Here's a thought

The most recent three commentaries are available below.
The entire collection (including all previous episodes)
is available to members of LensWork Online.

August 2023

September 2023

October 2023
























HT1641 - Surrounded by Art

I recently visited a friend who loves art. She gave me a tour of her house and I counted 139 framed pieces of art on the walls of her home. I found it interesting that what connected her collection was not media, but content.


HT1642 - Art Stories

Yesterday, I was talking about my friend and her extensive collection of framed art on the walls of her home. As we toured her collection, she told stories about the artists she had known, many of whom were friends. I couldn't help but contrast with the visit I'd had a few years ago visiting an important photography collector whose stories were all about the acquisition and the monetary value of his collection.

You can have access to all 1,600+ Here's a Thought . . . commentaries

And that's just the tip of the iceberg — see what else you are missing!

Become a member of LensWork Online30-day Trial Membership is just $10


HT1643 - Imitation Is Not the Sincerest Form of Teaching

We know that imitation is a form of flattery, but when it comes to teaching art, imitation is not the goal. The purpose of a teacher or mentor or workshop instructor in art is to help the learner to make their own art.


HT1644 - Once It Was Difficult

Olivia Parker inspired us to explore the incredible complexities of split toning. I attended a week-long workshop to learn Jay Dusard's ferrocyanide bleaching technique. I don't even want to remember the hours I spent trying to master the concepts in Minor White's little yellow Zone System book. And now all of these can be accomplished with a single mouse click.


HT1645 - The Absent Photographer

I was looking at a coffee-table book of photographs of the Grand Canyon. There were all well-crafted, beautiful images. They were also completely devoid of any sense of a photographer whatsoever. The perfectly objective photographer is the absent photographer.


HT1646 - Paper Properties

The most common physical medium for photographs is paper. I wonder why it is that the fundamental properties of paper are never used by photographers? Paper is a pliable material that might offer some interesting properties we could use creatively. For example, paper can be folded, crumpled, sewn, dyed, twisted, and torn.


HT1647 - Brown, A Love-Hate Relationship

Brown is such a lovely tone in a monochrome image, but it's also a bear to get right. I think it's because brown is made up of all colors mixed in exacting proportions. And this is where it becomes a challenge. Too much red in the brown can result in pink skies. Too much yellow in the brown and images can look muddy.


HT1648 - Twenty Bucks Burning a Hole in Your Pocket

In Portland, Oregon there is a weekly event known as Saturday Market. It's mostly craft booths or street food and it's an awful lot of fun. Everyone goes there intending to spend a little money just because it's cheap entertainment. I learned a valuable lesson about this from my Chinese calligraphy teacher who, for years, had a booth at Saturday market.


HT1649 - The Unsold Ones

It's always great to be asked to exhibit your work. Nothing is quite so motivating for productivity than a deadline. And if you're lucky, you might sell a print or two. But what will you do with the other 26 prints that don't sell? Where will you store them? Can you afford the expense of the unsold, framed inventory?


HT1650 - October in Maine

I'm headed up to Maine next month for a couple of weeks of photography and I'm quite concerned about it. I'll be there during the peak explosion of fall color. But I don't want to make pictures of beautiful fall leaves, at least not like everyone else does. I know I will be seduced into doing so, but I'm really hoping to find my own response to that beautiful landscape.


HT1651 - Glossy, Semi-gloss, and Matte

Surface characteristics of photo paper go through phases of popularity. In the '70s when I was cutting my teeth in photography, glossy surface ruled the roost, but it had to be the right glossy. Not that RC plastic glossy, but a beautiful F surface was preferred. Nowadays, matte papers seem to be the most popular, but we're also entering a phase where canvas and aluminum are gaining popularity. What does the surface texture of the paper contribute to the artwork?


HT1652 - That Moment When Autumn Arrives

Every year, there is a memorable moment when I know that fall has arrived. It's a combination of the air, a stillness, a leaf falling, an undeniable shift in my thinking. For years I've tried to capture that moment in a photograph. Every year I fail, but I still keep trying.


