“The destination is only a thin slice of the larger blessing sought on the journey.” by David DuChemin
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately- I keep coming back to this one thing that’s been in the back of my mind for a while.
Photography should be personal.
For me, photography is my own personal interpretation of the world around me. Whether I’m photographing commercially, shooting portraiture, or fine art- It’s about my interpretation of the moment. True, I try to stay on top of trends and techniques that my contemporaries are doing- but I don’t want to “be like everybody else” either. I challenge myself to be inspired by those who’re innovators instead of being a follower that emulates their heroes of the moment because ” it’s what everybody else is doing”.
I think that’s the trap we sometimes walk into as creative’s- we start our career path for the love of what we discover, then as soon as we start doing photography “for real” ( IE: Professionally) we start to get on that treadmill of needing to always get to the “next paying gig”, and losing some of that creativity in exchange for making a living at it. (Let’s face it- when you aren’t a big studio and it’s all on you- it’s HARD NOT to lose sight of the bigger picture sometimes…)
Sometimes we take shortcuts to creativity by trying to be like the people we perceive to be successful-I’ve seen very smart people try and copy a “look” to a “T” because they thought it would help them sell more portraits, or buy the latest “thing” or prop because “So and so is using one- I better use one too”.
There is a difference between shooting in a style and having a style of shooting- trust me, your customers know that difference; even if you can’t see it for yourself.
Like some of you out there, I paid my dues and learned my craft in a chain studio where I had appointments every 20 minutes and I got a roll film with 12 shots on it and I had to take 8 required poses! ( I lived for the last 4 images because they were what I could create with freedom, but those 8 before it helped me learn to talk to people and get what I needed to make saleable shots.)
That experience taught me a lot about how to handle busy professionals to cranky babies with very little time in between because you never really knew what was going to be involved in your next sitting. It also taught me that being a photographer that try’s to shoot everything for everybody makes you a mediocre photographer. There are just some things I will never enjoy shooting- I’m being honest when I say that the thing that was HUGE for me was giving myself permission to say “No” to a client who wanted me to shoot something that just wasn’t a “fit” for my style and sensibility. Ummm…yes, this was AFTER I began working for myself… 🙂
I guess what I’m getting at is this: I started down this artistic, maddening, crazy ,fulfilling photographic path because I interpret my world in a visual way- that’s how I share and discover what’s important to me, what I see beautiful in others, what I feel towards the places I visit. I want my work to have a personal impact to anyone who views or receives it in any form. I want them to know it was me that created the image and that it’s important to them as it was/is to me. Yes, It IS important to please the client with the image in the end- but it’s more important for me to have the kind of client who will appreciate what I will do for them- and that is the bottom line. I need clients to pay the bills, but I need to be able to create interesting work for my soul. If I compromise those ideals, then creatively, what I do becomes a commodity that anyone can do and both my client and myself- lose.
So….like I said, I’ve been looking back a little bit to where I’ve been what I’ve learned, and where I am now. I’m in a good spot that I can not only interpret my vision, but colaborate and help a client create theirs as well- something that we both come away feeling like it’s ours- thats no small feat- and not something that everyone gets to do on a daily basis! I also create fine art out of personal experiences- like the image above- I can still feel the quiet and calm of that moment when I clicked the shutter down…
I’m not a photographer who wants to be known as the one who sold the most “widgets” at the end of the day; But the one who created the most interesting one….success has it’s own definition- and being blessed enough to be on this journey is in itself that very definition!