Yesterday’s post about why YOU matter was meant to stand alone. Yet, the response it received began a process, for me, of thinking further about you and how YOU allow yourself to matter. And so it would appear that Why YOU Matter may become a series of posts over time.
We hear over and over again that there is nothing new under the sun, that everything we can put into a picture we make has been done before, that originality is, in essence, a fallacy.
While it might be true that there are a finite number of compositions we can use, I don’t believe that has any bearing at all on the images we make. Rather, I believe that every time we make an image with intent, we create something unique.
Let’s say that again: if we create images with intent, we are unique every time.
I realize that on some forum somewhere, someone will link to this post and decry everything I am about to say. After all, how can every image we make be unique? How are we not all somehow derivative of someone else? Well, we’re not all unique in our image making, and some people are derivative of others. But we don’t have to be, and that is where INTENT comes into play.
Why you choose to make a particular image, at a particular moment, in a particular way is up to you. No one is telling you when and how to make an image. No one is telling you how to see the light and compose the frame. That is all up to you. And if you choose to look to someone else for inspiration and create a derivative, well, that is also up to you. Your choice was to be the same. Your INTENT was to re-create rather than innovate.
If your intent to is to make images that are not disingenuous, to make images that are reflective of your subject, than your INTENT is to be different every time.
Think about it this way: at a wedding there are expected moments – the kiss, the recessional, the first dance, etc. Yet those moments, although similar from wedding to wedding, are different every single time. Not on the surface per se, but underneath the facade. They have to be different – the people you are photographing are different, the relationships are different, the life experiences are different.
As wedding photographers, the greatest trap we can fall into is to believe all weddings are the same. That is where your INTENT no longer becomes about doing your best for each client, but rather becomes about getting the job done. You choose to see every wedding like the last. But that is your choice and it is something you can change.
Whether we are formulaic photographers, sprayer and prayers, or deliberate shooters, it is the intent behind each frame that becomes the catalyst for mediocrity or ingenuity. An image made by accident, without intent, cannot by its very nature everbe repeated. But that same type of image, that you discovered by accident, can become intentional. Remember the first time you discovered the magic of backlight? It may have been intentional, or it may have been accidental – if you fell in love with it and chose to use backlight frequently, then you are making images with intent.
Certainly, some of the best images I have ever made have been accidents. And I could have left them as accidents, choosing to consider that moment a fluke. Or I could have chosen to learn what it was that made that image compelling, why I felt moved by it, and taken the next step by intentionally incorporating that accident into my next shoot, and my next.
Why do you choose to make the images you make? Are you comfortable with your methods and complacent with your subjects? Are you moved to find something unique about everyone you photograph? Are you content to merely follow the lead of photographer A or B? Or are you willing to step off the well trodden path of those who came before you and to discover your own intent?
You see, every time you choose to make an image, you are in a place you have never been before. How? Simply because the people you are photographing, the environment you are in, and the Intent with which you are shooting will be different every time.
What is your intent?