Skipping ahead to the present day – a challenge amongst many seasoned photographers is finding and understanding their vision. It’s a subject I have, and continue to grapple with on my own work.
In my last post “the created life” I referred to the photographic journey illustrating commitment & capability combining to lead us further along the line of fulfilment. Somewhere towards the peak of fulfilment I used the term “art photos” followed by “individual vision” to represent the potential targets for those committed to the continued development of their art.
Being and “artisan” embodies this ethos that enables us to strive to something that feels more individual and mirrors our sense of perception, feeling and expression.
An artisan is a person engaged in or occupied by the practice of a craft, who may through experience and talent reach the expressive levels of an artist using their hands, mind and heart in their work and what they create.
Finding a unique perspective is of course extremely difficult – surely someone somewhere has taken a very similar shot? Yep, probably and whether we are aware of that similar shot is not actually important. We synthesise many parts of many things in life without consciously being aware of its origins.
Even when we are aware, and I am thinking about the many images we have all seen that we largely imitate but with our own slight twist, we are doing so because those images have inspired us and create a connection to something much deeper in our souls.
It is this aspect that fascinates me and raises more questions the more I think about it. There are always fads and certainly a lot of peer pressure amongst fellow photographers to follow a certain style, path and subject matter – you only have to search through Flickr, 500px, Facebook and various national photographic competitions to get a feel for what is currently in vogue.
One or two seem to excel and lead the way with others following suit and creating imitations of what has already been done. I am not judging those imitators – it’s said that this is the highest form of flattery – however it raises the question for me as to what is driving that connection we make to certain visionaries and those images.
I obviously can’t answer that question on behalf of others so have turned it on myself to reflect what changes I recognise in my own work – I am not referring to technical improvements but the subjects shot and style in which I present them to the public. I am fully aware of a long pattern of satisfaction, followed by acceptance and then generally dislike of my own images. I am not unhappy per-se about this process as have always recognised its part of that journey to broaden my understanding, style and connection to the things I photograph.
To explore this further I have embarked on a personal project to see if there are connections between subject, style, vision and the human soul that mirror where we are at given moment in life’s journey and therefore we sub-consciously make images that feed the soul of the thing it is hungry for.
I am certain that the events that occur in our lives heavily influence our tastes in life but even more interestingly at deeper level shape the things we are drawn to with a magnetic force that is invisible to our rational brains yet appeals directly to our spirit.
The "elements project" seeks to explore and understand how the 5 elements, that influence and draw us at various points throughout life, influence the images I have created and whether there is a relationship between those images in terms of colour, energy, shape and form and the energy that arises from them.
Air/Wind – Power of the Mind – Moves us
Clarity | Optimism | Perception | Thought | Reason | Awareness | Expansion
Fire – Power of Action – Transforms us
Cleansing | Passion | Creativity | Drama | Death/Re-birth
Water – Power of Emotions – Shapes us
Grace | Balance | Harmony | Growth | Intuition | Peace
Earth – Power of Body – Heals us
Physical | Nourishing | Grounding | Strength
Void – Power of Spirit – Guides us
Time | Space | Gravity | Spirit | Creativity
In addition to the energy that each element represents I will explore whether there is an obvious relationship to colours, shapes and even seasons of the year. I do not have an expectation that my own vision will arise from this journey, but I hope to better understand my own work and maybe why my own images have a short shelf life – serving a purpose in the short term but quickly expiring in preference to the next hunger pan!
If you would like to view this work in progress I have created an on-line gallery. It's certainly not complete or even yet analysed - the images chosen were a gut reaction and an initial selection upon which I hope to refine and clarify in time as my thought solidify.
Please feel free to join in the discussion and add your comments.