Alec Soth was the keynote speaker on Saturday November 15, 2008 for the Society for Photographic Education West Regional Conference in San Francisco, CA. Aside from sharing his photographic journey and work – Soth gave targeted advice for students and educators of Photography. He also interviewed 35 of his Magnum associates asking them two questions “How did you get started” and “What advice do you have for young photographers”? Below is his own answer as well as a link to the interview with the other Magnum photographers.
Q: “What advice would you give young photographers?
Soth Answer: Try everything. Photojournalism, fashion, portraiture, nudes, whatever. You won’t know what kind of photographer you are until you try it. During one summer vacation (in college) I worked for a born-again tabletop photographer. All day long we’d photograph socks and listen to Christian radio. That summer I learned I was neither a studio photographer nor a born-again Christian. Another year I worked for a small suburban newspaper chain and was surprised to learn that I enjoyed assignment photography. Fun is important. You should like the process and the subject. If you are bored or unhappy with your subject it will show up in the pictures. If in your heart of hearts you want to take pictures of kitties, take pictures of kitties.”