At the last wedding I shot, I took a photograph of a little girl as she poured orange juice into a fancy wine glass. She looked at me and asked, “what do you find so fascinating about that? It’s just a cup.”
I looked back at her and said, “Different eyes see things differently.”
It was a small moment, but I think it was a defining moment in my career. In an over-saturated world of photographs, pinterest, and a ‘gimme’ it now’ economy, it can be very easy to produce images that are “in demand.” The dress, the flowers, the details. And often, as photographers, it is easy to grab the low-hanging fruit. Trends. Styles. VSCO. It’s too easy, really, and we’re all guilty of it, especially me.
What’s a lot tougher, though, is to develop yourself as an artist and to keep a healthy perspective on your work and who you are. I’ve often found myself saying things to myself such as, “How would so-and-so shoot this?” or “How can I make this something ‘blog-worthy’”? (The ultimate in photographic disposition). And it’s like a disease. A disease that we have to measure our work against other people.
That curious little girl gave me a new vantage point on my work. Everything is perspective, it’s about how I see the world. When I shoot a wedding, it’s not about getting ‘the shot’ as if there were only one, it’s about making moments matter. Yes, it’s true that you can’t make a Kohl’s suit look like you bought it at Nordstrom, and you can’t make local church’s gymnasium look like a 5-star resort in Bali, but what you can do is simply be real and authentic with people.
I consider myself a life-long learner. It’s not about being the best, but it is about not letting yourself think that you’ve ‘made it.’ If I stop asking questions, I lose my art.
Make your own vision. Allow yourself to be creative and to fail. If you never have your own perspective on photography and how you shoot, then, even when you succeed, you’re only contributing to the success of others because they were their ideas anyways.
For a lot of us, myself included, it’s time for a new perspective.
Oh yeah, and that photo the girl was talking about, this is the one:
Be brave. Shoot stuff you’ve never shot before. Never stop learning.