I realize it’s been awhile since I launched this website, but I’m finally getting around to writing my first blog post..
My family has had a busy year traveling, and we’re gearing up for Christmas soon, so there’s no end in sight. I haven’t had time for much, but the one thing that is a constant in my life is photography. It’s my therapy. Sure, I may not get around to editing my personal photography for months at a time..but that’s life. As hard as I try to stretch the hours in a day, there’s always still only twenty four.
I’ve been working on some exciting things, but more about that later. I wanted to share this little story incase there’s someone out there who might be able to relate. We all have our insecurities & for me, it was a tough road to gaining the self-confidence I needed to create art that felt true to me, in both photography and with a paintbrush.
When I first transitioned from taking photographs on my smartphone to a DSLR, it was an overwhelming experience. I had always liked taking pictures, but I never really considered taking it more seriously until my son was born 5 years ago. I literally wanted to remember every sweet little moment..so I got my first beginner DSLR. I initially thought, how hard could it be? I spent all of my free time reading about that first camera. I even read the manual! 🙂 I watched youtube videos & photographed everything from people to objects to teach myself about everything photography related. So to answer my previous question, it was plenty of effort and lots of time invested..not as easy as I had first thought. I came to respect photography as an art. My biggest teacher was time though.
I must admit, that since I’ve moved up to professional level gear, the biggest thing I’ve learned is that as a photographer, you never stop learning. The possibilities are endless, and capturing a photo is a lot like molding and creating art. I’m always trying to find a different perspective. I start with the obvious shot first, then try to find other angles, or partial view shots that I like. It seems easy, but it actually took me some time to feel comfortable enough to move outside of the obvious perfectly aligned photographs. I still find myself trying to live up to comparisons in my mind.
On a recent trip to Europe, I took along my camera gear of course. On the first few outings, the difficulties of capturing the perfect photograph in a beautiful spot where sometimes hundreds of other photographers are waiting for the sun to begin rising, as well as masses of tourists, dawned on me..but also the difficulties in capturing a photograph that is different than the hundreds of thousands of pictures taken each year of the same magnificent sights.
On one such morning, I made my way to Charles Bridge in Prague. Anyone who has ever been there will tell you how awe-inspiring the views are. They will also likely tell you, that even in the off-season, Prague’s most beautiful sights are crowded with tourists, photographers, hundreds of selfies being snapped every minute & a general congestion of bodies that covers the bridge from end to end, like a sea of movement. The rare moments when you can glimpse the bridge in peaceful near-still moments is in the early morning hours, not long after midnight. Even then, you’ll find others hoping to catch a glimpse of calm on the bridge in a photo too.
The experience of trying to avoid crowds at beautiful sights, was initially frustrating and time consuming. I could spend hours standing behind a tripod to capture glimpses of uninhabited space to compile for massive editing later, or end up with photographs saturated with bodies, drawing the eyes away from the beauty of the locations. It was tiring & I began to resent going to beautiful places with my camera in hand, only to encounter tourists at all hours of the day & night. I’m also not a fan of heavy editing for hours, so that was a ‘no’ for me. I considered taking a break from my camera..not like a break-up, but more like, maybe we’ve been spending too much time together..but even that made me sad, because it didn’t feel like the solution to my frustrations.
Days later in Berlin, my husband asked me why I wasn’t bringing my camera along. It’s usually practically attached to my hand when we travel. I explained my frustrations to him over an espresso & mini cupcakes. My son ended up eating my cupcakes, which felt much like showing up to take pictures and someone metaphorically eating my cupcakes. I explained to my husband how I felt that I was always searching for that perfect “cupcake” photograph, but people were always showing up to photobomb it. I needed a new perspective on how to do what I love doing, without getting frustrated. After all, we’re all trying to enjoy the beautiful sights just the same (though some of us try not to stop & stand directly in front of someone else’s camera to catch it).
My husband, being a man of reason, asked me why I wanted to take the same pictures as everyone else? I had an answer for that question, but it was beginning to dawn on me where our conversation was going..I was striving to emulate what I thought people would like to see, and also subconsciously trying to recreate the images I had seen of places. But was it my perspective or just the obvious angle? What would make my photograph special or different? It sounds silly, but it felt somewhat rebellious to skip the obvious shots & go for something different. I didn’t WANT to be photographer 10,001 to take the shot of that cathedral. I wanted to be the one to capture some special corner or wall of it that spoke to me, or a face I saw inside lighting a candle. There was a story to be found among all the stones and people sitting in the pews.
What I learned is, that I cared far too much about capturing the perfect photograph. Sometimes I need that reminder about why I started taking photographs in the first place. I wanted to capture a different perspective. So I pressed reset, and the next day, I was back with camera in hand. I captured the details of centuries old churches and palaces, from sinful angles. Details of stone walkways once used by kings and queens. The quiet spaces where wars were once waged & lives were changed forever. The point is, you can open up a search engine and type in the name of almost any place on earth & find thousands of similar images of it. But you can’t find those places through your own unique perspective. Many ahead of you and many behind you will photograph that bridge, that church, that palace, that countryside..but none of them will do it like you. You don’t need that view from the perfectly situated lookout..that’s already been done. The palace might be beautiful, but the archways, the peaks, the sculptures..the images that you’re processing in only the way YOU can, are calling to be captured.
People say there are rules to photography..you must go to school, you must be taught by someone with the skills and abilities to teach you photoshop, you must consider empty space and symmetry…The truth is, rules are meant to be broken. It’s good to know the rules and to learn from them, but you are an artist & you can do whatever you damn well please. So pick up that camera & go out there and take pictures. Take pictures of everything. Show people a new perspective. Try some blank space in your photographs, you rebel, you. Stand two feet left of the crowd of photographers if it feels right. You are the trailblazer, not the back-seat spectator!..