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Originally Posted: 12/08/2020

If you read this intro before…skip to the blue below.

I had this idea in my head. Maybe put three pictures up in my office, each representing something important about what I do. Counseling reminder. A touchstone for the eye of sorts. Well, like I said, it was in my head and as I realized one of the three pictures I wasn’t going to be able to get, and the others were certainly copyrighted, the three sort of evolved as I looked for alternatives. So in looking for a different way to go, in my head, we went from three reminders to 96 reminders. It’s why my wife refers to what comes out of my noggin as ‘cumbersome’ on occasion.

So. I am mostly a counselor, but I have also studied and practiced a bunch of other things including cuisine and photography. I always wanted to have an idea why some folks in every field are wildly successful compared to many of their contemporaries, so I always checked a bunch of them out. So, here come 96 people and quotes attributed to them, if there are any – 24 chefs, 24 photographers, 20 people associated with psychology directly, and then 28 none of the above people whose lives or words remind me what to strive towards as a counselor, a counseling business owner, and a general human being. The only problem was stopping. There have been a lot of people who for one reason or another inspire me, lots more names on the potential list but it had to at least pause somewhere, so here we are.

I don’t rightly know if writing these out and posting them will be of any use to anyone else but I’m reasonably sure codifying the whole thing will drive it home for me and hopefully offer some encouragement and centering for our folks. Hope you get something out of one or two of them too.

One of my favorite things about Jay Maisel is that while he has done portrait work for names that would be an absolute coup for a shutterbug, he is know far and wide for shooting “randos” or “normies” on the streets. The celebs come with preinstalled recognition and more than likely genetic features crafted by DaVinci, which combined might take quite a load off the photographer’s shoulders.

Maisel takes his little Leica camera, (hear ‘minimum equipment’ [I don’t like to hear minimum equipment but then again I haven’t acquired the skill level of this guy {so shut up and don’t tell my wife}] just that little box, super expensive little box, but just that little box) into the streets and is able to use all of the artistic forms and frames that typically wash past most of us unseen, and creates a capture that makes you feel something. He senses and uses color, gesture, purposeful light, lines, shapes, angle, expression, emotion, environment, etc., etc., etc. all taking a scene thousands of others have walked by and making it “art”.

Here’s some of the man’s ideas applied to his life and his job in his own words and what they remind me to be as a counselor boy.

“Always shoot it now. It won’t be the same when you go back.”
Jay Maisel

“If you can capture the element of surprise, you’re way ahead of the game.”
Jay Maisel

Try to go out empty and let your images fill you up.”
Jay Maisel

“Allow yourself to lose your way.”
Jay Maisel

“You have to have a lot of ‘overage’ so that your failures aren’t the only thing you come home with. You’ve got to have a lot of things that were magnificent failures, but you want some magnificent successes.”
Jay Maisel

The need to be there to the best of your ability and both patiently waiting and quickly recognizing the instant a person is ready make some personal life art, being there at the right moment is key. Also key is knowing things (photography- rule of thirds, leading lines, starting exposure settings, etc.) (counseling – CBT, MI, CPT, etc.,) but when you are in the moment those things only provide some kind of structure. What’s really important, the only thing of importance is the person in front of the lens or the in the other chair. Don’t start knowing everything, let them reveal themselves and then you can see that through some of your other tools. Be there with them the only moment you have, you’ll make tons of mistakes…be there at the right moment, in the right place, with the right frame of mind any you might end up with something stunning.

“If you’re not shooting in the right direction, it doesn’t matter how well you’re shooting.”
Jay Maisel

“If the light is great in front of you, you should turn around and see what it is doing behind you.”
Jay Maisel

“When finding the right angle for a shot…’Move your ass.’”
Jay Maisel

“You are responsible for every part of your image, even the parts you’re not interested in.”
Jay Maisel

Every person has possibility to be artistically interesting and beautiful, even if they can’t see it, when you find it, they may see it as well. And when what you are doing isn’t getting what your client needs, study the light, look around, move your feet, find what will help the person in front of you make art out of the person in front of you. Nothing works for everyone; shoot to suit who you are with and where they are. You are also responsible for all the things your clients bring to the world, not just the subject you are interested in.

And on a more philosophical note:

“If you want to make more interesting pictures, become a more interesting person.”
Jay Maisel

I’ve always been sort of stunned by what random education or experience has helped me connect with or understand a client a little better than I might have without it. Engaging in ongoing self-improvement in all kinds of arenas to approach people as a more interesting person myself, rather than waiting and hoping to find a more interesting person, it seems, makes the whole experience more interesting and fun.

Lastly, you don’t always need the latest and greatest ton and a half of equipment to make a great capture. Sure it helps, but if your training and techniques get in between you and your client, neither of you are going to be excited about the results.

Learn more and see some of what makes Jay special here:

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