I've been thinking a lot about authenticity and intentionality lately.
It's so easy to start comparing my art to so-and-so's art. It's frighteningly simple for me to slip into the style of someone else, unconsciously or not. So often, it feels like the tried-and-true method of creating becomes the norm, for no other reason than that it's been proven to work before. So we go through the motions and make the images that we "need" to take and we create good work...but is that it? Is that all there is? Do I really want to be content with just making good work? What if we could make something better?
I'm tired of trying to fit into a mold of how I should take images. Of looking to other photographers and pulling up pictures like flipping through files on an imaginary checklist of shots. We look at those we admire, we stalk other photographer's blogs like it's our job, but to what end? How much of the time that we spend comparing could be spent creating? What if instead of blog-browsing for fifteen minutes, we spent fifteen minutes creating something different? What if we shook off all of the preconceived notions of what photography should be, and started to focus on what photography could be?
I'm not saying that we shouldn't look at other photographers and admire them -- far from it! I'm saying that instead of focusing on trying to make images like ____, we start to focus on making images like us. Searching for inspiration outside of the photography industry, and instead, in our lives. I want to really dig dip and figure out the whys behind why I do what I do. If your images don't mean anything to you, they won't mean anything to anyone else. Eudora Welty said, "A good snapshot stops a moment from running away." I love those words. They're a simple statement that should resound and rattle away in every photographer's mind. Am I keeping a moment from running away? Or am I simply snapping aimlessly, in an attempt to re-create so-and-so's photos?
I want to stop re-hashing the same old, no matter how beautiful it may. I want to stop comparing my work to other photographers. I want to start create photos that resonate with me, that are authentic, that have depth. To be a good storyteller, you have to focus on the heart. The reason behind the details, behind the story, behind the shoot. Images have weight. Stories matter. And life is worth celebrating, not just taking photos of "by the book". I am going to focus on what inspires me, create new work, and stop imitating and start innovating. My heart is to make photos that really matter -- that have meaning and resonate deeply with the viewer.
I want to tell smaller stories in the everyday of the bigger story of our lives. Because they matter. Life can be so raw sometimes, in good ways and bad, and it is such a privilege to be able to document life as it is. I want to be able to stop moments from running away, so that when the memory is all but faded, there will be the image to remind people of who they were and how it was. There will be a picture to look back on and hold and laugh and cry and remember.
I cannot think of a more beautiful, personal, or impactful job. I am so blessed by what I do.