March 7, 2012

authentic art.

read part one


For the longest time, I wanted my images to look like someone else's.


I would stare at photographers whose work I admired and dream of the day I would take that photo. When my art would look like that. But the reality was, my photos didn't look anything like what other photographers made. In fact, even as I progressed and my photography and style and developed and evolved, my work still looked like...mine. I felt like I was failing, because my art didn't look like so-and-so's, my work wasn't as good as his, and my photos didn't have the same feel of hers. It was frustrating.


But in the midst of that, I began to fall in love with my photos. Maybe fall in love is too strong of a phrase to describe it, but something clicked. I looked at my work and began to find my voice. I started to find something precious in the way that I saw the world. It was authentic and reminiscent of my story. Most importantly, it was my own. I looked at my photos and saw things that I liked about them. I was surprised by my work, surprised by how I saw things, surprised at the images I took.


I began to like them. I stopped looking at other photographers and tried to emulate their work, and started to shoot the way I liked. I started to take photos how I liked, composed images how I liked, saw the world how I liked. It was no longer about how another photographer would approach an image, but how I would.


Slowly, but surely, I began to see growth in my work. I began to discover my voice and I saw inklings of my style appear. I found myself figuring out what made me tick, figuring out what clicked, figuring out why I love what I love and why I shoot like I do. It was exciting. To use a phrase used more often than not, I felt like a kid in a candy store -- no, wait -- I felt like a kid in a candy factory, owner handing me the keys and saying, "make something."


Because that's exactly what I did. I stopped trying to copy and imitate and started to just take photos that I loved. In the process, I fell in love with photography again, but more importantly, I slipped into my own skin and grew comfortable with who I was. Inspiration was prevalent again, and I started to see beauty in the little things like before. There was a sense of familiarity and an overwhelming feeling of authenticity. It was invigorating, exhilarating, and exciting. And it reminded me why I do what I do -- why I love it.


In the process of trying to be original, I lost all traces of originality and ended up producing a clouded version of my style. By stripping back the layers, digging deep, defining, and making photos that I liked, I ended up discovering my voice. I stumbled on what clicked and the core of why I do what I do -- I love celebrating real life, genuine love, and the beautiful and raw little things in the everyday.


Stop making photos like someone else, and make them like you do. Celebrate your voice, and your style, and do what you love. Make art that matters, that is authentic, and that is completely your own. It's exciting, inspiring, and worth it.

35 comments :

  1. agreed. i know what you mean, and i've been going through the same thing lately. i know now to embrace my voice, and my style, and create art that reflects itself upon me. great post :))
    -jocee <3

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  2. What a beautiful post. This can relate to so many things in life, aside from just photography. It's hard for people to feel comfortable in their own skin, but once they stop judging and comparing themselves to others, their wings will spread, creating something beautiful :)

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  3. so beautiful, and so true Hannah. again, it's something i've been learning this year, not really in photography, but in other areas of my life. be you, and other people will love you all the more for it, for being who you are.

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  4. This was a really timely post for me...too often I find myself doing the same thing, trying to imitate others! (In fact, I've tried to imitate the realness and casualness of yours.) I'm working on creating my own style, and while it's definitely challenging, I'm finding it to be rewarding as well. xo.

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  5. gorgeous post. i've been learning this also, in photography and in life. uniqueness is a treasure, a gift, and i want to embrace it even more in the year of 2012. love this post. (:

    kailyn

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  6. I loved this post, Hannah...thanks for sharing with us...I LOVE your style...so unique. :)

    Btw, can I ask what editing software you use? Photoshop? Lightshop? I'm looking into several that have been recommended to me, but I wanted to see what you used?

    Blessings,
    ~Melanie

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    1. Hi Melanie! Thanks so much, friend. :) I use photoshop cs4 right now, but am looking to purchase Lightroom 4 sometime this summer.

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  7. Thank you, Hannah. This is something I'm struggling with--the demands of my photography teacher are so different to the work I want to build up and I'm not confident enough to say, "this is the art I want to make. It's how I see the world, and I'm not going to keep making pictures the way you say I should". So reading this has given me a bit more confidence to say that, I guess.

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  8. This is beautiful Hannah! Lovely pictures, as always. I love your unique and very beautiful style! <3

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  9. amen, girl. this speaks to my heart. you and your mom knew what i needed to read today. : ) gorgeous pictures, as usual!!! sending you that pic of me asap. hugs.

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  10. Thanks, Hannah. :) This is great - so real.

    hugs,
    ~bree

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  11. love this post...speaks to me so much...i need to go on an adventure of discovering and appreciating the voice God has given me!

