Friday, October 9, 2009

What that moment felt like and the three c's

what that moment felt like
I am working on wedding images this week. I am also defining and redefining what I feel and think my work should be as a photographer. I do this every month, every week, every day. Perhaps some photographers have that task so sufficiently discovered that their work has become rhythmic and secure. For me, and nearly every photographing friend I have, the work is personal. It is a work filled with the weight of expectation redoubled by the pressures of the stage.

A photographer's work is both visual and performance art. Painters paint in the security of their studio before the presentation of their perfected image, but the photographer does not have that security. Stage actors write their lines inside and develop their characters, but when the show goes on the lights are bright enough that the faces of those who anticipate them are not defined. The photographer knows her client as a mother, bride or consumer and is close to that client from first contact to final presentation. I do not mean to minimize the struggle of the actor or painter I only mean to compare their process to mine.

Confidence, creativity, and collaboration- those are all aspects of my process and they are work. A photographer's work is work. Everything valuable is, including the work it takes to make it look effortless. Work requires something of us every time we engage it. It requires looking inward, it requires thinking up, letting things roll off, and working with people and in circumstances that are less that ideal. All of this work needs to be balanced with self and creativity, otherwise that work becomes insignificant and deadening.

I love work, but loving it does not guarantee that my approach to it works. Making it work is a life-long pursuit that I am coming to realize is more significant than the image that results from that approach. One of my favorite photographers Robert Frank, whose The Americans exhibit was open at the Smithsonian last March when I was in DC for a wedding, said this, "When people look at my pictures I want them to feel the way they do when they want to read a line of a poem twice."

The above photo was taken at Paige and Mike's reception. It is not a photograph of rings exchanging, a capture of shoes and ties chosen- it is a photograph of a grandmother's happy embrace. The image of that embrace makes me want to go back to that Sundance patio where family filled the first two rows, and a bride and groom stood on the supporting foundations of their faith and promised to extend themselves to each other. And today, it is a happy and light washed photograph that embodies everything I want to be defined by and through as a photographer.

Photographers- speak up! I would love to continue the exploration on this topic.


Celeste said...

amazing. you are all that you wish to be already.

Lauri's Photography said...

Beautiful. and stunning.

I often ask my clients what their favorite photo is that I took, and I'm ever surprised that it's not the one I would have picked. Then I wonder, did I capture who they are? Did I give them that one photo that they'll share as an heirloom for years to come? I strive to do that.
It's something I'm constantly trying to evaluate and discover about myself, how I see through my camera.
What keeps me going is that one client that gives me the feedback that feeds my soul.

If you've had your pictures taken- (everyone) share your thoughts with her. We love the feedback.

Kasi said...

Just starting out, I am more hesitant and unsure than I would like. I worry that some of my favorite photos won't be their favorites, which may mean that I will not have captured what they had in mind.
I hope as I figure out my own style, and gain more experience that my confidence will grow. So often I hold back on "creativity" because I am scared to think outside the box.
One thing I noticed in our session with you was your confidence, and you sense of your own style. Our pictures didn't look like the hundreds of other family pictures out there. I get comments on our huge family picture that is hanging in our home all the time. Mostly how it is just a little different than what you would expect and that is what makes it great.
I am aiming for that.

Sarah said...

I love your insightful words here, they are so true and capture so much. I'm just starting to find my feet as a photographer (I still feel wary even calling myself that). I know that when I'm trying to shoot the photo that I think people want, it feels wrong and doesn't sit right with me. But when I let go of fear and look to capture what I really see, the love, the connections, the feelings, then something magic happens. And even though those aren't the photos people asked for, they're the ones they love the most.

jenica said...

went to memory grove last night for a family session. the thing that struck me is that photography is a performance art. that park isn't huge but there were more than 20 groups there to be photographed, all with varying amounts of equipment, technique and confidence. a feeling of competition hung in the air, as photographers sized one another up.

as a client we expect to have pictures that capture our families personalities and style. and yet, there we line up in places unfamiliar, looking for "rustic" pictures.

i think it comes down to trust. trust in your talent, trust in inspiration that flows through you, trust in your understanding of the situation. when YOU take pictures, people feel emotion. you have an ability to capture that.


by M said...

I am in deep thought of all this. I will come back to this and read again and think again and hopefully share.

Kyle and Lesley said...

wow, you've sure made me think. I've never thought of photography as both a visual and a performance art. Perhaps that's why I'm drawn to it... and perhaps that's why it scares me to death.

For me, there's a thrill that comes with each new session, but also a great deal of pressure to perform perfectly- to deliver what the client wants, while staying true to myself and my desire to experiment and express my creativity. I am still figuring out how to do that.

I am happy to know that I am not the only one who is constantly reflecting, constantly redirecting when it comes to my photography.

Ash said...

It's interesting that you post this. I love moments with meaning. I live for them. But I'm constantly worrying that I'll miss the moment, or miss the point of what my clients want. I feel like I have it all figured out and then BAM! I really don't. Oh man, I don't. It is a constant, changing thing. It's hard. I wouldn't have it any other way.