Thursday, May 13, 2010

today, I'm speaking at my highschool's photo club.

I'm nervous and I feel like I'm not qualified to be a "speaker" anywhere.. what a ridiculous thought! me, a "speaker"! since I'm completely self taught, I'm willing to bet that half of them know more than I do anyway. but I think I'm going to speak about some of my experiences and my troubles.

I want to tell about the amazing people along the way. and how delving into something that you're passionate about can lead you across the world or even just to another town that you've never been to before. I want to tell them how it changes your perspective, how you change as a person because of it.

I want to tell them that getting attention is a blessing and a curse. It brings you to meet amazing people, it's an ego booster, and it gives you power to change the lives of those who follow your work (or even stumble across it) and the opportunity for a stranger to change yours.

but it's so, so limiting. first of all, I've already let myself get caught up in whatever "popularity" and attention I have attained through my photography. It's essential to not let yourself become satisfied, because when you do, it's crap. you forget yourself. you lose what made you special. second of all, you start to feel pressure to stick to a certain style. for example, I still upload what I like on deviantart, BUT I don't upload some photos that I really love because I don't think they are what my watchers want to see.

this kind of thing manifests in another, more imperative way. I don't stray too much from a certain style on my main site, deviantart, in order to adhere to a certain style and standard that I feel the professional world wants to see. in order to give myself the best chance of actual success, I feel that I have to limit myself to certain things.

another interesting catch-- as you become "good" enough that you start being able to work with real models, it's easy to find yourself relying on their beauty and talent for pretty pictures. it's easy to stray from your style when you see how perfectly and easily they could fit into a norm. I think that's hard to understand, so let me explain. I just had a shoot with a beautiful and talented model. her face would be *perfect* for a makeup ad, or something like that. I'd see the opportunity to take photos that really looked like they could be in a magazine (because of her look, not necessarily because of my camera "skills"), and it distracted me from my normal style. my photos were a struggle between what her look practically begged to be used for and what I was going for. the result? photos that are "good", but not me. I'm not comfortable with them, and I'm not particularly proud of them, even though the shoot was a ton of fun and the model was fantastic.

also, I miss my old creativity. I don't feel forced to be creative and do something cool or out of the ordinary to stand out anymore. I'm a lazy person, so that's no good. I'm in such a struggle with myself right now. I feel the need to strip this new me back down to basics so I can think clearly again. I want to improve.

lastly, I'm scared that improvement will lead to lack of soul. that I'll conform to what is already in the industry and by "copying" that look or feel or idea, I'll achieve success but lose what made me special in the first place.

I guess that was pretty long, sorry! I just wanted to say it all, cause it's been on my mind lately.

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  1. I think that's one of the dangerous things about online fame/popularity. I think they key though is to never base your photo judgments on your fanbase. I can't tell you how often photos I absolutely love receive no feedback, and the photos that I like the least get all the love! It's ironic and I've found that a lot of photographers get the same thing from the online world. But I still keep submitting what I like, what I do, even if I don't ever get popular or famous.

    It can be hard, but stay true to yourself and your style and never be afraid of change <3

  2. you are such a good speaker emily, from what i see you type. i doubt you'll have any trouble! and as for the rest of the blog, i'm in total agreement with you. i'm working with agency models now, and it's so easy to just slip into taking pictures of them on a bed, or against a white wall. it makes me think i'm boring and there's nothing to my work. don't become like me!

  3. everything you just wrote is so true and easy to relate to.

    you put all of my lingering thoughts into a concise blog post.

    i'm by no means popular but i come to feel like my deviant art/flickr accounts are more of portfolios rather than what they're meant to be...photostreams. sometimes i'm too scared to put up what i like in fear of others being disappointed.

  4. don't even sweat it, you can speak - you can touch.

    and as we were speaking of before, i agree with you. the simple thing is to take some time off, take photos for no other reason just to take them. forget about even posting them, take them to make YOU happy.

    you can always work to carry your style over to better models. maybe take something away from them. eyes good for makeup? no makeup. great hair? let it go natural. this can help you transition.

    i know what you mean though, by taking photos to fit a certain site. flickr/tumblr like the light - film - awkward - pretty girl type of photo (generalization) whereas deviantart is a little more on the popularity.

    take photos that make you happy, and also other people if that happens to be so.

  5. I do know this fear of losing soul. While doing more and more shootings, am I losing quality due to quantity? And fear of the random amount of attention on dA let me stop posting some time ago, because I keep thinking to much on which picture I chose and that's how the days go by and I don't post anything.
    Thank you for writing that down!

  6. it's kind of scary how i can relate to EVERYTHING you just mentioned. it's like you've been reading my mind. these are all the things that eat away at me as a photographer on a daily basis. i think the important thing is to stay true to yourself. photography is my world, but i can't let all of these thoughts of growth, which direction to go, popularity, creativity etc get in my way. right now i'm about to finish university and i have no idea what i'll be doing when i'm finished. all i know is that i want to be a photographer. what kind? i have no clue, but i have faith that in time it will come to me. so for now i'm just going to be shooting any and everything, hopefully i will be growing with each shoot, hopefully my creativity will never cease, hopefully i will continue to challenge myself and hopefully it will all come together. that's what i tell myself when all of these fears enter my mind.
    anyways i love your blog, and your work, keep it up!

  7. hey emily! i didnt know where else to post this, but i wanted to able to ask you something anonymously! i was wondering where you store all your photos? since you take so many, doesnt your computer fill up? just wondering for future reference