Finding My Voice
When your now 9-year-old tells you that time is moving too fast, you either have to think that you’re talking about time way too much or accept the possibility, that the days, weeks and months are truly flying by. It’s past mid-January for Heaven’s sake! I can see summer on the horizon. It’s nuts.
My mom used to tell my dad to hang on tight because he was on the ride of his life with her and she wasn’t kidding. We’re all on that ride. We all go through our ups and downs and twists and turns and everything in between. Some get sick and bail out, some make it through the entire adventure and we never know how long we’re going to last.
For me that line between excitement and fear is so super thin. I have a hard time distinguishing between the two half the time. I tell myself to try to be excited and it works some of the time but I often just find myself white knuckled hoping we hit a long, straight stretch where we can coast for a while.
Work has been incredibly satisfying since the middle of last year. I’ve started to find my voice, my style, or maybe I should say it’s finding me. I think that when you do something long enough that’s when the magic happens. Practice is truly the most important thing any of us can do. Trying to have my 9-year-old understand that when I’m asking him to do his homework or practice his drums is like trying to get him to understand that he has to go to school everyday because he needs an education. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to him when he just wants to stay home and play and be with me. But such is life. Practice is what gives us the knowledge we seek in understanding things. It’s the way that we can make mistakes, bringing us to new levels of accomplishment. It’s the way that we become an expert at something.
Having a camera in my hand some of the time, taking pictures when the extended family was together or when I thought about grabbing it for an outing or something, that gave me some satisfaction but it wasn’t a deep satisfaction. Having a camera in my hand 3 days a week, sometimes 5 or 6 days, has been allowing me to challenge myself and try things that I normally wouldn’t be trying. Playing with my depth of field, really understanding what my settings need to be at to get the exposure that I want. There’s nothing like taking a ton of shots and finding that they’re all out of focus because my shutter speed wasn’t fast enough.
I realize that photography may be a foreign language to some of you but where can you translate what I’m talking about into your own life? Maybe it’s baking or running or selling a home. There are nuances to each of our skills that you’ll only start discovering if you practice. Over and over and over again.
I am a storyteller. This has become very clear over the last year. No matter what I’m taking photographs of, product, people, animals, I’m telling a story. That’s what I love to do. And I think it goes back to why I like to write. I like to weave things in and out and create a beginning, middle and end. I like to do the same thing with my photography. And besides being a story-teller, I’ve discovered that I like to keep things simple. It’s been my design philosophy for years. It’s the way I like to dress. I like simple, with a flair. And that’s how I like to shoot. I’ve been on a few produced photography shoots over the last year on the other side of the camera and I’m pretty clear that I don’t want to be “that” photographer. Not that I don’t want the chance to shoot a bigger job, I just don’t want to have to hire a crew of 25 to do it.
It’s good to get clear on these things. It helps make the direction I’m traveling less confusing. It takes out some of the twists and turns and quite frankly, life has enough of those on its own that I don’t need to be the one creating more drama.
What is it that you love to do, that you need to practice more? What is that voice that is uniquely you? This is the deeper inquiry that I’m traveling on this year. I want to hear my voice loud and clear and I want to know my tools so well that they help me achieve what it is that I’m trying to say. We are always students, that’s the beauty of life, but we can become the teacher sometimes which brings you to a whole new level of learning. Am I scared? Yes, but I’m going to do my best to stay on the other side of that line, the excited side.