Hey everybody! RC here. I wanted to share with you a bit of a confessional and a great lesson that I just got this weekend- from an unlikely source. Past being giddy, it was one of those moments that gave me inspiration, closure, and excitement at the same time.
My confession – I spend a lot of time making pictures. Here at Kelby Media, we try our best to keep a foot in the training space and a foot in the real world shooting space to make sure that we can bring relatable information to you every week. This means that all of us strap a camera to our shoulders and hit pavement making images. These images end up on a computer, and we run Photoshop on them to make them great. Some of them get posted on a website, and some even get sold or donated to clients. For this, I am truly very happy.
Do you know where my pictures dont end up? My own walls.
On The Road
After filling hard drive after hard drive full of pictures, I can count only three shots that I’ve put up in my own home. Everything else has this barren feeling – pale white walls just staring back at me when I walk into my house. We finally jumped into buying our house down here in Tampa this past December, and my wife and I have been sitting there chatting with one another wondering what pieces of furniture we want to switch. Which pieces of furniture we want to add. Which graphic designer friend we want to bring in from the office to help us with with this conundrum of a home that feels to transient to be our own.
Secretly, I have been fighting a very different fight in my own head. As much as I have had celebrated moments in the pictures i’ve made, I cant help but have this pit in my stomach that says that my pictures are no good. Every time I share a shot, I think to myself “Eh, its ok.. but you see here.. this part could have been better if only.. ” and I rattle off the part that I thought was missing in it. Now don’t get me wrong.. I absolutely love being a photographer, and I absolutely love being “On the Road” of it. You see, I tell everyone that the moment that you pick up the camera in earnest and say to yourself “I want to do this, and I want to get better at it” you invariably end up on this road. At the end of it are the greats in your mind. In front of you, all of those specific things you want to learn. Where you are in that road is the absolutely most exciting place to be because you are always learning. I believe in this so much – the journey is the most important part. However – every now and again you just feel like you have been taking two steps forward and one step back. There are absolutely no signposts on this road, and you just yearn to wonder if you’ve made it a mile or a meter..
So we want to feel like home, and I want to feel like im closer to my goal, and no amount of shutter clicking is making this happen.
However, I’m still printing. Im still sending out the odd print here and there to a client. What could they possibly see that I dont?
Hipping My House
So I get a word from my friend Kevin at work that says Mpix is partnering with us to do something called “Hip My House” Where a winner gets their house done up in Mpix prints. (I’ll chat about that later.. it’s not really about this now..) There was one line in it that made me think .. “your own art”. Im sitting there thinking to myself, “Why dont I just own up to the pictures that I have and print what I love up there?”
I told Kevin that i’d be cool to make a video just showcasing my situation and talking about the contest. Separately, however, I bit the artistic bullet and went through Lightroom and looked for pictures that I thought I would want to see.. things that made me happy when I looked at them.
My Sources of Inspiration
As much as I loved so many pictures, the ones that I kept coming back to again and again were the fun shots that I would do on the weekends with my daughter Sabine. More and more I was going “Oh, this one is cool.. this one she looked cool… this one she looked so happy”
The more I did it, the more I noticed that she was the person that I turned to when I wanted to recharge photographically. Jenn and Sabine were the people I ran to do pictures of when I wanted to re-inspire. I picked a bunch of shots and I said “Im going to just get these done and fill this wall.. see what happens.. ”
In Front of Me All Along
I got my friend Rich Porupski (THANK YOU SOO MUCH!) to come in and organize them on the wall (Last time I tried to hang pictures, they had to call in a contractor to fix the wall at work.. ugh), and the more pictures went up, the happier I was. Jenn was over the moon too.
As it turned out, putting these pictures on these walls actually made our house feel more like a Home. Instead of looking for a Pier 1 or a Magazine for inspiration, the very pictures that I have been shooting all this time actually made my house feel like mine. (Sorry for the dark shot.. iphone late at night, but wanted you show you!)
Another thing happened – I started looking at the pictures and going “Hey.. this is pretty good. Hey this didnt come out half bad. Hey.. I really like what i’ve done with this.”
