A photographer friend of mine recently came to me very frustrated. He is very good at shooting lifestyle, commercial, weddings and let’s call it commercial fashion. On his website he had all these sections up. He asked for my advice and opinion on what I thought. I told him to narrow down to two – three categories of photography that you really love. Don’t think about how much they pay, or how much they don’t pay, just shoot what you love.
I told him this is something we all go through in the beginning of our careers. He was concerned and insecure because he doesn’t know what he loves the most. Eventually I told him you will know what you love the most. It took me three years to finally know in my heart that I love shooting fashion and beauty. But not just fashion and beauty, fashion and beauty advertising. It all works out. When we first start shooting, we literally have to get to know ourselves again, but this time we have to get to know ourselves as a creative. We go through growing pains, emotional let downs, the highs and the lows. Trust me, every single photographer out there who is working has gone through this process. It’s a friggin roller coaster and you know what ? It sucks ! It really does. I mean come on, can you really say in your heart that you loved your teen years as a kid ? Hell no ! But eventually we grow up, well MOST of us do lol. And we find our way. The path opens up right before our inner eyes and heart. Sometimes it takes a road trip all by yourself and just shoot. Shoot whatever you think is cool, beautiful, weird or whatever ! Just shoot ! Take at least three days and just drive. No destination in mind, no preconceived notions. Just drive and stop when you want to and shoot. If it’s a stupid cactus or a stupid wood fence and you think they look cool, shoot them ! Take your digital camera but also take a film camera. Yes that’s right a film camera. It’s time to grow up ! I can guarantee that when you return from your little trip, you will feel totally different. Will you have found yourself ? I don’t know. But if you don’t, take another road trip.
The voyage of self discovery is something that every creative goes through and listen to this, you will go through ANOTHER voyage of self discovery again in your career and probably another time too ! That’s ok though. As creatives we don’t ever want to get stuck in a rut. We feel stale and useless. I will mention my very good close friend and celebrity fashion photographer Jerry Avenaim who coined the phrase voyage of self discovery. He had his own voyage of self discovery early in his photography career. To this day he still goes through discoveries here and there. I do, my other colleagues do, actors do, you name it. If you are a creative you will always continue to develop.
The reason I am talking about this is that as photographers you MUST shoot what you love. If through your own voyage of self discovery you find that you have changed, then go with it. Never forget this though; clients will hire you because they love your style. It could be your lighting style, the way you pose your models, the emotion you evoke from your models or it could be that they don’t even know. All they do know is that when they look at your portfolio, it grabs them and never lets go ! And that is the photographer they want to shoot their next campaign, look book, catalog or whatever. Your passion for what you shoot does show in the photo. The photo that you produce is in some way an extension of you ! Yes ! It’s true !
So as I leave you with these words of wisdom, don’t make growing up complicated. Trust your own gut. I will be 41 Dec. 6th and I can tell you that my guy has NEVER ONCE been wrong, NEVER !
I want to know your thoughts on this. I want to hear all your voyages of self discovery.
This photo by the way was one of my first photos I ever shot with a real model. It isn’t really fashion but it is by far the most popular photo I have ever taken. It is a photo that gets me very much work because you FEEL when you look at it !Tags: actor, advertising, beauty, beauty fashion, catalog, celebrity, celebrity photographer, commercial fashion, digital camera, emotion, film camera, growing pains, jerry avenaim, lighting, look book, photographer, photographer friend, photography, photography career, shooting