The creative process by Ira Glass


I saw this YouTube video a few weeks back, so this isn’t exactly current news, but what Ira Glass talks about in the video is also applicable to photography.

So who’s this Ira Glass? If you’re from the US, you might know him from his program “This American Life” on National Public Radio. His program does an awesome job showcasing slices of life in America, and is quite a hit here.

He talks about the need to persevere at the beginning when you clearly know the vision in your head doesn’t match your results. This is definitely a problem when starting photography, and even many years into it. I’ve been shooting for over two decades now, and I’m still amazed at what how bad many of my shots are. I read that if you have a keeper for every roll (36 exposures), that’s good, but I have a hard time seeing shooters like Arte Wolfe or Galen Rowell doing wrong.

Another point Ira brings up is how some people know that they’re not good enough and some people are oblivious to that fact. Ira is referring to the process of recording the radio shows, but it also applies to other creative arts. With more people shooting due to commonality of small cameras, cellphone cameras, etc., the amount of mediocre photos out there also increased dramatically. Unleveled horizons, out of focus subjects, large patches of burnt out highlights all bother me a lot, but is par for the course for others. As more bad photos float around the web, the acceptable quality level of the subsequent photos might fall due to indoctrination. But then again, it allows your photos to shine in the sea of mediocrity.

OK, enough of my rambling. Enjoy the video.


2 Responses to “The creative process by Ira Glass”

  1. I confess I haven’t much thought about the inevitable outcome of mediocre photos as the proliferation of cheap cameras continues. I guess it should have been apparent as I browse the world of MySpace, Facebook, etc.

    Instead I think I’ve focused upon how easy it is to document one’s everyday life in ways that simply weren’t possible just a decade ago.

    Maybe the real threat is that with the proliferation of cheap cameras and the constant clicking of everyday pictures, it somehow cheapens photography in general. Maybe the up side for me is that it makes my slightly better than mediocre pictures look like the work of Ansel Adams!

  2. 2 TopL

    Hi forkboy,

    It is indeed much easier to document daily life. It’s excellent for such documentation given the very low cost per photo.

    One point I didn’t think about is that maybe bad shots have also been around, but are hidden in shoeboxes, etc., but I have a feeling that there’s a lot more of it out there.

    I’m not knocking the advance of technology. I’m all for being able to shoot so many photos with impunity, but I do believe there is a (social?) cost involved.


%d bloggers like this: