A photographer’s editing style, color-grade, should be the watermark or signature from them. In this day and age, everyone has a camera and website. Creating the expectation: photography is nothing more than a side gig. A side gig to use to create trendy aesthetics. To turn even the most average person into a personal brand. However, it is important to remember, that photography is so much more. It is not just a reason to post on social media for cohesive feeds. Disguising selling data, as trendy and of social status. This reminder is for everyone. After seeing so many of my own kind, ask for settings of the camera, editing settings, and location and gear used under viral photos, posted by others. Not to create their own success but to duplicate another’s. Forgetting the power that lies with creating art, as an artist with a camera.
So I am going to level with you, I spent years doing just that.
I wanted to be known as a photographer. Just a girl with a camera.
The last blog discussed clearing the table of others, sometimes we have to reset our own spot.
This blog aims to do just that, by expanding on breaking old mindsets.
Showcasing the difference from my days as just a photographer to my days as an artist with a camera.
Not just duplicating to sell or match trends based on others’ success, but rather creating my own path of success. Success should be measured more than how well one can duplicate. As well as, more than likes, follower count, or views; success is more than numbers from algorithms.
Time to redefine success, and clear away the fast food for gourmet deliciousness.
Achievements are compliments based on how well one fits a box, not one’s worth.
In this day and age, an artist with a Camera or regular artist needs this reminder.
So read it again, it’s a hot tea statement.
So let me expand that cup of hot tea of a point.
One should not only work for achievements or applause.
Although recognition for hard work is an outward affirmation of one’s effort, they still do not determine someone’s worth.
Only an individual can decide the worth, and what value a connection has.
If one only ever looks at announceable achievements, they might lose their individuality.
How this fits into the blog.
Well recently, I happened to be discussing my desire for better accomplishments with a friend. Amongst rattling off what I have accomplished with photography, my friend retorts became an echo to that of my husband’s voice. At this moment and time, please recall the Idiot Sandwich meme. Except instead of insults, switch to accepting wins. As well as instead of bread, think Ben’s hands.
You see, I enter into an annual international contest, along with thousands of others photographers. Each entering anywhere from one photo to 50. Making for millions of entries, and then for 3 weeks, we all spend hours (days) voting. Trying to find our own artworks in the 12 rounds of voting. In years past, only a few of mine have been eliminated early on, bulk in the middle and at least 4 artworks place top 30% in the world. If not top 20% or 10%, and finalist. Have not been in the top 100, yet. That is what I was telling a friend.
Who then promptly responded with, “are you kidding me?? You’re still internationally ranked. Take the win.”
And that’s when I remembered reading a few years back: well-known photographers were quitting contests.
Now, this was a few years back, but I remember reading different articles for different reasons from different photographers. I logged them away in the memory bank for a rainy day. The list of reasons includes but are not limited by:
- Contests are just popularity contests
- They promote the mentality that whatever you place, is not well enough if it is not first.
- Following that thought, contests further advance the ideology that art needs a metric over what is good or bad by how popular it is, and therefore how “usable” for-profit it is.
- Contests lastly give achievements that most don’t care about, much like how most places look for a history of experience not just college degrees.
And after joining social media groups during the contest, I kinda see all of these points.
During the contest, it is not uncommon to see screenshots from voting, being either praised or torn apart in comparison to others, under the guise of constructive criticism. Mind you, scrolling in the same groups the same posters are looking for ways to duplicate others’ success. Feeding into the mentality that photography is for likes and fitting a box. Fall in line, don’t try anything too out of the box or be labeled as an outsider.
My hot take: Creativity should not be labeled based on how well it sells.
A lemon of a used car gets sold with the good cars easy enough. Especially when one knows how to market and sell. Not comparing art to lemons, however, just stating: if one knows how to sell, they can sell anything.
All this being said if you do choose to enter a photography contest, read the following before you do. Click here.
This brings me back to: achievements are just compliments based on how well one fits a mold.
Achievements and accomplishments are wonderful when they do not compromise individuality. If not they come across the same way a parent’s compliment did, about an outfit they wanted you to wear and you hated. Leaving one feeling dead inside, as they smile and wave to accept the compliments. In this day and age of algorithms being parents, programming us all to be codependent on the applause of trending or viral effect…
We’re all somewhat susceptible to being influenced, in some shape or form to conform.
We all have somewhere, where falling in line is more tempting than standing out.
So how did my own achievements influence me,
to become an artist with a camera?
