Photography as Art... Again | 750 words day 2

I actually wrote 606 words this morning then deleted it all... I wasn't happy with where it was going and needed to start fresh... but after writing 606 words straight I needed some time before I started again. The writing this morning was all about workshops in the photo industry. But I really wasn't happy with what I was saying... because I ended up just talking about what Lan and I have done, and then about what I think that people actually want. I think it should have been a lot more about what I want to change in my own business... because honestly there is no better way to lead than by example. So... I'll save that talk for another day.

Instead, today I want to talk about something else that's really important to me right now. Art. When Carlos Baez first started (where much of the talk of workshops and value and lies and truth and...) it had nothing to do with "truth" in the industry, and was actually more about bringing the art back to photography, or at least his desire to bring art back to the spotlight of what photographers are about.

Photography, especially in the wedding industry today has become much more of a commodity and less of an art, in general, than ever. The homogenization of photography can be blamed mostly on the amazing advances in technology that we've seen in the past 10 years, but also by what the consumers of this commodity want. They want the same thing they see on 100 blogs... and luckily there are 10,000 photographers shooting that same exact thing. I used to look blogs just like everyone else, especially when I was thinking I was going to become a wedding photographer... but then I realized that not only did each photographer's weddings look the same from client to client... but each different photographer looked the same as the ones around them. And all that looked pretty much the same as what I was doing.

Certainly some photographers are better and some worse from a technical perspective... but most photographers, once they reach a certain level of experience, all look pretty darn similar (NOTE I say most, because there are some who certainly stand out). THAT is why there is the huge movement in making your business about YOU and YOUR PERSONALITY. Lan and I have been lucky that our personalities lend themselves well to selling ourselves instead of just our photography. We've been hired more than once (actually MANY times) for gigs where the client only later realized that they were completely excited that we were their photographers yet had never seen any of our work.

Our wedding film on website was our first true wedding video. When Nicole, the awesome (and I mean she really was cool) came to meet with us we chatted for almost an hour, laughing and having a great time... before she asked if we had any work that we wanted her to see. We told her "no, actually nothing we've ever done before would be at all representative of what we are going to do for you, but we'd love it if you'd trust us enough to do a great job for no reason other than you've met us." We explained in words what we wanted to do for her... and she hired us right there... and said it was because she really liked us and wanted us there on her wedding day. It was a surprise but also felt great, and it was an amazing amazing wedding that we totally delivered for her (in our opinion, and in hers).

SO... we are living proof that there is credibility to the claims made by so many that a photographer's personality is as important (if not more in some cases) as their actual work. BUT... do I want that to be why my clients hire me? Do I want to be part of that 80% or so of photographers whose work is just about the same as everyone else... leaving only my personality to shine above and make me the right choice? Perhaps the capitalist in me is happy with that... but the artist in me is definitely saying NO.

What do I do about that, then? How do I improve my art and craft? How do I elevate above what I currently do? In the past couple years I've gotten to the point where I only pick up a camera if I have a gig. Holding an SLR makes me feel like I'm working, not enjoying photography like I used to. That's one of the reasons I'm absolutely in love with the Olympus E-P2 that I have on loaner (and have to give back in a week). It doesn't feel like work. It has brought the fun back into photography for me.

So maybe I just need a camera that doesn't feel like I have to do serious work with. I don't know. But I know I want to do something to get myself out of what I'm stuck in right now.

Yeah, if you're read this far you can probably see that I am a terrible writer when it comes to just laying down thoughts... because I can't stay on topic, not for more than a paragraph or two. Oh well. I'm not as keen on fixing that too soon.

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