Right there, in front of me in my dining room were all of the signposts that I was looking for. Putting them in front of me on a wall let me see where i’ve been, where I am, and how far I am on this road. That gave me a great feeling of accomplishment. AND, I got the wall done!
I Learned Something Today
So.. a long ramble.. what are the takeaways:
Go through your pictures.. find the common bond that makes you go “wow, i’m so glad I did this one.” When you find that, thats your inspiration. Go there photographically when you need to recharge the batteries.
Find a spot in your home where you can put several pictures of yours, print them and hang them. The more you see them up there, the more you will realize that you are better than you think you are. You’re on the road and you’re moving forward.
And your art is your proof. Have a great Monday everyone!
(If you want to follow me, you can go to my G+ page at http://gplusrc.com or my blog at http://www.aboutrc.com)
LOVE it! Â Been following you guys for over a decade ever since I attended my first Photoshop World event in Orlando, uhhh let’s just say “several” years ago. Â And I can SO relate. I turn photos into fine art thru (yes, my-all-time-FAVORITE-program) Photoshop. Â But it seemed I “created” for everyone ELSE. NOW I use my walls as my gallery and it warms my heart…and my home too. Â If you ever want to turn one of those beautiful photos into an acrylic, hand-embellished canvas, hit me up! Meantime, ROCK ON as you all remain awesome!
You’re totally right RC!! IÂ serendipitously found this out myself recently when I had to print a bunch of my work for a small art show. Â Seeing my stuff on the wall made me feelthat Â maybe I’m not completely talentless when it comes to photography and moreso it made me see how much progress I have made over last several years!Â Thanks for sharing this story, it’s nice to know RC is human!Â
Thanks so much for the inspiration and confirming what I recently have been thinking of doin, but have been doubting myself on. My wheels are spinnin’ :o)
Man it’s crazy how it seams all of us photogs think alike!
I took the plunge a few months ago and had seven images printed and framed even though I don’t really have empty wall space to hang them. Now I rotate some of my original paintings and prints with my own artwork. And when the local photography festival group wanted some display-ready images…I could oblige!
But RC, you are missing on the wall yourself
Cheers RC, think this road is never ending, but its great to get some sign posts. I’ll be sending some shit to the printers soon! T
We had some new friends over one evening and after a few glasses of wine, one of them turned and looked at me and said “Looking at your house, I’d never guess you are a professional photographer. Where are the pictures?”. He had a point. For a start how can I get clients to spend Â£Â£Â£ on having me create wall art for them when I don’t even do it for myself. I’ve got a beautiful wife and daughter and it’s about time I started proudly hanging my images of them on out walls.
I’ve now invested in numerous frames and block mounts etc and I love it. Each wall has an image which makes me smile. What could be better than that?
Excellent article RC. Your words are thought provoking and right on point. I really liked the before and after of the wall. Your pictures and work deserve to be showcased on those walls.
I’ve been thinking exactly the same thing. Looking at my house you’d never think a photographer lived there ‘cos there isn’t a single print! Thanks for the inspiration :)
As a professional photographer I had tried to sell large wall portraits at every sale, but I did not do very well, about 20%. After I had photographed my sons when the twins were 4, and my other son was 2, my wife and I decided to make huge wall prints and hang them in our bedroom. We made them 24×30 horizontal, so they took up a huge wall that was 8 ft long. I thought when I printed them they might be too big but we went for it anyway. I can’t tell you the joy it gave my wife and me EVERY day when I looked at the printed images on our walls. For the first time I was able to experience what some of my clients experienced all the time. What a difference that made in my sales approach from that point on. I now sell wall portraits on 87% of my sales because I know what it will do for them. I am glad you now know what a creative piece will do for you, I do and so do my clients.
When my wife redecorated the house last year, she and the decorator set up a wall with 6 identical frames in a “T” shape (rotate right 90 deg). My “job” is to print 6 new pictures each month that are (a) joined in a theme and (b) less than 3 months old.Â
Sometimes it is easy. Last week’s fireworks generated a big supply to choose from. But in the winter, I had to Â buy her some flowers andÂ break out the macro lens.
It has been a big boost to my hobby and my ego.
