Why do you create? Why does it matter?
These are questions I ask myself before I execute a project. My answers are always, why wouldn’t I, and why wouldn’t it. Photography is my opportunity to allow strangers to get a glimpse of my subjects, as well as my own individuality through visuals. For me, it’s never been about how far or how fast I can grow in this industry. Being “known” was never my goal, learning was, and I’m always astonished by those wanting to learn from me. I say that because in all transparency, I don’t have the slightest clue what I’m doing or where I’m going. It’s exhilarating, because it leaves room for me to experiment all aspects of photography, and to take a gamble on my work no matter the outcome.
I’m self taught. Having never taken a photography class, I have relied heavily on my medium, which was a borrowed camera, my community of wonderful friends and most importantly, trial and error to teach me. Let me tell you....there were plenty of trials and plenty of errors, and the amount of photography phases I went through is uncanny. Still, they were experiments that lead to realizations. Ultimately, I didn’t believe my photos would amount to anything. They were essentially me messing around with a camera and having some sort of wild idea, but I figured I would enter them into contests, because why not? There’s no harm in it. It wasn’t until I got my first breakthrough
with VSCO and the “Walk in the Sun” contest that I realized, I’m actually not an amateur. I was considered equal to the others who I saw as well established, inspiring photographers. That was so surreal to me. All because I took a chance on myself and others took a chance on me.
I put a lot of pressure on myself to be continually creating monumental photographs. Often times it’s disheartening and it places me in reoccuring creative ruts. However, the recognition I do or don’t receive doesn’t define who I am or my progress. Nonetheless, I’m aware of it, and I take the necessary breaks till I’m ready to get back on my feet and start shooting again. I don’t ever feel sorry for taking care of myself, but when I get the “What are you working on now?” or the “What’s next?” questions it can be very discouraging. Especially, when I’m not working on a project, let alone even thinking about one. Not that I ever blame others for asking, I’m incredibly thankful to anyone who even wants to know! Still, internally I question my value in the industry and if I’m where I want to be. Comparing my work to the work of others when in reality our work is vastly unassociated with one another. I believe social media plays a big part in that. It also plays a big part in my sourcing for inspiration. It’s a never ending cycle, but, it’s more important to be intentional than it is it be current.
To backtrack, these lulls were important to my growth. They forced me to analyze my current standpoint, what I liked/ disliked about my work and move forward from there. That’s what I advise anyone to do who questions themselves. Take a step back and try something completely new and out of your comfort zone. If you don’t, you’ll never know, and there’s absolutely no harm in attempting. I always remind myself that I am creating for me, as organically and authentic as I can, and the rest of the world can follow.