Advice to the multi-passtionate.
Hello, my multi-passionate photographically artistic friends! Got more photo genres you love than a gaggle of schizophrenic mini-me’s could ever get done in a lifetime? Listen up! I’ve got some weird advice that might change your life.
Yes, I’m talking to you over there. I see you pacing, fretting – and muttering under your breath…
“How do I pick just ONE?? I love about 50!” (I hear ya, sister.)
“How do I find my true path in photography – and stick with it?” you cry, as you shake your fists at the heavens.
“I’m scared of ‘selling out’, or spreading myself too thin.” GAH! What do I do??
My dearest artistic friends, this is a profound topic, with many nuances. Business considerations – artistic expression – I mean, what’s a mother to do??
Here It Is.
OK, here it is. I’m going to share something so simple, so to-the-point that most of you will completely overlook it. Or ignore me outright. Or blow me off as a woo-woo crackpot.
I don’t care. It needs to said, for your own sanity.
It’s this: got too many interests?
THEN FOCUS ON THEM ALL!
(I love the shocked look on your face!)
But here’s the thing: do it one, fully present moment at a time.
With laser-like focus.
Go so deep, be so specific, make such bold choices, love it all so hard – and make zero apologies for it – that you leave nothing on the table. Scare yourself sh*tless with your own boldness, honesty and unwavering perspective. BAM.
That’s the hard part. The part that will always challenge you – and take you further than you ever dreamed possible. But that’s how true art is made. That’s how your brand will evolve. That’s how your work becomes “signature”. That’s how your very path in photography, art – and life – will tell YOU which way to go.
But sitting around wondering what to focus on, or moaning about how you have too many interests gets you nowhere except paralyzed in your tracks.
Hey, I’m not judging – I’ve been there, which is how I know what this bit is alllll about.
Less Talk, More Art
Worried about the fearmongers? The judgey-judgers, the pixel peepers, the know-it-alls – and the nasty voices in your head, just waiting to slash your tender heart to shreds before you even start?
Ansel Adams had the best advice e-vah when he said:
“No man…” [and I’ll add “No woman…”]
has the right to dictate what other men should perceive, create or produce,
but all should be encouraged to reveal themselves, their perceptions and emotions, and to build confidence in the creative spirit.” –
Word up, Ansel.
“But howwwww do I do that deep, specific, choicey, love hard, leaving nothing on the table thingy? What in the world does that even LOOK like???”
Glad you asked.
I’ll use myself as an example. First, using some really basic traits of mine, which all seem to contradict one another.
I’ll admit it, they’ve troubled me from time to time. I’ve tussled, tried to choose, manipulated them, train myself to “be better” at one or the other. But eventually, I wore myself to a nub. I finally decided to just tell the story about/from each one’s perspective. And tell it everything I had, for better or worse. No matter what, when, where or how.
I’m an introvert.
No wait, I’m an extravert.
Actually, in a twist of fate, I’m both.
I’m definitely a “home base” person – and need that to feel solid and real. Yep, that’s me.
Until, after a couple of months, when I start feeling trapped and nailed down and snarly. At which point I just have to be out on the open roads or exploring a new country… or I’ll go out of my friggin’ creative mind!
At least until I don’t.
[Cue SFX of record needle dragging horribly across an LP]
When big change DOES happen – it’s exciting, scary, unnerving, awesomely adventurous, not to mention loud and clattery and messy.
My response: to get very, very quiet. I simply can’t talk about really BIG change when I’m in the midst of it. Only after. (unlike so many in social media who seem to be living in their own reality show and loving it. That is SO not me. There is a personal price to pay for oversharing, IMO.)
Photo by: Dutch Doscher
I often feel alone in the world.
It’s a feeling that finds its way into my images in a variety of ways.
Sometimes it seems like for every win… there are so many more mountains yet to climb.
How I feel about that varies from wanting to just roll over and give up – to feeling like I’m on a hero’s epic adventure, depending upon the day.
I’m a dreamer and wonder if I’ll ever see them all come to fruition.
I did this self-portrait in a German castle, because I was feeling that really hard at that moment.
In my landscape photography world, I love making gorgeous, realistic photos in beautiful places. Meaning, there’s a big part of my portfolio full of landscape images that I don’t mess with much. I let Nature’s voice ring through them.
Because sometimes, her vision is showing me where I could go; bigger possibilities… always look up. My job in that moment is to follow her. This was one of her most awesome messages. It’s a flash card for life.
At the same time, I love altering reality. Said another way; I love creating visuals prompted by my slightly-to-greatly warped view of “reality”.
I mean, hey, what I see in my head seems pretty real to me! I love composite art too… but don’t want to sit at a computer that long. So my approach is more akin to “creative processing.” Or so I’m told. Whatever.
I love black and white photography (my roots), animals, slice-of-life moments, curves and lines, the unbearably exquisite detail and sweetness in nature… and grin like a cheshire cat when I find ways to convey them all at the same time in a single frame.
I love the journey and following light… both literally and metaphorically.
So when a Paris flashcard for that appeared before my eyes one afternoon, I couldn’t resist.
Tell the REAL Story. Yours.
I constantly see stories. Illustrations. Statements. Some are big, some are small. The ones I photograph are completely irresistible to me. I can’t see them and not be moved by them. It doesn’t matter the genre, location, topic; color or monochrome… I see stories (sometimes set to music). I like to capture the micro of the macro in a single frame.
Because to me, pretty much everything in life boils down to some basic idea.
And that’s what defines my work.
The ONE THING That Encompasses Everything
I don’t see myself as “all over the board.” I see my work as telling one big story, each image like note – or perhaps a movement – in the grand symphony that is my life.
That, right there is the ONE THING I do whether I’m shooting commercially, creating a fine art series, photographing a portrait, capturing an epic landscape or travel adventure. Sure, each one of those genres (and others) has its particular requirements. But the one constant is me. And now, by association, you. We can (and must!) bring that to ANY party.
I know what I want to see,
what I need to see and
what I love to see, for it all to work.
That is my signature. And I do nothing but that, regardless of what I’m photographing. Or NOT photographing, since that same list leaves plenty of images behind that don’t make the cut.
It makes everything so much clearer. Simpler. More delightful and defining.
And so, my multi-passionate, “Oooo – shiny things!” friends… my wish for you is begin seeing your multi-verse of interests and loves as your superpower, instead of your nemesis. USE those perspectives to shape your work. Find the common threads amongst them and build your body or work around them. That shift in perception will change everything for you.
Of course, as with any great power, comes the equally powerful learning curve for harnessing it properly.
So think of this as merely the Intro to the “Manual of Multi-Passionate Superpowers” that only YOU can write.
The world awaits your brilliance.
And so do I.
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