Hello and let me welcome you to 2017! I know, I'm a bit late... sorry.
The year is already off to a wild start. I've shot two projects I am proud of and have been busy sending out estimates for upcoming projects - which is great, I am so thankful! But I was getting a bit frustrated when I had planned to take time "off" to reflect on where I've been and where I hope to go in the new year. I'm not one for creating an unattainable list of "resolutions", but when wrapping up 2016 I had many ideas and plans in mind to start the new year off with. Yet, due to my already busy schedule, I have not had a moment to really put these plans into action.
Today, as I was putting together a case study for a project I recently completed, I hit a creative wall and realized that I really had nothing 'exciting' to say about the project - not that the project wasn't exciting, it just lacked drama in my mind. Like most photographers, I tend to like using exciting language when showing off my work. So I surfed around for inspiration, reading other photographer's blogs and their case studies. What I discovered annoyed me a bit and made me realize that I needed to change how I present my work and the things that inspire me.
The common thread I discovered was that it seemed like every project was an epic battle of the creative mind and will. As if the photographer single-handedly saved the world from evil when working on and completing their projects - all of them.
Really? Is being a creative supposed to be that difficult? Maybe I'm not trying hard enough...
Now, I know we creatives have a flair for the dramatic, but reading so many of these case studies caused me some friction and made me think. Why the effort to dramatize nearly every project? Isn't your work good enough to stand on its own? I mean, does anyone really care about how long you had to stand waiting for just the right light to get the shot? Or how many hours you spent processing the images? Are these dramatized, Herculean pursuits of "photographic perfection" really what define us or our work?
Hours working on a given project doesn't necessarily guarantee a higher quality final image. They're just hours. Brilliant ideas happen within milliseconds, and so too can brilliant photographs. Who cares how long it took you to create. What matters is the final result.
Maybe I'm getting old... I've been photographing professionally for over 18 years and many of the jobs I shot in the beginning of my career were time-sensitive. You HAD to see your shot before it happened and nail it at the decisive moment or you would miss it, forever. For years this is how I approached every commission and find that even today as I intentionally move at a slower pace I will often nail the "hero image" (or many hero images) right away - bang, one shot, great light, great timing. And I have to admit, I sometimes feel guilty because I too have fallen for the lie that quality work is the result of many long hours and sleepless nights. Nonsense!
This pressure for perfection, or should I say, this pressure to emphasize our epic battles and diminish our "easier" work made me realize that what matters most in a final project, or more specifically, a final image is this:
CLARITY + PURPOSE
Clarity is knowing what the project outcome is, how to get there and most importantly, communicating with the client. Our purpose is to create imagery at a level of excellence that will exceed expectations. The key is to avoid the unattainable pursuit of "perfection" in our work and instead focus on excellence - which is much easier to define and obtain.
There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept.
Do you know who said that? Ansel Adams. And he's absolutely correct.
He also said:
A true photograph need not be explained, nor can it be contained in words.
I know we all feel as if we have to show how we are the best choice for a client because we can overcome challenges. But as professionals, that's already expected of us.
Instead of focusing on how "great" we are and how we overcome so many hurdles to create an image, we should proudly show the work we created without the unnecessary drama. Clients want to hire creatives that have clarity and purpose in the work they produce.
Because of this, I have decided to scrap most of the more 'lofty' (i.e. dramatic) plans I was stressed about not getting to. Instead, I am going to go with my gut and simply share my work with Clarity + Purpose.
Not only will this (once derelict) blog of mine feature project case studies, but will also be the place where I can freely share images that I love, personal projects I'm proud of and be the platform where I can communicate about things that inspire me.
So welcome 2017 - an already wild start to what feels like will be a great year!
I hope you will join me on this journey of mine.