As things begin to clarify themselves as to the direction that I am going to be heading, at least in the near future, an overwhelming amount of opportunities begin to start formulating in my head. It's a curse and a blessing, really. I get so stoked on what could be or what might be and it's easy to get lost in the potential ideas and forget to actually start doing something. Then I look at my good friend Braden who is all about doing. His work ethic inspires the hell out of me and if you haven't seen his work look up Braden Doucette and you'll see what I'm talking about. His ambition to make it to a show, capture it in its essence, make it back to Duluth and have edits finalized by 8 am is nothing short of fucking awesome.
Once the doing occurs, especially as a photographer, you have to really analyze how you're going to portray whatever work it is that you're going to put out to the world. If you really want to stand out in the industry today...differentiation is paramount. That really can be applied in any field when you really think about it but with an art, it is how you establish your personality through your craft. There are endless amounts of bullshit images that exist out there nowadays. Maybe that makes me pretentious for saying it...but it's true. The cause? I blame social media...and more than social media, the idiots that use it for the wrong reason. Now I will say this, it is a useful tool to portray your work, connect with people and all that but you have to use it in such a way. On the other hand, it just is another outlet to embellish our vanity.
Similar to many other things, there is a fine line between the good and the bad. On one hand social media gives you access to people's work that is truly inspiring. You get a look into their lives and their creative vision and come across stories and images that make you think and see things in a different light and with any luck, you learn something from them. Cole Barash, Morgan Maassen, David duChemin, Dorothea Lange, Jimmy Chin, Andrew Miller, Atiba Jefferson and Jason Peterson just to name a few. All of these people have had a huge influence on the way that I want to portray my work and tell stories.
On the other hand, and this one seems to be far more prevalent, there are hundreds of thousands of kids that are churning out image after image that look identical to one another. It seems like there has been an unholy matrimony of attention whores and cameras that has paved the way to these weird trends in photography. Now, hats off to the originators of these trends but at this point, it's impossible to figure out who they are. It's a slightly cynical view of things but from what I can tell I'm not wrong. Whether it's a filter in post, or a coloring scheme or half assed composition there are hubs that inspire the same thing over and over and kids are going goof in search of a feature for these things to gain notoriety.
I'll be the first to admit, at first the idea seems enticing but then taking a step back and realizing that your work, along with thousands of others simply molds together. What sets one apart from the next? In my mind, if you're not working towards showing your personality, your vision and your ideas then don't even bother. That can be applied to anything. Understandably, we live in a world that is not a fan of the outlier when it's much easier to blend in and hop on the conveyor belt. Then ask yourself, why would you hop on a belt that has a set path in one direction (typically a loop) when you could hop off and find your own path full of twists and turns? Maybe it's that mediocrity scares the hell out of me. For some, mediocrity is just fine. As far as I know, no one has been truly commended on being mediocre.
I think it's time we turn off the factory switch and have a serious session of introspection and figure out what it is that makes us, us. Realize it, then never let it fade.
The work of the artists mentioned before are listed here: