Photography is about perception, not gear. Imitating or doing an iteration of someone else’s work is a quick way to a dead-end. Whilst replicating someone else’s work is a great way to learn technical skills, it’s nothing more. Instead, focus on developing your own perception, that’s the true road towards your own unique body of work.
noun: perception; plural noun: perceptions
1.The ability to see, hear or become aware of something through the senses.
2.The way in which something is regarded, understood or interpreted
Instead of copying someone else’s work, by emulating what they have already done. I suggest photographing what only your camera can see. Let me explain, after a while of practicing photography, you start to understand the system. You can begin to understand it so well that you know where and what you need to do to get the shot. This is called precognition, once you get to this point, go that little further. It’s here in-between serendipity and perception where what you envisioned can be captured and turned into something you and the camera never thought was possible.
It’s your consistent body of work that brings you recognition. Consistency in the way you capture your subject matter or how you see the world. How you perceive the world through your lens, is what makes your work unique. That consistency of work is achieved through a commitment. Commitment to your style, subject matter, location, gear, image process, etc. Be it one, multiple or all of these commitments, that’s what defines your work. Make a declaration to decide what to focus your creativity around. Use rules and guidelines to keep your work consistent. Once you decide you can make smaller decisions around those creative guidelines.
Ask yourself what is the difference between Picasso, you and me? How did he get there creatively? First, you have to get some basic principles, for you and your work. Guidelines like a mentioned earlier that you put in place that help mould your perception into something only you can see and capture. Like Picasso, it takes discipline and a life long passion to constantly create. You could say he chose to paint, but in reality, painting chose him. It’s his life-force that drives him, his reason. Get to a place where photography is your reason. It might take you a while as it did me. I assure you once you hit 30, you come to grips about who you are, and what you are. Apposed to your younger years when you spent your time thinking about who and what you’d like to be. It just takes time to be content with who you are and what is your reason, be patient.
It takes time to figure out who you are, and what you value. Photography helped me understand how I see the world. It channelled my attention into finding my own perception of the world and everything in it. Keep at it, because once you understand your gear, it becomes second nature. Then you reach a point where serendipity can enter your work. Happy accidents your camera shows you that you never thought of or imagined. It’s at this point in your journey where you might have started a body of work that is uniquely yours. A point where you no longer emulate, copy or are influenced by other artists. But this takes time, and don’t worry if you are not there already. It wasn’t until my early 30’s that I finally understood who I was as a person, let alone my photograph practice and personal style that goes with it. Take your time, keep at it and be true to your own perception of the world with your camera in hand.
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