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  12. beautiful post. i too struggled with being content with my own style of photography. a lot like you, i tried so hard to get my photos looking like the ones i saw from others. you're right though. i mean, everyones photography edge is different. unique. that's an amazing thing.

    your pictures are stunning, by the way. i definitely see where your style comes from.

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  13. love, love, love! the way your photos have evolved has been fascinating to watch, and I'm so happy that you have a clear vision for them. your way - YOUR way - of recording life is wonderful, and it inspires me to forge on for my own eyes.

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  14. This is beautiful...the words, the pictures, everything. =)

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  15. I agree entirely. I know when I was just going out and taking pictures of anything and everything, I wished my pictures were more vibrant, had better lighting; I wished I could capture it exactly the way I saw it so other people could see it too. If I had the time and the right camera, I would probably still be trying to do that. Instead, I just focused on having fun and doing it my own way, not based off of other photos, and as a result my photography blog is called "Define Weird". I wish I made time to pursue photography and really perfect my own personal style, but it's not a priority. Anyways, I really like this post, and I think your pictures are very cool and unique.

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  16. So beautiful and SO true! I'm in the process of figuring out my photography style and it isn't easy to not be influenced by those around us!

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  17. Fabulous post and SO true. There's a fine line between using good photography "rules" (rule of thirds, composition, ect) and creating something that's uniquely you, - your own style. Good things can be learned and you can be inspired from looking at photographers who are more advanced. But finding your style, talents, & vision makes your pictures YOURS and not just a mimic of someone else's.

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  18. I'm so glad that you are you :) :). And this post is extremely encouraging

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  19. Seriously, YOU ROCK! This post is so encouraging - above and beyond photography! In whatever talent or gift the Lord has given us, in any given circumstance, we just have to be ourselves. The Lord doesn't need another so-and-so...He needs Hannah to be Hannah. He needs me to be ME! Thank you for sharing your heart and your photography!

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  20. Loving this series, Hannah. Everyone needs to learn how to find their own voice and style. Thank you so much for remind us!

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  21. Thanks so much! This really encouraged me!! Your pictures are amazing and I love the way you view things!! It really shows your creativity! :)

    Becca

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  22. Loved the post, Hannah. To be truthful, I've been struggling with this very subject. You and Carlotta are WONDERFUL photographers, and I was actually thnking about your style as I was taking some pictures, today. :)

    Thank you for the post!

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  23. Beautiful, Hannah! This is definitely something I'm working on.
    I love your style of photography! :)

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  24. Thank you Hannah for this post! It was so encouraging! I am really going to take to heart what you said and not worry if my picture doesn't look like anyones elses. This post was really inspiring!

    ~Molly~

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  25. such a wonderful + lovely post chica! I totally agree that everyone needs to find their own voice. In everything really. Blogging, photography, art, writing and music. :)
    And I love you photography "voice". :)

    okay <3

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  26. this is totally inspiring. I'm still finding my voice, I think. several people have told me that I do have my own personal style, but I'm not sure yet. it's a process, and I think it's something that will be growing over time. but I've definitely had people laugh at me before for the way I do a shot, or the way I write a story. and I think it's in those moments that I have to really break free of other's conceptions and let my art BE my art.
    in other words, I completely agree with everything you said. (:

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  27. ooh, i love that silhouette on the wall. i'm so glad you found your voice, and that you share it with all of us!

    xoxo,
    Jessica @ Diary of a Beautiful Soul

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  28. I love this post! I recently wrote a post on this topic as well so I know exactly what you mean! I'm still in the process of finding my voice, but I've stopped trying to take pictures like other people, so I think that's a start :) Beautiful photos!

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  29. Yes. I agree absolutely. And I'm glad your keeping to your way of taking photos, because whatever you are doing, it's working. Your personal lens is unique, and the images that are seen through it, likewise. KEEP It UP. :-) -Seth

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  30. Anonymous7.3.12

    Hannah,I think you most definitely have some awesome talent,but you often come off as a bit self righteous, Maybe something to think about? I may very well be misinterpreting things,but think about it.
    -Evvy

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  31. oh hannah. your style is amazing! i am so glad you've found it and truly WANT to keep taking pictures the way you see things through the viewfinder.

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  32. AMEN.

    hannah, girl. you are crazy inspiring.

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  33. Great words! I think that sometimes making images (or anything) really your own, is harder. Maybe that's why lots of individuals try to imitate and build off someone else's ideas at first. They're scared to take the plunge and develop their own style, because they're afraid other people may not like it. But, it is truly the best in the end, because it is what YOU want to do. Thank you for these words Hannah! :)

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