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.