After a certain amount of years, you know who you are. It can be through experiences, experimentation, rebellion, music, a book, a person or just time. Knowing who you are is very valuable when it comes to art, how you see the world and express yourself. The truth is there is no path, shortcut or cheat sheet for discovering yourself. I strongly suggest you don’t follow someone else in this journey called life, because all you will do is walk in someone else’s shadow, and you will never see the light for yourself. Only you can walk the path, only you can trip and get your own scare that will mould you into the person you will become.
Let start with workshops, tutorials and mentors. Pick these wisely, because these kinda educations are only seen through one perspective, that of the teacher. They can only teach you what they are, just remember they aren’t you? If you follow a teacher for every word and trick they know, well then your just behind someone else’s shadow.
Treat your education like Christianity, take the best bits of other religions and mould them into your own. Copy, copy, copy and copy some more. Take what you like, take the things that speak to you and make them your own. Try as many things as possible, try the things you think you might not like, you never know what might speak to you. I tried 8 different photography genres before I found my niche.
Find the medium that writes your story best. Be it a pen, pencil, typewriter, digital, analogue, fixed lens, smartphone, mirrorless you get the idea. Like I said try as many different things as you can, for me, I’m a romantic, but I tried many different writing tools I could get my hands on. I strongly suggest you do the same, to know what fits your eye best. Me after trying every format available in photography I fell for a 35mm full-frame rangefinder. Medium format was a close second. You don’t know till you try, the same goes for lenses.
What interests you the most, and understand your personality, not who you wish to be, but who you really are. Introvert, extrovert, loner, socialist, details, big picture, what makes you tick? How do you like to work, be, exist? Understanding you’re characterises your traits can be your straights, not your weaknesses. I’m a loner, I’m a details man, I’m an introvert, landscape photography was something I never liked until I tried it. Later becoming one of my main subjects within the frame.
How do you like to work, people, solo, philosophise, dictator, director, dreamer. Whatever it is, I do have to press on you that photography is all about people, even photos void of people, photographs require a collector or very least an audience even if that audience is only you. How do you work, where do you want your images to be viewed? Exhibitionist or Humble contentment. How you display your work, shows a lot about yourself, and your personality. How do you present yourself to the world, think about this and if your photography should reciprocate it?
Like I said at the start only you can find out who you are, and understand yourself. There are no shortcuts in this thing we call life. Art is subjective, but artists are mirrors to their own soul. If you understand or know who you are, your that much closer to bearing your soul in your work. Only you can tell your story, only you can show us how you see the world. Only you can tell us who you are.
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- The Zen Photographer – Leica.com
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