I hope this installment of our journey doesn’t come off harsh. Please know these are each ways I’ve misstepped in my own journey. Before we dig into how to pull back the veil that clouds our vision as photographers, I want to describe some unhealthy motives can block us. Do you sometimes photograph for these reasons?
1.) TO CERTIFY EXPERIENCE. A few years ago we took our girls to Paris. I’m a bit art-obsessed and am hopelessly trying to brainwash my girls to appreciate the masters. By some miracle they were actually excited to see the Mona Lisa. Woulda’ been nice. This was our view but doesn’t even do the room justice. There was no hope of seeing her up close. The sea of phones and ridiculous attempts at selfies barred the way. We retreated to the lesser-known but beautiful Virgin of the Rocks by da Vinci which was being ignored nearby. I was stunned again by how many people would walk up, snap a photo or selfie and walk away. It may be easy to turn up my nose, but don’t I do this when I lose sight of what’s important, for instance making my family crazy documenting our vacations? My family members are works of art too whom I’m meant to linger with and study first.
2.) TO GAIN APPROVAL. Vivian Maire is my favorite photographer. It’s not because of her intimate portraits or stunning street photography….it’s because of her example of humility. For 40 years she took photos no one saw but her. Her work was discovered in an antique auction after she died. The crux for me is that Vivian Maire took photos just for the sake of the photo. That’s a powerful creative channel if we can learn to tap into it. We honestly can’t create authentic images and meet our clients’ needs if we’re driven by our insatiable need for approval. We have to create from a place of soul-fullness!
3.) AS A SUBSTITUTE FOR BEING PRESENT. Our cameras are an extension of us — a “love language” of sorts. I need to remind myself that it’s a language my kids don’t speak. I have a client whose dad was a professional photographer. She described to me how the camera became a hurtful barrier between them…between her moments and the father she wanted to share them with. I took a lesson from her experience. Now when my kids don’t want to accommodate my vision, I don’t see it as censorship…I know it’s their cry for me to speak their love language. We must wield our cameras carefully. Our passion for photography can engender resentment in the ones we love and are so hungry to document.
Next stop: So What Is Unveiled Vision Anyway?