Well, my personal month-long challenge to not look at any competitors’ work has officially ended. Yes, I did mess up a couple of times out of sheer habit and looked at videos I wasn’t supposed to look at. But every time I caught myself and stopped. In the end I learned a valuable lesson. I thought that maybe I’d have some fantastical discovery of new ideas and out-of-this-world imagery. I thought that I’d come out the other side a whole new person, a new “artiste.” But you know what happened on the way to “discovery?” “Revelation!” I learned that the artist already in me was a pretty darn good one at that. I gained a new level of appreciation for the work I was already doing. I am wired in a certain way that results in a certain kind of look and imagery. I tell stories in my own, unique way. And a certain set of people and clients connect with it. And they love it. Yes, I will continue to improve my craft, and seek out new ways of evolving. But, in the process, I don’t have to try to be like anyone else, and I definitely don’t need to envy anyone else. They are blessed with their gifts, and me with mine. That is a pretty good feeling.
DARING TO BE ME
I particularly came across this revelation this past weekend. I don’t do too many weddings a year anymore, but this past weekend I had one in Napa, CA (can we say hot!) I was with the bride going through the usual rigmarole of capturing the moments as they happened. When it came time to get a shot of the dress, my first instinct was “Hmmm. I wonder how so-and-so would shoot this?” I immediately remembered my challenge and changed that thought to, “Okay, let’s do something completely unlike so-and-so.” In fact, I totally went in another direction. Shots of the rings are always a popular thing to get. I purposely decided not to get any up-close ring shots, but instead focused on other items I knew were important to the bride and groom (e.g. the petal on the shoes below were part of the bride’s mom’s reception decorations many, many years ago).
By the end of the day, when I had reviewed the footage on back of the 5DMarkII (I’m lovin’ the tapeless workflow), I had a great sense of esteem. Not in a prideful, “Oh look at my cool shots” kind of way. But in a way where I was excited about the talent and vision I have and my decision to go with whatever my gut told me.
Steve Jobs was quoted as saying:
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
So true. Go with YOUR gut. Embrace the talent and vision you already have. That’s not to say you shouldn’t look at the work of your colleagues. Even admire it and get some ideas. But, don’t envy them. But wish to BE them. And certainly don’t copy them. Listen to your heart and follow your instincts. Chances are, you’re a better artist then you give yourself credit.
P.S. – THE REFLECTION SHOT EXPLAINED
On my first CKC update (Day 11), I posted this shot:
I asked people to tell me what they thought it was. Here’s the answer and the original shot. It was taken with my iPhone. It is indeed a reflection trees. I flipped the shot upside down (making the trees right-side up) and added a poster edges filter in Photoshop to give it a water color look. It was fun little project that got me to push my creativity.