On Display

Posted: February 25, 2013 in General Photography

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—Spring is right around the corner…and winter is right around the other three.  The past two winters have been relatively tame around these parts, so tame in fact that I had forgotten what four foot high piles of snow on either side of the driveway look like.  This past weekend was a perfect example that the snow machine is in perfect working order as around ten inches of new snow joined the previous seventy five feet of snow we already had.  Ok, I am exaggerating a bit as it is more like a hundred feet of snow!

I gave myself a few goals for this coming year and so far so good.  One of those goals involved a re-examination of my photographic endeavors of the previous year and that goal was to stop going to a location and taking six million photographs of, basically, the same thing.  True, in this day and age of digital photography the film is free but I soon discovered that I was becoming good at one thing and one thing only—pressing the shutter button.  I wasn’t seeing the beauty around me, I wasn’t appreciating the beauty around me, I wasn’t capturing the beauty around me, I was standing on a beach or hill at sunset, testing the lifetime of batteries and storage capacity of memory cards.

Sure, I might catch a good one here and there, but the fact remained that when I got home and transferred the photographs to the computer for processing I increased my skill in yet another area—hitting the delete button as shot after shot after shot fell far short of anything I was prepared to put my name to.  Discouraged but not ready to give up I took a suggestion offered by a world class landscape photographer and stopped filling the memory card with redundancy.  It’s amazing how much better your photography becomes when you start treating those memory cards like rolls of film and that is exactly what I vowed to do.  My current camera memory configuration allows for the capture of around 1200 images before it’s time to pull the cards and that, to put it bluntly, is a bit on the excessive side. Hence the new goal—stop taking so many damn pictures and start taking a few good ones.

barnstorm-other pages post

‘Barnstorm’  Empire, Michigan

Mission accomplished—on average, the shutter on my camera now snaps open and shut about 90% less than it used to and it has made all the difference.  Granted, I haven’t magically become a world famous photographer or even the most famous photographer of the street I live on, but the results speak for themselves.  Sometimes, when we ask for a bit less we end up with a lot more.  I spend more time researching and planning what, exactly, it is that I am going to do at the location I am planning on visiting and even find room to toss in a few contingency plans in case things don’t go according to my wishes—a common occurrence.  Given the amount of snow we have had this winter, that contingency might involve looking for a new angle on the mailbox at the end of the driveway if I were to get stuck short of my destination…for example.

Another goal I set for myself is directly related to the first and that is to obtain around one portfolio worthy image per month.

One.  Per month. For the Portfolio.

I have fully embraced the ‘quality not quantity’ mindset and, to my surprise, less has become more.  No doubt there are billions of photographers out there who can take a hundred photographs per day and all will be Facebook post-worthy or fast-tracked to the Louvre, but I am not that guy.  In fact, I don’t think I will ever be that guy.  It wasn’t easy to make this change, in fact, it has taken months and still feels a bit alien to me but beneath that feeling of discomfort that comes from change is another feeling, a feeling of great satisfaction that doing something outside of my comfort zone has led to results far beyond what I was achieving doing the same old same old.  Time to retire?  Not likely!  One of the beautiful things about photography is that you are always learning and if you are willing to take an honest and open minded look at your work, those changes might be for the better.

I have a lifetime of learning to go and I can’t wait for the next step in this journey.

My final goal has been one surrounded by some difficulty—finding wall space.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not doing this for the money—I would have starved years ago—but I do desire to have real life examples of my work, at the very least, enjoyed by others and that involves wall space that isn’t my living room.  As luck would have it I was recently contacted by Mark O’Shaughnessy from the Traverse City Art & Design Studio and soon after our first meeting  I found myself in possession of one of the rare luxuries in the art world—wall space.

Point betsie winter 2012 FB

‘Point Betsie Lighthouse’ Crystallia, Michigan.

Once again I am leaving a comfort zone and, once again, I get the feeling that the time is right for another step on this journey.  For this particular display I have chosen two photographs from the past few months of work, Barnstorm, taken on a gorgeous sun filled February day near Empire, Michigan, and Point Betsie Lighthouse, a personal favorite from beautiful Crystallia, Michigan, on an icy cold day at the end of December, an area that is well known to Northern Michiganders and a favorite with many photographers.  Todd and the rest of the crew at McMillen’s Custom Framing have, once again, done a stellar job with the presentation and framing of the images.  The images will be on display through March and April alongside many other fantastic photographs and original artworks from artists around the Northern Michigan area.

For complete details of events, shows, and artists displaying works at the studio make sure to visit their Facebook page,  Traverse City Art & Design Studio.


When we let go of our dreams we must be wary of embracing the wrong side of life.


Bob Simmerman

Across the street from Bronson Lake.

  1. Congrats on your new opportunity Bob, and I really like what you’ve written here. Your new approach is the approach I’ve taken over the last year and a half. I too used to run around snapping the shutter like crazy. I’m much more likely to take my time now and really think about my shots. The improvement is certainly noticeable to me. I still take too many shots, but old habits are hard to break. My biggest problem is not deleting anything. Even when I have 10 identical shots.

    • bobsimmerman says:

      Thank you for the kind words, Craig. It has been difficult to change a behavior that I have engaged in for years but it has been worth it. I used to solve my picture file storage space problems with the purchase of a new hard drive and that has to stop!

      I was going through some older folders a while back and in one of them I must have had 200 images of identical shots, I have no idea what I was thinking at the time. I think part of it stems from the fact that I have taken the time to drive in to a location I might as well make the most of it by snapping off a few hundred photographs not realizing that few if any of them will ever see the light of day.

      It got to the point were it felt more like a job I didn’t like as opposed to a passion that I enjoy immensely.

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