"Photograph what you are interested in" - John G. Morris "Photograph what is around you" - Philip Perkis
Good advice right? Simple enough. It took me 32 years as a photographer to figure that one out. Of course I was interested in the glory and glamour of photographing celebrities and fashion models. I was good at it and experienced some measure of success. But being interested in the effect of these activities and being interested in the subjects themselves are two different things.
Surely enough, opportunities to create good and really good photographs exist in the worlds of fashion and celebrity photography, but eventually, to succeed, to really succeed and feel fulfilled, you need a genuine interest in the subjects and a desire to live among them.
"Without the financial benefit and without the satisfaction of professional success we are forced to question why we are interested, why we feel motivated to create photographs at all?" - Michael Biondo
I did not have this level of interest in fashion and I think it showed in my work, more importantly I did not experience any real level of fulfillment. There is an upside to the glut of good photographers and yes, there is an upside to the downward pressure on photography pricing. Without the financial benefit and without the satisfaction of professional success we are forced to question why we are interested, why we feel motivated to create photographs at all?
These are important questions, not typically thought about when one is showered with cash and praise. I was happy to put those questions aside and go to the party. Then sometime around 2006 and living in Connecticut, away from the noise of the party, I started listening to a voice inside myself that was interested in design and architecture.
More specifically, I found myself interested in the history of design and architecture. With a family to support I could not run off to grad school and devote myself to the study of these topics. But with a camera in hand and a copy of the National Trust’s New Canaan Modern House Survey I was able to explore and photograph the treasure of mid-century modern architecture within a bicycle ride of my house.
I started to eagerly engage with architects, historians, homeowners and writers. Soon enough, work started to come in from architects and designers. Then, in 2014 Monacelli Press published MidCentury Houses Today a book on modern architecture in which I was a co-author and photographer.
Critics and the public took notice and my career as as a photographer of architecture and design began in earnest. The breakthrough I needed just came from listening to good advice. I started photographing what I was interested in and what was around me.