I don't spend a great deal of my time on social media but I do like to see whats going on and reading some of the crazy crap that people come out with. On Twitter I follow a photographer by the name of Rob Hudson / @ RobHudsonPhoto (please check him out), this guy is responsible for some very blunt comments and opinions which to those that know me will agree is one of my many downfalls. However, He is also a writer (which obviously i'm not) and last week he repeated a quote that gave me that "Wow" moment, and put all of my feelings of photography into one quote.
"Be utterly fearless in my art. You'll never find yourself until you stop caring what others think".
I returned to photography about 6 years ago after a very long time away from it due to life (family, kids, divorce, general crap) and a feeling that I just wasn't enjoying my photography at that time. My god things had changed, the whole digital thing had happened and all of a sudden everyone was a photographer, using their phones and cameras that had screens on the back so you could see what you had taken. Now, before I go any further this is not a digital V's film post, I love them both. Anyway, I got myself a nice digital camera, subscribed to photoshop & lightroom (I hate them both with a passion) and away I went. It didn't take long to get back into the swing of things and digital really wasn't that difficult to learn because aperture, shutter speed & ISO will always be the main ingredients to a photograph regardless of it being film or digital. Skip forward a few years and I'm in the flow, weddings, children's portraits etc and I'm suddenly starting to stop enjoying photography again.
To try and get some interest back and to justify all the money spent on equipment I joined the local photographic society. Burton On Trent Photographic Society is a fantastic camera club with some wonderful members and some really super photographers and it's a club that I'm proud to be a member of. All was well every Thursday evening (when on day shift) with some wonderful speakers, social evenings and a fantastic exhibition once a year that is very well attended. So I hear you ask, what went wrong at the camera club then, bloody internal competitions that's what went wrong. I started going out to take images just to put into the competition, I started editing the life out of my images to get them to a standard to please a judge. All this was wrong, this was not what I wanted to do with a camera but I found myself wanting to please others before myself. I heard one judge say "you've slightly over cut the photo mount", What is that all about, you're supposed to be judging the bloody image not the bloody mount. I've watched and listened to some very good and fair judges but unfortunately I've also listened to some who have their heads stuck so far up their own backsides it's unbelievable. The biggest problem to me soon became apparent, a very large percentage of winning images where not successful for the photography but for the photographers use of editing software. The ability to change the sky, put in a tree, a person, take out anything they wanted, the ability to do this is the game changer to the judge.
You're probably fed up of reading this now and asking what about the "Wow" moment. Well, after seeing and hearing daft comments by judges, seeing too many images that had no resemblance to the image when the shutter was fired, I realised just what it is I was hating about photography. Control, people telling you how you should be taking pictures and what those pictures should look like. Photography Is art, control is not art, control is just a way to bully someone into taking images your way because you don't understand anyone who wants to do it differently or you don't have the ability to judge someones art.
So thats it, the "wow" moment, stop taking images for someone else and stop caring what other people think of my work. Hopefully I'll never stop being a member of Burton Photographic Society, and I have done quite well in the past with several commended images and one win with this over edited landscape.
Thank you as always for taking a little time to read my rubbish, please stay safe and look after each other.
Be utterly fearless of your art. You'll never find yourself until you stop caring what others think.