For months, maybe even years, after I started taking pictures I longed for a day when my style would be consistent. Just when I thought I’d reached that point a gallery would tell me they are too different. And on days when I felt all over the place, someone would email me to say that all of my images look the same. It forced me to question why I so longed for images that were consistent from one to the next. The answer is one that most artists feel – a need to accurately convey their message. That ability often comes in the form of creating consistent work.
As I continued journeying through photography, my goal of creating works that were tightly related changed. I started putting more value on creativity and less on art. I put more emphasis on what it felt like to make my imagination come to life rather than thinking only of what it would look like in the end. I became obsessed with the idea that art does not have to look like any one thing. It should not be dictated by the people viewing it or buying it.
A couple years ago I looked at my portfolio and it felt stuck. It felt like someone had put up a roadblock and instead of finding a way around it, I simply built the same image over and over again. I hoped to find a way around it but instead I wasn’t able to see anything beyond it.
No longer did I just want to be creative, or express my imagination. I wanted to do so bravely. I would rather create with bravery than with fear. I wanted to create in ways that made me nervous, or that made me fear being misunderstood, or that invited criticism. This new image reminded me of that in the simplest way – visually. I have always been afraid of photographing backlight – such a simple thing, but something I was never comfortable with. And so I started last year and I continue on that little journey as a personal kick-in-the-pants.
I know that I, as an artist, get so caught up in doing things the “right” way or producing work that is consistent that I forget not to take it all so seriously. Who cares if everything we produce isn’t perfect? Or even good? Who cares if we experiment? Are we any less an artist because of it? I would say we are even more so.
Find your style – yes. Find your voice, and use it. Find the message that, beyond all other messages, is yours to tell. But never let yourself be trapped by those constraints. Let them be guides in the darkness that is the artistic path.
Surprise yourself. Let yourself down. Pick yourself up. Search. Do.
When was the last time you challenged yourself, and how?
This is what my Promoting Passion Convention is about – putting the journey before the image. Growing. Experimenting. And finding others who are on similar paths. I hope you can join us!
Promoting Passion Convention
Colorado Springs, CO
September 27-29, 2016
The early bird special ends Wednesday and the price will raise to $390!
Paulo Carvalho - OMG! Awesome! Love it! And better yet, seeing the BTS. Congrats Brooke! Well! I can say that this project in which I am involved it was a challenge for me. Indeed I surprised myself and I am loving it! I hope I can reach some economic effort to go to colorado. It would be a pleasure! xoxo
Nadav - I just read this post and had the feeling to replay you (I read slow and could have some mistakes in my writing, apologies about that).
I just had to share that you really puts me up and fires up the little artist mind in me, that I haven’t photographed a photograph that I was proud of for a long while – some years even (as a picture that reflects and get my thoughts out).
you’re just making it gracefully – putting up, just like that.
I have to dare, to make, to be wrong, to laugh and be upset by doing things. Now I just too drowned by big pole of ideas and thoughts that wish and whisper to explode out.
maybe when it will happen, I will dare to share it with you – the one to help it happen.
I like to see how you put much effort on everything you make and even keeping each of your social sites updated with different writings.
as for now – I saw this picture on your Instagram (where the description was really strong), then came from there to your FB and from there (by link) to here.
I wish you read it, as I guess you have a huge amount of things and even comments to deal with,
but just wanted to let you know how you effected me.
much love and inspiration.
Scott Ungerecht - WOW! What beautiful pictures and I love your art, Brooke! I also really liked what you wrote in your blog, and I can totally relate to it! As a professional photographer, I take pictures of everyday life in Baker City, Oregon. I also borrow free stock photos I find on the Internet and use them to create my photo art. I also place a huge distracting “C” in the middle of all my pictures as a watermark to help discourage image thieves. I’m unconventional, and I don’t pay attention to what other people think I should do or shouldn’t do when it comes to photography. I just follow my path and listen to my instincts, and it’s worked great for the past 12 years, which is how long I’ve been practicing photography. I rarely change my point of view, and I rarely change how I display my best images online. If I feel like challenging myself, I’ll go outside and take pictures of my feet while standing in different places in Baker City. Or, I’ll download a free stock photo from the Internet and experiment with creating a new piece of photo art. I also rarely alter my daily routine, and I don’t enjoy conforming to the norm. I’m also an Aquarius, which means I always enjoy doing things differently from everyone else, even if I don’t earn a dime from my work. To me, photography is about the exploration of happiness. It’s not about collecting a paycheck. If you see photography as something you do just to earn a paycheck, then I think your enthusiasm and creativity as an artist will go right out the window. You’ll end up focusing on creating specific art that sells instead of creating art that makes you feel happy. After all, artists are not factory workers. Artists were meant to be free so they can explore, and ponder and be happy without any constraints. Artists were born to challenge and break any preconceived boundaries placed upon us by society, and I will always support that theory.
Fit BMX - This set of backlit photos are wonderful, I love them in every way!
I started really challenging myself during your “30 Days Of Creativity Challenge” and haven’t stopped thinking about new ideas ever since. It has changed me as an artist and a person. It has made me less self-conscious, of what others around me think. Because for so long that was my road block, and it was a big one! But now it is behind me, Thanks you! 🙂