As you may or may not have noticed, I’ve been to Sankt Petersburg, Russia recently. And while it’s an immensely beautiful city offering way more sights than you can possibly take in during one vacation, one thing stood out: Sankt Petersburg was under construction.
It started when I went to visit the first cathedrals on my list. Transfiguration Cathedral: Hidden in scaffolding except the dome. Oh well. I can live with that, it’s not that extraordinary anyway, let’s head right for the big one: Our Saviour on Spilled Blood. As I approached the Saviour, the first thing that jumped out at me was the central tower being hidden in scaffolding. At this point I started to get frustrated. Later in the day, after appropriately oohing and aahing at the impressive colonnades of Kazan Cathedral, I rounded the building to find the main church covered in scaffolding. At this point, I decided the city hated me.
But as I continued finding churches, monuments and landmarks hidden by scaffolding throughout the week, I started to see the humor in it. I decided to dedicate my Instagram stream to „under construction“ pictures only for the duration of my visit. Of course there was an insane amount of beautiful stuff that was not under construction, but I tried making a game of it. And yes, sooner or later (once I get through the dreadful culling process and manage to suppress my impostor syndrome), I’m going to show you the beautiful parts of the city. I promise.
So, since you undoubtedly came here for photographic advice (lol), here’s today’s lesson: Try to accept adversity with a dash of humor. Laugh about it. Chances are, if you don’t get to shoot one location due to whatever circumstances, you’ll find another. And you can always come back later. Like, seriously. Once all those renovations are done (like, 2021?), Sankt Petersburg will look brand spanking new. Go there. Visit it. I definitely will.
Freshly back from Sankt Petersburg, my head is still too full of impressions that I have to sort through, but there is one thing i can share with you right now: If you ever visit Russia*, learn Cyrillic.
I’ve never felt as foreign in any place of the world I’ve been to as I have stepping off the plane at Pulkovo Airport in Sankt Petersburg and immediately being surrounded by Cyrillic letters everywhere. Now, knowing that I was going to travel to Russia, I had actually bought an online course in Russian, but, life being what it is, my initial grand plan of doing a lesson per day evaporated rather quickly and I was left knowing a handful of basic words (like privyet or ras, dwa, tri)and maybe half the Cyrillic alphabet. Suddenly being surrounded by these strange glyphs (and a handful of false friends) was quite overwhelming. But finding half familiar words made up mainly of letters I knew helped me get practice in identifying the other ones; funnily enough, one major piece of help was seeing an ad for Arnold Schwarzenegger (Арнольд Шварцнеггер) appearing at a summit in St. Petersburg, without which I’d probably never have figured out Ш being the equivalent of „sh“.
Once I got into the habit, I often stopped in my tracks (to the dismay of my girlfriend) trying to decipher some Cyrillic sign or advertisement. And it really helped. Even without understanding any of the words (or just reading a graffiti on the street asphalt saying „PUTIN“), just being able to decipher the letters themselves made me feel a lot less out of place.
Seriously. Wherever you go, even if you can’t be arsed (or don’t have the time) to learn the language, make an effort to learn the alphabet. You can thank me later.
*) or any other country using the Cyrillic alphabet
Anyone notice how I haven’t been blogging in months?
Yeah, thought so. But anyway.
So why is that? Not that no one noticed, but that I haven’t been writing anything for anyone to notice? And if it seems to you like I only use this blog to bitch about my inability to blog consistently, you’re not wrong; but keep reading, because I’ll actually get to a different subject after this introduction. I swear.
Part of the problem obviously is that frustrating idea of shouting into the void – why write for a blog nobody cares about, right? On the other hand, yeah, why should anyone care about a blog that’s devoid of content and doesn’t get regular posts? So yeah, totally my own fault.
The other – actually bigger – part of the problem is subject matter. Like, I literally can’t think of something interesting to blog about. So I look to other photography blogs for inspiration (this is where I finally stop navel gazing and discuss an actual topic) and that in itself is becoming an exercise in frustration. For numerous reasons.
The repetition. Oh, the repetition. I have quite a number of big photo blogs in my RSS feed and the redundancy is appalling. Something big (not not so big, but interesting or amusing or enraging) happens in the world of photography, and every photo blog has a story about it. And while that makes complete sense (after all, news events aren’t exclusive to one newspaper either), it makes scrolling through my feed feel like navigating a hall of mirrors. And yes, a lot of these issues or news items interest or amuse or enrage me too, sometimes enough that I start formulating my own post about it, only to stop. Because why should I add to the noise by regurgitating stuff in my own words that I’ve already seen half a dozen people regurgitate in their words? And that’s without even mentioning the hundreds of cases where one blogger actually comes up with something original and every other photo blogger and their dog post a slightly reworded version of the original post.
The clickbait. Oh, the clickbait. You’ve all seen it. „Three mistakes every photographer makes“, „Five essential accessories you NEED in your camera bag“, „Ten incredibly creative portrait ideas“, etc etc. It feels like half the content on photography blogs these days is written by Buzzfeed. And you know what’s even worse? The worst part is that, dumb fuck that I am, I keep falling for it, thinking „Hey, these guys have a successful with tens of thousands of readers, they obviously know their shit“ and „Well, maybe one of those five accessories really is something I don’t know about“. And like a complete sucker I click on and scroll though the hundredth article telling me that „THE SECRET TO GETTING TACK SHARP PHOTOS“ is using a fucking tripod. Thank you, Captain Obvious. And don’t even get me started on the trend of labeling every fifteen minute video tutorial a „masterclass“ these days…
Which brings me nicely to the third problem, which is the basics. Oh, the basics. Sometimes I feel like if I see another post praising a tutorial explaining Rembrandt lighting as if it was the epitome of new hot shit, I’ll scream. And that’s the moderately advanced stuff. I mean, there are people out there writing several pages long guides on back button focus. I actually saw ads for an ebook about BBF. Let that sink in. A book about freaking BACK BUTTON FOCUS. Like, what did the author even fill the pages with after writing „Use the button on the back of your camera to focus so you can focus and recompose more easily, oh, and it also keeps you from accidentally refocusing when pressing the shutter release.“? And for a short moment, I ask myself „Why don’t I just blog about these basics, it’s easy enough that even I could do it?“ and I stop myself because, again, why add to the noise by regurgitating the same stuff that’s already been regurgitated a million times?
So yeah. Subject matter. Seriously, what is there to blog abut in a world that’s so saturated with photography blogs that seem to be turning into the same more every day?
So, ask me anything (well, anything related to my photography). Maybe you’ll give me a decent subject to blog about.
Had a nice and beautiful shooting today in my little home studio. Now normally, I always preach letting photos lie for a few days after shooting so that when you start editing, you have a fresh eye. But I did a quick pre-cull to sort out flash misfires and focus failures and this one immediately grabbed my eye, so I decided to publish a little preview.
So, without any more fanfare, here’s my high key cowgirl :
Okay, so I know Adobe has fallen out of favor with a lot of people in the photography industry ever since their switch to a subscription based licensing model (disclaimer: I personally use Adobe’s Photography Bundle and am quite happy with it). But these last two weeks have seen the company receiving metric shit tons of bad press that, quite simply, is inaccurate, bad reporting, and/or just plain annoying.