Two realizations collided for me recently- one is personal and one is about you.
My posts over here usually have little to no wording. Unlike when you meet me face to face and I gab your ear off, online I feel more comfortable speaking through my photos. But this post is different, it may not be the most professional post; but it’s an honest one.
So here’s the hard truth: as of the beginning of this year, I was sick of taking pictures. I remember telling my sister that had it not been for the years of work poured into making a successful business, I would close up shop and start an interior design business. That’s where I was at, pretty or not.
In the past seven years, I’ve had beautiful clients and visited beautiful places. I had taught high schoolers to love this art form, but I no longer felt a passion for it.
And the most frustrating part was that I didn’t even know why. I just chalked it up to being “burnt out”.
Yan is my favorite family photographer who happens to live all the way out in Utah. I’ve had a crush on her work for years now and wondered how she seemed to have that special something in her photos. Through a crazy set of circumstances about which I won’t bore you by going into details (let’s just say it was a complete God-orchestration), I spontaneously ended up last Friday in an intimate workshop with the one and only Yan. Her easy yet truthful manner was disarming and relaxing. As she talked to me, went over my portfolio and drew me out about what I did and didn’t love about my work, she helped me dig deep and discover what had happened.
When it came to my art form, I had lost who I was.
In a world of Pinterest, Instagram, and more photographers than you can count, I no longer had sight of what I love and had tailored my photos after what I thought was in demand.
And because of this simple truth, my work had lost that honest element. In personal pictures of my children or the photos I had taken when I felt no pressure, you could see glimpses what I love to do. But when I “went to work”, I often checked that at the door in the name of who I thought I was supposed to be.
I lost my voice; and for an artist, it’s the surest way to burn out.
We don’t stand and admire the Mona Lisa because it’s a well-excuted portrait. We love it because there’s a hint of Leonardo da Vinci’s heart painted into her half smile and her eyes. Of course, I’m not vain enough to be comparing myself to da Vinci. I’m simply saying that an artist…any artist has to be true to himself and celebrate how God created us all differently.
Yan encouraged me to stop basing my work on what I thought was expected and to start basing it on what made me tick as a photographer. As I grasped this freedom, I felt the life being blown back into my photography.
So dear photo subjects who have a spot on my calendar, don’t panic. I have no intention of going in some crazy direction. I’m just promising you that you’re going to see more honesty in my photos. I dabbled in the world of mega props or dramatic photography. And that’s great if that’s you; but I’m finally okay with admitting that’s it’s not me. Because you know what? I love capturing connections and beautiful souls. That’s me. And at long last, I can be true to that.