HT1653 - Display Copies, Another Thought

From time to time, we all have an opportunity to show our work to friends or family, people who stop by the house, maybe it'll workshop. But the process of showing our work puts it at risk for damage or normal wear and tear. That's why a display copy is a good idea. I talked about this in Here's a Thought #002 in March 2019. But here's another use for display copies.


HT1654 - Outdoor Photographer, RIP

I was shocked the other day to learn that the magazine Outdoor Photographer has ceased publication and their website has been taken down. I never subscribed to that magazine, but I respected their contribution to the field of photography publishing. They had an impressive subscriber base of over 100,000 people, and you think that would be enough to keep them vital. Guess not.


HT1655 - The Photography Section in the Bookstore

With very few exceptions, I find the photography section in bookstores is overwhelmingly populated by "how to" books. How come the Literature section in bookstores is not overrun with manuals on how to operate a typewriter or a word processor?


HT1656 - Print Quality vs Content Quality

As a publisher, perhaps I'm particularly aware of the incredible improvements in the quality of book printing in these last 50 years. That said, when I find an older book that really impresses me, I know it's image content is strong and overcomes whatever primitive printing was used. Content is, and always has been, king in spite of the emphasis by so many of today's manufacturers and photographers who place so much emphasis on print quality.


HT1657 - Breathtaking

It seems that so much of photography today is intended to take our breath away. There is the "wow factor" that every photographer seems to pursue with unwavering effort. Why has that become the ultimate criteria for a successful fine art photograph?


HT1658 - Out They Go

I have a complete, pristine, and almost unused set of the Encyclopedia Britannica. What do I do with this in the age of Google? What about those shelves full of National Geographic magazines? What do I do with those in the age of Instagram? How long will it be before Facebook and Instagram are similarly obsolete and anachronistic? What about our photographs?


HT1659 - Will It Make a Difference

I've been looking at gear again this week because Panasonic has introduced an updated version of my beloved G9 camera. The G9 II has some substantial upgrades and is tempting. But for $1900 it had better have an impact on the images I make or that temptation evaporates.


HT1660 - Money As the Deciding Factor

I'm naturally resistant to the idea that excellence is a function of budget. When manufacture's marketing tells me I can improve my bird pictures by buying a $20,000 lens; when my landscape photography will be improved if I spend $30,000 on a medium format ultra-megapixel digital system; when workshop programs tell me I need to spend $15,000 for them to take me to an exotic photographable location, I just cringe — and rebel.


HT1661 - Signal to Noise Ratio

The concept of signal to noise ratio is something we photographers are familiar with, particularly when it comes to our cameras and digital noise. This same concept can be applied to the content of our photographs (signal) compared to the craft of photography (noise).


HT1662 - Some Days Are Diamonds, Some Days Are Excrement

Earlier this year I had back-to-back days of photography and I finally had a chance to review those images. How could it possibly be that the first day was so terrific and rewarding and the second day, photographing in the same area, produced absolutely nothing of interest or value whatsoever?


HT1663 - Been There, Done That

Assuming the place won't change is not only a denial of reality, but leaves out half of the equation. Even though you've been there and done that, the you that you were back then is no longer the "you" you are now. The current you may have something new to see, feel, and photograph.


HT1664 - Photography As a Process

We all assume that the purpose of our photography is to make prints, or at the very least digital images. But what if neither of those was the ultimate objective of being a photographer? What if we were to look at photography as a process we engage in that has no goal other than the activity of doing it? Somehow, I think our pictures would improve.


HT1665 - Pacing

The other night I watched a movie from the 1970s, my young adulthood. I thought it would never end, the movie, that is, not my young adulthood. The pacing in the movie was so slow by today's standards. Like it or not, life happens at a fast pace these days and that equally pertains to our multi-image photography projects.


HT1666 - Fragility

The world must think that photographs are incredibly fragile. Why else would we entomb them behind glass when we frame them? We don't do that with paintings; we don't do that with watercolors, or etchings, or pen and ink drawings, not even when they are created by the Masters of the art world. So why do we think photographs are so fragile?


HT1667 - Camera Operators

The other day I received an email in which the writer took me to task for conflating the words photographer and artist. Therein lies an incredibly deep philosophical discussion about whether or not we are primarily camera operators or image makers. We are obviously both, but image making is the goal and camera operation is only the means.