You can go your own way...
I don’t write here nearly as often as I'd like, and there are a couple of reasons for that. I’m shy, I’m afraid no one will think what I have to say is worthwhile, I always seem to run out of time… And then there is the big one – I feel like anything I have to say, surely someone else has already said before, probably far more eloquently than I ever could. But I was reminded recently by someone I look up to, that what I have to say is worthwhile – even if others have done it before, they did it in their own way. And I have my own way of doing things. Not better, just different, and that difference makes those thoughts, words, and things I create authentic to me. There might be a million other photographers writing about photography, but there is no other me out there. And the things I bring to the table, my exact experiences and journey and perspective are unique.
A dear soul asked me a question in my class a few weeks ago. She wanted to know how important it was for people to be able to look at an image, and know it was hers. She wanted to know if she’d ever get to the point where her images are consistent to the point that people will always know that they are her work.
Sound familiar? How many of you have had those same thoughts? It’s possible that maybe we’ve even had a conversation together about it. Maybe you are one of the people who have helped me form my thoughts on the matter.
And so I told her my opinion. Which in many ways is the same opinion as so many of my influences, that really I probably could have just linked her to a couple blog articles and saved myself a lot of effort. But she didn’t ask them for their opinion. She asked me for mine.
It was a long, drawn out response that was probably ten times as long as she was looking for, but no one has ever accused me of not having enough to say. And it’s something I may share in another post at another time.
But this post isn’t about that. It’s about the part where even though I could have linked her to others, I didn’t. I allowed my creativity, writing, opinion, and thoughts to have their day in the sun. And while it might not have been anything novel or new in the moment, it’s a piece of foundation I have added to my creative process, that lets me take one step further in the journey to discover whatever it is I have inside of me that WILL be new and unique someday.
And so it is with photography. Take your images. Who cares if there are already a million images of kids in a backlit field out there floating around the internet. Do it anyway - because no one else has done it the exact same way as you. Go write a blog post about your process. Don’t assume that just because you see others doing it, that’s its already been done to the point where you have nothing else to add.
The resulting photograph might not be anything new, but what if it eventually leads to something that IS new? We have to practice, do the work, get the creativity out of us, constantly, in order to gain the skills necessary to eventually create something that IS unique and wonderful and creative.
So don’t be afraid to try things, new or old, even if you’ve seen similar images on your Facebook feed to the point of being tiresome. If you are so compelled, try it anyway. And then take a step further. Figure out what’s next for you, where you can improve, where you can create, where you can try new things. And more than anything, just enjoy the process.