What a timely post RC.
Reading that you also look at your photos and find what’s wrong with them has prevented you from printing and hanging photos in your home is my story. This is my story as well.
I have friends who want to do a book of my favorite photos as a gift for a special occasion. They have repeated reminded me that they are waiting for me to pick about 50-60 photos for their book project.
I haven’t been able to get started even looking at my photos in LR.
This morning reading your blog has given me incentive and hope. I trust you and your experience and believe I will too find some photos if I just take the action.
I’m ready. Thanks for the much needed incentive of your personal experience. I too have never printed and hung one of my photos. Only recently for a class assignment did I print out 3 of my photos. These photos looked so much better printed than they did looking at them on the computer screen.
RC, you continue to be my mentor by your example. Keep sharing yourself AND your photos with us all.
I used to be into woodworking. I wasn’t all that good at it, but I loved it. I still love it, I just developed allergies that make it hard to pursue. Invariably, woodworkers do the same thing when giving a gift. Oh I made this mistake here, and the finish isn’t just right over there. Â That would be better if I had the new tool. I Â went to aÂ seminar and a “famous” woodworker gave a presentation. It was mostly technique, but he concluded with a challenge to us that I have not forgotten. He said ” If you have made something for someone, give it to them and then SHUT UP! Â They are not woodworker most likely. If they were they would have made it themselves. They are just delighted that you took the time to craft something for them. They won’t know that you only sanded to 250 grit. Hand it over and be silent, otherwise you take the joy out of it for both parties.” Photography is much the same. If you are striving to get better, that’s fine.
Â Don’t let the quest for perfection kill the joy of the craft.Â Â
Â Â Â Â I have two daughters and everything you’ve posted rings true to me as well!Â Thanks for putting it in words and sharing your Pride wall with us.
Thank you. I needed that post.Â
Funny that you brought this up because a good friend knows that I take lots of photos but like you I suffer from that same sense of being inadequate. She puts her photos in travel books and doesn’t care that they were takne with a Nikon point and shoot as opposed to a DSLR. She is willing to display her photos and let them speak for themselves. She quite rightly asked me what I did with all of mine.Â I didn’t have an answer but you have really hit home that I just need to do it.
Thanks for a very timely and thoughtful post RC
Now, THAT’S good stuff, RC! I needed to read that right now. Glad to know I’m not the only one feeling that way. I rarely print photos. We can share pics online all day long and NEVER print some of the images that make us the most proud of our work! Part of it for me is I spend too much time online. Another part may be that I’d love to print on metal or gallery wraps and I just can’t afford those yet. I think I should pick just one to start, at least. Okay, you’ve inspired me to start. But, I need to paint the walls first…now what color to choose…? ;-)
RC, take it from an old guy. Your wall isn’t done, it’s just started. You have plenty of room for more. Maybe you have to have grandchildren to learn that.
I still think by far that prints are the best way to view a photograph, and no matter how many people see them online, that is only for a fleeting moment.Â Prints on the walls of your own home get looked at daily.Â I can think of no better way to make one’s house feel more like a home than putting up photographs of those you love and also the places you love too.Â On my walls are photos of my beloved puppy, but also Mt. Fuji and other places I have lived and traveled in.
I like the print style choice RC of putting three frameless prints (canvas?) on the top and three black framed prints on the bottom.Â The balance looks good with the light ceiling and dark table below.
…and no doubt your daughter will experience the love of you and your wife for adorning your walls with her image.
Boy, can I relate!!!!! Ask my friends and family. I even heard it this weekend about not ever see the shots I took!!!! I need to change this, but RC you hit it on the head again! Larry
It is simply amazing how many of us can relate to you, RC. The couple from whom we bought our current house several years ago had an upstairs hallway wall filled with pictures. They had worked in the aerospace industry and had many fascinating photos of themselves with many of our astronats and other American heros. For eight years, that wall has remained blank, even though we have thousands of photos from trips, family, and events that would be perfect if framed and mounted. But the thought never occurred to us that we could use our own photos! (the cobblers children go barefoot) So thanks to your blog, I think it’s time to look through our files, both paper and digital, and pick out some memories to finally grace that blank wall. Maybe it won’t be with photographs of astronauts, but it will most certainly include other American heros like my Grandpa! Thanks for the shove!
