Like anything else, you bring yourself to your photography. Your photography is a distillation of experiences and the art and media you consume. Like writing, painting, songwriting – pretty much every creative endeavor – it all gets thrown in the mix.
Along with that comes the importance of the idea of curating what you consume, media-wise. For a writer, this means reading, voraciously, not just the stuff you like or the stuff you would like to write but as much as you can bridging as many genres as you can. Photography as a visual medium has an even greater responsibility not just to look, but to see.
Fortunately, photography lays its past, present, and ideas about its future out to see for everyone. A lot of photographers today lock themselves into a certain style or genre, emulating but not innovating. Some photographers ignore what has gone before entirely rallying around the mantra that art is subjective as an excuse not to elevate their work or learn. Both approaches are creatively myopic.
My own personal journey in photography has been dictated by being genuinely curious about what came before and attentive to where the road may lead.
I don’t consider myself an innovator by any means, in fact, I would probably consider myself a classicist. But I couldn’t do that without a healthy knowledge of many different styles of photography.
Take the images in today’s post. These were not planned. I was visiting with family and my youngest niece was petitioning to go outside. Forced to wait she reacted as most 3-year olds do; she hung around the door singing to herself and hanging all over it. Something that caused me to reach for the camera and take these three images.
It was only later that I realized what I saw and recognized the inspiration to grab the camera. I’ve mentioned before how one of my main influences is photographer Ralph Gibson. Gibson is all over these images. I’m still happy with them, but I have to acknowledge the influence that caused me to snap the shutter in the first place.
Your creativity is a river, it should be evolving and changing, taking things in, sweeping along, then leaving them on the shore as you mature as an artist. And occasionally you’ll get a reminder of where it is you’ve come from. An echo of the visual vocabulary you’ve built up over the years. It should make you smile, I did.