My favorite photography quote of all time is from Imogen Cunningham; “Which of my photographs is my favorite? The one I’m going to take tomorrow.”
I love that. It says that your best is never behind you, and every day is another chance to improve on what you’ve already done.
That said, every once in a while, it’s good for an artist to just look back on the good work they’ve done. It puts things in perspective. When you’re climbing a mountain, sometimes all you see is where you are going. It’s good to just pause, and take a brief look down, just to see how far you’ve come.
This post isn’t about that. It’s not about my good work. It’s about me getting really, really lucky.
I had been taking photographs for a while. Then I started uploading them to the photo-sharing site flickr. And everyone always said you need to “tag” your photos. That means to connect identifying words to your photograph so that your photos can be more visible when people search for specific things or places. If you have a photograph of a 1970 Chevy Chevelle 396 SS with the 402 cubic inch engine, for instance, you should tag your photos with those specific identifiers (1970, Chevy, Chevelle, SS, 396, 454, etc) and then, if someone else wants to search for a decent photo of a 1970 Chevy Chevelle 396 SS, they could just search by those identifies, and your photo should show up in the results.
Assuming you took a decent photo.
Sometimes, this can have unintended consequences. For instance:
This is part of a series that I’m doing about these radio towers all over southern Nevada that are trying to be pawned off as actual forestation. They are ridiculous. I call the series “The Majestic Nevada State Tree Stands Tall.” I try to get as many pictures of these as I can.
Now, I also tag these accordingly. Including the tags “Nevada”, “State”, and “Tree”. Of course, I’m simply being ironic and sarcastic. But, I’m convinced that every once in a while some poor student downloads one of these pictures for their school report on the Nevada State Tree. I’m sure of it.
So, then out of nowhere someone from National Geographic contacts me and says they want to use this photograph.
This was from a photowalk I had done of Koval Ave, running parallel directly east of The Strip. One early morning I drove out to the resort corridor, parked my car and started out. I began at the MGM grand, walked Koval all the way north to the Wynn, then back. Got some great stuff. I’ve done it again since. I love Koval Ave.
I would have never picked the above photo as one of my best. But, again, this post is not about my good work. It’s about me getting really, really lucky.
Turns out, National Geographic Traveler was doing an article about how difficult it can be to get public transportation to an airport. They wanted to talk about how the Las Vegas Monorail stops just short of McCarren Airport. Seriously. If you stand right where I took that picture, on Tropicana and Koval looking at where the monorail ends, and then make a full 180 degree turn, you would see McCarren Airport right there on the opposite corner. Right frickin’ there. What were these people thinking?
I found out later that the photo editor literally just typed in “Las”, “Vegas”, and “monorail”, and mine was one of the pictures that came up. And he liked mine the best.
And the rest is history. April 2011.
I tell you what, friend, there really isn’t any feeling like seeing your photograph published in a major magazine. What a rush. I’ve never had anything published since, and I’m not that bothered. At least I have one notch on my bedpost. That’ll do fine.
They say that the past is a good place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.
I whole heartily agree. But, saying that, it is nice to visit.
Now, let’s see what I take tomorrow.