Why put my work in a box?
I can remember when I once used to be down on those who obviously added extra processing to their photos regardless of how great the final image looked. I’ll admit, I was new and trying to compete with that level seemed impossible. As my experience continued to grow from one year to the next I began to understand the deeper lessons that photography should bring to the forefront of your mind. For me, the most important lesson I learned is knowing that I should not worry about what other people think of my photos. The goal of photography should never be to please people but to tell a story with your images. Share a moment in your life with others. So how did I combat this problem?
First, I stopped comparing my work against others. What is the purpose? Who deems them better than you? Social media? It is important that photographers understand how social media works so that they can stop placing value in their work based on how many likes or loves they receive. It automatically devalues your opinion of your own creativity. I always laugh when people boast about straight out of the camera as if they need an award. Imagine a world where everyone shot SOOC. What would be the point of photography? Obviously, this does not pertain to journalism because I feel you should always share the truth as it was witnessed with the news. For your own personal hobby though? Who cares? Why do you? Why do I? I should be more interested in how to have more fun with it all.
Secondly, I have begun to shoot what I want and process it like I feel. There is a freedom that comes with that and also a very strong satisfaction when I finish an image that I see in my head. This process has led me to begin appreciating smaller scenes more so that I can focus on having variety in my portfolio. I still photograph the iconic scenes, but I get more pleasure out of the other stuff. In my opinion, this typically separates the creatives from the rest. When I look at your work, I want to see your creativity. Let me see the world through your eyes. I can find plenty of great shots of the Tetons online. Show me something I have not seen.
Third, I stopped following a lot of photographers when I’m online. I know it sounds odd, but I read an article by Cole Thompson, view here, that discussed how constantly viewing other’s work can actually dictate how you process and approach scenes. So now I am very selective about who I follow and I do not do Google image searches much anymore so that I can go into trips without any influences on what I shoot.
Lastly, I have learned to slow down. Enjoy the scenes you witness while taking photos. Do not get so caught up in trying to get a shot that you miss out on the real reward. For me, this helps give me a great memory in my head and when I am processing I can have more vivid details of that day due to paying more attention to the scene instead of my camera. You might not be able to get a great shot for whatever reason. If you focus all of your energy on trying then you miss it all in the end. Then you’ll leave disappointed.
Anyways, this is some of the thinking I have dwelled upon these last six months that has helped me enjoy my final photos more. Hopefully, you’ll find something helpful in all of this.