Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Little Bit of Heart Pouring for You Today

Warning: There's a little bit of a high horse in this post. And I am up on it.

A very wonderful friend gave me the photography book Annie Leibovitz: American Music for Christmas and it is probably my most favorite gift I received this year. (I feel like a jerk though because she was like, "Hey here's your incredibly thoughtful Christmas gift - a book of photography by one of your all time favorite artists," and I was all, "Thanks, I bought you a small purse because I know you like small purses.")

So, I love this book. I practically cry over it. I study it. I carry it around the house with me and flip through it when I have spare minutes. It's ridiculous. I'm so in love.

I read a lot of photography blogs and forums. I've bookmarked things that are inspiring, different, simply freaking amazing. Lots of things that make me go, "HOW THE HELL DO THEY DO THAT!!!" Then there are a few forums that discuss some topics relevant to new photographers. A lot of it is informative, but some of it is not. And it's not only not informative, but it's unhelpful to the point of being downright destructive. I think we're all aware that people aren't particularly nice on the internet when they're shrouded behind the veil of anonymous commenting. Under the ruse of "constructive criticism" people can be harsh. Frequently, these forums all start to elicit a specific aesthetic and work not fitting the aesthetic gets commented on rather unfairly. I don't really understand the point of that. Dozens of people who want to stand out yet want their work to look like everyone else's?

While flipping through my book, you know what I noticed? A lot of the photos in the book aren't really "technically perfect" by the standards that some of these forums uphold in their criticisms. The focus isn't always on the eyes, the backgrounds are messy, the faces are underexposed... I mean, dozens and dozens of these photographers in forums are so worried about OMG TECHNICAL JARGON DON'T SHOOT IN AUTO OR YOU WILL DIE that I think they're missing the point. Is your photo engaging? Is it beautiful? Do the people who matter, like it? Okay, then who gives a fuck if it's 100% technically dead on.

Great artists and respected innovators don't draw the attention of the masses by following the rules. They don't accomplish something groundbreaking by fear of doing something wrong. You get what I'm saying?

If a photographer is constantly worried about the opinions of 120 other photographers, how will they ever develop a style and vision that is truly their own? You don't get anywhere in life by wanting to impress people. That's just vanity and vanity is hardly ever motivation enough.

I read an article once about exercise that pertains to this line of thought. A personal trainer said that people always come to him and say that they want the body of a dancer. And he tells them that dancers look like that because they're really dancers. They devote their lives to a craft and their physical condition is a result of that. They didn't wake up one day thinking, "I want a hot body. I should become a dancer." They're just dancers, that's who they are.

I feel that way about what I'm doing. I didn't set out with the thought that I want my photos to look like a professional's photos. I thought, "I want to be a professional photographer." There's a distinction. Maybe I didn't convey it clearly in text but hopefully you understand what I'm saying. Wanting something that someone else has isn't going to get it for you. You have to get past the vanity or the envy or the greed and really find your motivation as to why you want to accomplish something for yourself and no one else. I want to work, I want to grow, I want to make mistakes in this life. I'm willing to put in the work because my soul is telling me there's no other option for me. This is it. I need to have it.

I think Ms. Leibovitz felt that way too. She must have because you can feel it in the photos. (She must have felt like she needed a LOT of things because I think she's bankrupt right now despite earning millions. Ooops.)


Jen said...

First of all, I am so glad you like the book!!! It was hard to not flip through and keep it for myself. Secondly, I love the purse... its perfect for me!! Lastly (and most importantly), this post is very eloquently stated!!

Chrince said...

Thanks. :)