With the first volume of “Beauty and Bloom” completed, I am back at the drawing board brainstorming new shoot ideas. Lately I’ve been reflecting about the artist’s journey – in particular, those that find their calling by accident or a leap of faith.
Last week, I read an interview with Vanessa Rees. The entire article resonated with me and I connected with her journey to shooting food photos:
After college I took the first job I could find. I absolutely hated it. I hadn’t seriously considered becoming a full time photographer until I realized I could not be happy in an office environment. I had to build up a portfolio but was short on time. I could only shoot when I got home from work. What was lying around my apartment just asking to be photographed? Food. So, to be truthful, it started out of convenience.
While I don’t keep it a secret, many people don’t know that I started out in architecture. I still design on a freelance basis today, but it is not something that I do full-time. A few years ago, when I began to take photography seriously, I was at a job that was fantastic on paper but in reality made me very unhappy. I was at a crossroad and I ultimately went with happiness over security. Now here I am, essentially starting my career from scratch. It’s very scary but the good kind of scary!
I love the design industry and I apply my background to every creative and business aspect of building my photography career. I sincerely doubt I will rule out architecture completely but I know that my happiness will be the key decision factor about my future. Being happy (or unhappy) definitely shows in your work and I am fortunate to be on a journey that feels right for me and makes me consistently happy, even during the hard and scary moments.
As I brainstorm for an upcoming shoot, I am looking back on some of my old work for reference. A year ago, I was shooting my Linen Series. Today, when I opened and edited a couple shots that didn’t make it into the original cut, I was surprised to see how I’ve developed in the last year.
Seeing my growth in shots from a year ago, I decided to look back in my archives to see what I was shooting two years ago. Back then, I was still at that job and coming home in the darkness that happens in NYC’s concrete canyons. I knew I had to immediately become comfortable with artificial lighting but being completely inexperienced, I was feeling pretty awful about my first images. For illustrative purposes and at the risk of humiliating myself, I thought I’d share with you my inaugural attempts with strobes (and a very unfortunate roasted chicken).
To look back on those images is both cringe-worthy and awesome. I remember feeling like I was never going to make a decent photograph with strobes and with my job bringing me home at weird hours of the night, that meant that I wouldn’t be able to shoot since I wouldn’t be home in time to work in natural daylight. Fortunately, I eventually got my feet wet and learned to thrive using artificial lighting. Today, I’m the happiest I’ve been with my images and I look back on these obstacles as a positive impact on my growth. I mention this struggle because in her interview, Vanessa Rees chronicled a similar experience:
Because it was dark out when I got home from work, I was forced to become comfortable with artificial lighting. Looking back now I realize all these things I viewed as a pain or inconvenience ultimately shaped my work and career in a very positive way.
I’m fascinated to hear how others have tread their path and how some have similar journeys to mine. As I write this, I am listening to Penny De Los Santos’ CreativeLive broadcast. She reflected that since her last broadcast, her style has changed and her images are now as different as night and day. I view her signature style as completely developed (and dare I say, perfect). To know that she sees herself as work-in-progress is very reassuring since I feel the same way about myself.
Thank you to all of you out there that have followed me along the way. I’m unbelievably happy with where I am headed and can’t wait to look back a year or two years from now to see where my journey has taken me.