I've been reading lots lately about finding my style. Frankly, my style is a pair of Levis, a t-shirt and my battered white Chuck Taylors, but that isn't the kind of style that I've been thinking about lately.
I've been thinking about my photography style. I used to think it meant my "specialty" and that once I found it, then that would be all I shot. But the thing is, I love taking all kinds of photos in all different types of genres, so I was making myself slightly miserable trying to pinpoint myself. But an article I read the other night sorta solved that problem for me. It asked the simple question, "Why?"
Why do I do shoot the things I shoot? Why do I shoot dark and shadows when my personality craves bright sunshine and blue skies? Why do I prefer mysterious photos to bright and happy photos?
Why do I do what I do?
So, I've been thinking about this a lot, coming up with answers then rejecting them until one answer refused to jump into the trash bin that is the black hole of my mind. That one answer said, "You do what you do because for so long you had no other way to express your creative side. Now that you do know how to express that side, it's a helluva lot of fun and fulfilling."
When I began my photo-a-day project 5 years ago, I took photos like Everybody Else: nice and pretty photos. I also blogged like Everybody Else: easy-going posts quickly forgotten after being read. Towards the end of 2015, I found myself in a slump and I couldn't figure out why until I picked up my camera to take that daily shot. That was when it hit me that I really had grown tired of this project, that I really had begun to dread the whole finding-the-photo-editing-the-photo-blogging-about-my-day process.
And on December 31, 2015, I posted my last 365 photo and haven't regretted one bit my decision to end that project. I refused to be like Everybody Else, taking photos of random things and then writing oblique posts about the day. Life isn't meant to be lived obliquely, but rather to the brim and written about intentionally. And that was what I set out to do in 2016.
All of sudden these ideas started popping out of the black hole of my head and I started getting excited about my camera again. Ideas like photographing David under a street light in the pouring down rain, holding an umbrella or Joe wearing a fedora I found in my favorite thrift shop.
I do what I do because Everybody Else takes the safe shot. I discovered that I thrive on challenges, coming up with ideas and doing the hard stuff to make these ideas work because figuring out how to make the hard stuff work is so rewarding. I challenge myself to do things that I never thought I'd ever do 5 years ago, saying "yes" to things that terrify me, but when they're over I'm that much better for it. Everything is a learning experience and that's why I do what I do. I've never been part of a crowd, so why begin now?