Thanks RC! Â I needed that encouragement to print more of my pictures to hang on the walls of my house. Â My wife always asks and I always find something “wrong” with a picture and choose not to print it. Our three year old daughter is my favorite subject and I do love making photographs. Now, time to go through my pictures again…
Great philosophical post RC. Spookily I’m reading this just after I put down Steve Simons Passionate photographer and your post ties in nicely with his words on inspiration.
Thanks RC for this post. I has certainly hit home and reminded me how important it is to hang your stuff up. Most of time I post my pictures to my online gallery and forget about them. But there is something special about seeing your work on a daily basis. It says that I’ve got a knack for this photography thing while reminding me how much more I have to learn and grow. It’s both inspirational and satisfying.
I really liked Â this blog post too. Â I’m always in a conundrum as to size and arrangement for wall photos. It would be fun to know the sizes of what you did just to give us an idea. Â
RC, I hope you have that photo of your Mom with the soft light creating a halo hanging somewhere in your home. I have a gallery system from Potterybarn on two walls of my studio room. I print my favs on double board from Mpix and switch them up frequently. A pretty in expensive way to show your work and keep it fresh. I stack the ones I don’t have hanging against the walls and folks frequently are drawn to look through them and I get to see my work through their eyes as they comment. I can post a pic of the wall if you would like to see it. Just retired July 1, trying to get my courage up to put my work out there in the bigger world. Really enjoy your post.
Â I would like to see a picture of your wall.Â This article and all the comments have inspired me as well.Â It would be great to see examples of how folks have implemented this idea in their own homes.Â Thanks.
I really enjoyed your “confession”For your penance say 3 our fathers, and…
Â I came to that same conclusion some time ago. I Â now have a hall way with 7 framed pictures in it. I randomly change the pictures as I come up with something I deem worthy of hanging. This is much better than only seeing them on a computer, or printing them and storing them in a box.Â
I would love to see more info on the “Grid” or blogs about printing if possible.Â
Great, great post, RC.Â I sat and counted the number of photos that I’ve printed and hung in my house (20, as of today), but I realized that I haven’t changed out any of them for a few years. Time to go through the Lightroom catalog and upload to Mpix.
I had my house go on the market recently. A photographer friend scrolled through the online room photos and was appalled at all the blank walls, especially considering I mostly do artistic stuff.
I don’t want to put many holes in these walls now that the house is for sale, but I resolve to put up more images – both family and art – in the next place!
I got half way there.Â We have a lake house, aside from its obvious purpose it also serves as my personal art gallery.Â I print and rotate photos through there, hanging them on walls throughout the house.Â So far only one has past my wife’s inspection to hang in our primary house – and that’s in the powder bath…
Thanks for sharing this inside look. Â Many of your words were echos of my own mind. Â Though I purchased frames and mats, the closest I’ve gotten is putting favorites in a digital picture frame (that I rarely turn on). Â The irony is that when I do turn it on, it is enjoyable because of the memories those images evoke and the inspiration to go out and capture more.
I’m inspired!!! Just moved into a new condo & have lots of walls to fill!
Empty walls need art.Â Artists are really suffering (and the people who work for them) in this economy.Â So go out and get some of your images custom framed and pick up something from another visual artist.
Empty walls need art.Â Artists are really suffering (and the people who work for them) in this economy.Â So go out and get some of your images custom framed and pick up something from another visual artist.
On your wall photo, I don’t see the one of your wife on point in ballerina costume and Sabine sitting on the floor looking up. You need that one on your wall, Dude! Big.
I believe that one was made by Joe McNally, not RC himself
This is the same picture I was going to remind RC of… Â So at least two votes for it.
Wouter, the image is on RC’s 500px site. Â I doubt Mr. McNally would allow that to happen if he took made the photograph.
