Exposed! :: TAM - Grave Medical Condition Affects Photographers ::

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Itís a grave condition - and very serious to any creative person - Territorial Artistic Myopia (TAM) affects the ability to create stunning photos in familiar or "uninspiring" surroundings.

In this monthís Exposed! we explore this dreadful condition and examine signs, symptoms and appropriate treatments.

What is TAM?

Years ago a friend asked "Harry, do you travel much with your stock photography?"

At the time I responded "Not that much, why?"

"Well thereís nothing to shoot around here. I always have to travel to get good shots."

I just nodded and smiled. He had a bad case of Territorial Artistic Myopia.

You heard right - Territorial Artistic Myopia or TAM. It can affect anyone at any time. Numbed by the familiar and seemingly ordinary, the TAM victim slowly loses any desire to take pictures. Not recognizing or acknowledging their symptoms they often blame their condition on a lack of travel to new and exciting places - "If only I could get to Gullfoss*," they lament.

Car print at

Fine prints available at

Signs and Symptoms

The photographer inflicted with TAM becomes listless and uninspired. Their camera equipment gets dusty and they start looking at travel websites. The TAM patientís spark, zest and creativity deteriorate and they consider taking up another hobby. They may cover their inadequacies by claiming, "Iíve photographed everything worth taking."


The first step to recovery is admitting there is a problem! Often the photography enthusiast has hit a plateau - they are no longer challenged. And they need a nudge (or a metaphorical kick) to start climbing a new learning curve.

Sometimes, on my Creative Fundamentals or other courses, an intermediate photographer will cruise through the practical part of the course. Itís obvious they understand the technical skills. During the critique session I have seen cruisers' jaws drop when they see what others have captured - using identical visual opportunities and similar equipment. It makes me smile - I know the cruiser's case of TAM is about to improve.

Treatment (Also known as Homework)

There is help.

If you recognize symptoms of Territorial Artistic Myopia it is time to take action. There are different treatments available:

  • Buy some magazines, cruise the web - look for inspiring photos! Then set some photo goals. What new photo techniques would you like to master?
  • Try ďtag team photographyĒ - Go on a photo adventure in your neighbourhood with a photo friend. Set specific photo restrictions (only 1/8th second allowed) and limiting parameters (cannot include the earthís surface in your pictures) and shoot for one hour! Edit your work and present a tight selection (10 photos) to your friend.
  • Take a course or workshop with unknown participants, a practical shooting component and a critique session!
  • Go on camera club outings. Set group shooting limits. Prepare a tight edit (3 photos) and compare results with other members.
  • Go into your back yard or other very familiar place. Sit still and observe for an hour - no cheating. Re-explore the space. Lie on the ground. Look at the single snow flake or a specific blade of grass. Sit under the picnic table. Discover the ants. Pull out your camera. Use your wide angle AND your telephoto. Shoot from three centimetres AND three metres away.

Pro Perspective

I shoot stock. My version of normal is snowy winters, boreal forest and modern North American city scapes. Boring? Not to someone from Australia who has never seen snow! My job is to bring pizzazz to subjects that are normal to me. If I find them boring, uninspiring or start wishing for different surroundings I know I am not doing my job. There is beauty everywhere and in everything. It is my job as a photographer to create the extra in ordinary!

The car photo, above right, was taken in a ten year old car on a road 3km from my house - in my neighbourhood with ordinary objects. The effects were created in the camera, on film, with techniques I developed in my neighbourhood. Check this and other inspirational cures for TAM at my new (and growing) fine art site, Most of the photos were taken within 25 km of my home.

Final Frame

Travel photography is fun. But make sure your creativity is not stagnant in more familiar surroundings. Be aware of the subtle beauty around you! Challenge yourself and be sure to recognize the symptoms of Territorial Artistic Myopia before itís too late!

Take photos. Have fun!

* Gulfoss?!

  • Where the heck is that?
  • Why is it famous?

The first three people to contact me with the correct answer to BOTH questions will receive fame, glory and a small, promotional print from Submissions are closed!

We have the winners!
Gulfoss is a beautiful and well visited waterfall in southwestern Iceland!
More info.

Winners came from around the world! The top twelve correct winners:

  1. Robbie M - Ottawa, Canada
  2. Gail D - Cootamundra, Australia
  3. Adrienne H - Chelsea, Canada
  4. Tracey H - Cyberspace
  5. Carol H - Ancaster, Canada
  6. Raphael T - Ottawa, Canada
  7. Tom W - Hobartville, Australia
  8. Chris S - Essex, UK
  9. Doug S - Cyberspace
  10. Geoff C - Kingston, Canada
  11. Yan H - Chelsea, Canada
  12. Doug S - Cyberspace
  13. Thorvaldur G - Iceland

I disqualified my Dad as I felt it may create a major "insider" scandal!


Samples of our work