation for portraying the subject. But when we approach photography conceptually, we are more alert. And when we are more alert we are more challenged -- challenged to think beyond what someone else tells us. It is when I have been challenged that I have created my most successful work.

Muench Workshops For example, whenever I am struggling with photographing a particular location, I consider what my impression of the place is, not what I have been shown in other images nor what others have described. Sure, I take it all into consideration, but I stay true to my own personal vision. Oftentimes it is this personal perception of reality that I seek to find, even if it takes me much longer. This pre-visualization, or seeing conceptually before I capture an image in the camera, is what I will be covering in my next workshop in Santa Barbara.
This image of Anguilla was my fourth attempt in over five years to capture what, in my mind, is the Caribbean.

Even though there are hurdles, stick to your guns. If I can help by lowering the photographic hurdles at a workshop, great. But in the end it will be your journey that tells the best stories. Just like Tom Scholz and that little band out of Boston did, make the technology work for you.

Life is so very short. Take pictures of it!