Sorry, I forgot to add the link: Â http://500px.com/photo/734492
AltonMarsh – thanks for asking for that one. Â Its one of my favorites. Â Its not in the living room, but it is in the house. Â I have a pretty decent size canvas of it made and its hanging in my daughters room. Â Come to think of it, its the only print thats there.Â
Wouter – Im flattered that you believe the image to be McNally’s .. but no.. that one’s mine. :)Â
Hey RC I was thinking on this line of thought as well. When I do a photo shoot for someone I get really excited to get the photos home and start working on them. But as time goes by I get sick of looking at them and I can’t wait to get the processing finished with because I am sick of looking at them. The client gets the photos and mentions how wonderful they are but I all I think is “don’t you see this flaw and that flaw” etc but of course I keep that to myself. At that point I am just happy to be rid of the photos and I look forward to a new photo shoot to do. I guess we are just harder on ourselves and don’t give ourselves the credit of gaining the the ground we have “on the road of it” I do enjoy the journey and look forward more of the learning to come
Even from my early days as a nature photographer I was never satisfied only viewing my prints on the light table, or projected in a slideshow, or even on my computer screen. Prints were a way to constantly remind myself of the joy that I feel when I am out making photographs of nature. But I know many photographers who are at the same crossroads that you described. They are advanced amateurs and even semi-professional photographers with large collections of amazing images that they share mainly on Flickr or other online photo sharing sites. One response I get when I ask them why they don’t make prints of their photos is that they’re waiting to see what kind of feedback they get from their fellow photographers. As RC mentioned, they notice the flaws and are reluctant to put it on the wall. They don’t realize the joy they are missing out on. I agree with Linda. Often just the act of making a print allows one to see the bigger picture â€“ no pun intended â€“ and realize we are not completely devoid of talent after all.
My first prints were small, 8 x 12 or 12 x 18, so they would fit standard sized frames and mats. Even when I began doing art shows and exhibitions the prints were of a relatively small size to keep the cost of framing as low as possible. Then I started making large stitched panoramas. There weren’t standard sized frames for panoramas so I searched for an alternative. I came across the process of float-mounting images and was immediately hooked. No more frames for me! This was before canvas was all the rage but I still like the vibrance the vinyl overlay laminate provides my nature photographs compared to canvas. So many people asked me about the process that I founded the company flotart.com where our tagline isÂ “Get your photos out of your computerâ€¦ and onto your wall.”
Like Michael, I found that when I started exhibiting large 24 x 36 and 30 x 45 prints they soon became the most popular sizes. The panorama prints up to 96 inches wide are also a big draw. I encourage anyone who hasn’t made a print of their images yet to take that leap of faith. You may be surprised by the exhilaration you feel.
Good to see that iÂ´m not the only one that have this problem, although you have solved it now. Good for you! :)
I totally agree about some things like that the pictures are not good enough some times, but i guess that sometimes we see things differently than the average person that is not that in to photography.
Back home i have been trying to do the same thing for a long time now, thereÂ´s no excuse anymore, i just need to do it.
IÂ´m gonna do some nice b/w images and put them up on the wall, the frames are already bought. :)
Thanks for the inspiration!
Thanks for a brilliant article RC, I needed that inspiration!
Well said and just so enjoyed this post RC!! I like you do not have any of my work hanging in my home and bare walls… Its nice to see that I’m not alone and that one of my most admired friends/mentor for his talent in photography has the similar internal struggle about displaying personal work.
You’ve inspired me to get some work printed and hanging in my house and now curious about Kelby’s and Mpix partnering of Hip My House!
Thanks RC and Scott for inspiring and sharing this post and by the way your dining room now looks awesome with your prints up there… Love them! :-)
Going to have to get the number of that friend of yours who hung those… ;-)Â
that is a great story RC, I recently came to the same conclusion in a similar way, only it was watching my entire family swoon over my photos on my kindle fire, and they were constantly asking for prints, or photo sessions of the kids. LaterÂ working in Lightroom on my own i asked myself the same question “what are they seeing that i cant?” finally i took one photo that i took and loved got it printed, put it on my wall and it opened my eyes. It’s just a great feeling and makes me want to take more and more photos.
VERY well said. I am not a professional but I take a ton of pictures and they just live in my computer. I need to put pictures on walls!