After over five years of passionately following photography I have the opportunity to look back and see the various stages I went though. I don't expect I'm so different from anyone else and went through more or less than others did. And, I tend to sit back in my chair often and ponder the why and how of things. Especially things that bother me.
For example, there was a time I got jealous when a couple models I'd worked with often, worked with some others and got amazing images. I was more upset about being jealous. I even wrote a whole blog about it and resulting epiphany.
For those of you just starting up, you're going to suffer the trials and tribulations of models flaking on you, or having to beg or pay people to work with you. There was a time that any shoot was fairly iffy. And typically the talent wasn't top notch because, like me, they were just getting started. The posing usually sucked, my directing being most of that problem, and it was just all around practice runs.
The reason for the rough road in the beginning was the lack of style. Style, in this case, included everything. Directing, lighting, post production. They all sucked. They were supposed to suck. I was new. I was finding my way as we all do. It's called paying our dues.
This was the time when just about everyone else was taking pictures that I liked. So there is something else we learn in the beginning. This is were we start looking at what images we like and subconsciously deciding what we like and don't like about an image and why. I think this is also a BIG contributor to our styles. We are narrowing down who's work is stelar (to us) and we strive to make our own work eye catching and thoughtful. And that comes from using the combination of bits of other's styles we liked.
Those first couple years are full of turmoil and self doubt. Can we make it? Why are we doing this? Is my passion strong enough to take me through this phase. Some don't recognize the process at all and jump in thinking they are going to make it to the top (if there is a top) within weeks of months. Some take longer than others to get through the levels, but I've observed the ones that stagnate and don't grow seem to be those that don't understand the growing, reaching, and learning involved to get to the next levels. They don't know about paying the 'dues'. These photographers don't understand why they don't develop a style, or consider just adding a filter to a picture a style.
Looking back over the 5 years I can say I've grown considerably. I'm proud of everything I've learned, all the things I tried and failed, and even the things I found by tripping over them. I've always known there was something else...something just out of reach but still reachable. I'm good with that. I live for that. It's never 'the end' of learning and trying new things.
I love to work with new photographers and show them what I've learned. Sharing is what life is about after all. I also love working with the ones who have had the passion and have years into it. I can learn from them as they can from me. When two passions enter the same room it can be great fun and a lasting event from all they learn from each other.
This is where enlarged egos have no place. Not if you are going to grow. There are plenty of top photographers that are open to anything and everything and share and don't see others as 'competition' but as peers. Those that post videos or answer questions about how they do everything are my heroes. They get it. The true creatives are excited about it and want to share. The ones that are not nearly as confident appear use their ego to hide their lack of confidence. The chest beating and self important people in any industry usually lack the confidence and experiance to actually be what they want to appear to be. And sadly, many are actually talented but will stagnate because growing is a bit to frightening to them. If your doing pretty well with floaties why learn to swim, right? Of course, this is just my observations. I'm not a physiologist. Heck, I could probably use one.
If you are brand new, understand the phases you need to pass through to build the style and confidence you'll eventually have. There are no short cuts. Read, learn, watch videos, and heck, read a lot of blogs! Wear out your first camera! For those that are 'there', have the confidence, the style, and do amazing art with their photography, very cool! You can relate to all I've said I expect. And, more important, you know that you aren't 'there'. It's a journey. A smoother journey from here because the talent you work with is far more talented and creative. That, of course, adds a LOT to the success of our work.
I used to get depressed and get the photographer's version of writer's block. Then I learned it was just what happens before a new level of style and technique break through. Today I get excited about those blocks as I wonder what the next level will be like.
Enjoy the journey!!