So let’s go back to that contest. The rules state, no watermarked images so that there is anonymity during voting. During the first two years, of partaking in the contest, I noted my efforts to conform. How in conformity, I realized that had I not captured my entries, I would not be able to tell them apart. Now add in the webinars advice, I was receiving during the same time. Including, each time you pick up your camera, you need to think to shoot to sell. Make sure you have an editing style that matches others so that you can find people to refer you. As well as being told to “be unique as possible as to stand out on social media and leave an impression!”
Lost? SO WAS I.
Creatively and business-wise, I was lost. Yet there I was, voting, listening, and having epiphanies.
The epiphanies are as followed:
- What happened to me? I started photography to create, to be seen, and blaze my own path.
- “Shoot to sell, but be unique to stand out, yet look similar”… Okay when did photography webinars morph into toxic mommy blog culture of, “fit this really tough box, and smile and tell everyone how great your life is on posts while feeling horridly privately?”
- What happened to, being inspired to create? Not just sell or duplicate what already has been done? I am not saying make a square wheel, but why is the norm to paint a tire a different color, call it art, just to change colors to trendier looks? Are we in high school? Why not create anti-gravity cars and solar-powered ones at that?
- When did I start feeling like a boiled frog, if this is my passion?
- How do I reset?
Some pretty heavy epiphanies all at once. So with them, I set off like some nervous hobbit. On the adventure to find the fire to my passion. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job. I just did not like feeling like I was only deemed good at it if I matched the success of others before me. Especially if I did not feel inspired while mimicking. They discovered the trail, sure. But one does not only look at the globe and go “there is only one way to get to point b from a.”
No, it is more like, “Get in, we’re going on an adventure.”
So the journey started, with unpacking to then only pack the essentials. Like tidbits of knowledge that served as a compass.
I went back to the basics. I wanted to be an artist with a camera when I first started. So that mean I had to saunter back to some old stomping grounds, that I was sure would be a gold mine of inspiration.
Museum dates with note-taking on what made me stop and stare… and why.
Drawing references for poses, to create my own from seeing how bodies move and sit.
Creating my own scenes to capture, inspired by life around me as I people-watch over coffee.
Catching colors from nature that I could live with seeing forevermore and pairing them with vintage film colors.
When I said tidbits of knowledge, that served as a compass, I meant it.
After unpacking what wasn’t fulfilling, just to pack what at least would keep me on the right path, the journey started.
Eight years after becoming known as the chick with a camera.
I now was restarting down a different path.
To become known as an artist with a camera.
So what did that look like in the beginning?
A whole bunch of fear, and little support.
Essentially I was clearing my own table, as I stopped being deemed as “acceptable.” Which yes, did lead to feeling lost and then getting lost in research for a fitting comeback. Many setbacks occurred during this time, really felt the universe, waiting for me to quit. Dangling my dreams in front of me, going, “You want this don’t you? How bad do you want it? Oh tempted to quit? Well, what are you going to decide?”
Yet each time I was and have been tempted to turn back, and uncharacteristically quit, I have found support.
Much like Frodo did, except I did not have a Gandoff who was highly trusted, telling people to support.
However, I did have clients who joined this path. Even when warned profusely before signing contracts that I was not the photographer to book if you wanted certain styles. As I was creating a new style and then when they did sign the contract, I profusely went over the artist discretion section. Thankfully they all said yes, signed, and understood.
So correction, I did have a Gandoff– it was and still is, our honey bees of clients.
From epiphanies to starting a journey, how is it going right now?
Well, I still have days where fear is a tricky demon. Then I have days when people want to drive 3+ hours to work with me.
Think this is the ebbs and flow of discovery that although it can be scary to step out and be undeniably different. That doesn’t mean it has to be in vain. Or that quitting will give the peace you think it will. I got a taste of what I wanted. I know I am capable of achieving it, without worldly recognition. When people believe enough in your artistic abilities, to book years in advance, makes one feel a little looney for even thinking about turning back. Back to something that killed passion and inspiration, and only brought redeemable success through how tumultuous applause was.
Muses have always inspired artists, and in turn, Artists have immortalized muses.
This is no different, as an artist with a Camera.
Over the years I have had all different types of muses. Sometimes humans, sometimes nature, and sometimes emotions, no matter the muse, the art was inspired. That was something I was not ready for, as an artist with a camera. Being a booked-out photographer, there was no time for muses. The only time allowed, was to get jobs done and move along to the next.
So what exactly inspires me, now?
A culture of things do. Several scenes from sunsets; to painted baroque; to snippets of lover’s tales.
It’s never just the destination, of a happy ending, that excites and inspires me to pick up my camera to create. It is always the memories made on the journey. The contrast between “happy to have made it”, and *HAPPY TO BE TOGETHER ON WAY*. Capturing authentic and genuine love, makes me rapidly grab for my camera. In joyous grabbing, I am excited to paint the warmth of love, like that of the final rays of the sun.
