The Process Of Re-Inventing Oneself!

by William Lulow

Many people seem to be angry these days about technology taking their jobs and they sometimes look to politicians to help change things. Well, as someone once said, “You can’t stop the growth of technology. And you can’t stop change.” After all, we outgrew the need for lamplighters over a hundred years ago. And, politicians from the coal-producing states had better get used to the notion that we’re going to outgrow the need for coal very shortly.

It’s the advancing technology that produces this type of change and it has affected the photography industry as well. But, as old-fashioned jobs are lost, there are many new ones that technology creates. With the photography industry, it’s really the photographer’s creative “eye” that doesn’t really change all that much. Even though there are new cameras, digital technology and mobile smart phones, the basic need for photographs has only increased not decreased! The problem is that many photographers have had to re-invent the way they make images. No job will remain like it used to be for very long, so we must re-think what kinds of jobs we want to do. Also, I’ve mentioned before that the world has become a very “do-it-yourself” (DIY) place. People can do all sorts of things these days that they couldn’t do before without some kind of professional help. So, rather than lament a lost job, we need to invent new ones. Or, we need to re-invent different and more modern ways of doing the old jobs.

Photography is one of those fields that is both an art and a science at the same time. There are certain precepts that you must follow if you are going to make a successful image whether or not you use modern digital equipment or older, film cameras. You still have to use a camera of some sort and you still need to use light to make most photographs. Therefore, learning about both would increase your chances of making a good photograph. I knew this over twenty-five years ago when I began teaching at the New School For Social Research in New York City. I could see that there were people back then, who were attempting to make photographs without really understanding the properties of light! So, I thought it would be a good idea to begin teaching other people what I was doing in my studio to make the kinds of images I was making.

I knew also, that I wanted to impart my love of photography to others and to help them make better portraits. I am certainly not the only photographer who has made this transition. There are many others as well. But, I have developed, over the years, a step-by-step approach to the teaching of studio lighting for portraits which greatly simplifies the application of artificial light in a studio setting.

This “re-invention” was a fairly logical step in my case, because I am a trained teacher and know how to teach my subject. It was a change for me, however because, as I devoted more time to teaching, I became a bit less of a practitioner! I wound up creating several courses in photography from beginning camera techniques to advanced lighting applications. And, I often share what I know in these blog articles.

But, what is significant about my change and re-invention can be applied to almost any industry. With more people trying to do things themselves, comes more demand for information on how, exactly to do it! So, one way to re-invent oneself in today’s employment market is to offer people a way to learn to do what you do!

I offer workshops in various techniques of photography and portrait lighting when I’m not actively involved in teaching at a school. This next one will be about making outdoor portraits. Here’s the information:


I never worry about giving information to newcomers because photography is one of those forms of expression that varies with each practitioner. No photograph is exactly like any other unless one deliberately sets out to copy something. So, once a technique is learned, it’s up to the student to execute her own particular solution to an image-making problem.

Teaching photographic techniques only helps elevate everyone’s level of photography and helps them re-invent themselves as well!