“If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, will answer you: I am here to live out loud.” ― émile Zola
What we can learn from a fictional television show is amazing at times.
One of those shows we used to watch was Nashville. It was about country singers, of course, and their crazy lives. One episode we learned a lesson from featured a talented young song writer who was asked to help an up and coming teenage singer write her own song.
As they started, the talented song writer asked the teenager what she wanted to say. She looked surprised and replied, "What do you mean? I just want to write a fun song people will love!"
At that point, the song writer told her that song writing was all about finding your voice inside and then figuring out what you wanted to say with that voice. As she stomped out,thinking she had been insulted, he said to her, "I guess you just want to be a singer and not an artist!"
WOW! I see the parallels in our industry as I look at the vast amount of work that is produced by "photographers" and the lesser amount produced by artists! Taking families and kids to a park in harsh sunlight, shooting hundreds of images just to get one or two and calling it "capturing the natural expressions and moments of life" is, in my opinion, being a "photographer" with no voice that expresses what is deeper inside of an artist. This type of photography doesn't take digging into your soul or studying with experts. In other words, it is settling instead of striving.
Please understand that I know we all started somewhere and we get better with experience and time, but I believe the true mark of an artist is one who has the ability to deposit a bit of himself or herself in each image, giving it life and expression that is different from a snapshot or "pic."
When the viewer looks at that image, they should see the heart of the artist within it. Expertise in lighting and posing will come with time and practice, but even in the beginning, our goal was to produce images that, as Tim put it, "…caused people to stop and reflect!"
Maybe our lighting was a bit off or the pose was not as flattering as it could be, but we were intent on creating pieces that told a story and reflected what was deep inside of us...our vision.
Photography was simply the tool to get our vision onto paper!
As we studied images in the national print exhibits, I recall looking at technically great imagery that had zero emotion and then, looking at imagery that brought me to tears and I didn't know why at that point.
Later, I realized that this was the difference between photography and artistry. What was that difference? The soul…the heart…the desire to be better than you were yesterday, and having a voice with a message that needed to get out.
David Peters, a photographer and speaker from many years ago once said,"Film has no feeling."How true that was then and still is today, though it is now a "file!"
My challenge to you as we continue on this amazing journey together is this. BE AN ARTIST! Do the hard things you must do so that the world can hear your voice.