Your love is a muse, of contrast.
Your love is a muse that takes center stage, as all the other players have set the scene. Yall’s individual backstories, your ever-growing lover’s tale, and all the grit of reality have set the spotlight for love to be the muse of contrast and unity.
Unlike the brainwashing from brands that sell love as a clean destination of a happily ever after. I firmly conclude that love is both messy and healthy. That if one wants to journey down the road of happily ever after, one must be ready for potholes, flat tires, and tempestuous weather. In addition to, the expectation of happy and easy-going times.
The mess will transpire when trying to combine two souls, it is inevitable. Yet healthy respect still runs rampant. The healthy mess of it all is my emotional muse. That paints scenes for poses and prompts that fit your extraordinary Lover’s Tale. This is how I capture your incomparable love and make art from it all.
Nature has its own romance that inspires all who can witness it.
Soul mixing is not my only muse. Another muse for this artist with a camera is nature’s love affair with the elements.
“How the wind dances amongst the leaves, causing them to shimmy accordingly.
When the water carves the ground, making room new growth.
How the fire illuminates the night, and creates area for new magnification; leaving the reminder, that after destruction, comes renewal.
As well as, nothing will stay in the dark, we all seek warmth and light
That is how nature displays love, if only we ever sit still long enough to witness the magical love affair. “
I could continuously speak on how nature has its own magical love story. That it too, can be just as messy as a real couple. As well as, just as healthy and healing. Nature’s affection will always inspire the reminder; that if the entirety of nature can change and be loved for it– so can each and all of us. Nature is deemed beautiful and majestic over how it changes through growth and shows affection.
So between nature’s romance and your lover’s tale… I found my inspiration, again… but this time as an artist with a camera.
From chasing sunsets and wanting to keep that rosy glow on the ground and skin from the final rays. Before blue hour brings in a teal shade into the sky. From the sun telling its lover, the moon, goodbye. Watching lovers communicate differently, yet the same. I have come to enjoy combining everything I have witnessed and have been inspired by. Painting photographs through a color grade inspired by vintage love of nature, and by modern lovers’ tales.
There is something so invigorating about embracing being an artist with a camera– and no longer just a photographer or chick with a camera. The honor comes from being able to make art from your love, a muse I combine with the muse nature.
Finding inspiration, created its own color grade of editing,
and that is why I edit the way that I do.
Inspired by the sunset glow, and how the wind creates flirts of flutter in movement. I realized that there is so much more to success than matching what is trending and easily sold. Life is still miraculously happening outside of the boxes labeled, “acceptable to sell and market, and rapidly reproduce.”
Blue hour of Colorado always reminds me of how a couple chooses to hold on, through tough times. Those more intense blue hours slowly trickle in after a bold sunset. Allowing the sun to blow kisses of goodbye to the moon. Each kiss, leaving a rosy glow. A marking, left by the departing sun, signaling who has witnessed this great love affair with the moon. As the sun bids adieu to his lover, the moon. The movement of it all is awe-inspiring to any helpless romantics out there. As well as a reminder that love is everlasting through the tough and good times, for any realistic romantics. “If those two can make it, so can we”, or as Bon Jovi put it:
Inspiring both old and young lovers, to believe that love can last.
So all that being said.
That’s why I edit, color grade, the way that I do.
Not just to break out of the dwarfish one-size fit all boxes, of how a photographer is expected to appear.
I edit this way: to take inspiration from nature and you, to continue spreading a wonderful reminder.
Taught by the sun and the moon, on how love can last. If their love affair can morphe into an epic, sought-after example of a Lover’s Tale. Then love can be the muse immortalized in photographic art.
That’s the art I live for and love to create.
Humans always have sought refuge in an embrace from a lover.
So how is it fitting for love to be seen as just a Happily Ever After?
If Love is meant to grow and change, and not just be a destination of a happily ever after?
But rather shouldn’t be about picking a partner? Who wants to make the best of the journey with you?
That’s the art I live for and love to create, from your Lover’s Tale.
Your journey, your road trip down Lovers Lane.
Till next buzz, Honeybees!
Your artist with a camera,
Disclaimer of a PS:
If you like the public acknowledgment for effort and recognizable achievements, by all means, keep doing you.
If you are a photographer who enjoys duplicating others’ successes because you enjoy the success that it brings you, again keep doing you.
However, this blog was my personal journey in discovering my own identity as an artist with a camera, by stepping out of the race to the copy machine.
As well as bowing out of the spotlight of only working towards the spotlight of public acknowledgment, as a way to place worth or value on my work.
PPS: If you are reading as a honeybee looking to join the Beehive, here is the link.