Balancing science and authenticity is what makes great imagery.
It doesn’t take long for a little bit of knowledge to corrupt authenticity in the world of photography. Gaining knowledge is credible, especially if we can retain it, but it doesn’t necessarily make us better photographers. Knowledge on its own sometimes sucks the soul out of photography if we let it. Authenticity on the other hand is not limited to any particular level of photography. We can create authentic images in the most infant stages of our photographic journey. Just as we become fluent in a language over time, we can become fluent in our knowledge, and allow it, combined with trusting our inner eye, to become a conversation that produces authentic work.
Celebrate the work of other photographers.
The world is a big place and there is plenty of opportunity to discover ourselves photographically without feeling overwhelmed or underwhelmed by the work of other photographers. Instead, celebrate them, be inspired by them, congratulate them, learn from them, but never measure ourselves by them. Celebrating other photographers doesn’t devalue our work, it just shows appreciation and curiosity for the art. Our journey is our own, so we can stay focused on our photographic pursuits and in time our work will speak for itself.
The image is more valuable than the Camera.
I love the work of David Yarrow for this very reason. He’s willing to have his camera destroyed by wild life in pursuit of a once in a life time shot. The image is the focus, not the camera. We can’t all afford to dispose of our cameras or have the luxury of being sponsored, but we can adopt it as an attitude in how we think. No matter what camera we have, we should shoot in a way that warrants no explanation of the gear we’re shooting with. Let our conversations be more about the vision of what we are pursuing photographically, about the successes and the failed attempts. That is the birth place of great imagery.
Photography is a journey, not a destination.
The magic of light exists in the way it travels great distances and interacts with the world, always changing direction and energy. We are the same. To become a Master of anything, we need to embrace the journey and not settle on a destination. So often we stop to think we’ve arrived somewhere, only to find ourselves tired and uninspired. If the Mastery of photography is in catching the light, then as long as it’s travelling, we should travel with it.
Finding our Signature
No two signatures are the same. If we gave one hundred people with the same name, a pen and paper, they’re all going to be set apart by their own personal style of writing. Photography, meaning writing with light, is no different. We can script the light in a way where people can identify our images as unique. Finding our signature in photography is the balance between joining our knowledge base skills with our inner eye, listening to the voice within and trusting our instinct.