6 Questions 100 Photographers – Don Mirra

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1. What difficulties did you face at the beginning of your career?

I think my biggest difficulty was thinking I was better than I was. I think I started to understand the art form after about my first 10 years. I would say there was one factor if I could change I would, I was extremely undercapitalised. I really lived from assignment to assignment, while that is a technique it’s not the preferred technique.

2. What should a young photographer do in order not to get hired by anybody?

The best way to not get hired is to assume that because you have a camera your photographer, and that somehow the person you want to give you work cares about you. to get good paying work in today’s hyper image saturated landscape, you’d better stand out and not in. Here are three questions I always try and ask myself, and answer on behalf of the person that I’m trying to get work from 1. Why me 2. Why now 3) Why care. If I can answer those three questions I am very close to building a solid relationship with this person and my ideas.

3. Are there any things you wish you knew at the beginning of your career?

I wish I’d known that there is actually more bad photographers then good ones, that most photographers are highly uneducated and often operates from a very self inflated sense of importance and quite frankly have egos so large I don’t know how to drive to work or assignments. We take pictures, we don’t save lives like a surgeon, were just photographers, if you make an amazing photo that is the catalyst for change, consider yourself lucky, most of it ends up being mediocre drivel.

Photography like most of life is not a meritocracy.

4. Are there any rules or habits that help you do your job more efficiently?

Being efficient is more about taking the time to build a cogent workflow for the kind of photography you do. It really is a thinking game with a little bit of emotion put in. I work hard at creating automation wherever I can find it, that way my creative output can reside in the structure that is a workflow and automation.

5. Would you recommend some books that young designers might find useful?

I would read books about narrative, mythology, art of story, learn the basics of colour theory, study the Fibonacci mathematics, and just explore your world. Art is a byproduct of life and life is derived from experiences, those experiences shape your reality, Thus the breadth of your reality is defined by the breath of your experiences.

6. What is your favourite photograph and why?

To pick only one photograph, how is this possible, it’s like taking only one dish to eat for the rest of your life, no matter how good a dance eventually one will become tired.

So I shall answer what some of my favourite photographs are versus just picking on.

I think Bressons decisive moment photograph is a physical representation of an interior sense of consciousness and awareness that only happens when one balances in motion with logic. It takes great insight to prepare oneself for a moment like that, but one has to be emotionally in touch with oneself to know how to make it happen.

I think Helmut Newton’s black and white work is by far some of the most compelling compositions and narratives. He had the incredible talent for changing power and dynamic roles in images and making us uncomfortable yet connecting the dots so we also had a bit of arousal. they were images you could not look away from, which is the whole point.

Don McDonald the English war photographer, who looks at his career with a bit of remorse was incredibly talented at sharing with us the horror of modern warfare. He reminds us to never glorify death derived from violence, I’m reminded of a quote I read somewhere that I think verbally epitomizes the visual impact of Don’s work, “ there are no winners in war only those that lose less”.

I’m also a fan of Jock Sturgis his ability to use an 8 x 10 view camera and compose portraits of family members in a way that isn’t about them being naked it’s as if he’s photographing the gentle spirit inside in a raw way that an stylised that is truly free. I think he could teach a lot of us how to build relationships with subjects and photograph them the deepest respect.

I don’t have the names right now but there are few Latin American photographers in the early 20s and 30s whose work is absolutely amazing I have to look them up what you can’t do at this very moment don’t forget there are people in Mexico and Central America and parts of South America and great.

Selgatos work is so well-known and so prolific and thankfully so, it deserves every bit of recognition. There’s nothing else to say.

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