In a little under a month, I will be turning 19. That means, it’s my last 12 months to try and get into Flickr’s 20 Under 20. I don’t know what the pre-requisites are, nor do I even know when they pick these 20 photographers. But, this has been a goal of mine for a long time. I had the idea this morning to try and contact some of the photographers who got in last year. Going through their photos, I realized something.
They all have a clear, concise, and wonderful voice. Their photos all flow together even when they’re trying new things. Their photos are beautiful and flow together and work.
It made me realize, what is my voice? What am I saying with my photos? This has been bothering me all day. All of the photographers that I look up to, Brooke Shaden, Lissy Elle, David Talley, Rob Woodcox, Joel Robison, these people have wonderfully clear messages and styles. Alex Curry, someone new I found while browsing through the 20 under 20 page, his 365 photos are breathtaking and unique every single day. He, actually, is a large part of this massive self-questioning (thanks, Alex).
There is no “right way” to do photography (to an extent). However, I’ve been questioning the way I’ve been going about my own personal photography all morning. Should I be putting story into every photo I create? Should I be okay with just simply creating beautiful photos?
I went ahead and did what I do whenever I get confused and need to sort things out. I wrote down a list. Two lists, actually. I wanted to pinpoint what inspires me and what else new I wanted to try as a photographer. My idea is that if I have things to try and a list to continually keep me inspired, my photos will never get boring, right? And also, then I will never be stuck having to post “filler photos” for my 365.
But how fun is having so many rules for yourself? The most common art killer is overthinking.
So it seems that I’m in a pickle. A creative pickle. To devote a large amount of personal time and energy to figuring out my voice and figuring out what I’m comfortable with, or to simply not and let it ebb and flow naturally?
Of course, this probably isn’t the most ideal post to post before I start teaching a fine art photography class where one of the things I will be teaching is how to find your voice. But we are honest here, and we are vulnerable.
Finding your own voice and what you want to say with photography is a very personal journey. As far as my portraiture business, that was easy! I want nothing more than to deliver beautiful photos with a very candid and personal feel – photos that capture the essence of whoever I’m taking photos of. As far as my fine art photography, which is almost always something that is personal to me, it’s harder to say.
But, try I will. As I’ve said in recent blog posts, big projects scare me. A 365 project is no walk in the park. But looking back on both of my 365’s reminded me that regardless of how continuous the style of photos was, I did it every single day. And I did it well most days. However, now, as I’m almost 5 years older than I was when I started my first one, continuity is something that is important to me.
So I will take these two lists and run with them into the wild and find something every day that is inspiring, and I will post them. And hopefully 300 and some odd days from today, it will all be over and I will be a better photographer because of it.