"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
I love this quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson. Inspiring in theory, yet difficult to follow through with in practice. Surrounded by the talents and ever growing photography industry, a dear friend of mine and I recently discussed the struggle of creating original content. One original piece can so easily turn into an entire industry trend (cue the beautiful mountain top film-like photos everywhere or the previous dinosaur in background images). Okay, not the entire industry does this... but it seems we are always being encouraged to. Clients are always asking us to re-create what's been done. I get it. You see something beautiful and you want it. I've been there many times. Listen, I actually love the look of the current filmy trend, but try as I may - I fear I'm only hurting myself by getting too into replicating the look. I'm pulling away from my own creativity each time I focus on shooting based off of what others have posted. I'm not creating original photos and I'm not shooting from the heart. I'm sinking away from what's important to me.
This is why it's important for me to keep reminding myself to stay true to myself. Stick to my reasons for getting into photography and keep shooting the people FOR the people. Not for the industry. Not for the publications. Not for the praise. Those are all just super cool bonuses and I give lots of props to all of you who are killing it here!
I'm shooting to document real memories. Real moments. The raw. Now more than ever, as I lost my dear grandma a couple days ago and all I have left in my fading memories of her are the timeless photos to bring those memories back. My photos taken of her weren't inspired by anything other than the truth of the moment. My composition may have been off, but my heart was fully into the capture. Each and every photo I've taken of her has the ability to bring back the sounds, smells, mood, textures and feelings from that day. Tears come to my eyes as I relive these incredibly special moments with her and I can't help but think about how important documentary photography is.
My style of photography may not be on trend or blazing a hot trail to the magazine editors, but it's real and the moments in each photo I take are as important to me as they are to the beautiful souls I'm photographing. Of course I love scoring a stunning location and model-like couple and posing them into praise-worthy frames, but I won't allow myself to get too caught up into it that I forget to document (and share) those special raw moments in between.
My advice to myself and to any other photographers who find themselves getting a little lost in this wildly growing industry is to focus on your WHY before focusing on your HOW.
What's your 'why'?